A Test it is Better to Fail

Rachel Held Evans blogged about the story of Abraham trying to sacrifice Isaac, on the same day that I was scheduled to speak to a group of local artists about the story. She said what I personally consider the most appropriate response: I’d like to think that even if those demands thundered from the heavens [Read More...]

When Abraham Met Socrates

In my first year seminar class “Faith, Doubt, and Reason,” students read part of Genesis and the Euthyphro dialogue before being asked in an assignment to retell the Abraham story, putting themselves in Abraham’s shoes and wrestling with the question of what makes actions morals. This semester, I had a student start the dialogue this way: Socrates: [Read More...]

Abraham’s Test Updated

Yesterday in my first year seminar class, we talked about the story in which Abraham sets out to sacrifice Isaac. Since first-year university students tend not to have children, I wondered what could be as precious to them as a child would have been to an aged patriarch. I jokingly suggested their phones, and the idea for [Read More...]

Which Came First? Thoughts about Jesus and the Binding of Isaac

I’ve been reading a wonderful book about the Isaac story, James Goodman’s But Where Is the Lamb?: Imagining the Story of Abraham and Isaac. It is a history of interpretation, but written in an unconventional manner – as though the author of the Akedah story were surveying what future readers would say and do in response [Read More...]

Abraham and Isaac Live

As you will gather from the video above, the title of this post indicates not that these two patriarchs live, but that the video is a live performance of Benjamin Britten’s canticle “Abraham and Isaac.” See Bob Macdonald’s blog for another performance, and the text that Britten set here. Of related interest (since the story is one [Read More...]

Respecting Beliefs

I came across this image on Pinterest, on the same day that the Pope excommunicated the entire Mafia from the Roman Catholic Church. Religion can be a powerful force to do harm or to combat those who do harm. And the line between the two sorts of religion is not one that lies between different [Read More...]

A Close Shave

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Not Just a Pot

There is a comparison between God and a potter on the one hand, and humanity and pottery on the other, in both testaments of the Christian Bible. The analogy is not apt. Pots do not feel pain. And as human beings, we rarely agree that the simple act of creating means that the one who [Read More...]

Abraham “Heard Voices”

It is important to tread carefully when something tragic is in the news, such as Aaron Alexis' recent shooting rampage at a Navy yard. But my students are continuing to discuss the Abraham story and the Euthyphro today, and we simply cannot bypass the question of how one would react to someone in our time [Read More...]

Gentiles and Crap

As we continued working our way through Hebrews today in my Sunday school class, the mention of the curtain (separating the holy place from the most holy place or “holy of holies”), and the lack of mention of the temple (the author focuses instead on the tabernacle), led us to a broader discussion of the [Read More...]

Gentiles, Gays, and Animals

I had someone comment on a post I wrote about homosexuality, making the tired but nonetheless common non sequitur that, if one views same-sex relations as acceptable, then one must also embrace bestiality. I found myself wondering whether the apostle Paul faced the same sort of ridiculous objection from his contemporaries. I can imagine his [Read More...]


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