Thursday, February 12, 2009

One from Epiphanius

"The acquisition of Christian books is necessary for those who can use them. For the mere sight of these books renders us less inclined to sin, and incites us to believe more firmly in righteousness."

Would somebody mind telling my wife this! (love you, honey).

Dear Prudence

The more I think about it, the more I think The Beatles nailed it. And I like how the Across the Universe folk made it come alive in the scene, especially at the end when Joe Anderson (Max), somewhat naively, thinks that LBJ could actually call the whole thing off. In such a hostile environment, it is worth calling a little exercise in sound judgment out to play.

This actually makes me think of Stephen Fowl's thoughts on "prudence," or phronein (Greek). This word appears thirteen times in Paul's writings, ten in Philippians alone. It's central for what he has to say there. Fowl reminds us that for Paul, "prudence" does not have a universal meaning. Prudence is formed and exercised according to the whatever story one participates in through which they make sense of the world. Prudence, our practical reasoning, is lived out by how we make sense of the world, according to a particular reason, or logic. Thus, Paul links this to Christ, the logos. As I think about this I find Max's thinking that LBJ might call the whole thing off rather ironic and very sad. In hindsight, Max's expectation of reality is not what happened, and indeed what could never happen. Perhaps the church's witness should be first about getting people to see what story they are a part of and how through them they make sense of the world. Once they "see" that then maybe they will see differently when they come across the church who patterns their lives after Christ.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Abba Gelasius

It was said of Abba Gelasius that he had a leather Bible worth eighteen pieces of silver. In fact it contained the whole of the Old and New Testaments. He had put it in the church so that any of the brethren who wished, could read it. A strange brother came to see the old man and, seeing the Bible, wished to have it, and stole it as he was leaving. The old man did not run after him to take it from him, although he knew what he was doing. So the brother went to the city and tried to sell it, and finding a purchaser, he asked thirteen pieces of silver for it. The purchaser said to him, "Lend it to me, first, so that I may examine it, then I will give you a price." So he gave it to him. Taking it, the purchaser brought it to Abba Gelasius for him to examine it and told him the price which the seller had set. The old man said to him, "Buy it, for it is beautiful and worth the price you tell me." This man, when he returned, said something quite different to the seller, and not what the old man had said to him. "I have shown it to Abba Gelasius," he said, "and he replied that it was dear, and not worth the price you said." Hearing this, he asked, "Didn't the old man say anything else?" "No," he replied. Then the seller said, "I do not want to sell it any more." Filled with compunction, he went to find the old man, to do penance and ask him to take his book back. but he did not wish to make good his loss. So the brother said to him, "If you do not take it back, I shall have no peace." The old man answered, "If you won't have any peace, then I will take it back." So the brother stayed there until his death, edified by the old man's way of life.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Peanut Butter

I blame my mother. Or so they say I should (who's they again?). Actually, I do blame my mother for my love of peanut butter. She was hooked on Bit-O-Honey's when she was pregnant to me. Now, you might ask, "what does peanut butter have to do with Bit-O-Honey?" In fact, it has nothing to do with it other than the fact that I love honey and peanut butter goes good with honey. Get it? (Actually, the website says it could contain traces of peanut. There you go.) So, you must understand why I put everything aside when I discovered this article. It's good to know where you come from, or something.

What Facebook doesn't know... that's me in the picture!

Scott: "Hi, facebook."
Facebook: "Hi Scott. Say, do you know about Nazarene Theological Seminary? Six of your friends are fans!"
Scott: "Why, yes I do. I've been attending for almost four years."
Facebook: "Oh."
Scott: "I guess you really don't pay attention."
Facebook: "Nah."
Scott: (sigh).
Facebook: (sigh).

Sunday, February 08, 2009

A saying from the Jewish Fathers

"It is wise to work as well as to study the Torah: between the two you will forget to sin."

Saturday, February 07, 2009

More from Abba Agathon

"Someone asked Abba Agathon, 'Which is better, bodily asceticism or interior vigilance?' The old man replied, 'humanity is like a tree, bodily asceticism is the foliage, interior vigilance the fruit. According to that which is written, Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit shall be cut down and cast into the fire (Matt. 3:10) it is clear that all our care should be directed towards the fruit, that is to say, guard of the spirit; but it needs the protection and the embellishment of the foliage, which is bodily asceticism.'"

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Abba Agathon

"It was said concerning Abba Agathon tat some monks came to find him having heard tell of his great discernment. Wanting to see if he would lose his temper they said to him 'Aren't you that Agathon who is said to be a fornicator and a proud man?' 'Yes, it is very true,' he answered. The resumed, 'Aren't you that Agathon who is always talking nonsense?' 'I am.' Again they said, 'Aren't you Agathon the heretic?' But at that he replied 'I am not a heretic.' So they asked him 'Tell us why you accepted everything we cast you, but repudiated this last insult.' He replied 'The first accusations I take to myself, for that is good for my soul. But heresy is separation from God. Now i have no wish to be separated from God.' At this saying they were astonished at his discernment and returned, edified."

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

For the Spring

Not to detract from my previous post . . .

The Spring semester started a couple weeks ago. For me it began in a really good module session called Resurrection in the New Testament taught by Andy Johnson. Our texts were:

N.T. Wright, Resurrection of the Son of God
Joel Green, Body, Soul, and Human Life.

That's a 1,000 pages in jut two books! We also read six supplement articles on 1 Corinthians 15 , 2 Corinthians 5 and Luke 24.

Yesterday I started a class called Sacraments and Asceticism, which will be taught by Doug Hardy. Here we are exploring the relationship between the two in terms of the Christian life. What is it to say "yes" (sacrament) and what is it to say "no" (asceticism)? We assume that we have to have both working in tandem, otherwise an under sacramental life leads to legalism while an under ascetic life leads to gluttony. The right balance will teach us about freedom and love, or freedom for love. Our texts are:

Joan Chittister, The Rule of Benedict
Shannon Jung, Sharing Food
Kenan Osborn, Community, Eucharist, and Spirituality
Benedicta Ward, The Sayings of the Desert Fathers
Lauren Winner, Real Sex
Norman Wirzba, Living the Sabbath

I have also started a class called Congregational Discipleship with Clair Allen Budd (from Asbury). This will be my first online class ever. Our texts are:

Norma Cook Everist, The Church as Learning Community
James Riley Estep, Jr. (Ed.) C.E.: The Heritage of Christian Education
Charles Foster, Educating Congregations
Delia Halverson, The Nuts and Bolts of Christian Education
Michael D. Henderson, John Wesley’s Class Meeting

Looks like I got my work cut out for me. Seems like a good way to finish my last semester at seminary!