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Friday, January 31, 2014

Biblical Limericks: You Big Baby!

We have much that we’d like to explain
but you are stubborn and will not deign
from ignorance to turn
and you are slow to learn;
when will you begin to use your brain?

Hebrews 5: 11

Grasses Pink and Blue

It's the same grass, the same sun, in the same moment, with the same camera - but different lenses. The blue one was taken with a kit lens and a macro attachment.  The pink with my nifty-fifty super takumar.  If you like them, perhaps you'd be interested in buying a print?  They money I make in these is given to support the Salvation Army in Newton, Iowa.

Grasses (blue) by Jeff Carter on

Grasses (pink) by Jeff Carter on

Biblical Limericks: Whatever Happened to Tola?

After Abimelech came Tola
to judge Israel and enforce the law;
he judged twenty three years
and the last that we hear
he’s in Shamir where worms on him gnaw.

Judges 10: 1 - 2

Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Major in The Salvation Army

This is my friend, my very good friend, Major Joe Wheeler.  He and his wife, Major Lois, hired me as a gangly goofy teenager at the Salvation Army's summer camp (Camp Silver Lake).  It was there that I met my wife.  And it was Majors Wheeler who helped us through the process to become cadets at the Salvation Army's training college (seminary).  Major Joe has been a help and mentor for many years.

And today, as I received word that my wife and I have - after 15 years (and a couple of weeks) received our promotion from Captain to Major, he and Lois were here with us to celebrate.  And not only that, but he gave me his uniform trim.  I don't think of it as used - but consider it an honor to wear his major's trim.

It's been a long 15 years. (6 of the happiest years of my life, I sometimes tell people.)  We've had 7 different appointments in three divisions in those 15 years, so it's difficult to feel like we've been anywhere long enough to see anything accomplished.  But - even with all the struggle (and those who know me, know some of what I mean there) and all the moves - I am glad to be a Major in the Salvation Army.

I used to joke that being a Major just means that you're old.  I may have to stop saying that now...

A Shiggaion for Shoggoths

I have heard of terrors
that lay hidden in the dark,
monstrous beasts from beyond the stars
and I have been afraid.

The Elder Things did call them forth
and Shoggoths did appear,
shapeless iridescent slime
with eyes and many mouths,
tentacle limbs of gelatinous ooze
with strength incalculable,
once brute beasts,
created to serve and to build,
now intelligent and self-willed
they leave the seas
and survive upon the land

Arise, Ancient Ones,
rise up from your dreamless sleep.
Awaken once again
for your Shoggoths are singing
Tekeli-li, Tekeli-li, Tekeli-li!”

A Shiggaion is a type of psalm (Psalm 7 and Habakkuk 3).
A Shoggoth is a monstrous creature found in the writings of H. P. Lovecraft

Biblical Limericks: The Last Days

I wish Paul could have been more precise
about the ‘last days’ and all their vice,
for some people always
insist he meant these days,
and no other reading will suffice.

2 Timothy 3: 1 – 5 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Biblical Limericks: Thorn in the Flesh

Lest I should get a big head, a thorn
was given to me; I was forlorn.
Once, twice, three times I prayed.
I was, each time, dismayed
that it was still with me every morn.

2 Corinthians 12: 7 – 8 

Prairie Grass in January (Des Moines River)

A tuft of prairie grass along the edge of the Des Moines River in January.

Many of these photographs that I've taken are available for purchase either as a digital download or as a professional quality print.  You can have a print made in several sizes, on different materials, and with several different framing options.  The prices vary according to your choices, but the money that I make in these sales is given to support the work of the  Salvation Army of Newton, Iowa  If you're looking to purchase a birthday, wedding, anniversary, or any other occasional  gift why not consider one of these fine prints?

Prairie Grass in January (Des Moines River) by Jeff Carter

Prairie Grass in January (Des Moines River) by Jeff Carter on

Biblical Limericks: Esau Got a Bad Rap

I am not sure why it is stated
that to Jacob God’s love was slated;
he was a trickster thief
and it strains our belief
that it was Esau that God hated.

Malachi 1: 2 - 3

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

At the River's Edge

As I drove home today I stopped briefly at the border between Missouri and Iowa - at the frozen Des Moines River to stretch and to take some pictures.

At the River's Edge by Jeff Carter on

Hitchhikers and Pete Seeger vs. The Salvation Army

I spent a good portion of today driving home.  I'd been in St. Louis for a couple of days, but it was time to go home, so I drove. And as I drove I scanned the radio stations for stories and reports about the death of folk singer, and social justice activist, Pete Seeger.  I listened to an interview in which he described hopping rides on freight trains with Woody Guthrie. I listened to him sing about the working man, the struggling woman, the desperate people.

And when I saw a hitchhiker walking along the edge of the road, I knew there was no way I could just drive on past him without stopping to offer a ride.  Not today.

He'd already walked 15 miles in the cold winds in order to put in a job application in with a nearby factory.  Of course, "nearby" is a relative term when you're walking.  He said he'd had his license temporarily suspended, and that he'd be driving again soon, but until then, "you do what you gotta' do to work."

Here's Pete singing about the Salvation Army.  Since I work for the Salvation Army, I find this song and it's critique of the SA (and Christianity in general...) very interesting.

Biblical Limericks: Yeah, I Don’t Understand Him, Either...

Brother Paul writes notes of instruction
that confuse as if t’were their function;
they’re hard to comprehend
and some ignorant men
do distort them and cause destruction. 

2 Peter 2: 15 - 16

Biblical Limericks: City of Blood

“Woe to the lying city of blood!”
said Nahum, that and some other crud.
He was shot through with hate
which came out in a spate
of raging bitterness like a flood.

Nahum 3: 1

You Were Darkness Once

...but now you are light (Ephesians 5: 8)

I used a sound from the Freesound Project:
Cello C

Monday, January 27, 2014

Powerpoint Slides for Everyone - 2014 - Week 6

Here is this week's free background image. Use it in powerpoint.  Or don't whatever.

week 5 photo Week6_zpsb2026f42.jpg

Biblical Limericks: Are You There God? It’s Me, Habakkuk

Habakkuk complained to God on high,
“How long must “Violence!” be my cry?
The Law is paralyzed,
strife abounds, justice dies,
and I’m not convinced you hear me sigh.

