Thursday, October 30, 2014

Jerusalem as Eschatological City

Yahweh allowed Jerusalem, his city, to be destroyed by the king of Babylon in 588 BC. In 537 he commanded Cyrus, king of Persia, to restore the Jews in Babylon to Jerusalem. Yahweh wanted Jerusalem restored because it had not yet completed its purpose as his eschatological city.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Jerusalem: Righteous City But Also Stubbornly Olympian

Because Yahweh and David freely shared a relationship of love with one another, Jerusalem became more than just another Olympian city. Because David desired it, Yahweh also freely chose in love to make Jerusalem a righteous city and witness to him. Once David’s son Solomon had finished having a temple built, Yahweh freely honored David’s wish by filling that building with his presence.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Jerusalem: Olympian City Becomes Righteous Too

According to the Bible, there was nothing special about Jerusalem’s beginnings. As Ezekiel put it, Thus says the [Lord Yahweh] to Jerusalem: Your origin and your birth were in the land of the Canaanites; your father was an Amorite, and your mother a Hittite (16:3).

Monday, October 27, 2014

Cities of Refuge

While Yahweh's people were wandering in the wilderness, Yahweh told Moses to have them set aside six cities once they had taken possession of the land of Canaan. These cities of refuge would provide a safe haven for anyone who had unintentionally killed someone. These unintentional killers could flee to the city and be protected from being killed by members of the dead person’s family (Numbers 35:9-15).

Friday, October 24, 2014

Babylon: Chosen City

The prophets Jeremiah and Isaiah lived as faithful witnesses to Yahweh. Today they remind us of certain truths.

One, Yahweh’s people do not always remain loyal to Yahweh nor witness to his ways. Two, when this happens, Yahweh may use Olympians to discipline his people even though Olympians do not believe in Yahweh’s existence. Three, Yahweh as easily restrains Olympians as he does unleash them.

Today we will recall the words of Jeremiah and Isaiah concerning the people of Yahweh in Judah and Jerusalem around 600 BC. In 588 BC Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, destroyed Jerusalem, burned down the temple built by Solomon, and dragged them into exile.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Christian Witness to the City

Biblical witnesses to the city reveal different layers of its meaning to us. They reveal to us that it is a place we humans use to hide from Yahweh, a chaotic counter-creation to Yahweh’s good creation, our greatest monument to ourselves, our greatest work of devotion to the Olympian gods, and the place where the Olympian gods work on us most intensely.

Biblical witnesses to the city also reveal to us different ways in which Jesus may call us to respond creatively to these meanings today.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Nineveh: The City Repentant

By 700 BC, the Assyrian empire was the strongest in Levantia. At that time Sennacherib, its ruler (704-681), made Nineveh his capital. He ordered the construction of wider streets, new temples, the world’s first aqueduct, and an impressive palace. He also had the city adorned with sculptures and reliefs. He made Vulcan, god of technology and spiritual sponsor of cities, quite proud.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Sodom: The City Condemned

Then [Yahweh] said to Abraham, “There are terrible accusations against Sodom and Gomorrah, and their sin is very great. I must go down to find out whether or not the accusations I have heard are true” (Genesis 18:20-21).

Friday, October 17, 2014

Babylon: Infernal Power with No Future

John of Patmos, author of the Book of Revelation, speaks of Babylon as a power of evil. Babylon, then, is not just a collection of buildings and people. She is also like Vulcan, the god of technology whom she serves, an Olympian power. She is a minion of Vulcan and the hellish spirit which animates her city.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Babylon: Quintessential City

For biblical witnesses, Babylon exemplified the whole meaning of the city. While inspired by Vulcan, god of technology, Babylon served all the Olympian gods as their home. It embodied their chaotic counter-creation at the expense of Yahweh’s good creation. It also served us humans as the place where, in our Olympian pride and devotion to those gods, we found our greatest satisfaction to our greatest hurt.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Rehoboam and the Vanity of Cities and Sons

Rehoboam, son of Solomon and king, lost ten tribes of the House of Israel, took great pride in substituting a few fortified cities for the loss, then lost those and died.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Solomon: First Israelite Builder of Cities

Solomon became the legendary but ambiguous king of Israel in 1015 BC following the death of his father David and a brief struggle for power with his older half-brother Adonijah. He was the builder of the first temple dedicated to Yahweh (good) and of a host of cities dedicated to the Olympian gods (bad).

