Robert Frost referred to the “pleasure of taking pains” over poetry. John Ciardi, who quotes this phrase in his How Does a Poem Mean?, explains that the paradox is only apparent. Poets take pains in their work in the same way that played take pains in the game. It’s the playfulness of poetry that explains its difficulty: “Chess is a play activity, yet it is play only because the players deliberately make the game difficult in order to overcome the difficulties…. Read more

In Renewing Christian Theology, Amos Yong cautions against understanding the charismata of the New Testament church as “supernatural” gifts “in the modernist sense.” Charismatics too need their nouvelle theologie. He elaborates: “Enlightenment rationalism distinguished what behaved according to natural laws versus what was thought to happen “supernaturally” due “only to divine activity. The earliest Christians did not operate according to such a dichotomous understanding of the natural and the supernatural. Rather there are various spiritual gifts, some more charismatic (such… Read more

Toward the end of a chapter on divine simplicity in his Engaging the Doctrine of Creation, Matthew Levering favorably quotes the following what Oliva Blanchette: “Metaphysics,more than anything else in philosophy, has to do with the question of transcendence, especially the kind of transcendence that is presupposed in properly religious belief. . . . Metaphysics may not begin with any idea of God in mind, but pushed to its ultimate limit, metaphysics ends up with such an idea, as of… Read more

The topic here isn’t movies about zombies. It’s the use of dead actors in movies. Alexi Sargeant explains why digital resurrection is so creepy, using Peter Cushing’s reprise of the role of Grand Moff Tarkin in Rogue One as the key example. Sargeant isn’t put off by the use of digital resurrections in extremis. If an actor dies mid-production, it makes some sense to finish the film with a digitized character. Rogue One broke new ground: “There was no overwhelming… Read more

The Azusa Street Revival that launched the Pentecostal movement was accompanied by a burst of racial reconciliation. An Anglican visitors marveled: “It was something very extraordinary, that white pastors from the South were eagerly prepared to go to Los Angeles to the Negroes, to have fellowship with them and to receive through their prayers and intercessions the blessing of the Spirit. And it was still more wonderful that these white pastors went back to the South and reported to the… Read more

After His baptism, Jesus went into the wilderness to fast and to be tempted by the devil for forty days and nights. The first temptation concerned food. Jesus was the new Adam, facing a food test not in a garden but in the wilderness. Jesus was the new Israel, hungering in the desert but refusing to grumble or distrust His Father. Satan tried to get Jesus to turn stones into bread, but Jesus answered, “Man does not live by bread… Read more

All around us, pundits have turned prophetic; analysts have become purveyors of apocalypse. Trump the beast is on the throne, and the world is falling apart. Rusty Reno thinks that reports of the world’s end are greatly exaggerated: “We observe a growing divide between reality and rhetoric. Stock markets rise; the interlocking global economic system hums; nations lose their minds during sporting matches. Yet despite so many signs of normalcy, prestige newspapers and magazines trumpet the dangers of fascism at… Read more

One Corinthians 13-14 includes a cluster of musical metaphors. Paul compares the tongue-speaking of the loveless as a “noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (13:1), and insists that tongues need interpretation by noting that you can’t know the tune without distinct tones (14:6-8). A few notes on what Paul’s analogies might contribute to a theology of music. For starters, it’s significant that Paul introduces these musical analogies in a section of Corinthians dealing with “spiritual gifts” (12:1). The connection between… Read more

INTRODUCTION This passage is part of the opening preamble and prologue of Proverbs (Waltke’s terms). It divides neatly into two sections: The first, verses 1-7, describe the purpose of the Proverbs as a whole, and function as an introduction to the entire book; verses 8-19 are an opening “lecture” from a father to his son. THE PURPOSE OF PROVERBS The purpose of Proverbs is described in many different ways in these few opening verses. The Proverbs are for “knowledge,” “discernment,”… Read more

Tisa Wenger’s Religious Freedom recounts what her subtitle calls the “contested history of an American ideal,” focusing on the period between the Spanish-American War and World War II. She doesn’t look at the theorizing of religious freedom, or court decisions. Instead, she’s interested in the way religious freedom worked in public discourse – who appealed to it and to what ends. Religious freedom was one dimension of an “assemblage” of concepts, institutions and practices, and appeals to religious freedom implied the… Read more

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