December 3, 2018

James Whitbrook wrote the following about the Doctor Who episode “It Takes You Away”: It was weird. And lovely? And messed up. And weird. It might be the most out-there episode of Doctor Who ever made, one that extrapolates some of the show’s key ideals (especially the one of finding beauty in the surreal and weird vastness of the universe we live in) to their farthest—almost definitely its most absurdist—extrapolation. And that’s saying something for a series with as bonkers a history, in… Read more

December 2, 2018

As my Sunday school class moved into John 11 a while back, the fact that Jesus seems to delay healing Lazarus so as to highlight his own abilities and glory to a greater extent seemed disturbing. We say that “the ends don’t justify the means” but most theists would exempt God from that principle. That raises the interesting question of whether the end never justify the means, or if we just think that our human perspective is so limited, and our foresight… Read more

December 1, 2018

An effort to be consistently literal in one’s interpretation of the Bible leads to absurdities. Even the people who are usually labeled “literalists” agree about this. Few of them think that trees will literally clap their hands, for instance. And so it would be ideal if the notion that some people “take the Bible literally” could simply be abandoned as not reflecting the stance of any actual people. Even people who claim to be “literalists,” as few as they are,… Read more

November 30, 2018

The Doctor Who episode The Stones of Blood is part of the Key to Time series of episodes, and involves the Doctor and Romana visiting a circle of stones in the UK. There, Prof. Amelia Rumford recognizes the Doctor, having heard him lecture. That in itself is cool and would make great fodder for fan fiction. Is that this Doctor? The curator from the future? The Doctor when he has decided to stay on earth and lecture during the era… Read more

November 29, 2018

Via Hemant Mehta. I’ve shared in the past a nativity scene with the migrants removed. This new one explains how that one came about. Fred Clark blogged about parallels between ICE and those who caught slaves in an earlier period in American history. In a post at the start of the “Christmas shopping season” (that marks the real “war on Christmas” if there is such a thing at all) Vance Morgan wrote: What sorts of things should Christians really be upset by… Read more

November 28, 2018

This week’s podcast features Douglas Estes, a New Testament scholar like myself who also engages with Christianity, culture, and technology. His latest book is Braving the Future, and some of you may have seen the article in Christianity Today about it. This is going to be a two-parter – there’s too much interesting stuff to talk about at the intersection of Christian faith and future (as well as present) tech to fit in just one podcast episode! I found it striking to… Read more

November 27, 2018

Pete Enns writes: Belligerence in theological discussions is a reaction to a deep fear—typically unperceived as such—that one’s narrative is under threat. Before someone goes off in the wrong direction, I am not saying Christians can’t disagree or even get angry. I’m talking about a life of faith marked by a theme of belligerence—hostility and aggressiveness toward others who think differently. You know who you are. And if you don’t, the people around you will let you know (if you listen). People… Read more

November 26, 2018

Episode 8 of Jodie Whittaker‘s first season as the Doctor, “The Witchfinders,” revisits many familiar tropes from Doctor Who’s old and recent episodes, while introducing a new element into the mix: King James. Yes, none other than King James I, the one for whom the Bible translation is named. Indeed, the influence of his translation on the phenomenon of witch hunts is explicitly acknowledged. The Doctor says early on that they mustn’t interfere with the fundamental fabric of history. Yaz… Read more

November 25, 2018

These past days I have been attending Starbase Indy for the first time, and presenting twice on the program together with my colleague Ankur Gupta. Both talks were at the intersection of science fiction, ethics, law, and computer programming. In the first presentation we looked at the challenges of programming driverless cars through the lens of the Kobayashi Maru scenario from Star Trek. The second presentation looked at what makes us human, the challenges of making artificial persons such as… Read more

November 24, 2018

The American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting was in Denver this year. The last time it was in Denver was in 2001, 17 years earlier. As I mentioned on Facebook while I was there, that was when I interviewed for the job I now have at Butler University. This year at AAR/SBL as I had conversations about book ideas, present papers, and did other things related to the diverse areas I work in – New Testament, Mandaeism,… Read more

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