Religious Grounds

Java for the journey.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

N.T. Wright on Christian Essentials

A little while ago over on Clint's blog, he asked who the most influential current North American theologian would turn out to be, and gave a number of choices. I chose "other," not only other theologian, but other continent, and named Bishop of Durham N.T. Wright, (a.k.a. "Bishop Tom," in the current folksy vernacular).

Anyhow, he sure does spend a lot of time in the U.S. of A., giving lectures and speeches, in a fashion that can only be described as apologetic in the Christian sense of the word. The N.T. Wright page links to many lectures, speeches, which are available on the web in mp3 format.

Here is Wright, speaking at a San Francisco CityChurch Open Forum, on his book, Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Luther said what?

This post at "Get Religion" nicely debunks a fashionable claim that Martin Luther himself believed Jesus to be a serial adulterer, based upon a offhand comment recorded in Table Talk.

However, the commenters reduce the fact-checking and analysis to "that's your opinion," and whine "Can't you present both sides?" I riposte.

Maybe this new "positive, speculative" stuff is just a denial of my inner blogger. Could it be that I like being confrontational? :)

Monday, May 22, 2006


Yogi Berra, former manager of the New York Yankees(?) was famous for his inadvertent contradictory statements. Any such statement has become known as a "Yogi Berra-ism." Here's one I heard the other day:

"No one goes there anymore; it's too crowded."

Anyone got any others?

Monday, May 15, 2006

Vote now!

Which was the scarier piece in last Thursday's USA Today?

a) The front page article on the NSA's "call tracking" program
b) The article on the front page of the "Life" section which asked the serious question: "Is Oprah Winfrey a spiritual leader?" and quoting some professor somewhere who called her "a hip, materialistic Mother Teresa."

I can't decide.

All that is to be known is revealed

"Some theologians think that a Christ-centered theology does not do justice to the Triune God, who is 'much more.' They are particularly disturbed by the lack of emphasis on the Father, who as the Creator supposedly makes himself known through the orders of creation, and on the Holy Spirit, who as the Illuminator, Comforter, and Sanctifier supposedly makes himself known in the hearts of men. What they fail to realize is that they have fallen into a tri-theism that violates the generally accepted ground rule of the doctrine of the Trinity, namely, 'The works of the Trinity in relation to the creation are undivided.' Furthermore, in appealing to a knowledge of God apart from Jesus Christ they disregard the blindness of sinful man to true reality and actually advocate a "God" who is no more than an extension of the world. It was Bonhoeffer's contention, and we think he was right, that in the man Jesus Christ all that is to be known of God in his relation to the world is revealed. We know God only in this human form, in the 'incognito' of the flesh, in the weakness of the crib and the cross, in the One whose entire concern was for others - even unto death. But precisely in him we know all.

"What do we mean by 'all'? Just this: that through and in him all reality, the reality of the world and the reality of God, is opened up to us..."

-John Godsey, "Bonhoeffer the Man,"
in Preface to Bonhoeffer, 1965

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Homo loquax?

Tom Wolfe, in his National Endowment for the Humanities Lecture, intimates that it is speech which separates humans from animals, short-circuits evolution, and is the foundation of religion. He suggests "Homo loquax" as a designation for humans rather than "Homo sapien."

Heard a short excerpt on "Weekend Edition" this morning. I'll check out the longer version when the audio comes up (should be later today).

The Point of View For My Work as a Blogger

($1 to the estate of Soren Kierkegaard - if he has an estate - it seems unlikely)

I could have just reopened the late "Blog of Concord," but I thought of the name "Religious Grounds" and snapped it up on Blogger. I wanted a new name and a new start.

I would like this blog to be less confrontational and more speculative. This does not mean that I suddenly think dogma unimportant. Rather, I am less certain that a blog in which I am constantly complaining about the state of the world, the Church, etc., does any good. This is how I was starting to feel about Blog of Concord (also about certain publications to which I subscribe).

Perhaps the dichotomy I am looking for is "less political, more spiritual." One can either spend one's energy in talking about how no one has faith, or explore the riches of faith. Frankly, the former was becoming uninteresting.

Of course, I reserve the right to go confrontational at any time. :)

T-shirt I saw on Thursday

Older gentleman, walking west on Sheridan Street, wearing a red baseball cap and a T-shirt which reads:


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Your Daily Dostoyevsky, part the second

(Lebezyatnikov said):"...what I mean is that if you can reason with a person logically and show him that he really has nothing to cry about, then he'll stop crying. It's simple. But I expect your view is that he won't?"

