The Council’s Ruling — Hardest-to-Understand Book of the Bible

06/30/2008, 12:00 pm -- by | 2 Comments

This and every Monday, the Bweinh!tributors, having convened in secret for hours of reasoned debate and consideration, will issue a brief and binding ruling on an issue of great societal import.

This week’s question — What is the hardest book of the Bible to understand?

Tom delivers the ruling of the Council, joined by Steve, Chloe, and Kaitlin:

Revelation. Literal transcript? Allegorical warning? Largely symbolic anti-Roman tract?


Connie concurs, joined by David and MC-B:

Revelation — based on a vision filled with metaphors and symbols like baby-eating dragons, it needs another book of interpretation just to understand it.


MC-B concurs, joined by Erin:

Literally, it’s Revelation; at least with the other books of prophecy we largely have the benefit of hindsight.


Job concurs, joined by Connie:

Revelation always takes this title: a searing mix of literal and figurative that introduces theology not seen in the Bible until that last chapter.


Erin concurs:

Revelation — the sheer fact that we have no idea how John’s mind worked makes it difficult.


Mike joins this dissenting opinion:

Ezekiel. Don’t stone me for this, but was he crazy?


Josh and Djere played no part in the determination of this issue.

Next time: What is the most pleasant month of the year?

Joke of the Day, 6/30/08

06/30/2008, 7:00 am -- by | No Comments

A pastor, known for his lengthy sermons, noticed a man get up and leave during the middle of his message. The man returned just before the service concluded.

Afterward the pastor asked the man where he had gone. “I went to get a haircut,” was his reply.

“Why didn’t you do that before the service started?”

“I didn’t need one then!”

Isaiah 44 — Part 2

06/30/2008, 12:00 am -- by | No Comments

Tuesday, having come and now gone, brought with it a visit from missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I did my homework before they arrived, reading my copy of the Book of Mormon and jotting down notes from the Bible.

I didn’t want to scare them off or arrogantly present my faith to them. I wanted them to be comfortable, to open up and present their gospel so that I could calmly and rationally present the Gospel.

I certainly didn’t score any slam dunks, but I’d like to think that I got two shots in under their radar… two seeds that I hope and pray will take root and grow.

Seed 1 — God is spirit.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with LDS theology, I’ll bring you up to speed. They believe God the Father is a literal, physical person with a body of flesh and bone who is both physically and literally our father. (Doctrine & Covenants, Section 130:22)

The truth of God found in the Word is this:

John 4:24 (NKJV) — “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Luke 24:39 (NKJV) — “Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”

God, being spirit, does not have a body of flesh and bone.

Seed 2 — No man can see God; only Jesus is immortal.
The missionaries were very excited to tell us that they know that Joseph Smith was a prophet because God Himself, literally in the flesh, along with Jesus Christ, literally in the flesh, appeared to ol’ Joey in the forest. Furthermore, when Jesus preached His Gospel to the Indians in America, he selected twelve disciples, three of whom will never die.

The truth of God found in the Word is this:

I Timothy 6:15-16 (NKJV) — “which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.”

Earlier in I Timothy, Paul writes (1:17) that God is the “Eternal King, Immortal, Invisible.” If God is invisible and lives in unapproachable light wherein no man has or can see Him, how did Joe see him? Furthermore, if Jesus is the One “who alone has immortality,” how were three of Jesus’ Indian apostles granted immortality?

As I said, they’re not slam dunks, but the sisters wrote the verses down with notes like “God is Spirit?” next to them. I hope and pray the seeds take root, but we’ll find out on Thursday when they come back for another round.

One Hundred Words (21)

06/27/2008, 9:45 am -- by | 1 Comment

“Do not be . . . yoked with unbelievers . . . what communion has light with darkness?”2 Cor 6:14

I heard George Carlin died this week. It was surprising; he was younger than I thought and never a favorite, so I didn’t keep up. I realized I disliked him because I could always hear anger in his humor, even the clean stuff. He seemed an angry, vile, vulgar, dark man who couldn\’t mask that persona. I only hope in his last moments, he saw the light and found seven other words to express himself — “Help me Jesus; save my soul tonight.”


Quote of the Day, 6/27/08

06/27/2008, 7:00 am -- by | No Comments

“A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.” — G.K. Chesterton

New Developments in the Field of Silence

06/26/2008, 3:00 pm -- by | 2 Comments

I\’ve tried silence as prayer a few times now. The first one was the hardest — sitting in the dark, trying to empty my mind of all the thoughts and songs crowding my brain. Once the critter that scurries around on the roof at night started up, and a pack of coyotes began howling, I realized I would not be able to concentrate.

The second time, I fell asleep while sitting up in bed. Note to self: sit in silence earlier. Also, get more sleep.