Habakkuk 1: 1 - 4

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Dark Skies and Winter Weeds

I wish I had more to post today.  I wish I had more to say.

I am overwhelmed by personal aggravations and deep grief for a dying friend and his family.  But I can't deal with any of that because I'm helping to lead a group of jr. high kids on a weekend retreat.  I'd like to hide in a cave.  I'd like to be alone.

I had about 10 minutes to myself today.  I found a couple of photos of darkened skies and winter weeds.  And even in the couple of pictures where the sky isn't so dark (and even looks almost warm and inviting it feels dark and oppressive.)

Dark Sky and Weeds by Jeff Carter on

Winter Thistles by Jeff Carter on

Winter Weeds by the Pond by Jeff Carter on

Winter Weeds by the Pond by Jeff Carter on

Friday, January 24, 2014

Sister Death Is at the Door

Brother, please, you should not go,
the day’s still bright,
and the children are still young.
Sister Death is at the door,
but let her wait;
let her wait another day.

Come back, embrace your wife.
Come back for your children too.
Come back to see the granddaughter
you love so well.
Sister Death is at the door,
but let her wait.

There is sun, and wind, and snow;
there is laughter, light, and love.
There is time for you and I
to converse once more -
Sister Death may knock upon the door
but let her wait, let her wait.

Biblical Limericks: Evangelii Gaudium

This command from the Apostle Paul’s pen
is often ignored by wealthy men:
Don’t be vain. Don’t you dare,
but be willing to share;
redistribute wealth for an amen.

1 Timothy 6: 17 - 19

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Biblical Limericks: Repeat Offenders

Warn a troublemaker once, and then
if the need arises, once again;
have nothing more to do
with such a person, you
can be assured he is self-condemned.

Titus 3: 10 - 11

Biblical Haiku: John 5:4

Bethesda’s pool
the waters bubble up
is it an angel?

 John 5: 4 - is not included in the more important, more accepted copies of biblical texts, but I like it anyway.

Biblical Limericks: It’s Okay if They’re from Canada

Say I want to buy a slave, okay,
what does scripture on that topic say?
“Your slaves you should accrue
from nations around you.”
So I’ll get mine from Canada, eh?

Leviticus 25: 44

Biblical Limericks: Canine Emesis

It can’t be dismissed as a mere fluke,
no matter how often you rebuke
the fool for his folly
he’ll repeat, by golly,
like a dog returning to its puke.

Proverbs 26:11

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Biblical Limericks: Does This Apply to Women as Well?

Though it is a book truly revered,
there are parts of it that are just weird.
Read it; you’ll find hidden
among things forbidden
Leviticus bans trimming your beard.

Leviticus 19:27

Adoration, Once Again

This is the third of the photos I've posted of this little virgin Mary figurine I have.  The previous ones are here and here.

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Biblical Limericks: Qoheleth and Grumpy Cat Were in Agreement

People, please don’t give me an earful
about how I should just be cheerful,
and get it through your head
that the preacher has said
that it is better to be tearful.

Ecclesiastes 7: 3

Biblical Limericks: Help! Help! I’m Being Repressed!

What we need is a fair arbiter,
someone honest, and wise, and smarter,
who can divide the real
servant burning with zeal
from the jerk who’s playing at martyr.

Psalm 69: 9

The Line Between Suffering Servant and Jerk with Delusions of Martyrdom

It is zeal for your house that has consumed me;
the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me. (Psalm 69: 9)

Though I may wrestle against the Psalms, and push back against them, Psalm 69 is one of my favorite.  I like it because it is realistic in its description of human emotions, and because the psalmist is brutally honest about himself.

It’s described as a “Psalm of David” but that preposition “of” may mean – “about” or “for” rather than “by” David.  In fact, based on the last couple of verses (which talk about the rebuilding of the cities of Judah), there is good reason to believe that Psalm 69 was written much later than King David.  Some have suggested that this particular psalm was composed by the prophet Jeremiah.  Indeed, there is much about the psalm that would lend itself to this interpretation.  I like this idea, but am not bound to it. [i]   Whether it was David (I think unlikely) or Jeremiah (I like to think it might have been) or some other unknown psalmist (very possible) – it’s still a powerful work of writing.

The psalmist (whoever he might have been) feels overwhelmed by a “sea of troubles.”[ii]  The psalmist is abused by many enemies, scorn and shame and insults are heaped upon him, and false accusations leveled against him.  The psalmist is desperate for God to hear, and to rescue him, else he will die.  He will be swallowed up by the swirling vortex of floodwaters, and dragged down to the bottomless abyss of death.

And all of this, the Psalmist says, is because I have tried to do God’s work.  His enemies hate him without reason – without good reason, anyway.  He is alienated from his own family.  He has no friends to call upon.  He is all alone because he has tried to do the good work he was called to. “It is zeal for your house that has consumed me…”  (Psalm 69: 9a NRSV) 

I wonder where the line between being zealous for God’s good work and being an obnoxious religious fanatic is to be drawn.  There are a lot of people claiming to be persecuted and martyred and abused because of their zeal, when maybe they should just admit that they’re being snubbed and despised because they’re jerks.  It’s easy to play the martyr card, to cry “woe is me,” and think people hate me just because I’m doing God’s work.  A good cause is not enough.  A righteous cause is not enough. Objection to your holy work does not make you a noble martyr. 

The line between the suffering servant and the jerk with delusions of martyrdom might be found in verses 5 and 6:

O God, you know my folly;
the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.
Do not let those who hope in you be put to shame because of me,
O Lord God of hosts;
do not let those who seek you be dishonored because of me,
O God of Israel. (Psalm 69: 5 – 6 NRSV)

The Psalmist (King David, the prophet Jeremiah, or other) admits that while the charges that his enemies have leveled against him are baseless, he is not without his own mistakes, and errors, and even sins.  He knows that he has screwed up. He concedes that he’s had lapses in judgment.  And he fears that others will lose faith in God because of him.   He is concerned that those who would hope in God will lose hope because of his failures.  Forget the surrounding enemies with their malicious gossip and slander and accusations; the psalmist worries that his own conduct will cause others to be disgraced.

This is, in my mind, the dividing line between the person burning with a zealous desire to do God’s work and the obnoxious jerk playing the martyr’s card – the willingness to say, ‘here are my faults.  I have screwed up, and others might suffer because of it.’ 

[i] Of course, it is possible to suggest that David wrote the psalm, and that a later author / editor added the last couple of verses.
[ii] Cribbing from Hamlet’s “To be or not to be…” soliloquy.  

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I, Human (again)

Photographing a plastic 3-D model of the human body (unfortunately missing the small intestine).
 This is the second.  Here is the first.
I, Human (2) by Jeff Carter

I, Human (2) by Jeff Carter on

I Can’t Find the Books I Need

I love going to the public library, but sometimes my local bibliothèque just doesn’t have the books I need.  Peradventure you’ve seen them in your local book repository.

The Musical Methodologies of Pre-Socratic Herpetology – J. R. Cummingsworth
Zenotic Motion in Twenty-First Century Poetry – Rosa Lee
Theological Neologisms of Arctic Explorers – Lindsey F. F. Long III
Candlewicking for Fun and Profit – Sister JoAnna
The Unpublished Maps of Ultima Thule Drawn by the King’s Royal Cartographer, Herrick Little
Yoga for Cats and Other Pointless Exercises
– Betty Ferguson
Apologies for Many and Varied Occasions – Percy M. Cally
Join Me: How To Rule the Galaxy in Twelve Easy Steps – D. Vader
Magic Markers Aren’t Magic and Other Things I Should Have Realized – Samuel Higgins
Ritual Amusement: Waterslides, Baptism and other Religious Practices – Dr. Alphonse Martin

Biblical Limericks: Four Legged Insects?

Now, let’s not set off the powder kegs;
keep the conversation calm, I begs,
but let’s question the text
for how many insects
do you know that only have four legs?

Leviticus 11: 20

I, Human

I, Human by Jeff Carter on

Monday, January 20, 2014

Biblical Limericks: P.S. Can You Bring Me My Coat and Scrolls?

Do your best, and come to me quickly
because Demas has deserted me;
Crescens and Titus too,
like witless birds they flew;
now I’m stuck with Luke to assist me.

2 Timothy 4: 9 - 11

Rain and Weeds

It's a cold rainy evening in January - a perfect time to go out hiking around with my camera, right? Right.  Here's what I found out there:

Rain and Weeds (2) by Jeff Carter on

Rain and Weeds (1) by Jeff Carter on

Biblical Limericks: That’s Not in the Bible

Some folks with a bible on their shelves
into its pages rarely will delve;
they don’t know, to this day,
that God’s word does not say,
“God helps all those who will help themselves.”

Biblical Limericks: Who Made Him Do It?

Parts of scripture need to be straightened
because confusion is inflatin’;
David’s tale, for instance:
Who prompted his census?
Was it God or was it the satan?

2 Samuel 24 / 1 Chronicles 21 

The Balthus Effect

The Balthus Fields, - strong pockets of nasty radiation - were an unexpected side effect of the Balthus Effect which left most of the major cities uninhabitable. The rest were destroyed by more conventional means.  Humanity, what few of them remained, fled into wild places, and subterranean caverns. And in the many years of their absence decay overtook all their remaining works.  Concrete crumbled. Buildings collapsed.  Iron bridges rusted and fell with a crash into the rivers they once spanned.

It was the Balthus Effect that did it.  We know that now.  The scientists responsible for developing the weapon tried to warn them; they said that they needed more time for further testing.  But the leaders wouldn’t listen.  They rushed the Balthus gun into production because they thought it would save them. Instead it doomed us.  But they were desperate – and ignorant. God forgive them.

I recorded this dystopian soundscape by creating a random tone generator played with played with some strange instruments.  I recorded three different versions of this random noise and then layered them all together, 1) to the left side, 2) to the right side and 3) in the center. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Adoration Again

I took a picture very similar to this one yesterday - and liked it so much that I thought I'd try again - with a slight variation.  In yesterday's picture I posed the Mary figurine in front of a reproduction of a painting and used a handheld flashlight to create the halo effect.  In this one I placed the figurine in front of my computer screen and lit the figure, again with the flashlight.

Adoration by Jeff Carter

Adoration by Jeff Carter on

Five Points! Five Rounds! One Winner!

fight photo FIGHTcopy_zps037af9d4.jpg

The Depravity of Gravity (A Nonsense Rhyme)

The Lobster and the Turtle did
converse upon the sand
with a Gorilla and a Kid.
They spoke of mysteries
that none of them could understand
and never did agree.

“The time has come," the Turtle said,
“to speak of mystery,
of quarks and charms and unmade beds,
of strings and also stars,
the deprav’ty of gravity,
and if there’s life on Mars.”

“But wait, oh wait!” the Lobster cried.
“We want no more of that.
The world is young or else God lied,
and I dislike your coat.”
“Oh shut up!” the Gorilla spat
and stormed off with his Goat.

A Servant's Song

I spoke from this same text[i] on Friday morning during the funeral / Promoted to Glory service for our friend Donna.  I asked Jim to read it during the service, and afterward he came up to me to say that he had been quite unsure why I had picked that particular passage of scripture for the funeral sermon.  I admit; it’s not a text that usually selected for funeral sermons.  It is one of the passages selected for the lectionary readings for this particular Sunday (Epiphany 2A).  But as I was preparing both for today’s sermon and for the sermon for Donna’s funeral, I found that I liked the idea of describing Donna’s life as a life of service.

That the identity of the servant in this passage – which is the second of Isaiah’s four Servant Songs – is not specifically identified certainly allows me a bit of fluidity to apply it to Donna, at least in broad strokes and in application. Some biblical scholars and theologians have suggested that the Servant in question was Isaiah himself.  Others suggest other individuals besides Isaiah with various degrees of probability.  Another common interpretation is that the Servant represents the whole people of Israel.  And later, as Christian authors began to re-read these songs, they found in them a description of Jesus’ life and career.

