Weekly Meanderings, 24 June 2017

Well done, Mike Bird.

Now that Bernie Sanders has made socialism cool again, were the early church socialists?

We have to ask because of those famous passages in Acts 2.44-45 and 4.32-35 about the believers selling their property and depositing the proceeds in a general fund, and quite understandably, people have touted the first Christians as proto-socialists. On the one hand, this has some traction since the Lucan Jesus always sides with the ‘poor’ and frequently condemns the rich (e.g. Lk 16.19-31 on the Rich man and Lazarus). Plus Luke describes how in the church there was ‘no needy persons among them’ (Acts 4.34) which itself is a rehash of the Law of Moses which commanded that the covenant community be one where there were no persons in need (Dt 15.4). It helps as well if we remember that another Jewish sect, the Essenes, appear to have practiced pooling wealth and possessions (CD 14.13; Philo, Quod Omnis Probus, 76-77, 85-87; Hypothetica 11.4-13; Josephus, Ant. 18.20-22; War 2.122-27) and even Roman authors like Seneca idealized a past when ‘you could not find a single pauper’ (Ep. 90.38). So it makes sense that the early church, thinking of itself as the vanguard of a renewed Israel, believed that it was called to a particular form of covenant community justice where wealth was shared and no-one was left to fend for themselves (see also Gal 2.10; 2 Cor 8.13-15; Jas 1.26-2.7). What is more, this sort of thing was necessary if the church, made up mainly of Galileans, was to sustain itself in Jerusalem, it would need an economic support for its leaders and care for the vulnerable in its ranks.

As to whether this is ‘socialism,’ well, technically no. I don’t think Peter or John were interested in getting the state to regulate the means of production when it came to the amount of olives, wheat, and grapes that were harvested; with the state also controlling the distribution of these goods by selling them at a fixed price at specified times of the year. In addition there is no indication that disciples were expected to give up all private property. The donation of goods was voluntary (see Acts 5.4) and it seems that people kept some property, otherwise, they would have nowhere to live and nowhere to meet (see Acts 12.12-13)!

So, no, not socialists, but probably generous in a way that would put most of us to shame.

Porter Taylor on liturgical snobbery:

You might be a liturgical snob if…

  1. You own a copy of Ritual Notes. Extra points if you treat it as holy writ.
  2. Complain regularly about the use of “just” in prayers. (This type of complaint is grating on my nerves. You can expect a post about it soon.)
  3. Debate versus populum and ad orientem
  4. Properly translate and interpret Prosper of Aquitaine. Hint: he didn’t say lex orandi, lex credendi.
  5. Have strong opinions about Hippolytus and Dom Gregory Dix.
  6. Sacrosanctum Concilium is a well-read part of your library.
  7. You have a thing for liturgical lace
  8. When asked to pick between incense and asperges your answer is, “Yes.”
  9. You treat the faculty of Notre Dame’s Liturgical Studies Department as celebrities or the Dream Team.
  10. You know the lineage and pedigree of your favorite Prayer Book and often refer to it as the Prayer Book.

Now, read through the list once more and if you are able to understand all 10 points and/or are guilty of the majority then you are officially a Liturgical Snob. Welcome to the club! Don’t take yourself too seriously, though. That’s where the problems set in. Go and enjoy yourself today: pray with a different liturgy, refrain from correcting someone on Facebook (you know you do it!), try using the word “just” in a prayer. Cheers!

A wonderful assignment by Jack Levison:

Paul is aware of this: power doesn’t mean flamboyant or gifted speaking. No, notes Jimmy, “the combination of divine power and human deficiency and weakness is important for Paul; it is power in weakness, through weakness which distinguishes Paul’s understanding of charisma from that of his Corinthian opponents” (227).

With this in mind, plan to spend a week of your devotional life meditating on the texts Dunn identifies on Paul’s proclamation.