But then the other night I got some news, news that could either be nothing or be very, very bad. I was scared. I needed God, and I didn\’t know what to pray. So I sat there in silence, opening my mind and all the waves of thoughts going through it to the only One who could comprehend it all, and then do something about it.

I didn\’t try to organize my thoughts into cohesive ideas. I didn\’t try to summarize my complex emotions. And I didn\’t hide anything. Before, I felt like I could hide behind my Pharisaic prayers, but now, consciously acknowledging all my thoughts before God, I can\’t conceal anything.

When I got up, I felt calmer, more like I didn\’t have to worry about the situation. What came to my mind while I was on my knees were Paul\’s pivotal themes — faith, hope, and love. These, I think, are what God wants me to remember and practice tirelessly, whether or not the worst news comes.

“Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.

“So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him . . .”I Kings 19:11-13

One Hundred Words (20)

06/26/2008, 9:00 am -- by | No Comments

Behind every preacher’s confident gaze there is a wondering if she is being heard. In every sermon there is a hint of vocational crisis. Whenever someone has something urgent to say, it is equally urgent that someone — anyone! — is listening.

It often seems to laypeople that preachers treat preaching as its own reward, that preachers are a different breed somehow. Yet we rely on the same means of grace as anyone else: a kind word of thanks or specific appreciation for a new insight you got from a sermon or her example.

Hug a preacher — odds are he needs it.


Joke of the Day, 6/26/08

06/26/2008, 7:00 am -- by | No Comments

How many punk rockers does it take to change a lightbulb?

Two. One to change it and one to eat the old bulb.

Battle of the Bands LX: Special Edition

06/25/2008, 1:01 pm -- by | No Comments

Here is the first batch of band names from Esther — and the Luke semifinals!




Bible Discussion — Esther 1-2

06/25/2008, 12:30 pm -- by | No Comments

This week, starts a brand new book by discussing the first two chapters of Esther!

Genesis: 1-4 | 5-9 | 10-14 | 15-18 | 19-22 | 23-26
27-29 | 30-32 | 33-36 | 37-39 | 40-43 | 44-46 | 47-50
Exodus: 1-4 | 5-8 | 9-11 | 12-14 | 15-18
19-22 | 23-26 | 27-30 | 31-34 | 35-40
Romans: Ch. 1 | Ch. 2 | Ch. 3 | Ch. 4 | Ch. 5 | Ch. 6 | Ch. 7 | Ch. 8 (I)
Ch. 8 (II) | Ch. 9 | Ch. 10 | Ch. 11 | Ch. 12 | Ch. 13 | Ch. 14 | Ch. 15-16
Luke: 1:1-38 | 1:39-2:40 | 2:41-3:38 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10
11 | 12 | 13 | 14-15 | 16-17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24

The Greek word “diaspora,” used to describe the scattering of the Jews in the Old Testament, carries with it the idea of being sown like seeds. Here is a wonderful example of God powerfully using two of his people who were carefully planted in the right place while in captivity.

Esther was really Mordecai\’s cousin, not his niece, which made me wonder why he didn\’t marry her. I mean, Jewish law was weird that way anyway”¦

Mordecai and Hadassah (Esther) were of the tribe of Benjamin, the youngest brother of the twelve. Once again, God uses the least to bring about salvation.

The men believed it would only take one action of the queen to cause a rebellion throughout the nation.

When I heard the story as a kid, I always pictured some kind of beauty contest with everyone assembled, lasting maybe a day or two. I didn\’t realize it was more of a private audition, stretched out over years. A 12-month beauty treatment?!

The feast at the beginning of the book was in the third year of the King\’s reign, but Esther didn\’t appear before him until his seventh year.

Xerxes\’ palace is described in ornate detail, from the colors of the curtains to the “mosaic pavement of alabaster, turquoise, and white and black marble.”

Josh: Kings of Babylon
Steve: The Word of Memucan; Seven Eunuchs
Connie: Thus Prepared
Erin: India to Cush
Chloe: Vashti
David: Hegai, Keeper of The Women

Continued here!

Quote of the Day, 6/25/08

06/25/2008, 7:00 am -- by | No Comments

“The changes in our life must come from the impossibility to live otherwise than according to the demands of our conscience — not from our mental resolution to try a new form of life.” — L. Tolstoy

Girl Dumps Boyfriend To ‘Get Closer To God’; ‘God’ Apparently Another Guy

06/24/2008, 9:00 pm -- by | No Comments


B.J. Dillon’s romantic and theological worlds were rocked this week when his girlfriend of 8 months, Sara Ryan, ended their relationship after telling Dillon she needed to “focus on her relationship with God.”

But God, Dillon reports, debunking thousands of years of theory and faith, is apparently fellow Grove City junior business major Seth Nelson. Adding to the bruising emotional effects of rejection and loss, the religion major must now cope with recent revelations that God is younger than him by two months, nearly flunked biology last semester, and works at the gym snack shop.

Dillon is also grappling with the fact that he has hated God since freshman orientation weekend.

“When Sara suggested that we take some time off to grow closer to the Lord, I heartily agreed, hoping it would serve to more firmly establish our relationship,” Dillon reported from his dimly-lit dorm room. “Of course at the time I thought God was, like, the desert-dwelling, Philistine-smiting Dude from the Old Testament — not some jerk whose parents bought him a brand new Jetta freshman year.”

“Allow me to be clear,” he added. “I will not be growing any closer to ‘God’ during our ‘time off.’ ”

Despite Dillon’s reservations and religious confusion, his ex reported excitement with her blooming relationship with the Lord. “I will always care for Beej,” Ryan noted, applying her makeup with more attention to detail than she has shown in over 7 months. “But I felt our relationship was distracting me from my walks, in the woods, with the Lord.”

Ryan did report some anxiety about an upcoming weekend retreat at the Nelson family home in suburban Philadelphia, where she hopes the Lord will grant her the gift of tongue.

Best of Mike: Holy Sadness

06/24/2008, 11:45 am -- by | No Comments

Originally published on February 18, 2008.

“There is a quality of sadness that pervades all the moments of our lives…even in the most happy moments of our existence, we sense a tinge of sadness. In every satisfaction, there is the fear of jealousy . . . In every embrace, there is loneliness. In every friendship, distance . . . in all forms of light, there is surrounding darkness.” ~ Nouwen

I read an article in Newsweek recently called “Happiness: Enough Already.” (Find it here.) Its point was that in modern times, we tend to view sadness as a condition to be corrected by therapy and/or medication. The author argued that while there of course are times when a person’s sadness overtakes them and should be managed by medicine, sometimes people are just sad naturally and it is a normal part of life.

I think Henri Nouwen, the great Catholic devotional writer, would agree. Perhaps he was just melancholy, but I think he’s on to something. Even in our brightest moments of joy, we can feel sad that the joy is fleeting, not here forever. Each embrace makes us realize all of life is not an embrace; each friendship makes us realize that there is a measure of distance between us and others. Essentially, each happiness reminds us that not all of life is happy.

Are these just the musings of a depressed individual? I don’t think so. I think this is someone who has a holy dissatisfaction with life. Each human joy brings with it a reminder that we do not yet know complete joy. All human intimacies, no matter how rare and delightful, remind us that we were created “naked and unashamed,” totally vulnerable with each other, until sin fractured our intimacy and left us alone. Each human joy reminds us that we have not yet arrived at the fullness of joy.

Nouwen’s ever-present sadness marks a man who is simply longing for his home. May such a holy sadness accompany us — not so we can mope around this world, but so that we can live all of life with the awareness that better things await.

Joke of the Day, 6/24/08

06/24/2008, 7:00 am -- by | No Comments

A juggler was stopped by the police while driving to his next performance. “Why do you have all these knives?,” asked the officer.

“I juggle them in my act.”

“Oh yeah? Let’s see you do it.”

The juggler gets out and starts tossing and juggling the knives. A guy driving by sees it and says, “Wow, am I glad I quit drinking — look at the test they’re making you do now!”

The Council’s Ruling — Most Ridiculous Olympic Sport

06/23/2008, 11:30 am -- by | No Comments

This and every Monday, the Bweinh!tributors, having convened in secret for hours of reasoned debate and consideration, will issue a brief and binding ruling on an issue of great societal import.

This week’s question — What is the most ridiculous Olympic sport?

Steve delivers the ruling of the Council, joined by Connie, Chloe, and Job:

“Rhythmic Gymnastics is a sport that combines elements of ballet, gymnastics, theatrical dance, and apparatus manipulation.” I’m okay with all of that except the “sport” part.


Josh concurs in part, joined by Erin:

Anything that requires a panel of (crooked, biased, pretentious) judges to determine a winner.


MC-B dissents, joined by Kaitlin:

Curling — sliding rocks across ice while people sweep and scream (a lot).


Djere dissents:

“BMX” – Save it for the ‘X’ Games, kid.


Tom joins this dissenting opinion:

Korfball. Any sport whose main distinction is that it is designed “so that both men and women have equal opportunities” is by definition ridiculous.


David joins this dissenting opinion:

Shooting a rifle on skis seems pretty stupid to me.


Mike played no part in the determination of this issue.

Next time: What is the most difficult book of the Bible to understand?

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