Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Thoughts on watching three seasons of Person of Interest


Spoiler alerts, I think.

Thanks to streaming services like Netflix, we now can watch, or binge watch, as the young people call it, television shows we have wanted to watch but missed.  For me this was Person of Interest.  I watched the first season in 2011-2012, but starting doctoral work in 2012 meant expunging certain practices from my life, mainly watching TV.  Person of Interest was the only show I really had any interest in (other than PBS programming and old movies, which sounds pretentious), so when it became available this fall on Netflix, I figured now I could slowly get caught up to speed on the story.

Let me first say that binge watching is not my style.  I grew up with television shows coming in small bites—once a week, or if in syndication, once a day.  So I didn’t watch more than two or three at a time at most, and usually only one.  On the other hand, it is really no different from reading a whole novel at once rather than waiting, as they did in Dickens’ time, for the next installment to be published and come off the boat from England.  And I did rewatch most of the first season for continuity. 

I finished the last two episodes last night.  I also finished my online course (MOOC) on C.S. Lewis from Hillsdale College.  So I am reflecting on both this morning before I get to work on less personal matters.  C.S. Lewis was really prolific as a writer and professor and also as a friend, and I can only conclude that this was because he had no television or Internet to distract him (and for most of his life, no family, but family is not a distraction—work is really a distraction from family commitments, or at least in service to it.)  So that is a nudge to me that if I want to be productive, entertainment media should be put way down the list of priorities.  Since I have finished the only TV show I was inclined to watch, that can happen now.

So, what about Person of Interest?  I started watching it because of its pedigree:  Nolan of Batman fame, Emerson and Abrams of LOST fame, and Caviezel, whose work I have always liked, even though I have never watched the whole Passion of the Christ. 

Why, you may ask?  Because when it came out too many people told me I had to in order to understand the crucifixion, and I thought that was incredibly stupid and I don’t like it when people tell me I have to watch or read anything.  It was like people who said I had to read The Shack to understand the love of God.  Give me a break.  However, the parts I did see told me Caviezel did a fine job in the part but he also had trouble as an actor getting past it afterward.

So, the production values and writing in the beginning were great, and those pretty much bore up through the first three seasons.  One of the disadvantages of watching quickly in succession is that the violence and gunfire gets old, especially when Shaw and Root came on the show.  The literariness of the scripts, the surprise plot twists (Vigilance being a ploy of Decima, I did not see that coming) and the quality of the acting held up, too, and I did want to keep watching until the end.

Which brings me to what I didn’t like.  Root’s story got more and more surreal.  I could buy just about everything (although it is of course a form of science fiction and not meant to be entirely verisimilitudinous) except her.  It got to where I hated seeing her.  In fact, after Carter died and they cleaned up the HR plotline, I was much less interested.  I am not saying it “jumped the shark” (love that expression), but it was pretty close.  I even liked the Peter Collier story line brought out at the end, and Shaw was just believable enough.  But Root?  No thanks, although Amy Acker is adorable and does a good job as a psychopath. 

The other borderline ridiculous part is that Reese always shows up at the right minute.  That gets old with successive watching; you know he’ll get there to save Harold or whoever.

The core philosophical question is how much surveillance is necessary or desirable to keep us safe?  It is a very fair question and one that the show does not argue for on one side, which also points to its quality of writing. 

Since the first three seasons are all that are posted, I can now get on with my life.  The last TV show I was ever committed to was LOST, and I promised myself I would never do that again.  Thanks to streaming video I can at least be addicted to a show on my own terms. 

Monday, December 28, 2015

Caveat

For those who might happen on this blog or who come a bit more regularly, I will confess to this being a web blog in the truest sense.  Although I have an agenda and boundaries about what I post (getting away from politics except when something or someone seems particularly egregious), the overall goal is to keep a record of my writing and thoughts and let you enter in, if you so desire.  I admit this may seem idiosyncratic and even egotistic, but you will notice I don't post reviews of my books or photos of myself,   only things that I think others will benefit from educationally or spiritually.  If you don't benefit from a particular post, then I apologize, but keep going back--you will probably find a lot here, since there are over 1450 posts.  If you are offended by something I write, well, I don't apologize, because today it's impossible not to offend someone just by one's simple existence.  I offend somebody just because I blog, or because I am a woman with opinions, or because I live in Georgia.  Just keep in mind I write and speak for myself and no other entity.  There is a professor in Florida who writes pretty mean stuff about the shootings at Sandy Hook and cries "academic freedom."  I don't think that person understands academic freedom.  You won't find anything like that here--just occasional digs at President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump and questions about craziness that goes on! 

Lesson on Matthew 28:16-20

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I was asked to teach this a few weeks ago.  

The book of Matthew is like a bookshelf with stories of Jesus life and records of his teaching, and it has two bookends.  As we look at the verses known as the Great Commission, we will see that the first chapter and the last five verses or so are like bookends to what is in between.

The Great Commission is a passage you have probably heard a lot of sermons on, especially at Missions Conferences, but to be honest, there is a whole lot more there than a command to do missions, although that is of course the main takeaway as Jesus is ending his time on earth after the resurrection.

Read passage.
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.
17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

1.     Setting.  After the resurrection, not specific as to when in that 40-day period, but also not the same time as Acts 1:8, which is the ascension.  So this is not the last time they see Jesus.  Interestingly, the last time they see him (Acts 1:8), he tells them essentially the same thing—spread the good news until I return. 

Acts 1:8-11.  He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them.
11 "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven."

            We are not entirely sure where this takes place in the Bible, but it is not Jerusalem.  After the resurrection Jesus appeared in different places, quite far distances from one another.  The end of John, where he forgives Peter after the fishing trip, is in Galilee.  So is this one.  In both Acts 1 and Matthew 28 “Galilee” seems to be important.  He is pointing out to them that they may be from Galilee but that will not be where they end up. 

II.  Characters. 
A.     The eleven (not Judas, very clear on that). 
B.     Obeyed as to the place they were supposed to go.
C.     They worshipped, but some doubted. 
a.     Even in worship, some were doubting.  Is this possible?  Very much.
b.     Even in the face of the resurrected Christ, they were doubting. 
c.      What kind of doubt is this? 
                                                        i.     Not to be taken as settled unbelief or willful unbelief.  The Bible is honest about belief and doubt.  Jesus often said, O Ye of Little Faith or Why do you doubt?  Sometimes we see it in word, sometimes in action. 
                                                       ii.     Could be seen as hesitation based on the miracle of the resurrection.  These were real people who knew nobody rises from the dead, that just doesn’t happen.  They had reason to be overwhelmed.
                                                     iii.     Some scholars interpret this as not recognizing Jesus in his resurrected appearance from a distance..
                                                     iv.     Discussion:  Is doubt always bad?  Where does doubt come from?  When do we doubt, and why? In the face of evil, majority pressure, Satanic or cosmic messages (usually through the media!) unanswered prayer, physical illness or fatigue?

III. Main character:  Jesus.
A.     The doubt was no surprise to Jesus.  John 2:2, Luke 5:22.  He knew the hearts of men.  Whether this means he was omniscient over what the people around him were thinking all the time or that he knew what was the motivating force in people (or both), he was fully aware of their reactions.  But as usual, he doesn’t berate them.  Notice how often in his dealings with people, Jesus doesn’t judge but at best chides in a kind way.
B.     The answer to doubt is a clear understanding of who Jesus is.  So he says, “All authority (power) is given to me in heaven and earth.” 
C.     We could stop here and do a whole study.  This is not random or isolated but a fulfillment of prophecies from the Old Testament and the bookend of Matthew.  Let’s go back first to Matthew 1:1. (this is where this fits in with Advent).  Read 1:1, 18-25. 
a.     Verification that he is the Son of David.
b.     Psalm 2
c.      Daniel 7:14.
d.     Jesus had authority before the resurrection, but after the resurrection he has all authority. 
e.     Notice how many times all is repeated in these verses:  all authority, all nations, all things I have commanded, always I am with you.  This is a very final and absolute command. 
IV.  Doctrinal teaching
A.     Missions is needed because Jesus has authority over all, and they must let that be known everywhere. 
B.     Make disciples:  More than giving a message, but outcomes.  It doesn’t say here or the other passage to “preach.”  The commands are go, teach (which takes many forms), see to baptism for identification, and move toward obedient lives with people.  The personal nature of this is very clear—you can’t do any of this without relationship.
C.     No quotas.  It’s not a contest.
D.    The trinity:  IN the name of  (not names) the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
E.     I am with you. 
a.     Here is the other bookend:  Immanuel, God with us. 
His presence is not ended by the ascension.  The name Immanuel did not apply only when he was physically on earth.  What a thought for Christmas. 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

A New Old Hymn

I had never heard this one before today.  The basic metaphor is thrilling. Some of the middle stanzas may seem anti-semitic, but I post it here in its entirety

Tomorrow shall be my dancing day;
I would my true love did so chance
To see the legend of my play,
To call my true love to my dance;

Chorus
Sing, oh! my love, oh! my love, my love, my love,
This have I done for my true love

Then was I born of a virgin pure,
Of her I took fleshly substance
Thus was I knit to man's nature
To call my true love to my dance. Chorus

In a manger laid, and wrapped I was
So very poor, this was my chance
Betwixt an ox and a silly poor ass
To call my true love to my dance. Chorus

Then afterwards baptized I was;
The Holy Ghost on me did glance,
My Father’s voice heard from above,
To call my true love to my dance. Chorus

Into the desert I was led,
Where I fasted without substance;
The Devil bade me make stones my bread,
To have me break my true love's dance. Chorus

The Jews on me they made great suit,
And with me made great variance,
Because they loved darkness rather than light,
To call my true love to my dance. Chorus

For thirty pence Judas me sold,
His covetousness for to advance:
Mark whom I kiss, the same do hold!
The same is he shall lead the dance. Chorus

Before Pilate the Jews me brought,
Where Barabbas had deliverance;
They scourged me and set me at nought,
Judged me to die to lead the dance. Chorus

Then on the cross hanged I was,
Where a spear my heart did glance;
There issued forth both water and blood,
To call my true love to my dance. Chorus

Then down to hell I took my way
For my true love's deliverance,
And rose again on the third day,
Up to my true love and the dance. Chorus

Then up to heaven I did ascend,
Where now I dwell in sure substance
On the right hand of God, that man
May come unto the general dance. Chorus

Boxing Day

The British and Canadians observe Boxing Day, a day of charity (boxing food for the poor).  In the U.S. we have our own version.

It is called that because we take our boxes that Christmas presents come in to the landfill or recycling center.  I celebrated it myself, and our center was having a hard time handling all of it.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Advent 2015 December 24

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Last of my posts, for Advent is tomorrow.  I do minimal Christmas preparations, compared to some women.  One tree.  Reasonable amount of baking because the three of us don’t need all these sweets.  Small number of gifts because we need nothing, really.  I am trying to simplify and lighten the load of belongings rather than make them greater. 

But I do have my traditions.  Ham and potato salad and such for lunch.  Attending the church’s Christmas Eve candle light service.  Traditions should pull something from us but not be onerous.  That one is heartwarming and reassuring.

Perhaps one day we will have grandchildren to spoil at Christmas.  For now we are thankful for the miracles around us.    

Merry Christmas to all.  This will end my posts for a while, but I will be working on a series about C.S. Lewis (based on the online course I am taking from Hillsdale College) and other aspects of spirituality.

Advent 2015, December 23 Part II

This article resonates with me.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2015/december-web-only/kirsten-powers-becoming-christian-ruined-my-love-of-christm.html

I have struggled with Christmas in a similar way.  I find only by mindful planning and controlling its process can I survive it.  I also find this blog helpful.

Good news, I think.  We took our little dog to the shelter because we didn't feel that we could take care of him any longer.  Long story.  The shelter says he has been adopted or rescued.  I am very happy.  That is a good enough present for me.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Advent 2015 December 23


Despite my post of yesterday, I admit with William Wordsworth that the world is too much with us.  I am reading Winston Churchill’s History of the English Speaking Peoples.  What a bloody history on that island, at least in the Roman conquest, since the Britons did not want to be subjugated (a theme of Churchill’s, I would imagine, although the Britons of 43 A.D. were not exactly the same people of those of WWII).

Tens of thousands were killed, according to the Roman historians he quotes.  Why is there such slaughter in human history?  How does the birth of Christ affect this centuries-long holocaust? I do not know.  But Isaiah called him the Prince of Peace, and I don’t think is just meant to be internal peace, some Buddhist mindfulness type of inner tranquility.  In fact, Christ said he brought a sword, too.  Peace is not won by encouraging people to eat tofu and sit under a tree.  That doesn’t deal with the deep longing and the deep intransigence of the human soul.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Advent 2015 December 22

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Yesterday’s post touched on something I want to note:  We see in the Christmas story that miracle is mixed with the material.  The miracle or mystery is seen in interventional aspects that aren’t supposed to happen:  virgin and old age conception, dreams, angels, an out-of-the-natural star.  The material is everything else:  a fiancé who doesn’t see a way out of a socially embarrassing predicament, a teenage girl who doesn’t understand what’s going on in her body, a tyrannical king afraid of anything that would dethrone him, a tax from Rome (governments and taxes and census have nothing miraculous to them), giving birth in an uncomfortable setting (women do it today all over the world), poverty, shepherds. 