  • Begin by reading that first quote by Jimmy Dunn.
  • Then read the text-of-the-day slowly. They’re short.
  • Next, write in a journal or pad what they mean for the kind of sermons you hear, the kind of sermons you deliver (if you do), and, most important of all, the kind of proclamation you offer to the world outside the church.
  • Then pray. Pray that your conception of power won’t be a poor substitute for power-in-weakness. Pray that style won’t trump compelling speech.
  • Then read the text-of-the-day again. Slowly.
  • Close your time by reading Jimmy Dunn’s quote again.

I bet a week spent like this may change you, reshape your perspective, clear the air of clutter.

So here are the texts that Jimmy gives.

  • Sunday: 1 Thessalonians 1:5-6
  • Monday: 1 Corinthians 2:4-5
  • Tuesday: Romans 1:16-17
  • Wednesday: 2 Corinthians 4:4-6
  • Thursday: Ephesians 6:17
  • Friday: Colossians 4:2-4
  • Saturday: Ephesians 6:19

There you go. A free (yes, free!) snippet of a seminary education that I hope will change, not only you, but those around you.

The summer job is vanishing:

WASHINGTON (AP) — It was at Oregon’s Timberline Lodge, later known as a setting in the horror movie “The Shining,” where Patrick Doyle earned his first real paycheck.

He was a busboy. The job didn’t pay much. But Doyle quickly learned lessons that served him for years as he rose to become the CEO of Domino’s, the pizza delivery giant:

Show up on time, dress properly, treat customers well.

“I grew up a lot that summer,” he says.

As summer 2017 begins, America’s teenagers are far less likely to be acquiring the kinds of experiences Doyle found so useful. Once a teenage rite of passage, the summer job is vanishing.

Instead of baling hay, scooping ice cream or stocking supermarket shelves in July and August, today’s teens are more likely to be enrolled in summer school, doing volunteer work to burnish their college credentials or just hanging out with friends.

For many, not working is a choice. For some others, it reflects a lack of opportunities where they live, often in lower-income urban areas: They sometimes find that older workers hold the low-skill jobs that once would have been available to them.

In July 1986, 57 percent of Americans ages 16 to 19 were employed. The proportion stayed over 50 percent until 2002 when it began dropping steadily. By last July, only 36 percent were working.

Economists and labor market observers worry that falling teen employment will deprive them of valuable work experience and of opportunities to encounter people of different ethnic, social and cultural backgrounds.

Mary Bowerman:

A camera found at a Goodwill store in Portland, Ore., revealed long-forgotten images of the Mount St. Helens eruption.

Photographer Kati Dimoff told KIRO-TV that she often finds old cameras and develops the film she finds inside. In May, she found an Argus C2 camera at Goodwill. Like always, she dropped the film from the camera off to be developed, and told KIRO-TV that when she picked the pictures up a note was scrawled on the back of the packet.

“Is this from the Mount St. Helen eruption?”

The images include shots showing Mount St. Helens from a distance, and others showed a larger ash cloud, according to Dimoff.

Thirty-seven years ago, Mount St. Helens erupted in Washington, spewing ash, rock, and hot gasses into the air and causing mud to flow down the mountainsides.

The eruption took place on May 18, 1980, at 8:32 a.m. PT and was “the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in the history of the United States,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The eruption killed 57 people and caused more than a billion dollars in damage. Ash blanketed the Pacific Northwest and stretched into 11 states and Canada. Fatalities included photojournalist Reid Blackburn, a USGS volcanologists named David Johnston and Harry Truman, a lodge owner in his 80s who rose to fame after he refused to leave the mountain in the weeks preceding the eruption.

“Another shot included a family in a backyard, who I’m hoping know the story of the camera,” she told KIRO-TV.

After the photos were posted byThe OregonianMel Purvis, contacted the news outlet and said he is in the pictures with his wife, son and grandmother. He believes the camera belonged to his grandmother, and Dimoff is planning to mail the camera and prints to him, The Oregonian reported.

“I almost fell out of my chair [when I saw the photos],” Purvis told The Oregonian. “That’s me.”

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