Sunday, November 26, 2017

Delighting in the Biblical Narrative (5): Biblical Cosmology

To witness more clearly to Jesus Christ today, we need his help in discerning how the little story of our life fits into the biblical narrative centered on his life.
The biblical narrative circumscribes time. It gives history a beginning: the moment of creation in 4004 BC. It gives it an end: Judgment Day—on a date yet unknown—and the beginning of the New Creation. It gives it a remarkably limited duration: so far just over 6,000 years of Yahweh’s history with us and of our history with Yahweh.
This narrative also circumscribes space. Like time, the biblical narrative divides space into a handful of parts with remarkably limited range. At its simplest, it divides space into Heaven, Earth, and Hell.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Delighting in the Biblical Narrative (4): Satan, the Devil, and Demons

Today Jesus invites us, Christians and churches, to find the place of our little stories inside the comprehensive narrative he continues to share with us in and through the Bible.
Part of this comprehensive narrative concerns the malicious role played by Satan and demons in our civilization, society, culture, and personality. Satan would have us deny his existence. That way he can sow destruction and death much more easily. Satan would also have us deny the existence of Jesus. That way Jesus can’t bless us with creativity and life so easily. Sadly, even Christians and churches follow Satan’s lead in both these ways. Today, Jesus invites us to do better. We will do so by reflecting briefly on what Jesus tells us about Satan and his demonic minions through the Gospel according to Matthew.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Ussher: Jesus Christ (5 BC-AD 33)

     6 BC: The angel Gabriel announces to the priest Zechariah in Jerusalem that his wife Elizabeth will give birth to a son. He is to be named John and he will serve Yahweh in the spirit and power of Elijah (6025).
     5 BC: The angel Gabriel announces to Mary in Nazareth of Galilee that she will conceive a son by the power of the Holy Spirit. She is to name him Jesus (6039).
     Mary hurries to the home of her cousin Elizabeth in the city of Hebron (6040).
     John is born (6043).
     Caesar Augustus orders a census to be taken of the whole Roman world (6049).
     December [25]: Joseph takes Mary his wife to register in Bethlehem. While there, Mary gives birth to Jesus (6057).

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Ussher: The Life and Times of the Apostle Paul

     Notes on Annals of the World (1658) by James Ussher. Numbers refer to paragraphs in Ussher’s text.
     5 BC: Saul, later known as the apostle Paul, is born in Tarsus (Anatolia) perhaps around the same time that Jesus is born in Bethlehem.
     33 AD, May 24: Day of Pentecost, birthday of the Church (6510).
     The death of Stephen—the first martyr. Those stoning him laid their cloaks at the feet of Saul. Saul was a Pharisee from Tarsus in Cilicia. He was in Jerusalem to study theology at the Synagogue of Cilicia and to learn from Gamaliel (6520).
     34: A great persecution of the church in Jerusalem begins. Saul participates enthusiastically in it (6524).

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Delighting in the Biblical Narrative (3): Angels

We may gain some insight into the existence and ministry of angels by reflecting on their activities as revealed to us by Jesus Christ through the Gospel according to Matthew.

Matthew begins with the genealogy of Jesus. Then, as soon as events in the immediate life of Jesus begin, we find angels involved.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Ussher: Alexander 3rd of Macedon (356-323 BC)

     Notes on James Ussher, Annals of the World (1658).
     401 BC: Xenophon, along with 10,000 Greek mercenary companions, finds himself abandoned in the middle of hostile Persian territory. He later writes of how they worked together to survive a harsh weather and enemies to return home safely (P1451).
     370 BC: Spartan power, growing since its defeat of Athens in 404 BC, is broken by Thebes at the Battle of Leuctra (P1591).
     356 BC: Alexander, son of Philip, king of Macedonia, is born in Pella (P1632).
     348 BC: Plato dies (P1672).

Monday, November 13, 2017

Ussher: Second Temple to Last Prophet (515-416 BC)

     Notes on James Ussher, Annals of the World (1658).
     515 BC: The second Temple in Jerusalem is finished (P1032).
     514 BC: Darius (Ahasuerus) chooses Esther to be his new queen (Est. 2:16-17). The story of Esther unfolds during the course of this year (P1035).
     502 BC: Ionian cities along the western coast of Anatolia rebel against Darius (P1055). The Athenians support the rebellion by providing 20 ships under an able commander (P1058).
     500 BC: Athenians join the Ionians in attacking, overwhelming, and burning down the Persian provincial capital of Sardis. The Persian army pursues the Athenians and punishes them. Surviving Athenians abandon the Ionians and return home despite ongoing appeals for further assistance (P1060). When Darius hears of Athenian complicity in the burning of Sardis, he orders an assistant to say to him three times at every meal, “‘Sir, remember the Athenians’” (P1061).