Friday, October 10, 2014


In 1491 BC, on the night of the first Passover, Moses led the people of Israel out of the city of Ramses and slavery in Egypt. He led them into freedom for Yahweh in the wilderness and they camped, according to tradition, by the Red Sea. When Pharaoh’s army threatened them, Yahweh separated the waters of the Red Sea, led them through it on dry ground, and then collapsed the waters on the advancing Egyptian army (Exodus 12-14).

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The City: Abraham to Moses

When Yahweh created the heavens and the earth in 4004 BC, we human beings got to enjoy a few days of conviviality. Our rupture with Yahweh came quickly enough and with it began our first age, the Old Age of Dominant Powers of Evil; as well as our first historical period, the Age of Olympianity. That period witnessed our devotion to six false but compelling Olympian gods. It also saw the construction of our greatest monument to them: the city. Today’s Global Technological System (GTS) is simply that monument built to the greatest possible degree.

But Yahweh started a second historical period, the Age of Yahwism, in 1921 BC with his call of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-4).

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The City: Nimrod to Babel

Today we continue our reflections on the spiritual nature of the city with the help of Jacques Ellul’s The Meaning of the City (pp. 9-20).

Ham (Genesis 9:18-28). After the Flood, Noah planted a vineyard and then made some wine, got drunk, and fell asleep naked. That’s the way his youngest son Ham found him. The next morning Noah cursed Ham for seeing him naked: “Cursed be Canaan [son of Ham]; lowest of slaves shall he be to his brothers” (Genesis 9:25, New Revised Standard Version, here and following).

Two responses to being cursed are possible. First, one may seek reconciliation with the one who pronounced the curse and be blessed instead. Two, one may seek enough power to keep the curse from having its intended effect.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Cain: First Builder of Cities (Genesis 4:1-17)

From Genesis 4 (1-17) we learn that it was the murderer Cain who built the first city and, with it, started civilization. Today’s Global Technological System (GTS) is the finest embodiment of that first city and all that it represented. Here we follow the insightful reflections on Bible and city made by Jacques Ellul in his book, The Meaning of the City (pp. 1-9).

Monday, October 6, 2014

Vital Limit: Solar Income

A third vital limit to our population as a species, and to the size and number of our artifacts, is our solar income: the energy we get from the sun each day.

In Genesis 1, we learn that God created an ordered good of countless plants and animals as the perfect context for us to realize a relationship of freedom and love with him, one another, and all those other species. We witness to God when we live within the vital limits of that ordered good.

Vital limits are limits which nurture and protect life. Trespassing them causes debilitation and death.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Vital Limit: Carrying Capacity

In 1980, William Catton, Jr. (b. 1926), published his insightful book Overshoot. His basic idea: we humans have overshot all vital limits.

William points out that all species, humans included, face ecological limits. The ecological context in which we live can sustain the population of any species only to a certain point. We may refer to that point as the carrying capacity of our ecological context.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

First Step away from Electricity: Abandoning the Gods for Jesus

A Quick Historical Review
In Genesis 1 we learn that Yahweh created earth, seas, and sky. He then filled them with every manner of living creatures. He created this cosmos teeming with life to serve as the perfect context for human creatures. To his way of thinking, this vital context would best allow us to share a relationship of freedom and love with him, one another, and all these other creatures.

We learn in Genesis 3 that this perfect context did not last long. Following the rupture in our relationships with Yahweh, one another, and the rest of creation, our days of conviviality ended. The Old Age of Dominant Powers of Evil, of our dreary slavery to six false Olympian gods, began.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Respecting Vital Limits: Other Species and Their Habitats

In Genesis 1, we learn about Yahweh’s first choice in his history with us. We learn that he rejected the creation of a chaos of disordered evil. This rejected world would have been characterized by desolation, darkness, and a deep overwhelming evil against which the Holy Spirit would have proven helpless.

Instead, Yahweh chose to create a cosmos: an ordered good. He put this ordered good into good order through successive acts of separation through which he established vital limits.