The material, the ordinary and mundane, the physical, are prominent in the story and while we would want more details (inquiring minds want to know), far more details are given of this birth than any other biblical or ancient one.  “The birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise,” the old KJV says.  The human and worldly are given more detail than the miraculous; the miraculous are stated matter-of-factly as if angels appear to people everyday and God speaks to us every night.

Well, maybe they do.  Maybe the miraculous is all around us and we just don’t have the reception equipment to hear it.  Sitting here right now I have wifi as I type; I have the equipment to receive the Internet.  But not always—if I close the computer and walk away, I am oblivious to all the Internet around me.   My view is that God speaks to us all the time; we just don’t listen.  The miraculous happens all the time; we just don’t take it in. Instead of dismissing the miraculous, perhaps we have it backward.  The miracle of God’s intervention all the time is normal and the material without his intervention is rare.  Just a thought.

Addition to Top Ten Thoughts on Star Wars

This is really #13:  If your father is Darth Vader, you probably want to adopt and skip the procreation.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Top Ten Thoughts About Star Wars

I just came back from seeing The Force Awakens.  My thoughts.

1.  It was fun.
2.  As a sixty-year-old woman, it was more interesting to see Harrison Ford than Carrie Fisher.  No one applauded when she showed up, but they did when Han and Chewie did. 
3.  Chewie hasn't aged.
4.  The droid is clever.
5.  The more minimalist approach to CGI was visually appealing to me.
6.  J.J. had to put one of his LOST actors in there, Ken Leung, which seems too obvious.
7.  Why were there the same races back then?  That is of course one of the many plot holes.  Who the heck is Snoke supposed to be?  (Just another version of the emperor?)
8.  I was impressed with Daisy Ridley. Very appealing.
9.  Women were given a more prominent role as  warriors and leaders in this one.
10.  I liked the whole story of Finn.  I am wondering if Huckleberry Finn finding his humanity is the reference here.  The actor does a good job. 
Why stop at 10?
11.  I waited until the end of the credits to see where it was filmed.  (Haha, no outtakes bloopers).  Iceland, Ireland, and Abu Dabi. 
12.  A certain character who is supposed to be the offspring of other certain characters sure doesn't look like his/her parents.   That character sure has anger management issues, too. 
So an even dozen. 
No spoilers, but I was surprised by some plot points.  Some of them were awfully similar to the first one, though.  

 

Advent 2015 December 21

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The Voice is a show I have maybe watched twice, and I am not sure why even that.  However, a student at a local Christian university won the competition and he does have a fabulous voice.  He sang the song made famous by Kathy Mattea and written by Mark Lowry, who is mostly known for being comedic and working with the Gaithers (and it is a problem for me that I could not think of that group’s name and had to google it).

I am glad that Christmas songs are still being written.  Some of them are not so memorable but some are.  I like the quirkiness of “A strange way to save the world.”  (Below) I do not like “The Little Drummer Boy” as it has absolutely no tie-in scripturally and it’s just annoying (but I imagine fun to sing).  I have a friend who has physiological reactions when she hears "Go Tell It on the Mountain."  Nothing lifts the spirits like "Joy to the World," though, and you can use it for first or second advent celebration.

That new ones are being written every year is testament to human ingenuity but also the depth of the mystery in the story.   We can examine every human element and then make some imaginative connections, but we come back to the fact that it is miracle mixed with material.  And isn’t that the way it is every day of our lives?

