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Late for Church? Here’s a Handy Guide for What to Do

Courtesy of Ben Myers.

In 1948 the World Council of Churches proposed to establish a Commission on Late Arrivals. However, plans were abandoned when it became apparent that the representative churches were unable to agree on a definition of the word “late”. A prominent Greek Orthodox delegate argued that “lateness” designates arrival more than twenty minutes after the specified starting time; while several Presbyterian theologians insisted that “lateness” technically refers to any arrival less than three minutes prior to starting time. These thorny and intractable questions of definition perhaps belong more to the philosophy of time than to liturgical studies, and as a result I make no attempt to resolve them here. The following ecumenical manual has been prepared simply as a general guide to the differing Liturgical Rules for late arrivals in various church traditions. It is hoped that this manual will lay the foundation for further study in this field, and that it will prove useful as a practical aid for those emergencies of punctuality that can strike even the most conscientious of churchgoers.

(I’m mostly sure that paragraph was a joke.)

A Sign of the Times?

I wonder if they went around posting notices like this in the days of Noah…mesopotamia_closed

Bible Papers: Don’t Let This Be You!

Top 10 ways to fail a Bible paper, provided for your edification by Phillip J. Long. Here’s the list. Read the whole thing for the explanations:

  • #10 – “My youth pastor told me that. . .”
  • #9 – Pauline Lit Paper, only quote Jesus.
  • #8 – Any of these words: Satin, Pilot, Angles.
  • #7 – Referring to scholars by their first name: “As Tom says in Challenge of Jesus.
  • #6 – “As biblical Scholar J. Vernon McGee says….”
  • #5 – Comparing Jesus and Spiderman.
  • #4 – 1000 word paper, 500 word block quote.
  • #3 – “In The Message translation it says….”
  • #2 – “Dictionary.com defines justification as….”
  • #1 – “For many thousands of years people have debated….”

Christmas vs. Chanukkah

Dorothy King explains it all, and admirably!

Just in case anyone asks you what the difference is between Christmas and Chanukah, you will know what and how to answer.

1. Christmas is one day, same day every year, December 25th. Jews also love December 25th. It’s another paid day off from work. We go to the movies and out for Chinese food and Israeli dancing. Chanukah is 8 days. It starts the evening of the 24th of Kislev, whenever that falls. No one is ever sure. Jews never know until a non-Jewish friend asks when Chanukah starts, forcing us to consult a calendar so we don’t look like idiots. We all have the same calendar, provided free with a donation from the World Jewish Congress, the kosher butcher or the local Sinai Memorial Chapel (especially in Florida ) or other Jewish funeral homes.

2. Christmas is a major holiday. Chanukah is a minor holiday with the same theme as most Jewish holidays. They tried to kill us, we survived, let’s eat.

Eleven more points to ponder over at PhDiva.

Yet Another Reason for Religious Studies

You won’t miss out on the jokes in Monty Python! According to the BBC’s Aaqil Ahmed:

“If you tried to make The Life of Brian today it would fall flat on its face because the vast majority of the audience would not get most of the jokes. They don’t have the knowledge,” Ahmed said. He questioned whether modern audiences would appreciate that the “great joke about the Sermon on the Mount” in the 1979 Python film, where a woman asks “What’s so special about the cheesemakers?”, was a reference to Jesus’s words “Blessed are the peacemakers” from the Bible.

He also claimed that comedians such as Eddie Izzard, Tim Minchin and Ricky Gervais – who he said he found “really funny” – tended to tackle religion in very general terms. “They don’t take on specific aspects of religion they take on bigger things – such as the Bible. They can’t go into specific stories anymore because no one knows what the stories are.”

So, God Went to a Writers’ Workshop…

Terrific first draft, but the female characters need some work.

Have Scientist Finally Tracked Down the Yeti?

bumbleResearch by a leading British geneticist on some unidentified hair samples from the Himalayas suggests a possible answer to the mystery of the Yeti or “Abominable Snowman.” Bryan Sykes, a professor of genetics at Oxford University, found a 100% match with DNA recovered from the remains of a Norwegian polar bear dating back 40,000–120,000 years. Sykes says,

“But we can speculate on what the possible explanation might be. It could mean there is a subspecies of brown bear in the High Himalayas descended from the bear that was the ancestor of the polar bear. Or it could mean there has been more recent hybridization between the brown bear and the descendant of the ancient polar bear.”

This will, no doubt, come as a shock and a bit of a disappointment to Yeti and Bigfoot enthusiasts.

Three CRAPpy Songs

Jim McGrath is teaching students about information literacy through song parodies. Cool!

I’m Suddenly Interested in What Mike Licona May Have to Say

He is a Christian apologist who has incurred the wrath of Al Mohler by suggesting that we actually read the Bible as it is and not try to shoehorn it into a modernistic philosophical straitjacket.

Interviewed by Baptist Press, Licona expressed what every New Testament scholar in the world knows: that the Gospels sometimes take the same sorts of liberties in telling the story of Jesus that other ancient Greek biographies take in telling the stories of their subjects. In other words, these differences of presentation—some may rise to the level of “contradiction”—are within the expected tolerances for the sort of literature they are.

Of course, saying out loud what reputable experts know is a serious no-no in some provinces of Baptistland. Chaplain Mike of Internet Monk hits the nail on the head:

Ironically, in the interview Licona was actually trying to increase Christians’ trust in the reliability of the New Testament by pointing out that what we might consider “contradictions” according to our post-Enlightenment standards of historical veracity were simply characteristic of the way historians wrote then. He also affirmed that these “contradictions” were all written with regard to peripheral details in the accounts and not major points. In addition, he suggested that what we are really talking about here in the vast majority of cases are “differences” and that there is only a handful of stubborn differences that might rise to the level of actual contradictions — and again, even if they did, these relate only to peripheral details.

This, however, was not good enough for Al Mohler, who was involved in another dispute involving Licona’s understanding of Scripture in 2011. In that case, even though Licona wrote a book which strongly defended the literal resurrection, his handling of one pericope (Matthew 27:51-53) as a “poetic device” fell short in Mohler’s eyes and “ “handed the enemies of the resurrection of Jesus Christ a powerful weapon.”

With regard to the dispute we are considering today, Dr. Mohler  has commented, “It would be nonsense to affirm real contradictions in the Bible and then to affirm inerrancy.” He was not satisfied with Licona’s suggestion that certain forms of inerrancy might be ruled out by his approach. “What you lose is inerrancy itself,” Mohler asserted.

Whatever. Personally, I much prefer to deal with the Bible as it truly is rather than what I might wish it to be.

Μάμμη ἐπατήθην ὑπ᾽ ἐλάφου

My little contribution to the decline of western civilization:

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

I would translate the verses, but that would mean actually studying the lyrics of the song, and I just don’t have the inclination to do that.

If I had the time, however, I think this has the makings of a great Lenaia carol. Perhaps “Grandma Got Run Over by a Maenad”?