Goha, his son, and their donkey

Juha Goha Nasruddin, etc.

  There's a famous folkloric character who shows up across much of the Middle East, in the Balkans, and etc.  He goes by various names -- e.g., Nasruddin Hoca (pronounced Nas-ru-deen Ho-jah) or Nasreddin Hodja in Turkish, and Mulla Nasruddin, and, in Arabic, Juha (or, in the dialect of Cairo and Lower Egypt), Goha -- in hundreds of jokes and little stories.  To the extent that there's a real historical personage behind the anecdotes, which typically portray him as a kind of … [Read more...]

New Testament 58-59

Buhayrat Tiberya

  Matthew 5:38-48Compare Luke 6:27-36 A very memorable passage.  (There are, of course, few sayings of Jesus in the gospels that aren't memorable.) First of all, there is his description of radical Christian love, directed even at enemies.  Such love can sometimes even stop an enemy in his or her tracks.  Consider, for example, the case of the people of Ammon, the Anti-Nephi-Lehies, described in Alma 24. Such love is exceedingly di … [Read more...]

“What separates the Bible from a book of moral fables such as Grimms’ Fairy Tales?”

Doppelporträt der Brüder Jacob und Wilhelm Grimm

  A prominent American Catholic thinker (in whose company I was once privileged to spend about a week during small meetings on the island of Malta) responds to a granddaughter's question: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/michaelnovak/2015/01/emilys-first-question/   … [Read more...]

“God, Science, and the Big Questions: Leading Christian Thinkers Respond to the New Atheism”

The bell tower on the campus of Biola University

  If you have two hours -- or, perhaps more realistically, if you can watch it in bits and pieces -- and if you have any interest in questions about contemporary science and religious belief, you might really enjoy (and profit from) this discussion, held on the campus of Biola University, in La Mirada, California (not far from where my parents lived for many years): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpJm-qX3rW0&feature=youtu.be&t=15m00s In … [Read more...]

On not reading good books

Samuel Langhorn Clemens, by another name

  "The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them." Mark Twain (1835-1910)    … [Read more...]

“Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God”

Galilee, Tiberias, looking eastward

  Jeffrey Bradshaw, Kristine Frederickson, Benjamin McGuire, Daniel Peterson, and Bruce Webster join up for The Interpreter Foundation's 107th "scripture roundtable": http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/scripture-roundtable-107-new-testament-gospel-doctrine-lesson-9-seek-ye-first-the-kingdom-of-god/ The discussion focuses on Lesson 9 in the 2015 Gospel Doctrine manual, which treats Matthew 6.   … [Read more...]

On the frontiers of geoengineering

Terraforming Mars

  A relatively recent article in the Economist ("Into the great wide open," 13 December 2014) describes forthcoming experiments that might be used to modify earth's climate. If, for example, low-lying maritime clouds -- that is, clouds over Earth's oceans -- could be made just a tiny bit brighter, thus reflecting sunlight back into space, terrestrial temperatures could be sufficiently lowered to compensate for any warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions. … [Read more...]

New Testament 57

Perry Mason and his faithful secretary

  Matthew 5:33-37 Some Christian groups have, quite understandably, taken this passage to mean not merely that disciples of Jesus shouldn't swear falsely but that they should never take oaths (e.g., of citizenship) at all. But this seems to me mistaken, and quite impractical. Why?  Because our society runs on promises such as contracts, marriage covenants, and the like.  We could not, and should not, function without t … [Read more...]