What the Bible says to scientists

I’ve been reading the Psalms and I keep coming across texts that I’ve usually skimmed over but that speak in a startlingly direct way to contemporary questions.  I’ve blogged about some that deal with aesthetic issues and with artists.  Here is one that deals with scientists:

Great are the works of the Lord,
    studied by all who delight in them. (Psalm 111:2)

A person takes “delight in” something that God has made; that is, some aspect of the physical world or facet of existence.  That delight leads to study, to learning more and more about this work of the Lord.

A person may find delight in animals, rocks, the human immune system, stars, sub-atomic particles.  Or, by extension, anything else.   This is also a text for scholars of every kind.

It’s interesting to note that “delight” is a legitimate factor in finding one’s vocation. [Read more…]

“I will make melody with all my being”

Still more from the Bible on the arts from passages I’ve always skimmed over!  In the first verse of Psalm 108, a psalm of David, we read “I will sing and make melody with all my being!”

So singing and making melody (I suppose that would include composing) are done with “all” the artists’ “being.”  Creating a work of art takes everything that the artist is.  Imagination, yes, but also the intellect, all of the artist’s memories, beliefs, personality.

The literal rendition of those Hebrew words is “my glory.”  I suppose that would include the artist’s talents and gifts.  But the point seems to be that the creation (“I will. . .make melody”) or performance (“I will sing”) of a work of art is a holistic effort on the part of the artist, rather than the exertion of a single faculty.

Does such close reading of a text violate the Law/Gospel hermeneutic?  Not at all!  This word is Law to an artist, who is often tempted to work superficially, tossing off something just for commercial reasons, being fake, insincere, and inauthentic, imitating someone else for fashion’s sake rather than being true to oneself as an artist.

[Read more…]

“To you, O Lord, I will make music”

More aesthetics in the Bible, from passages that I had never noticed before:  Psalm 101, identified as “a Psalm of David,” reflects specifically on singing and making music.  It begins:

I will sing of steadfast love and justice;
    to you, O Lord, I will make music.

Elsewhere, David also refers to singing and making melody “to the Lord” (Psalm 27:6; see these other places).  So the Lord is the audience of the music.  The artist is addressing not other human beings but God Himself.

[Read more…]

Sample from my new book on vocation

The Acton Institute has put together a sample from my new book Working for Our Neighbor:  A Lutheran Primer on Vocation, Economics, and Ordinary Life.  It doesn’t include the new things I get into in this particular publication–much of what is excerpted here is developed in more detail in God at Work–but this gives a summary of Luther’s neighbor-centered ethic and the purpose of every vocation (namely, to love and serve our neighbors). [Read more…]

More on my new book on vocation

Again, I have just published a third book on vocation:   Working for Our Neighbor: A Lutheran Primer on Vocation, Economics, and Ordinary Life.
I thought I should give you the publisher’s description and some of the blurbs to give you a better idea of what it goes into. [Read more…]

My new book on vocation is out

I have a new book on vocation that has just come out: Working for Our Neighbor: A Lutheran Primer on Vocation, Economics, and Ordinary Life.

The Acton Institute is interested, among other things, in the interplay between faith, work, and economics.  Towards that end, the think tank has been publishing a series of books looking at those issues from the perspective of various religious traditions.  Acton has published “primers,” really monographs (short books), from the Reformed, Wesleyan, Baptist, and Pentecostal point of view.  They needed someone to write a Lutheran primer on the subject, so they asked me.

Lutheran theology and spirituality has a great deal to say about such things, centering in the doctrine of vocation, which I have been writing about (see this and this).  In researching and writing this book, I got into some other facets of vocation that I hadn’t explored before.   [Read more…]


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