November 15, 2019

I thought I would share the complete original version of my review of Nicholaus Pumphrey’s book Superman and the Bible, which I edited (and probably improved in the process) for publication in Reading Religion, the book review outlet of AAR, where it has now appeared.   Review of Nicholaus Pumphrey, Superman and the Bible By James F. McGrath, Butler University Pumphrey’s book seeks to accomplish a number of heroic feats at once, illustrating what happens when a self-professed comic book nerd who… Read more

November 14, 2019

This article gets things exactly right. Digital skills cannot be either an “add-on” or the purview of computer science majors. And “digital natives” are faster with their thumbs but that isn’t the same as knowing how to discern reliable information on the internet they surf more fluidly and freely. From the article: “Today’s traditional-age students are digital natives. Google and Wi-Fi have been available for as long as they can remember; the first iPhone came out when they were in… Read more

November 13, 2019

Last week, Butler University took over the Academic Minute podcast. Mine appeared on Wednesday and in it (after I was introduced as “John”) I talked about the work I have been doing with Ankur Gupta, my friend and colleague in Computer Science, on the subject of Artificial Wisdom. Have a listen: James McGrath, Butler University – Artificial Wisdom Yes, they did get my name wrong and call me “John.” 🙁 On a related note, Daniel H. Wilson (author of bestselling science… Read more

November 12, 2019

The people of Israel, as depicted in the Hebrew Bible, often seem unrealistic. How could a people experience the Exodus from Egypt, the conquest of Canaan, and still other miraculous deliverances, only to continually turn away from faithful exclusive devotion to the one God? Historians have an answer to that, one that is different from a theological or narrative answer, and I think it is worth reflecting on, since it highlights something that historical critical approaches to the Bible can… Read more

November 11, 2019

Let me start this post with a quote from a recent Bloomberg article: Recent research suggests that contrary to the popular idea that majoring in art or literature is a route to personal penury and a contributor to industrial decline, there are actually plenty of science majors, except among low-income students. Moreover, while newly minted graduates with science and technical degrees enjoy a salary premium over their classmates in the humanities, that premium fades over time, in part because technological skills… Read more

November 10, 2019

There is a new book coming out that I am eager to read about composer James MacMillan.   He talks about his work composing music for use in his local congregation here: Another interview on this topic, in which he discusses (among other things) the search for the sacred in modern music, and the capacity of music to explore the mysterious without and beyond words, setting music apart even from other arts in the sense to which it transcends and… Read more

November 9, 2019

Today we’re having a memorial for my father, who passed away last month. I wrote up a brief tribute and thought I’d share it here: James P. McGrath passed away on October 18th, 2019 in Hamburg, New York. The son of James McGrath Sr. and Mary Kate (née Flanagan), he was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1932, and lived most of his life there. Jim earned a B.A. in political science and an M.A. in social studies from Brooklyn… Read more

November 8, 2019

Reading Sura 57 again recently, I found myself wondering whether anyone had ever made some kind of comparison – whether in detailed form in a book or in a blog post or anywhere else – between Muhammad and Martin Luther. There is a striking similarity in the spirit of reform of religion that already exists rather than a claim to offer something brand new. There is a striking difference in the genre of their predominant output and in their sense… Read more

November 7, 2019

Below are details about our TELA sessions at AAR in San Diego. I thought I’d also include some links of related interest to the Mandaean Book of John, which will be the focus of a review panel in one of the sessions. First is the just-released Bible and Beyond podcast episode in which I talk with Shirley Paulson about this fascinating text and the group that produced it. My review of Bogdan Burtea’s latest translation of a Mandaean text into German will… Read more

November 6, 2019

I’ve been looking forward to sharing this podcast for a while Meredith Warren for a while. We had a conversation about her work on hierophagy, which for those who might not recognize the Greek roots of the word is “sacred eating,” i.e. eating that not only has some sort of vague or highly symbolic religious connotations such as is familiar to at least many today, but eating that was thought to mediate an actual encounter and ingestion of a reality that… Read more

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