I'm sure he must have been surprised
At where this road had taken him
Cause never in a million lives
Would he have dreamed of Bethlehem

And standing at the manger
He saw with his own eyes
The message from the angel
Come to life, and Joseph said

Why me, I'm just a simple man of trade
Why Him, with all the rulers of the world
Why here, inside this stable filled with hay
Why her, she's just an ordinary girl
Now I'm not one to second guess
What angels have to say
But, this is such a strange way to save the world

To think of how it could have been
If Jesus had come as He deserved
There would have been no Bethlehem
No lowly shepherds at His birth

But, Joseph knew the reason
Love had to reach so far
And as he held the Savior in his arms
He must have thought

Why me, I'm just a simple man of trade
Why Him, with all the rulers of the world
Why here, inside this stable filled with hay
Why her, she's just an ordinary girl
Now I'm not one to second guess
What angels have to say
But, this is such a strange way to save the world

Friday, December 18, 2015

Advent 2015 December 20

In cleaning out my office this week I found something I wrote down and tucked away.  A pastor had said to the board of the church:  I am your servant but you are not my masters.

I like that.  Christ came as a servant, but He is also the Master. 

Advent 2015 December 19

I will refer readers to this article in Christianity Today from December 18.

Errors in Christmas Sermons

I can appreciate this article and its emphasis on the truth, but a part of me wants to say, "Lighten up."  (a really small part, but . . . ).  It's like one thing I saw one Facebook decrying songs, "Mary did know." (in reference to the song "Mary Did You Know?")  Well, actually, Mary didn't know everything that would happen.  That's why she pondered.  It seems that some people go out of their way to find fault.

There is sometimes a fine line between meaningful emotional connection and sentimentality.  Forgive us a little sentimentality at Christmas.  Some of us need it.

Advent 2015 December 18

I am a little late on this today. 

Like most of my generation, I watched A Charlie Brown Christmas many times in my younger years (although not so much lately.  TV is not something I have time for.)  I heard a radio commentator saying yesterday that they kids are actually very mean in that show; as I recall, they pretty much bully Charlie Brown.  What most of us remember are two things:  the Christmas tree and that Linus recites a portion of Luke 2 towards the end.

What is significant is that the Scripture recitation changes everything--the children's attitudes, and thus the tree, and their celebration.  So, let's keep that in mind--the power of the truth of Christmas.  See next post.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Advent 2015 December 17


My last line in the last post may have seen strange.  Hesitation can be wise, but there is some point at which we take a step of faith and move.  I won’t use “leap of faith" because it originated with Kierkegaard and he did not mean by it entirely how we mean it or use it now.  A step forward will do; I am not sure God expects leaps (as in steps into total darknesses) of faith.  Isaiah 30:21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."   I see a gentle guide saying “take the next step in faith despite your lack of full knowledge” rather than a voice saying, “jump off the cliff into a crazy unknown.”  

Christianity is not a superstitious religion, despite some of the miracles that stretch human credulity, and this brings us to a second kind of doubt. The first, what I was trying to get at in the first paragraph, is existential.  The second is intellectual.  Although I think some personality differences make us gravitate toward one or the other, I don’t think anyone is immune to both.  Sometimes we doubt God’s will in our lives and where we are going and circumstances (that’s the existential); sometimes we doubt God’s Word and the record in the Bible (that’s the intellectual).  And of course they are not separate, but overlapping. 

Doubt, and admitting to it, can be a faith-strengthener if it leads one to further discovery.  It does matter that continual practice of spiritual disciplines (although I can find fault with that term, we’ll go with it for now) of study, prayer, worship, fellowship, and giving through time and resources are followed, because they support the journey of faith strengthening.  Disavowing those things will only make doubt stronger and the accompanying habit of self-deception deeper.    

Today is my 60th birthday.  Praise God.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Advent 2015 December 16

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The last five verses of the gospel of Matthew tell us of the eleven disciples (very specific that Judas is gone) meeting on a mountain in Galilee to wait for Jesus to appear after the resurrection and before the ascension.  The text says “they worshipped, but some doubted.”  I have never heard a sermon on the “but some doubted.”
Your theology has to have a place for doubt.  Someone who says they never doubt either is lying or is will be surprised one day when it happens to them.
Doubt is real and likely to happen, but it is not insurmountable. I like to think of doubt not as settled unbelief, but as hesitation; in fact, that is the core meaning of the word in the Matthew passage.  Not that I am affirming doubt, just naming the elephant in the room so we can deal with it.

