Robert Harris’ ‘Dictator’

After writing a mesmerizing novel about Pompeii, entitled....wait for it 'Pompeii' telling the story of before and after the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in the late first century, Robert Harris turned his attention to writing a trilogy of novels about the life and times of Rome's greatest rhetorician--- Cicero. 'Dictator' (416 pages, published in January of this year by Knopf) brings the story of Cicero's life to a tumultuous conclusion with both the assassination of Julius Caesar, and then the … [Read more...]

March Madness and Me— Theological Style

Who knew that I was part of March Madness according to Logos Software! And my goodness, why did they pit me against my personal NT hero--- that is unfair tactics. I need to have a come to Jesus meeting with the seeding committee!! … [Read more...]

Easter Meditation

A PERMANENT SOLUTIONEverything wears out, It all fades away, Even time passes Day by day.Nothing lasts, For very long, Your favorite food, Your favorite song.We grow weary, Tired of routine Let’s be honest, And just come clean.Our fear is evident That it will be true That we are not permanent Like all things new.We visit the graveyards Where our loved ones lie We wonder what it’s like To suddenly die.Is death another change Another temporary thi … [Read more...]

The Culture of Entitlement

"What starts as gratitude quickly becomes dependency and ends as entitlement."--- Cicero on the grain dole for the masses in Rome.On Easter Saturday, we take a Sabbath's rest from the Holy week contemplations to think seriously about an issue which has bedeviled America for some time. If you ask me the root of the problem comes from too much insistence on rights without an equal insistence on responsibilities, but perhaps there are many root causes. Whatever may be the case, we now live … [Read more...]

Meditations for the Lenten Season— Part Seven

DEATH BE NOT PROUD (Phil. 1.12-26; 1 Cor. 15.54-58; II Tim. 4.6-8)DEADLY APPROACHES TO DEATH When all is said and done, there are only a few ways we humans can react to death. We can recognize it as a fact, and so let it dominate our thinking that it casts a shadow on all life, leaving nothing without the taint of its limiting nature. A person in this frame of mind will likely think that since death is a fact, then there is no real purpose or reason for … [Read more...]

Hail and Farewell to Downton Abbey would have guessed in September 2010 when Downton Abbey's first season began to air in the U.K. that yet another period piece from the adept British producers of endless period pieces (think Brideshead Revisited or even Poldark) would take the world by storm? And yet, through adept writing and casting by Julian Fellowes and beautiful mansions and costumes and trains and cars, and story lines that were addictive and good acting by actors we had … [Read more...]

Gary Hoag’s Wealth in Ancient Ephesus and 1 Timothy– Part Five

Q3.BEN: In terms of methodology, you decided to follow the lead of the modern rhetorical approach of Vernon Robbins and his distinguishing of various ‘textures’ in the text (e.g.ideological texture, sacred texture etc.) as opposed to analyzing the material on the basis of historical rhetorical analysis. In addition on the social front, you have chosen to follow the lead of modern cultural anthropology as applied to the NT by Bruce Malina in his influential NT World volume instead of fol … [Read more...]

Changing the Subject– When Principles are Caricatured as Prejudice

One of the classic ways to either change the subject or stop a conversation is by labeling something mere prejudice. The conversation then changes if the speaker believes they are being shamed into being quiet. Indeed, often the conversation just stops. For example, when someone objects to some aspects of gay or lesbian or transgender sexual behavior, which for thousands of years has been critiqued as forms of sexual immorality by all sorts of intelligent people (doctors, lawyers, ministers, … [Read more...]

Meditations for the Lenten Season– Part Six

JOB DESCRIPTIONWhen comfort turns to torment And solace leads to pain Then Job will find his master and Receive his life again.When ashes without number Burn on the funeral pyre Then suffering is consumed And an end is made through fire.Yet through the fire a figure Stands golden, purified The one who once was taunted Has now been justified.Not through the will of mortals Nor through the countless saints Can come the vindication Of Job’s quite just complaints. … [Read more...]