Bible stories: Shamgar

One of my favorite Bible stories is barely a story at all. It's the story of Shamgar, the parenthetical hero of the book of Judges. Here, in its entirety, is the story of Shamgar: After him came Shamgar son of Anath, who killed six hundred of the Philistines with an ox-goad. He too delivered Israel. That's Judges 3:31 and that's it. That's all we get. One verse with a body count and an unconventional choice of weapon and almost nothing more. A couple of chapters later, Deborah name-checks … [Read more...]

The Nephilim fossil of upstate New York

I'm not trying to jump the gun on the upcoming Patheos book club on this book, but I wanted to share this anecdote from W. Scott Poole's fascinating Monsters in America. It's the story of what happens when someone discovers a mastodon tooth before anyone knew what a mastodon was: In 1705 a farmer discovered a giant tooth near Albany, New York. Puritan divine Cotton Mather, a hunter of witches as well as monsters, wrote a series of letters about the discovery to the secretary of the Royal Society … [Read more...]

Proclaim liberty throughout all the land

My plan for economic recovery is as all-American as the Liberty Bell and as "values-voter" friendly as the Ten Commandments. Here it is: Declare a year of Jubilee -- "proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof." And no, I'm not kidding. Neither are some economists, as Jennifer Ablan and Matthew Goldstein report for Reuters: More than three years after the financial crisis struck, the economy remains stuck in a consumer debt trap. It's a situation that could take … [Read more...]

Sunday favorites

Amos 5:10-15 They hate the one who reproves in the gate, and they abhor the one who speaks the truth. Therefore, because you trample on the poor and take from them levies of grain, you have built houses of hewn stone, but you shall not live in them; you have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink their wine. For I know how many are your transgressions, and how great are your sins— you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and push aside the needy in the gate. Therefore the … [Read more...]

Sunday favorites

Matthew 5:3-9 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. … [Read more...]

Sunday favorites

Galatians 5:12-14 I wish those who unsettle you would castrate themselves! For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ … [Read more...]

Refusing to bow before the Beast

Apocalypse and Allegiance: Worship, Politics and Devotion in the Book of Revelation, by J. Nelson Kraybill, Brazos Press. The book of Revelation can be cryptic, but it's not really as impenetrable or strange as we sometimes make it out to be. Much of what we portray as baffling in John of Patmos' psychedelic visions would not have been even slightly ambiguous to those for whom the book was written. And since this is one of the first and clearest things John says in his Apocalypse, it should … [Read more...]

Sunday favorites

Romans 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. … [Read more...]


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