November 18, 2018

I was going to write the words below when sharing a link to Bob Cornwall’s post about forgiveness as a theological construct. But as I developed my thoughts, I decided it might be better as a post on my own blog. Here is what I was (and of course still am) inclined to share: The meaning of the cross is not that Jesus somehow makes it possible for God to forgive us, or persuades God to do so. The meaning… Read more

November 17, 2018

I’m grateful to IO9 for drawing attention to this video about the Matrix sequels and how, when viewed as adults, you will likely enjoy them more than you did originally. I love that the video’s maker emphasizes the difference between a younger and an adult perspective, and how now that he watches videos about philosophy for fun, watching a fun action movie woven through with philosophy is likewise enjoyable. The video is detailed and is worth watching for the connections… Read more

November 16, 2018

Paul Barford shared this quote from David Anderson, which I think exposes a sinister aspect of the “ancient aliens” idea that many are prone to miss: The central claim of the show is that humans could not have achieved feats of engineering and science without the help of aliens. If they’re right, humans are pretty dumb. If they’re wrong … well the whole show is an exercise is denigrating human achievement. There’s no evidence that aliens visited earth in the… Read more

November 15, 2018

On Facebook, Laura Robinson shared a blog post by Alisa Childers from the Gospel Coalition website that offered yet another of its characteristic attacks on more mainstream forms of Christianity. In this one, they focus on what they perceive as similar points made by atheists and progressive Christians (not noticing that we made them first and the atheists borrowed them from us). Here is what Robinson wrote in her critique of the piece by Childers: Okay, I want to talk… Read more

November 14, 2018

This week’s episode of the ReligionProf Podcast features Ken Derry who, along with John Lyden, edited the new book The Myth Awakens: Canon, Conservatism, and Fan Reception of Star Wars. The book is published by Cascade, an imprint of Wipf and Stock. The incredible thing about it, the thing that I couldn’t believe when it was pointed out to me and yet must acknowledge is true, is this: this is the first complete volume focused on Star Wars undertaken from… Read more

November 13, 2018

I have another example to share of a cultural blind spot that affects how we read a famous beatitude. I have a great deal of time thinking about the differences between Matthew’s “poor in spirit” and Luke’s “poor,” but less about the more puzzling part, for a reader in a rich country, namely the meaning of “poor in spirit.” Isn’t it more appropriate to say that it is the rich in spirit who are blessed? But teaching my class on… Read more

November 12, 2018

The episode “Demons of the Punjab” was incredibly moving. I’ve visited India but not Pakistan. For some years, I taught a course on South Asian Civilizations, in which we read the novel Train to Pakistan. I had a lump in my throat at many points during this emotionally powerful story set against the backdrop of real events. The story begins in the present day at Yaz’s grandmother’s birthday party. We learn that Umbreen, her grandmother, was the first woman to get… Read more

November 11, 2018

Those of us who read science fiction and/or fantasy, and watch movies and other dramatizations of those stories, know that there is often a gap between what a text describes and what our minds imagine, and another gap between those and what special effects can flesh out nowadays in greater detail. And so, while I’d welcome comments from scholars of the Bible regarding what is depicted, I think there is definitely benefit to this sort of undertaking, to make a… Read more

November 10, 2018

Tom Wright published two volumes on Paul in his ongoing systematic treatment of the New Testament, Christian Origins and the Question of God. They bear the title Paul and the Faithfulness of God. There is a lot to appreciate and admire about them, and few things to despise unless the sheer size overwhelms you. They were the focus of a Patheos book club a long while back. I was supposed to participate, but they got these enormous tomes to us late and… Read more

November 9, 2018

Longtime readers of this blog will recall that I have an activity that I run in my class on the historical Jesus, in which I get students to reenact what the Jesus Seminar became famous for doing at its meetings. The Jesus Seminar, for those who may not be familiar with it, produced a variation on the classic red letter editions of the Gospels. They voted as a group on which sayings of Jesus they consider authentic – the actual… Read more

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