Listen to me, O coastlands,
pay attention, you peoples from far away!
The Lord called me before I was born,
while I was in my mother’s womb he named me.
He made my mouth like a sharp sword,
in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me a polished arrow,
in his quiver he hid me away.
And he said to me, “You are my servant,
Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”
But I said, “I have labored in vain,
I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity;
yet surely my cause is with the Lord,
and my reward with my God. (Isaiah 49: 1 – 4 NRSV)

The Servant was chosen by God, named before birth, called to a holy mission, made to be Yahweh’s sharpened sword, his swift arrow. The servant was to restore the people of Israel and to bring glory to God. But in the end, the Servant felt like a failure. “I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity,” he says.  The sword is chipped and blunted.  The arrows are broken and spent.  And with what result?

We think of our friend, Donna, whose mind and memories had faded away by the end.  All the good she’d done, all the people she’d loved, all the joy she’d shared had been forgotten – lost in the fog of her illness. 

I think of Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. who we honor and celebrate tomorrow, and who in his last sermon   - the day before his assassination said:

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land![ii]

He saw into the Promised Land.  He saw the good on the horizon – but he was gunned down before he could get there.  We might be tempted to say, “nothing and vanity.”

And Jesus, how woeful, how dreadful these words sound in his mouth, “I have labored in vain.  I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity.”  The promising young messiah who amazed the crowds with his teaching was arrested and quickly executed.  His friends betrayed him.  His followers fled from him.  He was killed and his body discarded.  Nothing and Vanity.

The servant’s life is a hard life, filled with struggle and disappointment, and failure even.  But this is not the end of the servant’s song. Yahweh picks up the song and continues.

And now the Lord says,
who formed me in the womb to be his servant,
to bring Jacob back to him,
and that Israel might be gathered to him,
for I am honored in the sight of the Lord,
and my God has become my strength—
 he says, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant
to raise up the tribes of Jacob
and to restore the survivors of Israel;
I will give you as a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
Thus says the Lord,
the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One,
to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nations,
the slave of rulers,
“Kings shall see and stand up,
princes, and they shall prostrate themselves,
because of the Lord, who is faithful,
the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.” (Isaiah 49: 5 -11 NRSV)

Just when the servant (whoever he /she was /is) is feeling bitter disappointment, just when the servant is feeling like an abject failure, God says, “you know what?  The mission I’ve given you so far has been too small.  I should have given you do even more.”  It’s so backwards.  It’s so unexpected.  The servant is looking for comfort, for strength, for help, for rescue.  And God gives more work – and greater glory.

The servant hasn’t failed.  The work just got bigger.

Donna’s mind and memory may have faded away from her at the end, but she remains with us.  The memory of her love moves within us to love and serve others as she did.  Martin Luther King jr’s life may have ended with the assassin’s bullet – but his legacy continues to inspire and motivate millions – bringing light and salvation to the world.  Jesus was crucified and left with the dead, but the servant song didn’t end there.  He was raised up to be a light to the world, to bring salvation to the ends of the earth, and to bring glory to God.    The Servant’s Song does not end in failure.

I waited patiently for the Lord
He inclined and heard my cry
He lifted me up out of the pit
Out of the miry clay

I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song

How long to sing this song?

He set my feet upon a rock
And made my footsteps firm
Many will see
Many will see and fear

I will sing, sing a new song.
How long, to sing this song?[iii]

How long to sing this song? As long as we live, and then some.  The Servant’s Song does not end in failure, but in the salvation of the world, and in the glory of God.  Amen. 

- Also - A Servant's Hymn (based on Isaiah 49 / Psalm 40)

Powerpoint Slides for Everyone - 2014 - Week 5

Once a week - every week (most every week) I post a free background image for you to download and use as your very own.  Use them in powerpoint (or another similar presentation program) use them in school reports, at the office, at home, at church.  Use them however you will, I only ask that you share them freely and that you tell others that you found them here.  Thanks.

Week 5 photo Week5_zps33579c1d.jpg

Parents Upset by X-Rated Bible

An Oklahoman father was horrified to discover his 13 – year-old daughter reading from the Bible which contains references to vaginal intercourse, anal sex and other forms of sexual intimacy.

“I was furious, as any parent would be,” said Alfred Hysterig, of Fictitiousville, Oklahoma.  “I’m still furious about it.”

Hysterig’s daughter is an eighth grader in the First Church of the Living Waters’ Jr. High Sunday School class.  “Her teacher was actually encouraging her to read this filth,” Hysterig said.   Hysterig found her copy of the so-called holy book lying open and he flipped through it himself to see what she was reading.  He was shocked at what he discovered.

Some of it is pretty tame - there is hugging and kissing.  But there was also some NC-17 material like vaginal sex, anal sex, touching genitals, oral sex, sexual fantasy, caressing, “There is even dancing,” said a distraught Hysterig. “It is outrageous that any 13 year old would be encouraged to read a book filled with such filth.”

Hysterig met with church officials to see if this material was part of authentic scripture.  “My wife and I hoped that it was nothing more than an elaborate prank,” said Hysterig.  But to his horror he was told that this material is, in fact, part of the holy scriptures of the church.

“It just makes me sick,” he said. “To think that our children are having this kind of material thrust in front of them.”

When asked for comment, Pastor Fred of the First Church of the Living Waters, said, “Yes, the material in question is part of the scriptures, however cut from the source, I could see how there might be cause for alarm. These isolated references need to be considered in their appropriate context.”

“Appropriate context? How could any of this be appropriate?” Hysterig refuses to accept this. “I can’t believe this is something they were teaching,” he said. “I couldn’t believe something like that is actually in our bible.”

It was even more shocking because Hysterig said he and his wife have been members of the church for most of their lives, and they’ve never noticed this material in the bible before now.

Saturday, January 18, 2014


Mother Mary by Jeff Carter on

Still Life with Religious Objects

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Biblical Limericks: Delusions of Grandeur, Much?

I know the apostle Paul was tough,
but perhaps he’s speaking off the cuff
to suggest his flesh could,
all to the church’s good,
complete Christ’s pains, if they weren’t enough. 

Colossians 1: 24 

Biblical Limericks: Colossians

There are scholars who would inform us
that some works in the Pauline corpus
may not be from Paul’s hand;
the letter Colossians
might be the work of Anonymous.

Friday, January 17, 2014

I Am the Doctor

He even has a sonic screwdriver...

Biblical Limericks: No Coarse Joking or Foolish Talk!

Of coarse joking, Paul was a critic,
“Don’t be foolish,” he said. “Don’t be sick.”
And just what would he say
to express his dismay
at these damned biblical limericks?

Ephesians 5: 4

Biblical Limericks: Tell Me, Death…

Now when the final trumpet blasts ring
at the conclusion of everything,
tell me, Death, and quickly,
where is your victory;
where is the pain of your dreaded sting?

1 Corinthians 15: 52 - 55

Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant (A Promoted to Glory Sermon)

This is the sermon I gave this morning at the funeral service of one of our soldiers (Salvation Army church members).  

Before the service, as prelude music this arrangement of the song Joy in the Salvation Army was played (it's number 8 in the playlist).

The scripture texts were Psalm 23, Isaiah 49: 1 - 7, and 1 Corinthians 15: 50 - 58.
Congregational songs were: What a Friend We Have in Jesus and Greater Things

It is the tradition and custom of The Salvation Army to speak of the death of its soldiers (lay

members) and officers (clergy) as a “Promotion to Glory.”  Though we recognize and validate the grief and sense of loss felt by friends and family member who remain, underlying our funeral services is a sense of joy and celebration.  There is honor here, joy even, because one of our comrades has put down her sword, ceased her warfare and gone to receive her reward – to receive her “promotion to glory” in the presence of God the Father, and of the Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, and of the Holy Spirit.

I haven’t been here in Newton very long, a little more than a year and half so far.  I didn’t have time to get to know Donna very well before her death.  By the time that we arrived at this appointment her mental faculties had already begun to rapidly deteriorate.  She loved to play the piano, and for the first few weeks that we were here she accompanied our congregational singing.  But she knew that her abilities were fading.  She came to me and asked to be relieved of that duty as she felt that she wouldn’t be able to perform adequately any longer.

It was difficult for those who cared about her to watch her decline, to see her slipping away.  And it frustrated her as well – to know that there things she couldn’t remember, people she knew but couldn’t place. 

She’d been a faithful servant of God throughout her life, in many different roles, and in a variety of works – but at the end, all of that seemed to be slipping away with her memory and her mind.  Like the servant of the prophet Isaiah’s second servant song, “I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity…” (Isaiah 49: 4)

Life is difficult and filled with struggle.  And sometimes the all the good we do seems to get swallowed up by that struggle, forgotten like the names and faces in Donna’s memory. The servant of Isaiah’s song was chosen and equipped by God for a good work – to serve the Lord, and to bring glory to God.  But in the end the servant felt like a failure.  His sword was blunted, his arrows spent. 

But the servant, discouraged as he was, never gave up his faith: “I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity, yet surely my cause is with the Lord, and my reward with my God.”  And Donna’s faith, also, never diminished, even as her life was fading away.  She trusted in the grace and goodness of God.

Death has no victory over her.  Death has no sting.  Thanks be to God.  He has given Donna and he has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Her life and labor were not in vain (1 Cor. 15: 50 - 58).  She has been welcomed into the Kingdom of Heaven and she has heard the master say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Summoned home, the call has sounded,
Bidding a soldier her warfare cease;
And the song of angels resounded,
Welcomes a warrior to eternal peace.
Praise the Lord! from earthly struggles
A comrade has found release.
Death has lost its sting, the grave its victory;
Conflicts and dangers are over;
See her honored in the throne of glory,
Crowned by the hand of Jehovah!

Strife and sorrow over,
The Lord’s true faithful soldier
Has been called to go from the ranks below,
To the conq’ring host above.

Once the sword, but now the scepter,
Once the fight, now the rest and fame,
Broken every earthly fetter,
Now the glory for the cross and shame;
Once the loss of all for Jesus,
But now the eternal gain.
Trials and sorrow here have found their meaning
Mysteries their explanation;
Safe, forever in the sunlight gleaming
Of His eternal salvation.

-Promoted to Glory – Herbert Booth 1890

The service concluded with an arrangement of Herbert Booth's (son of Salvation Army founders, William and Catherine Booth)  Promoted to Glory.  This arrangement ends with a Salvation Army benediction, "Praise God, I'm saved! Praise God, I'm saved. All's well.  All's well.  He sets me free!"  

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Biblical Limericks: It’s Only 21 Verses…

Though some of the prophets bring us grief,
and some of them speak of sweet relief,
it would be a great sin
to neglect the vision
of Obadiah, however brief.

Obadiah 1: 1 – 21

I know the song below is titled Jeremiah but it has a verse about Obadiah as well, so it's relevant to my limerick...

Psyche through the Fog and Snow

 photo psychethroughthesnowandfog_zps7fcdc287.jpg

Biblical Limericks: One or the Other, Jeremiah

Ole’ Jeremiah was quite clever,
his prophecies are great, however
there’s a discrepancy
that is bothering me:
Is or is not God’s wrath forever?

Jeremiah 3:12 / 17: 4

A Servant's Hymn (A New Hymn for Epiphany 2A)

It's been a while since I last put my hand to writing a new hymn (or at least, new words for an old hymn tune).  Too long. So I'm back at it again. Here is a new hymn - A Servant's Hymn - based on two of the texts for Epiphany 2A: Isaiah 49: 1 - 4 and Psalm 40: 1 - 3.  It's sung to the hymn tune Titchfield composed by John Richardson (1853).

A Servant’s Hymn

I am Yahweh’s sharpened sword,
in the shadow of his hand;
like an arrow for my Lord,
sent to serve him in this land.
But my work is all in vain,
spent my strength with nothing gained;
yet my cause is with the Lord,
I will be at his command.

As I waited patiently
he turned to me, heard my cry,
and he came to rescue me
from the pit of mud and slime.
Then he made my feet secure,
gave me a song that will endure;
now the world my Lord will see
and on him they will rely.

In this arrangement there is a 4 bar introduction, then the melody is played through 3 times.  Feel free to use it as your own if you like it. You can download it here.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Surprises in Psalm 63

I like to rail against the psalms.  It’s something that I do.  I hear people say, “Oh, I just love the psalms; they make me feel good,” and I wonder to myself (and sometimes out loud) “which Psalms are you reading exactly?”  Don’t get me wrong, however.  I don’t push back against them because I reject them or despise them.  I wrestle with the biblical psalms because I find myself in them – that is, I find both the me that I know I am, and the me I would want to be.