Delighting in the Biblical Narrative and Finding Our Place in It (Part 2)

In the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, we find a densely interconnected narrative which finds its source, center, and goal in Jesus. It speaks normatively about Yahweh—the one and only true god—and about our relationship with Yahweh from the beginning of our history together to its fulfillment in Christ’s glorious return. Our unimaginable privilege is to discern where, in this most meaningful of all narratives, our own little stories find their rightful place.
But this irreplaceable biblical narrative is not the only existing narrative. It isn’t even today’s dominant one in what’s left of Christendom. Today’s universally dominant narrative belongs to the six malicious yet conventional Olympian gods and their overwhelming yet fragile Global Technological System (GTS). Through the corporate media of the GTS, these parasitic gods daily seek to impose their Olympian worldview on every one of us and, at the same time, to weaken any affirmation of the biblical worldview. Most distressing is the fact that the gods, through their minions, have largely succeeded in getting even us Christians and our churches thinking their way. Now, rather than understanding the media and our world in biblical terms, we deconstruct the biblical narrative in Olympian terms.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Delighting in the Biblical Narrative and Finding Our Place in It (Part 1)

In the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, we find a densely interconnected narrative which finds its source, goal, and definitive center in Jesus Christ. It speaks normatively about Yahweh—the one and only true god—and about our relationship with Yahweh from the beginning of our history together to its fulfillment in Christ’s glorious return. Our unimaginable privilege is to discern where, in this most meaningful of all narratives, our own little stories find their rightful place.
This is harder than one might think—even painfully difficult. Yahweh graciously provided us with creation as the perfect context for us to participate in a relationship of freedom with him, one another, and the rest of creation. In bitter contrast, the six false, malicious, yet conventional gods of Olympianity have harried us into constructing for them a Global Technological System. This GTS is the best embodiment yet of their lust for power and of the meanest sorts of relationships with them, one another, and God’s good creation based on power.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Ussher: Destruction of First Temple to Construction of Second (588-515 BC)

     Notes on James Ussher, Annals of the World (1658).
     588 BC: The departing Babylonian army puts Gedeliah of Judah in charge of the other marginal people of Judah being left there (2 Kgs. 25:1, 22-23; Jer. 39:10, 42:16) (P851). Baalis, kind of the Ammonites, pays Ishmael, a surviving member of the extended royal family of Judah, to murder Gedeliah. In the seventh month, he does (2 Kgs. 25:25, Jer. 41:1-3) (856).
     587 BC: Jeremiah and Baruch are taken to Egypt by fearful people of Judah whom Jeremiah had told to remain and live (Jer. 42:1-43:13) (P858).

Ussher: Kings 3 (Fall of Israel to Fall of Judah, 721-588 BC)

     Notes on James Ussher, The Annals of the World (1658):
     721 BC: The Assyrian army under their king Shalmaneser captured Samaria and destroyed the northern Kingdom of Israel (P633).
     710 BC: Yahweh destroyed the Assyrian army under Sennacherib as it prepared to besiege Jerusalem (Isa. 31:8-9, 37:36-38, 38:1-22; 2 Kgs. 19:35-37; 2 Chr. 32:21) (P668).
     698 BC: Hezekiah died (2 Chr. 32:33) and his son Manasseh ruled for 55 years (2 Kgs. 21:1). He was as wicked as his father was good—devoting himself more thoroughly to the Olympian gods than even the nations whom the Israelites had dispossessed (2 Kgs. 21:2, 11; 2 Chr. 33:2, 9). He also killed many innocent people (2 Kgs. 21:16, 24:4) including the prophet Isaiah (see Heb. 11:37) (P682).

Friday, November 10, 2017

Ussher: Kings 2 (Death of Ahab to Destruction of Israel, 897-721 BC)

    Notes on James Ussher, The Annals of the World (1658):
     897 BC: Ahab dies in battle against Ramoth-gilead and his son Ahaziah becomes king. Jehoshaphat (king of Judah), who was with him, barely escapes (1 Kgs. 22, 2 Chr. 18) (P518).
     896 BC: Ahaziah dies and his brother Jehoram (Joram) becomes king of Israel and rules for 12 years (2 Kgs. 3:1) (P522).
     That same year, Elijah is taken to Heaven (2 Kgs. 2) (P523).

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Ussher: Kings 1 (Solomon to Ahab, 1015-897 BC)

     Notes on James Ussher, The Annals of the World (1658):

     Ussher’s fifth age of the world begins when Solomon starts construction of the Temple of Yahweh in Jerusalem in 1012 BC. It ends with the Temple’s destruction in 588 BC.
     1015 BC: David dies and Solomon reigns alone as king of Israel after reigning during the last 6 months of his father’s life (1 Kgs. 2:1-10) (P459).
     1012 BC: Solomon starts construction of the Temple in the 480th year after the Exodus (1 Kgs. 6:1, 37; 2 Chr. 3:2) (P465).
     1005 BC: Construction of the Temple concludes 7 years 6 months after it began (1 Kgs. 6:38). Its dedication takes place the following year which is a Year of Jubilee (P467).
     1004 BC: the world begins its 4th millennium during the 9th Jubilee celebrated by Israel in the Promised Land. The Ark is moved from Zion into the Temple’s Holy of Holies. The Tent of Meeting and the artifacts used in it are moved from Gibeon into Temple storerooms (1 Kgs. 8:1-2, 65-66; 2 Chr. 5:3-5, 6:1, 8:1-11) (P468).

