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This Is Not a Litany

Leader: This is not a litany.

People: This is a responsive reading.

Leader: A litany is an ancient prayer form in which the leader voices a petition and the people repeat a set response such as “Lord, have mercy.”

People: Or “Hear our prayer.”

Leader: A responsive reading is more of a creed. It’s a collection of sentences which, while probably true and praiseworthy, aren’t really talking to God.

People: We’re talking to each other, O Lord, about things we believe or affirm.

Leader: Therefore, responsive readings tend to be more didactic.

People: Cerebral.

Leader: I mean, look at all these words, for crying out loud!

People: Simplify, simplify.

Leader: Instead of engaging the mind, all this verbiage might even foster laziness or mindless conformity.

People: Baaa!

Leader: Exactly.

People: But why in the world would you want to begin worship with a mental exercise? Why not begin with adoration, confession, or thanksgiving?

Leader: And since they change every week, you can’t even participate without a printed order of service.

People: But what about preschoolers, or foreigners, or the blind?

Leader: It might be better to begin with something that everyone could learn through frequent repetition.

People: Something less disposable.

Leader: Something the church has treasured for centuries. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel every week, you know.

People: Sometimes it’s a greater act of faith to trust the wisdom of the past.

All: Amen.

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How Ice Cream Contributes to Christian Theology

The future of ecumenism.

(H/T: Michael F. Bird)

Rethinking Prostitution

Miguel Ruiz at Internet Monk sheds new light on some old biblical texts.

The history of Christianity is a twisted tale of conflict over sexuality and the suppression of those who dissent the party line on bedroom ethics.  These days, it is commonly argued that there is only one correct approach, from sound exegesis of Scripture, to human sexuality and appropriate boundaries.  However, we still must concede that what is commonly accepted as “right” today is not exactly how we have always taught.  Throughout the centuries, various sexual practices have gone in and out of favor with the church catholic at various times and in various cultures, as external influences have doubtlessly impacted how the relevant Scripture passages were read and understood.  We’ve run the gamut from repressing to libertine, and everything in between.  It is nothing short of confounding how difficult it is to get the Bible to speak directly and consistently on these matters.  If we truly value and respect the Word of God, we would be wise to continue listening and respectfully consider alternate interpretations, especially those coming from fellow believers as a matter of conscience.  We’ve all made mistakes in Biblical interpretation before, probably not for the last time.  So I challenge you to listen with an open mind as I explain how we’ve been largely wrong about a particular issue for a number of years: Prostitution.

Note for the sarcasm-challenged: It’s satire. But it does make a point, and some of my readers will appreciate it.

Something for My Students

Good luck to Mercerians and others facing final exams next week!

I Am the Very Model of a Biblical Philologist


(H/T: Jim West)

In Honor of St. Nicholas’s Day

Here’s a little Greek exercise I did a couple years ago:

Μάμμη ἐπατήθην ὑπ᾽ ἐλάφου.
περὶ προτὰς χείμονος ἔβαινεν.
περὶ Ἁγίου Νικολάου ένδιαζεις;
πάππος γε κἀγὼ πιστεύομεν.

If it isn’t grammatically perfect, well, that may not be straying too far from the source material.

Five Reasons Progressive Christians Secretly Love Mark Driscoll

Christian Piatt is refreshingly honest about this:

  1. He helps us define who we are.
  2. He distracts us from working on ourselves.
  3. He gives us causes to rally around.
  4. He serves as a common enemy.
  5. His shortcomings are obvious.

See also a few words of evangelical commentary from Chaplain Mike at Internet Monk.