I’m reading Psalm 63 today – another of the “psalms of David.” And though we might question the attribution of several of those psalms that are attributed to King David, there’s nothing in Psalm 63 that would specifically preclude it from being considered an authentic psalm of David.  Another suggestion is that this psalm is the prayer of an exiled Levite / temple worker who longs to resume his participation at the temple. (Dahood, 96)  Possible, I suppose. But I see no compelling reason to dismiss the Davidic setting.   (Even if it were written by someone other than King David, it seems to accurately capture something of this time in David’s life.)

The superscription to the psalm places it during his time in the wilderness of Judah.  There were actually two times that David is said to have lingered in the deserts of Judah – once while he was pursued by King Saul (1 Samuel 22 – 23) and later during the revolt of his son Absalom (2 Samuel 15 – 16).  This psalm would seem to fit better during the later since the author refers (or seems to refer) to himself as “the King” in verse 11. 

There were two surprises waiting for me in Psalm 63 today.  The first is the appearance of the concept of rewards and punishments in the afterlife.  For the most part, the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) has very little to say about the afterlife, the focus is not on “going to heaven” or “avoiding hell.” It is focus on living a good life, here and now.  A good life is its own reward.  Especially in the earlier parts of the Hebrew bible, though in some of the later books there is a developing idea of rewards for the righteous and punishments for the wicked.

I will praise you as long as I live,
    and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
Psalm 63: 3 – 4 (NIV)

It’s vague in the NIV (my usual complaint about the NIV) – but it seems that the psalmist expects a future reward.  Reading the same verses from Mitchell Dahood’s translation in the Anchor Bible series is more striking:

So may I bless you through my life eternal,
in your heaven raise my hands.
Yonder with milk and fatness
may my desire be satisfied
while my lips shout for joy
my mouth will praise you.

It seems that the Psalmist expects some sort of reward in heaven – “yonder” to feast in the presence of God. A few verses later we find the psalmists expectation of punishment for the wicked (again from Dahood’s translation):

But they who murderously seek my life,
may they go to the nether world’s depths.
May they be smitten by him
with the edge of the sword,
Become the portion of jackals.
(Psalm 69: 9 – 10)

This is almost, but not quite, “may they go to hell!”  I know that the concept of “hell” is more of a New Testament idea, The Hebrew Bible describes the place of the dead, in the depths of the earth, as sheol, as “the grave” where all the dead go – the good, the bad, and the ugly… but in this psalm is an expectation of punishment in death for the wicked – in fact the curse “may they be devoured by jackals” would be a punishment even into the afterlife…afterdeath…

I won’t try to build too much on these… they’re pretty vague and dependent upon a particular translation… but it’s a little surprising (at least to me) to see these concepts creeping in so early in the theological story.

The other surprise for me was this outburst of violence in verses 9 and 10, these curses wrapped up within this otherwise beautiful and intimate expression of a desire to be close to God. (I wrote a bit about this last week in Psalm 58.)  And it’s like this throughout the psalms – those beautiful and uplifting songs of our faith are filled with shocking and gruesome statements. 

It’s no good to sanitize the bible – to take out all the rough edges and grit and dung. Doing so makes the bible unbelievable.  I think of Psalm 63  (and others like it) as an example of the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi - beauty that includes imperfection.  The psalm is more wonderful, not less, because of this (seemingly) incongruous outburst of violence.  This is real, and reality is flawed. 

And, because we’re on the Psalms, here is one of my favorite authors talking about psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.

And here is a song based on Psalm 63

Dahood, Mitchel, S. J. Psalms II (51 - 100) Introduction,Translation, and Notes, Doubleday & Company, Inc, Garden City, New York, 1968.

Biblical Limericks: Well That Escalated Quickly

A Psalm of David we now tell:
I thirst for my God in a dry spell.
As for my enemy
who would lie about me,
may he die by sword and go to hell!

Psalm 63

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

What I’m Reading: Kosher Jesus

I spent a good portion of today reading from two books that are similar themed – but very different in their trajectories.  One of the books I’m reading is the 2nd volume of John Meier’s A Marginal Jew series, the other is Kosher Jesus by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach[i]. One of these books is a measured and critical attempt to determine what it is possible to know about the historical Jesus, the other is a wild tale dressed in some of the language of historical Jesus studies but has very little actual substance.

I wanted to like Rabbi Boteach’s book.  I believe that it’s not really possible to understand the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, his life, or his death and resurrection – without understanding him as a Jew and understanding his Jewish context.  So I came to this book wanting to like it.  But, perhaps I should have been clued in by the illustration on the cover that this wasn’t going to be an altogether accurate portrayal of Jesus – either the historical Jesus or of the theological Jesus of the gospels.  The cover photograph is of a crucified man’s hand – with the nail print being in the fleshy palm of his hand, an altogether unlikely depiction.  The same can be said of the Jesus Rabbi Boteach describes; he is altogether unlikely.[ii]

Jews can’t accept Jesus as divine (that would be an abomination), nor can they accept him as the Messiah (because he died without fulfilling the necessary prophecies) but they can (and should) accept him as a hero and champion of the Jewish people. (xvii)  And in this, Boteach’s description of Jesus is very similar to that found in Reza Aslan’s recent book Zealot.  Jesus was, according to Boteach, “a wise and learned rabbi who despised the Romans for their cruelty to his Israelite brethren, who fought the Romans courageously and was ultimately murdered for trying to throw off the Roman yoke of oppression.  He was a man who worked to rekindle Jewish ritual observance of every aspect of the Torah and to counter the brutal Roman occupation of his people’s land (xvii).” 

And just how do we know that Jesus of Nazareth was a fiery and violent revolutionary ready to die a martyr’s death in his fight against the Roman Empire?  According to Boteach we can know this because all trace of this story has been expunged from the gospel stories. For Rabbi Boteach the very fact that there is no evidence that Jesus was an armed revolutionary fighting the Romans is, in itself, proof that he was in fact an armed revolutionary fighting the Romans.  “An examination of the evidence suggests that after Jesus’ death, editors removed his political diatribes against Rome from his life story (49).

He describes Galilee as a hotbed of anti-Roman subversives (3) despite the fact that during the lifetime of Jesus, Galilee was ruled by Herod Antipas, who used his own (Jewish) soldiers for peacekeeping. Rome was content to remain at a distance.  There were few recorded dustups between the Jews and the Romans during Jesus’ time. 

In discussing Jesus’ teaching and miracles, Boteach goes to great length to show that these are similar in many ways to the teaching and miracles of the prophets of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and of the rabbis in the Talmud.  And I have no problem with this – except to say that it is dishonest to discredit the gospels as being untrustworthy since they were written with an agenda and written so long after the events being described, without making the same qualifications for the stories and teaching recorded in the Talmud.  Boteach seems to accept the Talmud without any of the critical questions he would demand of the gospels.

He includes at several points in his book, arguments drawn from the non-canonical Gospel of Peter -and says that it was written by Peter himself! (68- 69)  He says that Jesus couldn’t have been the Messiah because he failed to meet the qualifications of the Messiah set forth by Maimonides who lived 1135 – 1204 B.C.E. (97 – 101).  But I fail to see how the interpretation of Messianic promises held by a Spanish Jew in the 12th century should determine what first century Jews living in Israel would have expected of the Messiah.

The book is filled with wild and unsubstantiated claims.  Boteach says that the historical Jesus – who was a violent Anti-Rome revolutionary - was supplanted by Paul of Tarsus – who was neither a Pharisee, nor a student of Gamliel – and who probably wasn’t even Jewish! (116 – 118)  He describes Peter as a liar and a coward who blamed the Jews for killing Jesus in order to hide his failure to protect his leader and teacher. (70) He describes Pontius Pilate as a Roman Hitler who casually and routinely murdered thousands. (82)

In making contemporary application of this idiosyncratic Jesus’ teachings, Boteach says that Jesus told us to love our enemies – “But Jesus does not tell us to love God’s enemies.  It is one thing to love an irritating colleague, a very different thing to love the murderous Ahmadinejad or Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the abominable head of Hezbollah (140).”  Added to this list of people it’s apparently okay not to love would be the Romans, whom he continually characterizes as crude, violent, morally ambiguous, lustful and proud (14). 

At the same time he writes condemningly throughout the book of the fierce anti-Semitism that has historically been present within Christianity.  He is right to condemn Christian anti-Semitism, but I think he’s missed his own failure to love his enemies.  It’s okay not to love them – it’s okay to hate them – if they’re God’s enemies, right? Right? No.  But if that doesn’t work for Christian anti-Semitism (and it doesn’t!) then it shouldn’t work for any other hatred of our enemies.

So it should be apparent that I really didn’t care for this book very much.  It’s sloppy in its exegesis of New Testament texts. He plays fast and loose with “history.”   But there is this one thing buried within Boteach’s book that I liked very much indeed:

“I have written elsewhere, in both columns and books, encouraging every person to aspire to be the messiah. Okay, if not the actual, big-cheese messiah, then little messiahs, who redeem their small corner of the world.  We should all strive to bring about a state of redemption.  We should all work for peace, harmony, and healing.  Curing disease, ending human suffering, bringing peace to our surroundings – all part of the messiah’s mission – are the sorts of activities we should all engage in vigorously, often, and everywhere (96 – 97).”

[i]Boteach, Shmuley Kosher Jesus, Geffen Publishing House, Ltd., Jerusalem, Israel, 2012 / 5772.
[ii] I could also have noticed if I had taken the time, that the book was endorsed by the likes of Pat Boone and Glenn Beck.  There may be some merit in judging a book by its cover, after all… 

A Limerick for Joel

If I could be given just one wish
granted with a magician’s flourish,
I’d go to a day spa
in West Virginia,
where the water smells like licorice.

January Wind in the Crabapple Tree

The wind is blowing again, and snow is falling - or at least it was for a furious few minutes.  This is the wind and snow blowing through my neighbor's crabapple tree.

I took this photo through another of my DIY filters - it's simply an empty coke plastic coke bottle cut in half.

January Wind in the Crabapple Tree by Jeff Carter

January Wind in the Crabapple Tree by Jeff Carter on

Biblical Limericks: Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia

Jessica has some strange nervous ticks
that her psychologist cannot fix;
she’s tried medication
to cure her fixation -
she fears the number six sixty six.

Revelation 13: 17 – 18

Biblical Limericks: Two Different Materials

I am sorry to say this, my friend,
but our friendship must come to an end;
I must from you withdraw
for you’ve broken God’s law:
your shirt is a poly-cotton blend.

Leviticus 19:19

Monday, January 13, 2014

What Kind of Dinosaur Did Jesus Ride?

If it is true, as Ken Ham and other folks of his creationist ilk suggest, that humans once saddled up dinosaurs and rode them about, then it becomes necessary, nay! Vital for us to ask - and to answer- the question: What kind of dinosaur did Jesus ride?

Some have suggested that Jesus, the King of the Jews, the King of Kings would ride nothing less than the king of dinosaurs - the Tyrannosaurus Rex. But I think it more likely that he rode a Velocirapture.  (groan)

Okay.  Okay.  Sure.  The coloring book picture is a hoax.  But it's funny.  And  no less  anachronistic than the junk coming from Ken Ham's outfit. 

Biblical Limericks: Cannibal Mothers Don’t Play Fair

She said to me, “Let’s eat yours today,
and tomorrow we’ll eat mine, okay?”
We boiled my son up,
and on him we did sup,
but now she’s hidden her son away.

2 Kings 6: 28 - 29

Biblical Limericks: God’s Own Recipe

Now, Ezekiel, don’t pitch a fit,
here’s some bread, I want you to eat it;
it’s my own recipe
for health and remedy.
Don’t freak out; it was baked over shit.

Ezekiel 4: 9 - 12

Biblical Prophecy Is not a Paycheck

I have just finished reading a collection of short stories by science-fiction author Philip K. Dick, one of which was the story “Paycheck” – written in 1952 and later (2003) adapted as rather forgettable movie starring Ben Affleck.

The story follows Jennings, an engineer who agrees to do secret work for the Rethrick Company for a period of two years.  At the end of the contract he will be paid a substantial fee, but have his memory of the time erased (a rather permanent form of a non-disclosure agreement!)  The story begins as Jennings has finished his work for the Rethrick Company and receives his payment, but instead of the money he expects, he discovers that at some point during the now forgotten two years he waived his paycheck in lieu of a seemingly random assortment of everyday items:  a length of wire, a bus token, a ticket stub, a strip of green cloth, a code key, half a poker chip, and a parcel receipt.

It’s a science fiction story, so it should come as no surprise (and hopefully not a spoiler) that the story involves a device that allows its operators to see the future.  Jennings’ other self (the lobotomized forgotten person he was during the two years of work) used the device, saw what was going to happen to his later self and arranged to have these seven items so that he could escape arrest and imprisonment by the SP- Security Police – and so that he could take control of the Rethrick Company for himself.

The plot device that allows Dick’s character to see the future makes for great science-fiction; it allows him to wonder about the nature of time – is the future variable?  Are events locked into place?  But the same device can be used in god-awful science-fiction like the sprawling Left Behind series. 

As I was reading “Paycheck” it struck me that many Christians – particularly those of a Dispensationalist bent – treat biblical prophecy in much the same way as Jennings’ seven items – as if they were keys sent through time to unlock future puzzles.  They like to point out that 27% of the bible is prophecy, with the implication that 27% of the bible is about our immediate future. But this is simply not true.  It’s bad science fiction, and it’s bad hermeneutics.  Biblical prophecy is not a paycheck.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

When I Grow Up...

I frequently tell people that when I grow up I'd like to move to Israel...

... that I'd like to move to Israel and open a cheese shop.

Yes.  I'd like to move to Israel and open cheese shop, and I'll call it "Cheeses of Nazareth."


A Blessing for Beloved Servants

May the Lord, righteous and true
uphold you, his servants, in all that you do;
may he put his Spirit upon you
so that you will not falter
or be discouraged
or lose heart

The Lord who created the heavens
will take hold of your hand.
The Lord who formed the earth
will give you breath to breathe.

May the Lord,
who opens blinded eyes,
and opens dungeon doors
so that prisoners may go free
say of you, say of me:
“This is my Son.
This is my daughter.
In her, in him, I am well pleased.”

Isaiah 42: 1 – 9 / Matthew 3: 13 – 17
(Baptism of Christ A)

Powerpoint Slides for Everyone - 2014 - Week 4

I should really stop calling them "Powerpoint Slides"  because I don't care if you use them in powerpoint or not.  But the title works well enough - and it's a common search engine word -so I continue to use it because it brings in the traffic...

Whether you use it in powerpoint or not, feel free to download and to use these 'powerpoint' for everyone images.  Use them however you like, I only ask that you share them freely and that you tell others that you found them here.

This week's image is a combination of a couple of the pictures I took during my tromp through a snowy field this afternoon.  More pictures from this trip can be seen here (though these are not the freebies - but you can purchase them if you like).

2014 - Week 4 photo Week4_zps948601ef.jpg

January Prairie Grass, and Thistles

After the church services were finished, after the band rehearsal was concluded, after I'd eaten lunch with my family - I took my camera out to tromp through a snowy field near our house and took some pictures.

I was out for about an hour and took over 160 pictures -most of which were rejected.  But the few that remain I really like. (The 2nd and 3rd of the photos below were taken through my DIY filter...)

And though Christmas is over, these photographs are still for sale.  You can purchase them as a digital download or as a print  (and there are a variety of options for the prints - size /material /frame).  And whatever money I make in these sales is given to the Salvation Army of Newton Iowa.

Prairie Grass by Jeff Carter on

January Thistles by Jeff Carter on

Windblown Prairie Grass by Jeff Carter on

Fence Line by Jeff Carter on

Thistles by Jeff Carter on

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Biblical Limericks: Paul Had Reasons for Such Confidence

Paul warned the Philippians, “Beware
of those who do evil, the dogs, they’re
mutilators of flesh,
not much more than worthless,
but I’m a Jew’s Jew, Abraham’s heir.”

Philippians 3: 2 - 6

One More from Storm Lake

Here's one more of the photos I took at Storm Lake.

Winter Frosting by Jeff Carter on
Winter Frosting by Jeff Carter

Friday, January 10, 2014

Winter Frosting on Storm Lake

I'm in Storm Lake, Iowa for a couple of days.  It's a sort of belated Christmas party for some friends and our families.  After we arrived and checked into the hotel, I grabbed my camera and went out for a walk along the shore of the lake to take some pictures.

Everything here is covered in a thick, fuzzy, frosting of ice and snow.

Storm Lake by Jeff Carter on

Frosted Pines by Jeff Carter on

Frosted Berries by Jeff Carter on

The Fox Is Actually Very Profound

Thursday, January 9, 2014

If You're Going To Build a Time Machine...

What I’m Reading: The Political Teachings of Jesus

Adequate. Decent.  These are the two words I would use to describe Tod Lindberg’s book The Political Teachings of Jesus [i] - which is, in itself, a sad thing. There’s nothing terribly wrong with the book.  But it’s not very invigorating. Which is odd because if there are two topics you shouldn’t discuss in polite society they are politics and religion.  We set these topics aside at dinner parties because they stir up fierce and strident conversations.  But Lindberg’s book doesn’t stir very vigorously.

The thesis of the book is that Jesusian (which he pronounces jay-SOO-sian) politics can –and should be- embraced even without a belief in Christian Theology because they are good for society in the here and now, and not just in the promise of the afterlife (Lindberg, 1).  There is a brief introduction of this idea, followed by an examination of the teachings of Jesus in two parts (1 – The Sermon on the Mount, 2 – The Parables and Sayings) followed by a brief application to modern society.

His exegesis of Jesus’ teachings isn’t particularly striking.  He breaks no new ground.  It’s all a bit routine. And his applications are vague and generic.

I was also a little irritated by his use of the “notorious 1964 murder of Kitty Genovese in New York City” (Lindberg, 184) in his discussion.  He cites this story of numerous neighbors who witnessed the murder but did nothing to help as a true story – despite the fact that it’s been shown to be a grossly exaggerated urban legend. 

I give this book a rousing “meh,” and a shrug. 

[i] Lindberg, Tod The Political Teachings of Jesus, Harper Collins, New York, NY, 2007.
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