Monday, November 6, 2017

The Crisis of Olympian Leadership In the World and Our Churches

Olympian leadership is leadership consistent with Olympianity: the world’s oldest, most popular, yet least recognized religion. Olympianity is the religion of power. Olympians devote themselves to the six conventional yet false and destructive gods of power: (1) Jupiter, god of politics; (2) Mars, god of war; (3) Vulcan, god of technology; (4) Venus, goddess of sex; (5) Pluto, god of money; and (6) Bacchus, god of consumption. Olympianity’s greatest achievement is the Global Technological System (GTS): the powerful parasite that dominates the world’s societies, cultures, individuals, and ecosystems even as it parasitically drains them all of meaning and vitality. The GTS also dominates us inwardly, structuring the Olympian personality of every one of us so that we promptly and cheerfully serve its purposes and attack its most deadly rivals: Jesus Christ, Christians, and the Church.
Jesus Christ is the truth who sets us free to love and leads us into fullness of life. It is Jesus alone, the one unconventional yet true and creative god/man, who calls us to join him daily on the way of freedom. By so joining him, he enables us to participate in his truth, love, and vitality and to freely share them with others. He alone is the one who structures the Christian personality of every one of us so that we promptly and cheerfully serve his heavenly father and ours by witnessing to his already decisive victory over the Olympian gods and their minions.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Ussher: Dates of Events in the Books of 1 and 2 Samuel (1117-1015 BC)

     Notes on James Ussher, The Annals of the World (1658):

     1116 BC: Philistines capture the Ark of the Covenant and kill Eli’s two sons. He dies when he receives the news (1 Sam. 4:1-22) (Paragraph [P]386).
     1096 BC: 20 years after the Philistines return the Ark to Israel, Yahweh saves Israel from Philistine oppression under the leadership of Samuel (1 Sam. 7:10-14) (P390).
     1095 BC: Saul becomes the first king of Israel and rules for 40 years. It had been 21 years since the death of Eli (1 Sam. 7:2) (P391).

Friday, November 3, 2017

Ussher: Dates from the Book of Judges (1405-1095 BC)

     Notes on James Ussher, The Annals of the World (1658):
     1443 BC: Joshua dies aged 110 just as Joseph did (Gen. 50:26; Josh 23:1, 24:29-30) (P340).
     1413 BC marks the beginning of the calamitous period of the Judges (Jud. 17:1-21:25). First, Cushan, king of Mesopotamia, seizes control of Israel for 8 years (Jud. 2:7, 3:6-8) (P341).
     1405 BC: Yahweh raises up Othniel, son-in-law of Joshua (Josh. 15:17, Jud. 1:31), as Israel’s first judge. He liberates Israel from Cushan’s control and the land then rests for 40 years ((Jud. 3:9-11) (P342).

The Mysterious Intertwining of Our Lives with Jesus

David hit what was perhaps the worst moment in his life. His own son Absalom led a coup d’état against him. David and those still close and loyal to him had to flee Jerusalem to even have a chance to survive. And David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, and wept as he went, and his head was covered and he walked barefoot (2 Samuel 15:30). A thousand years later, Jesus would also be in agony on that same hill (Luke 22:39, 44).
Years before, Nathan the prophet had forewarned David of these looming disasters. They were all willed by Yahweh as a direct consequence David’s acts of adultery and murder. Even so, Yahweh continued to love David more than he could even imagine. Yahweh also fled Jerusalem with David even as he stayed behind in Jerusalem to aid those still loyal to David in the city.

Jesus Puts No One above the Law

David had a special relationship with Yahweh. His strong devotion to Yahweh set a standard against which subsequent kings of Israel and Judah failed to measure up. It was said of David’s son Solomon, for example, that when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to [Yahweh] his God, as the heart of David his father had been (1 Kings 11:4, New American Standard Version, here and following). Through the prophet Ahijah, Yahweh told another king of Israel, you have not been like My servant David, who kept My commandments and who followed Me with all his heart, to do only that which was right in My sight” (1 Kings 14:8). No, David loved Yahweh with all his heart, soul, and mind, just as both Moses and Jesus tell us to do (Deuteronomy 6:4, Matthew 22:37).
At the same time, Yahweh demonstrated his steadfast love to David. Once David had thoroughly subdued all of the traditional enemies of Israel, and found himself living in a palatial house of cedar, he decided he would build a house for Yahweh as well. From the Exodus until that time, the focal point of the presence of Yahweh on Earth had been the Ark of the Covenant kept in a tent.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Why Did David Not Kill Murderous Saul When He Had the Chance?

Around 1095 BC, Yahweh commanded the prophet Samuel to pour olive oil on the head of Saul and thereby anoint him the first king of Israel (1 Samuel 10:1). Later, however, Yahweh himself regretted that he had made Saul king (15:35). He then sent Samuel to Bethlehem where he anointed David and immediately the Spirit of [Yahweh] came mightily upon David from that day forward (16:13, New American Standard Version, here and following). At the same time, the Spirit of [Yahweh] departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from [Yahweh] terrorized him (16:14).
On Yahweh’s own initiative, then, a complicated transfer of kingship took place. In truth David was now king while in reality Saul remained so. David had been given the bright future while Yahweh had doomed Saul to destruction. This complicated transfer was bound to make Saul’s relationship to David, and David’s to Saul, ambiguous.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Four Religions of Olympia: One Growing in Domination, Three Shriveling

If you look at the map of Olympia above, three civilizations—each based on their own distinct religion—are identified. These are Christendom, Caliphate, and Judaicum (my apologies for the new word), based on Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, respectively.
The fourth religion of Olympia is Olympianity. It is the oldest, largest, yet least recognized religion in Olympia and the world. The whole map of Olympia, in fact, marks merely one small area of an entire world where Olympianity rules through the Global Technological System (GTS). The colorful boundaries of Christendom, Caliphate, and Judaicum locate the enduring past of traditional religions but not their dynamic present. That belongs to the GTS.

A Short Reflection on Luther's Spark

As we noted yesterday (“Reformation Day 500”), Jesus called and enabled Martin Luther to speak words that sparked changes of world-historical significance. Let us reflect briefly on what that may mean for us today.
Luther’s father and mother were Christians, at least nominally (“in name”), as inhabitants of Catholic Christendom. Without hesitation or reflection, they raised their son Martin as one.
Luther’s father had provided Martin with all the education he would need to pursue a prosperous career as a lawyer. Neither Luther nor his father saw any contradiction between being a successful lawyer and a faithful witness to Jesus Christ. Luther walked this broad road to success all the way to law school.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Reformation Day 500

As Christians committed to recovering the integrity of our witness to Jesus Christ, today offers us a perfect opportunity to do so. We might excuse a lukewarm Olympian indulgence in the observance of Halloween. Far better, however, would be to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the surprising start of a profound reformation of the Roman Catholic Church sparked by Father Martin Luther on October 31, 1517. We might celebrate this well by reading the original Ninety-Five Theses that caused all the excitement to begin with. We might do this even better by discussing this document with our companions in our prophetic mission group.
To better understand The Ninety-Five Theses as spark, some background might prove helpful.
Martin Luther was born on November 10, 1483, in Eisleben, Saxony. He was baptized the next day on the Feast of St. Martin of Tours.

The Ninety-Five Theses of Martin Luther (1517)

One way we may recover the integrity of our witness to Jesus Christ is by making a habit of reading the major documents of Church history beginning with the Bible. One such document is The Ninety-Five Theses of Martin Luther. To aid in this effort, I offer the English translation below (copyright © 1997 by KDG Wittenberg). Luther publicly posted the original theses in Latin on October 31, 1517.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Ussher: Joshua and the Conquest of Canaan

     Notes on James Ussher, The Annals of the World (1658).
      1451 BC, 12th month (Adar), 1st day: Moses climbs Mount Nebo, sees the Promised Land, then dies (Num. 27:12-13; Dt. 3:23-29, 31;2-4, 7; 32:49-50, 34:1-5) (P297).
     The Israelites mourned for Moses the rest of the month (Dt. 34:8) (P300). So ends the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, covering 2552 years of history from the creation of the world to the eve of the entry of Yahweh’s people into the land he promised their ancestors to give them. Joshua will lead them into it this 41st year after the Exodus from Egypt (P301).
     1451 BC, first month (P302): Joshua sends two spies to Jericho. Rahab the prostitute protects them (Josh. 2) (P303).

Ussher: Moses from the Exodus to His Death (1491-1451 BC)

James Ussher, The Annals of the World (1658)

Fourth Age: 1491-1012 BC
The Exodus to the Foundation of the First Temple

     1491 BC, Tuesday, May 5 (1st month, 15th day): Following the death of all the firstborn of Egpyt (the 10th and final plague), all Egyptians, even Pharaoh himself, urge the Israelites to leave Egypt (Ex. 12:33-36). They do so exactly 430 years after Abraham left Haran. The Israelites number 600,000 men plus women and children (Ex. 12:29-31, 37, 41, 51; Num. 33:3).

Friday, October 20, 2017

Getting Much Closer to One Another (Love)

As Christians, we are called each day by Jesus to join him on the narrow and difficult path of freedom. It is on that path alone that he calls us each day to share his truth, love, and vitality with all others without condition just as he shares them with us.
Speaking of love, at his last supper with his disciples before his crucifixion, Jesus said to them, A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35, New King James Version, here and following).
     As I have loved you: now that’s a hard and scary thought. We do well always to remember this love which Jesus has for us. The apostle Paul described the love which we are to have for one another in this way (Romans 5:6-9):

Getting Much Closer to One Another (Proximity)

We’re leaving the Global Technological System (GTS). It is humankind’s greatest monument to those six conventional yet false and destructive gods of Olympianity—especially to Vulcan, god of technology. As it turns out, technology most definitely isn’t—and has never been—neutral. That was one of many falsehoods of the gods we failed to discern in our adoration of them.
We’re leaving it primarily to devote ourselves, instead, to Yahweh, the one odd god of truth, freedom, love, and vitality. Because Yahweh created the heavens and the earth as the perfect context for a covenantal relationship of freedom and love with his human creatures, we want to witness to that freedom and love by developing ways of living that affirm the vitality of creation.
To develop ways of living that nurture and protect all species and their habitats, we need to relearn together how to live without two fundamental innovations of the GTS: motor vehicles and electricity. In a previous essay, “Getting Much Closer to the Land,” we reflected on the need to remove the GTS as our mediator with the land and reestablish direct contact. To do that, however, we will also need to get much closer to one another.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Getting Much Closer to the Land

Today Jesus Christ is calling us Christians to witness more clearly to him by developing a way of living which respects the integrity of God’s good creation. We respect that integrity (as opposed to violating it) when we live within (as opposed to trespass) the vital limits of creation.
I introduced and biblically grounded this invitation in a series of essays in 2014: Creation as Perfect Context through Limits (Genesis 1)” (September 30), Respecting Vital Limits: Other Species and Their Habitats” (October 1), First Step away from Electricity: Abandoning the Gods for Jesus” (October 2), Vital Limit: Carrying Capacity” (October 4), and “Vital Limit: Solar Income” (October 6).

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Prophetic Mission Groups: Banked Embers

When wood and kindling are first placed in a woodstove and lit, they burst into wide playful flames. Later, after the kindling has burned away, the heavier wood burns brightly and releases great heat. Finally, as the fire burns out, only random embers remain. To keep them burning until morning, these scattered embers need to be banked. They need to be raked together, some new wood needs to be added, then the whole pile needs to be covered with ash until no ember is seen. In the morning, once the ash is removed and new logs are added, wide playful flames begin anew.

This process of bursting into flame and dying down is an apt analogy for the Church today in the US, Canada, and Europe (perhaps elsewhere as well). Beginning with Pentecost, the Holy Spirit burned wide and playful in the hearts of an increasing number of people beginning in Jerusalem (Acts 2). Through the centuries, the Church burned brightly and released the great warmth of Christ’s love in the world. Now, after two centuries of being drained of meaning by the exponential yet parasitic growth of the Global Technological System (GTS), all that remains are scattered embers.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Forgiveness: Freedom from Resentment in Christ

One sign of the absence of Jesus Christ in our churches today is our desperate inability to practice forgiveness.
When once talking with Jesus about this challenge, Peter felt he was going far beyond any reasonable limit by suggesting to Jesus that maybe forgiving someone seven times was more than enough. In his always surprising and often irritating way, Jesus told him no, there was in truth no limit to the number of times we were to forgive another person (Matthew 18:21-22). So, when Jesus speaks to us again as congregations, or at least to us in our prophetic mission groups, we will clearly practice persistent forgiveness.

Just How Irritating Is Jesus?

You’d be unlikely to discover that, however, if you went to church on Sunday. Our Sunday worship services are too tame, bland, fluffy. They have all the nutritional value of marshmallows.
TV has had an injurious influence here. Now, those of us in the pews understand ourselves as spectators. As sophisticated media consumers, however, we demand a liturgy that is smooth and upbeat, with a well-rehearsed choir (or praise band), a dramatic reading of a short passage from the Bible, and an entertaining pastor. His time with the children up front should be one of short stories, visual aids, and little giggles. If she is more serious during her sermon, her words should nonetheless remain rather abstract so that none of us will find them too personal and possibly discomforting. She must never speak concretely enough to challenge our self-centered adoration of the Olympian gods. That would be meddling. Instead, her sermon should be the moving retelling of a story either about herself or some non-threatening, pre-approved other. We want to leave church on Sunday with a satisfactory sense of having experienced something pleasant. Whew!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Fruitfulness of Yahweh's Vineyard

This is a short meditation on the liturgical readings for today, the Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Year A), according to the Revised Common Lectionary. The readings are Isaiah 5:1-7, Psalm 80:7-15, Philippians 3:4b-14, and Matthew 21:33-46). Read these first. The words of the biblical witnesses are far more important than my words which follow.
In Isaiah, we learn that Yahweh’s people in Jerusalem and Judah have been planted there by Yahweh where he has nurtured and protected them with his truth, freedom, love, and vitality. He expected this same fruit from them. He did not get it. Instead, his people devoted themselves to the six conventional gods of Olympianity and produced the fatal works of falsehood, power, indifference, and death. So what will Yahweh do? If his people really want to be the people of those other—destructive—gods, he will grant them their wish. He will withdraw his nurture and protection from them. Then his people will experience first-hand what liars those other gods truly are and what destructive consequences come from worshiping them. Can that really be what his very own people want?

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Reading the Bible in 90 Days

I've added a new page to the blog. It is called "Daily Bible Readings" and you will find it right under the orange header with the other pages of this blog.
If we follow the readings as listed, we will read the entire Bible in 90 days. If we start tomorrow, October 1, we will read the entire Bible by year's end. The list balances readings from the Old and New Testaments. This will allow us to keep both Testaments in mind. The list also evenly distributes readings from the Psalms and Proverbs. This will allow us to appreciate them better than if we consecutively read the chapters in either book.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Ussher: Moses from His Birth to the Plagues of Egypt

     1619 BC: Levi dies in Egypt aged 137 (Ex. 6:16). Levi had a son named Kohath born in Canaan and daughter named Jochebed born in Egypt. Kohath had a son named Amram who later married his aunt Jochebed. Amram and Jochebed had three children: Moses, Aaron, and Miriam (P151).
     1577 BC: Following Manetho, Ussher believed that Ramses began his 66-year reign at this time and that he was the Pharaoh who did not know Joseph (Exodus 1:8). Fearing their growing numbers and vitality, Ramses subjects the Israelites to forced labor and uses them to build cities he names after himself (Ex. 1:8, 14; Acts 7:18-19) (P159).

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Context: Meaningless Technology, Silence of God, yet Hope

Not until just recently, with the exponential growth of the internet, did we get a rigorously Global Technological System (GTS). Too bad.
This GTS presents us—Christians, churches, but everyone else as well—with severe problems on two levels. The first level is that of usefulness—till now, the defining virtue of technology. The GTS, however, has reached that stage of growth where it is no longer useful. Now, the GTS as a whole is fatally parasitical. It is terminally sucking the vitality out of global societies, cultures, human beings, and ecosystems. It is also worse than useless because it is collapsing and will cause unimaginable destruction and death as it does.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Ussher: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Job (1821-1635 BC)

     This essay is the fourth summary of Annals of the World (1658) by James Ussher. It takes us from Abraham’s death (Genesis 27) to the death of Joseph (Genesis 50, the end of the book). It also makes brief mention of the time of Job. I wrote and share it with you so that we might both benefit from a careful reading of the historical and chronological data given to us in the Bible. It will help us to better understand the biblical point of view and to witness with greater clarity to Jesus in our day.

Ussher’s Third Age: The Call of Abraham to the Exodus (1921-1491 BC)
     1821 BC: Death of Abraham, aged 175, 100 years after he left Haran. Jacob is 15 years old (Gen. 25:7, 10; cf. Heb. 11:9) (P101).
     1817 BC: Death of Eber, 430 years after the birth of his son Peleg (Gen. 11:17). As a descendent of Eber, Abraham was called the Hebrew (Gen. 14:13). Later all the descendants of Jacob would be called by the same name (Gen. 40:15) (P102).
     1796 BC: Esau, aged 40, marries two Hittite women (Gen. 26:34-35; cf. Gen. 27:46, 28:8) (P105).
     1773 BC: Death of Ishmael aged 137 (Gen. 25:17) (P108).

Which Would We Prefer: Good News, Bad News, or No News?

As Christians and churches, we rightly confess that Yahweh’s steadfast love for us endures forever. We rightly affirm that Abba is for us, Jesus is with us, and the Holy Spirit is in us. Jesus himself tells us, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened for you” (Matthew 7:7, New American Standard Version, here and following). He assures us,Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20). Good news!
Yes, God is love. Sometimes, though, we experience God’s love as wrath. That’s right: God’s wrath is always an expression of God’s love. We might define God’s loving wrath and wrathful loving as God’s rejection of our rejection of him.

Monday, September 25, 2017

How Puerto Rico Foreshadows the Near Future of the GTS

Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico on Wednesday, September 20. The consequences were varied and catastrophic. One painful result: the island’s electrical system is down. Estimates for the time needed to rebuild it vary from six months to a year.
Perhaps those estimates are optimistic. The government of Puerto Rico was forced to declare itself bankrupt last May. Already in financial straits, it will find the money needed to extensively rebuild infrastructure difficult to raise. Perhaps it never will be rebuilt.
No electricity. That means a sudden collapse of the Global Technological System (GTS) in Puerto Rico. How will people eat? Drink potable water? How will they treat their sewage? Dispose of their garbage? Stay cool or get warm? Cook? Earn money at businesses without electricity? Put gasoline in their cars without electricity? Recharge their cell phones and computers? How will hospitals continue to care for the sick? What about diabetics and others who are dependent on refrigerated medications?

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Ussher’s Annals: The Story of Abraham from Call to Death (1921-1821 BC)

     This essay is the third in an ongoing summary of Annals of the World (1658) by James Ussher. I wrote and share it with you so that we might both benefit from a careful reading of the historical and chronological data given to us in the Bible. It will help us to better understand the biblical point of view and to witness with greater clarity to Jesus in our day.

Ussher’s Third Age: The Call of Abraham to the Exodus (1921-1491 BC)
     1921 BC: Yhwh calls Abram to leave his old way of living and promises that he will bless Abram and the nations through Abram (Gen. 12:1-2, Acts 7:4). From the day that Abram, Sarai, and Lot leave Haran, Abram and his descendants spend a total of 430 years as strangers and pilgrims in foreign lands (Ex. 12:40-41, Gal. 3:7). They leave on 15 Abib (which, in 1921BC, was Wednesday, May 4). His descendants would leave Egypt on that same day 430 years later.
     Abram is 75 years old when he leaves Haran. He stops first at Shechem at the Oak of Morah (Gen. 12:4-6; cf. Gen. 35:4, Jos. 24:25-26, Jud 9:6). He moves on to Luz (later known as Bethel) (Gen. 28:19) and then continues  southward toward Egypt (Gen. 12:7-9) (Paragraph [P]72).

Friday, September 22, 2017

Biblical Narrative and Geological Theories: Rightly Understanding and Relating Both Using the Paradoxical Logic of Chalcedon

The biblical witnesses state that God created the heavens and the earth around 4000 BC. In contrast, astronomers, geologists, and other scientists believe that the earth came into existence about 4.5 billion years ago. The question for us, as Christians and churches, is how to rightly understand the biblical narrative, geological theories, and their proper relationship.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Ussher's Second Age: The Flood to the Call of Abraham (2348-1921 BC)

     This again is a summary of Annals of the World (1654) by James Ussher. I wrote and share it with you so that we might both benefit from a careful reading of the historical and chronological data given to us in the Bible. It will help us to better understand the biblical point of view and to witness with greater clarity to Jesus in our day.
     2348 BC: Friday, October 23: the first day of the world after the Flood. Noah is 601 years old. The Earth has dried and Noah removes the covering over the Ark (Gen. 8:13) (Paragraph [P]40).
     Thursday, December 18: Yhwh calls Noah, his family, and all the animals with him to leave the Ark (Gen. 8:14, 15, 19) (P41).

Competing Sources of Truth: The Bible and the Grand Narrative of Olympianity

In an essay entitled, “TV: The Bible of Olympianity” (April 28, 2015), I argued that we get our Grand Narrative, the story embodying our worldview as a civilization, from corporate media especially TV. This is particularly embarrassing for us as Christians and churches since we should be structuring our personalities and churches in terms of the biblical witness to Jesus Christ rather than in terms of the painfully Olympian gods of modern media.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Ussher's First Age: Creation to Flood (4004-2348 BC)


1. First Age: 4004-2348 BC (Creation to Flood)
2. Second Age: 2348-1921 BC (Flood to Call of Abraham)
3. Third Age: 1921-1491 BC (The Call of Abraham to the Exodus)
4. Fourth Age: 1491-1012 BC (The Exodus to the Foundation of the First Temple)
5. Fifth Age: 1012-588 BC (Foundation of the First Temple to Its Destruction)
6. Sixth Age: 588-4 BC (Destruction of the First Temple to the Birth of Jesus Christ)
7. Seventh Age: 4 BC-AD 70 (Birth of Jesus Christ to the Destruction of the Third Temple) (2)

The Importance of James Ussher’s Biblical Chronology (1658) Today

James Ussher (January 4, 1581-March 21, 1656) is best remembered for his monumental Annals of the World (published in 1658). In that book he concludes his careful attempt to determine the date of the creation of the world based on all the relevant information given in the Bible. He then continues his biblical chronology with the dates of all significant biblical events from creation, through the life of Jesus Christ, to the life of the early Church. Ussher was a master of biblical Hebrew and knew his Bible and ancient history thoroughly. Consequently, he was able to write a biblical chronology that we may still use to strengthen the clarity of our witness to Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Are Hurricanes Meaningful?

Usually hurricanes just come and go. As Ecclesiastes says, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven” (3:1, New Revised Standard Version, here and following). For the Atlantic Ocean, hurricane season starts each year on June 1 and ends on November 30.
The number of hurricanes, and their relative strength, vary randomly from season to season. Ecclesiastes has some perhaps surprising words to say about that as well: Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to the skillful; but time and chance happen to them all. For no one can anticipate the time of disaster. Like fish taken in a cruel net, and like birds caught in a snare, so mortals are snared at a time of calamity, when it suddenly falls upon them (9:11-12).
Time and chance happen. Hurricanes are like that as well. But are there times when they are more than that?

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Be Strong and Courageous

No one shall be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous; for you shall put this people in possession of the land that I swore to their ancestors to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to act in accordance with all the law that my servant Moses commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, so that you may be successful wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall be successful. I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for [Yahweh] your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:5-9, New Revised Standard Version, here and following).

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Politicization of Church Will Soon Lead to Its Persecution

In 1972, Yale professor Sydney Ahlstrom published a remarkable book entitled, A Religious History of the American People. I strongly recommend it.
In his book, Syndey points out that, in 1820, a surprising three-fourths of the anti-slavery societies in American were in the South. Before that, Baptist and Methodist missionaries had been busy preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ there. These missionaries uniformly believed that slavery was no witness to Jesus Christ. As a result, white Christians in the South had formed groups (“societies”) to reflect on slavery and discern how to end it.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Responding Nobly to the Presidency of Donald Trump

In August 1974, Richard Nixon felt compelled to become the first President of the United States to resign. A month later, President Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon for any crimes he might have committed. With that act, Ford may have ruined his chances to win the 1976 election. At any rate, Jimmy Carter benefited from his status as a Washington outsider to become President.
While beneficial to getting elected, being different did not endear Carter to the Washington insiders with whom he had to work. If one were to believe the corporate media at the time, Carter was perpetually misguided and incompetent. The media neglected few opportunities to ridicule the President.

Taxes? Jesus Avoids Jupiter's Politicization, Polarization, and Purging (Matthew 22:15-22)

We should not allow all those church buildings, medieval and modern, to fool us. We Christians and churches adore the same six conventional gods of Olympianity that our neighbors do. Today Jesus calls us back to our senses.
As a society, one of the gods we absurdly adore is Jupiter, god of politics. While Jesus has already set us right with God and one another, Jupiter seeks to shatter these right relationships. He does this by persuading us, all too easily, to politicize an issue. The corporate media happily help him to do this. Then he polarizes us around this issue. He has us choose sides. People on our side are good. People on the other are evil. Finally, and for him most gratifyingly, he has us purge those considered evil.
Jesus shows us a different way.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Moving Now into the Future

Leaving Olympian society and culture: spiritually and intellectually
“Come out of her [Babylon], my people” (Revelation 18:4, New Revised Standard Version).
I first used this quote in the essay, “Watching TV, Reading Scripture,” posted to this blog on September 15, 2014. Three years ago, Jesus wanted us to step outside the Olympian worldview that we, as Christians and churches, had unwittingly immersed ourselves in. Negatively, this meant ceasing to wallow in the Olympian worldview broadcast universally, constantly, instantaneously, and intensely by all the corporate media as exemplified by TV. Positively, it meant reading the Bible at least one hour each day and developing a far more biblical point of view as Christians and churches.

Leaving Olympian society and culture: physically
Today, we need to understand Christ’s call to “come out” as broadly and deeply as possible.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Three New Pages: Books, Visual Arts, and Music

You will find these three new pages, and the rest, in a horizontal row right under the orange header at the top of this blog.
Books: on this page, as well as on Visual Arts and Music, I address our need, as prophetic witnesses to Jesus, for greater biblical and cultural literacy. On Books I've included two types of writings from Olympia and America. Representative writings are those that everyone should read. Others are works that anyone may find edifying.
Visual Arts provides a list of major paintings, sculptures, and architecture from Olympia and America. Familiarity with these works of art helps us to better understand the world in which we live. It also allows us to enjoy anew of creations of great beauty.
Music provides a brief list of compositions from Olympia and America over the last three centuries. Listening to this music allows us to put the noise of our own age into helpful perspective. It also enables us to hear some of the most meaningful sounds ever created.

Copyright (c) 2017 by Steven Farsaci. All rights reserved.

Friday, August 4, 2017

How Many Thousands of Churches and Seminaries Will Soon Go Bankrupt?

American individuals and organizations have experienced an extended period of easy money. Interest rates have been unusually low. In response, thousands of churches, parishes, dioceses, and denominations, as well as church schools, colleges, and seminaries, have borrowed large sums of money to renovate or enlarge existing buildings, construct new ones, purchase new and expensive technological equipment, and expand programs.
Has this been wise? Did this really witness to Jesus or simply express our devotion to other gods to our hurt?

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Setting Standards of Excellence for Christian Discipleship

The very idea of setting standards of excellence for Christian discipleship may sound odd or even wicked. Certainly any attempt to do so is fraught with difficulties. Still, for us as Christians and churches, to continue wallowing in our current Olympian relativism, when not actually celebrating it, leaves Jesus with little meaningful witness in our lives or world. Today Jesus is calling us to do better.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Sowing Seeds of Truth Today (Matthew 13: 1-9, 18-23)

A quick retelling with different words
Jesus once told a crowd a story about a man who sowed seeds (Matthew 13:1-9). Later, he explained the meaning of the story to his disciples (13:18-23).

The seeds are words of truth witnessing to the presence of the Kingdom of God in our midst.

Some people hear these words clearly but do not understand them at all. Satan easily removes these words from their awareness. These people never give them another thought.