Doubt has legitimate sources: for me, the presence of great evil; for others, unanswered prayer; for others, peer pressure and the voices of the world, sometimes voices that are right.  Sometimes doubt may cause us to seek God more and find out that what we thought we believed about God and his world really aren’t so. And of course, doubt is ultimately a choice, just as faith is
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     There is plenty to doubt in Christmas story in Luke and Matthew, if one hesitates and does not throw himself/herself into the story and really live its fullness. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Advent 2015 December 15

A few months ago I decided to sponsor a child through Compassion International.  It is a minimal amount of money and there is strong research to support that it is just about the best way to help lift children from poverty.  See this article

My child is a seven-year old girl in Rwanda.  To protect her, I won't give a name.  I try to write her every three weeks or so.  I am not the most attentive, but letters are very slow and I have only gotten one from her so far.  She's cute. 

On a related note, 11 million gift boxes went out through Samaritan's Purse.  My son sent one, one that sounded pretty chock full. 

In all the rhetoric about Christmas being so materialistic, there is really only one answer:  Stop buying so much for yourselves and be a better steward of resources entrusted to you. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Advent 2015 December 14

Sunday I taught the last five verses of Matthew, but not as it is usually taught.  I taught it as being about doubt, about authority, and about Advent.

It's not one that is presented as an Advent passage, but it is.  Read them and contemplate how it is about the first chapter of the book of Matthew.  Consider the first chapter and those last five verses as bookends holding together the whole gospel.

One hint, and more will follow.  The meaning of Immanuel and the promise in the last independent clause of the last verse.

Otherwise Advent note:  I cleaned a good bit yesterday and realized that my goal of a yard sale is not worth my time and effort, so the Salvation Army will be getting my merchandise.  But I found some interesting things:  an earring and a ring I really missed.  Lots of books I forgot I had, and a stash of my son's Star Wars toys.  He came over tonight and I told him they were down there--he bolted downstairs and came up, then was posting photos of them on Instagram!  I guess I made his day.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Advent 2015 December 13

Twenty-seven years ago I gave birth to my son.  I like to remind him of how long I was in labor.  He rolls his eyes.  He came over today and helped us install a new microwave (my birthday present, not very exciting but the old one worked at one level and had no light).  He plans to spend his birthday eating brunch with friends at Waffle House, channeling his inner redneck (he comes by it honestly) and watching a Star Wars marathon.  He is taking the 18th off to watch the movie twice.  He is very mature about most things, very responsible, but not quite grown up about that kind of thing.

Anyway, my Advent Post today is to draw your attention to something I did not know existed, but should have known better. Here
 
is a recording of C.S. Lewis from his radio program during WWII talking about prayer.  He does not sound like Anthony Hopkins (whose voice is probably too Scottish).  I enjoyed listening to it, so you should, too.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Advent 2015 December 12


Dreams and visions figure into the Advent story.  We moderns don’t trust them, especially after Sigmund Freud.  We doubt why God would use those to accomplish anything.  Joseph had three, the Magi had at least one, and there are probably others that aren’t recorded. 

It is against my nature to trust my own surreal dreams.  The dreams mentioned here had practical outcomes and saved some lives.  They made Advent possible. 

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.

24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.
13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him."
19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt
Did Joseph ever think, what next?  Did he fear sleep because of what might come to him?  Or did he embrace it for guidance? 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Advent 2015 December 11


And he shall be called Immanuel, which is God with us.

And you shall call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins.

You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't his mother's name Mary, and aren't his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? (Carpenter is better translated “technon,” possibly “stone mason.”)

We have found the Messiah.

Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.

Six statements from the gospels about what people said about Jesus.  Can you match them to their speaker?

Angel, prophecy, Peter, Andrew, John the Baptist, the crowd

Can you identify the one that isn't quite right? 

Do you believe the proclamation of the other five?

Advent 2015 December 10


Quote from Wayne Muller:  We need so little to feel loved; all we need to do is begin to notice the multitude of tiny gifts and small miracles that punctuate each day we are alive. 

Some sociological research into Facebook shows that people who spend more time on it are more depressed because they look at the happy pictures of their “friends” and compare their own lives and think, “I am not so happy.”  I have been guilty of it myself.  I do not post much (since I blog and don’t want to be posting what I had for lunch or selfies) but I look at others and wonder why I don’t have this or that or the others. 

Muller is perfectly right, and this Advent season is the perfect time to live by his admonition.

Fresh Look at Matthew: Matthew 18 in total

I have decided to post all of my thoughts on Matthew 18 at once.  After this I will take a short break from posting about Matthew, not becau...