Tomorrow is Ascension Sunday followed next Sunday by Pentecost. Most churches do not do enough with Ascension Sunday; and the celebration of Pentecost, which is one of the church's three great feast days, pales in comparison to the other two-- Christmas and Easter. I suppose if Madison Avenue could figure out a way to economically exploit Pentecost the way they have Christmas and Easter, we would be decorating Pentecost trees and exchanging spiritual gifts. Until that time, Pentecost will not unfortunately get its due.
What is the Bible for? Peter Leithart writes,
Treating Scripture as a directory of moral lessons or compendium of moral rules assumes a constricted view of moral practice and reasoning. We don’t pursue virtue simply by applying general principles to particular situations, and true morality is never simply obedience to commandments. Practical morality requires the ability to assess situations accurately, memory of our own past patterns of action and of others’ inspiring examples, and enough moral imagination to see how a potential tragedy might become the birthplace of unforeseen comedy.
Scripture is ethical paedeia, not an ethics manual. All Scripture is practical because God breathed all of it to form people, both individuals and community. God tells stories to stock our memory with a common moral past that projects his people into the future. God’s word expands our imagination to grasp more of what’s really there and to envision what might be there in the future. The Bible is useful because it opens our eyes, and because it’s highly impractical to walk through life with our eyes closed.
Yes, indeed. The Bible is a messy book, and to say so does not undermine its inspiration and authority. To exercise interpretive gymnastics in order to make the whole biblical witness line up with itself from Genesis to Revelation is to undermine its usefulness. Moreover, to attempt to smooth out the edgy nature of Scripture and to ignore its difficulties is to deny the very way in which God is involved in this world. In Jesus God came into the mess of the human situation. God did not stand above it. Why should it be any different with the book God gave to us?
Yesterday's debut of Facebook on the stock exchange was a great disappointment for many who thought they could get unbelievably wealthy in one day. It's amazing what people will do when they believe instant wealth is within their grasp. Of course, one already had to be rather well off in order to get even richer yesterday.
Speaking of Facebook, archaeologists have deciphered some ancient rock art in Russia and northern Sweden and have concluded that it is a Bronze Age version of Facebook. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
A new study suggests that raising one's HDL or "good cholesterol" level in the blood may not necessarily lower one's risk of heart disease. I think I will have a cheeseburger for lunch.
This Week in History: On May 15, 1265, the author of The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri, was born in Florence, Italy. The first part of The Divine Comedy, "Inferno" has had more influence on most Christians' views of hell than the New Testament.