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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.

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.

Do You Support or Oppose the Homophone Agenda?

This post from Language Log’s Mark Liberman has me vigorously shaking my head. Quoting Paul Rolly of the Salt Lake Tribune:

Homophones, as any English grammarian can tell you, are words that sound the same but have different meanings and often different spellings — such as be and bee, through and threw, which and witch, their and there.

This concept is taught early on to foreign students learning English because it can be confusing to someone whose native language does not have that feature.

But when the social-media specialist for a private Provo-based English language learning center wrote a blog explaining homophones, he was let go for creating the perception that the school promoted a gay agenda.

Erm… What?

Of course, Liberman’s final sentence is the one that really has me worried:

Since intelligent people are not a protected group under U.S. employment law, Mr. Woodger was apparently on solid legal ground in firing Torkildson.

Oxford City Council, You’re a Bunch of Idiots

Get this:

Through centuries and across countries, it has remained a staple of traditional Easter celebrations. 

But that rich history, it seems, has been rather lost on one council bureaucrat – who forced a church to cancel its Passion play because he apparently thought it was a sex show.

The performance, telling the story of the crucifixion of Christ, had been planned for Good Friday by St Stephen’s House Theological College and Saints Mary and John Church in Oxford.

That was until an official at the local Labour council refused to rubber-stamp the event, forcing the church to scrap it at short notice. 

Oxford City Council banned the re-enactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ…wrongly believing the play was a sex show and could cause ‘grave offence’

Actors had planned to walk through the streets of Oxford on Friday to re-enact the lead up to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ has they had done previously in 2012.

The worker in question apparently did not know that a Passion play was a religious affair – and thought it was an obscene production.

Last night ministers, MPs and religious groups criticised the ‘unbelievable’ actions of Oxford City Council, saying it showed Christians were becoming increasingly marginalised in society.

A Passion play is a dramatic performance of the Passion of Christ, depicting the trial, crucifixion and death of Jesus. The name comes from the Latin verb ‘pati’, meaning ‘to suffer’.

The Oxford performance was previously held in 2012, without a licence, when an audience of some 200 watched Mischa Richards, playing Jesus, haul a wooden cross from Cowley Road Methodist church to Saints Mary and John. 

This year, the organisers decided to stage a repeat, but were told they must apply for a council licence – and were astonished when they were turned down.

A church source told MailOnline: ‘A council official didn’t read the paperwork properly and didn’t realise it was a religious play, so told us we needed an events licence when we didn’t.

‘If they’d told us 24 hours earlier, we would have had time to apply for and get one, but we ran out of time. It’s frustrating because we didn’t need one in any case – they just hadn’t read what the play was about.’

SS Mary and John vicar, Adam Romanis, said: ‘It’s very upsetting because so many people were looking forward to it.

‘Someone said to me: “You can’t hold a crucifixion these days without a licence”.’

Chozen: A Passover Parody

For those of you who aren’t sick to death of the music from Frozen—and its various covers and parodies—here’s one for Passover: