These three pieces have gone up quite recently on the website of the Interpreter Foundation:
Conference Talks: “Science and Genesis: A Personal View,” originally presented in 2013 by Jeffrey M. Bradshaw
Given their status as targets of humor and caricature, the well-worn stories of Adam, Eve, and Noah are difficult for many people to take seriously. However, we do an injustice both to these marvelous records and to ourselves when we fail to pursue an appreciation of scripture beyond the initial level of cartoon cut-outs inculcated upon the minds of young children. In this chapter, Jeffrey M. Bradshaw shares five personal lessons learned from the Book of Moses and Genesis 1-11.
In the 18 December 2022 Come, Follow Me segment of the Interpreter Radio Show, Bruce Webster and Kris Frederickson discussed New Testament lesson 5, covering Matthew 3, Mark 1, and Luke 3. The Interpreter Radio Show can be heard Sunday evenings from 7 to 9 PM (MDT), on K-TALK, AM 1640, or you can listen live on the Internet at ktalkmedia.com.
Once again, as he has so generously done week after week, Jonn Claybaugh provides students and teachers of the Church’s “Come, Follow Me” curriculum with a concise but helpful set of notes.
Oh. Now this one really hurts: “David Crosby, an original member of the Byrds and a founder of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, has died. He was 81.” When I was just a lad, I saw the Byrds in concert at the Long Beach Sports Arena (or whatever it was called). My brother had to drive me and my friend. They followed “Paul Revere and the Raiders,” who had one or two hits at the time, and they were followed by the Rolling Stones, who had just released “Satisfaction” shortly before. (So this must have been 1965.) I was there at least as much for the Byrds as for the Stones. I was a major fan. I may still have the paper that I wrote about “folk rock” and the Byrds back in seventh or eighth grade, complete with illustrations clipped out of magazines and newspapers and painstakingly affixed with rubber cement. I followed the members of the Byrds after they broke up. They would sometimes perform at the Ice House in Pasadena, where I was a regular. Specifically, I recall hearing Chris Clark several times, as well as David Crosby himself. Once, I met Crosby as he was leaving the club after a performance and we had a brief while he was sitting on his motorcycle. Then he joined up with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Wonderful. These people were heroes of mine. Icons. And, in my memory, they’re still eternally young. Until they’re not. David Crosby. Dead at eighty-one.
Farid al-Din Attar, who died in the early thirteenth century, is one of the greatest of all Muslim mystics. His most famous work is a lengthy allegorical poem entitled Mantiq al-Tayr, which is typically rendered in English as The Conference of the Birds or The Parliament of the Birds. It’s full of little sermonettes and stories and exhortations, subordinate to the overall plot of the story that it relates. Here is one of them, as translated by
A Moslem fought an infidel one day
And as they fought requested time to pray.
He prayed and fought again – the infidel
Then asked for time to say his prayers as well;
He went aside to find a cleaner place
And therefore his idol bowed his face.
The Moslem, when he saw him kneel and bow,
Said: “Victory is mine if I strike now.”
But as he raised his sword for that last stroke,
A warning voice from highest heaven spoke:
“O vicious wretch – from head to foot deceit –
What promises are these, you faithless cheat?
His blade was sheathed when you asked him for time;
For you to strike him now would be a crime –
Have you not read in Our Koran the verse
‘Fulfill your promises’? And will you curse
The word you gave? The infidel was true;
He kept his promises, and so should you.
You offer evil in return for good –
With others act as to yourself you would!
The infidel kept faith with you, and where
Is your fidelity, for all your prayer?
You are a Moslem, but false piety
Is less than this poor pagan’s loyalty.”
The Moslem heard this speech and went apart;
Sweat poured from him, remorse accused his heart.
The pagan saw him as if spell-bound stand,
Tears in his eyes, his sword still in his hand,
And asked: “Why do you weep?” The man replied:
“My shame is not a matter I can hide” –
He told him of the voice that he had heard
Reproaching him when he would break his word,
And ending said: “My tears anticipate
The fury of your vengeance and your hate.”
But when the infidel had heard this tale,
His eyes were filled with tears, his face turned pale –
“God censures you for your disloyalty
And guards the life of His sworn enemy –
Can I continue to be faithless now?
I’ll burn my gods, to Allah I will bow,
Expound His law! Too long my heart has lain
In darkness bound by superstition’s chain.” (137-138)
Finally, though, here are three deliciously offensive links that I’ve retrieved, for your indignation and terror, from the Christopher Hitchens Memorial “How Religion Poisons Everything” File©: