November 9, 2018

I know full well that very few of you will use Jeremiah on the first Sunday of Advent, though I received a Facebook message just this morning that a long-time preacher friend of mine plans to do so from a pulpit in Spain. So I know that at least for her Jeremiah still speaks even at this uniquely Christian time of the year. Why that may be the case is the subject of this essay. First, a few scholarly observations… Read more

November 8, 2018

Since I have moved to Los Angeles, and have joined as an affiliate member Westwood United Methodist Church, I have over the past several months also joined a group of men within the church that meet over breakfast once a month. Our church has no official United Methodist Men’s group, so this collection of men serves like something of a substitute. We eat breakfast together, and then the co-sponsors of that day’s meal announce a topic for an open discussion…. Read more

November 7, 2018

Yesterday was the long-awaited mid-term elections, and I am grateful that the Democrats retook the majority in the House of Representatives. Whether this fact will change the country’s deep polarization remains to be seen, but at least there is now a chance that certain issues will get a louder hearing: climate change, shoring up the nation’s health care system, more compassionate immigration policies, etc. Gridlock may ensue, but I feel somewhat better that various climate change deniers will no longer… Read more

November 6, 2018

With this final Sunday before Advent, now called Reign of Christ Sunday, the Hebrew Bible once again falls under the aegis of the story of the New Testament. I admit to feeling somewhat sad on this Sunday, since I know that henceforth whatever text from the Hebrew Bible the lectionary collectors choose will only be offered in service to the story of Jesus and his birth, ministry, and death from now until Easter. I am a Christian, and so I… Read more

November 6, 2018

Those of us who have had the privilege of reading the Bible for the church for many years know all too well that there is in fact no “plain meaning” of the biblical text. As often as those who make that claim, especially those who imagine that anyone can translate “what the words say,” if they are able to read the ancient languages, are quite simply uttering a gigantic falsehood. There is no “plain meaning” of ancient texts, because translating… Read more

November 1, 2018

Last week I offered a reading of Ruth that has become important to me as an antidote to the overly romanticized portrait commentators have long provided. As I noted, after the fine analysis of Phyllis Trible in her groundbreaking book, God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality, simple readings of Ruth are no longer possible. Ruth is a book about a woman of power who through her fabled and risky devotion to her mother-in-law moves her world from emptiness to fullness…. Read more

October 31, 2018

When I first signed on to Facebook some years ago, the general talk seemed to revolve around the number of “friends” one had. I place quotes around friends for the obvious and much-discussed idea that many of these folks who have “befriended” you on the site are hardly your “friends” at all. At best, they are acquaintances and at worst you have no real connection with them at all, save an anonymous electronic one. Still, the struggle to gain the… Read more

October 29, 2018

I have written several times concerning the astonishing book of Ruth, how I gave it little thought after my first serious brush with it in my graduate work, how I did not use it in my preaching ministry for many years, how Phyllis Trible schooled my masculine eyes to view it as the potent statement it is. She taught me that it is decidedly not a story about a romance between Ruth and Boaz, generating the line of Israelites that… Read more

October 24, 2018

I have been setting up a new office space on the second floor landing of our Garage Mahal home. My desk, an IKEA model put together by yours truly, the incompetent handy man, faces directly onto the roof of the main house of our property. But, magnificently, that roof is made wonderfully tiny, nay insignificant, by the stunning redwood tree that graces the front of our place, just off the street apparently named after its three redwoods that tower over… Read more

October 22, 2018

Anyone who speaks two or more languages knows all too well that all translations from one language to another are only interpretations, and necessarily complex and oft times disputed ones at that. This is true even when those languages are modern, living ones, where the nuanced meanings of the words can be evaluated by native speakers of those languages. How much more difficult is it when one or more of those languages are dead, not having been spoken for millennia?… Read more

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