"Life would be too easy then," Raskolnikov replied.

"As you please, as you please; of course, Katerina Ivanovna would have some difficulty in understanding; but are you aware that in Paris there have already been some serious experiments relating to the possibility of treating the insane by means of the simple influence of logical reasoning? There was a certain professor there who died not so long ago, a serious scientist who believed that such a treatment was possible. His basic idea was that there is nothing particularly wrong with the organism of the insane person, and that insanity is, as it were, a logical error, an error of judgement, a mistaken view of things. He would refute the arguments of his patient step by step and, would you believe it, it's said he achieved results that way! But in view of that fact that he accompanied this treatment with cold baths, those results should, of course, be viewed with some scepticism...At least, I think they should..."

Raskolnikov had stopped listening long ago.

-Crime and Punishment

An actual conversation I had last night

Phone rings at home

Ring! Ring!

(Pastor): Hello?
(Caller): Hello, I've just purchased the Book of Concord, and I wanted to know, are the Ninety-Five Theses in there?
(P): No, the Book of Concord contains the Lutheran Confessions, and the Ninety-Five Theses are not part of the Lutheran Confessions. You could find them on the Internet or in Volume 31 of Luther's Works. Who is this, please?
(C): (gives name, which [P] is not familiar with)
(P): Well, there's lots of other good stuff in the Book of Concord.
(C): Yes, I'm enjoying it very much. O.K. Thank you!
(P): You're welcome, have a great night.
(C): You too, goodbye.
(P): Goodbye.

(Caller hangs up)

(P): ???????

Monday, May 08, 2006

Your Daily Dostoyevsky

From Crime and Punishment:

"Or look at Varents. She'd lived with her husband for seven years, but she abandoned her two children and severed her relations with her husband in one go, writing to him: 'I have come to the realization that I cannot be happy with you. I will never forgive you for having kept me from the truth and concealing from me that there exists another ordering of society, embodied in the commune. I have recently learned all this from a man of generous ideals, to whom I have given myself, and together with him I am settling down in a commune. I tell you this directly, as I consider it ignoble to deceive you. You may do as you think fit. Do not suppose you can make me come back, you are too late. I want to be happy.' That's how to write a letter of that kind!"

"Is this the Terebyeva you told me the other day was in the middle of her third citizens' marriage?"

"It's only her second, if one takes a correct view of the matter! But even if it were her fourth, or her fifteenth, what does it matter?..."


It would be hard to say what precisely the reasons were that had put the idea of this senseless funeral banquet into Katerina Ivanovna's muddled head. She really had squandered very nearly ten of the twenty or so roubles Raskolnikov had given her for the expenses of Marmeladov's funeral. it might have been that Katerina Ivanovna considered herself under an obligation to her dead husband to honour his memory "in proper fashion", so that all the residents, and Amalia Ivanovna in particular, should know that he had been "no worse than they were, and possibly even rather better", and that none of them was entitled to "behave in that stuck-up manner" in his presence. It was possible that the decisive factor was that singlular "pride of the poor", in consequence of which, where certain social rituals are concerned, rituals obligatory and unavoidable for each and every participant in our mode of life, many poor people strain themselves to their last resources and spend every last copeck they have saved in order to be "no worse than others" and in order that those others should not "look down their noses" at them. It was highly probable, too, that Katerina Ivanovna demonstrate to all those "nasty, worthless tenants" that not only did she "know how to do things properly and entertain in style," but that she had not been prepared by her upbringing for such a lot in life...and had certainly not been intended to sweep her own floor and wash the rags of her children at nights. These paroxysms of pride and vanity sometimes visit the very poorest and downtrodden people, among whom they occasionally acquire the character of an irritable, overwhelming need...

Choral Music Online

Ever since the demise of American Public Radio's choral program, the name of which I have already forgotten, I have been lacking a good free choral fix. My search is over. "The Choir" on BBC Radio 3 is 1 1/2 hours of music and interviews. This week's program's main feature is American composer's Morton Lauritsen and features a delicious recording of his O Magnum Mysterium. To listen, click on the "Radio Player" on the main page and then scroll down to "The Choir" when the main radio player comes up.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

A triumphant return to the world of blogging!