Wednesday, May 31, 2006



Patrick and I were nominated for "cutest couple" in the JCR Oscars. Sadly, we didn't win. Fortunately, I already have a very healthy self-image and a strong appreciation for my own masculinity. Ahem. Speaking of which, note my new minimalist hairstyle.

Life's been a little rough lately. This might be obvious (I've recently been informed that I am Not Subtle. This has been a big shock to me.) but so much is still good. I like my studies and I love my friends. Other things are more tough. I would invite your prayers.

That said, you should also check out the recent photos from the weekend pilgrimage to Canterbury I made with Patrick and Laura and Darron. It was sweet. Click here to see the captions and go a few pages through the archives or click here for a slideshow of the weekend.

There are also Quicktime videos (.mov format) of Patrick and I being silly that you can download here (Arguing, 6.3mb) and here (Dedicating our Altar, 15.5mb).

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Friday, May 26, 2006

Lovin' Some Liturgy

Friday after the Ascension

Some kids out there really like the free-form, informal worship. I have to ask...

Have you really read the Old Testament? Do you imagine that a God that spent so much time going on about the ark of the covenant, appropriate lighting, veils, altars, and vestments would just change his mind? Liturgy reflects the drama of salvation, and you need to put a little bit of work into that junk.

Before you leave your comments (which are always very welcome!) do ask yourself, "did he write that because he believes it, just just because he thinks it's interesting...?"

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Thursday, May 25, 2006


Ascension Day

Hello, dear friends! For my "experiential" module, I'm going to examine how the concept of a ministerial priesthood is worked out in my faith community - one or both of them, anyway. In order to do that, I need to have some kind of theological notions of the pastorate and/or priesthood. Can anyone suggest to me some good books on the spirituality and theology of, and formation for, the priesthood or pastoral office? Feel free to suggest titles from catholic/anglican, orthodox, or protestant perspectives; it would be helpful for me to check out a broad number of things, since real people (in this crazy, mixed up post-modern world) aren't always wholly dealing with a protestant or catholic understanding of ordained ministry.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006



I swear I spend the first half of my day getting over myself. It makes for an exhausting morning, I must say.

The controversy of the day Tuesday was my haircut. (It's been quiet lately - though not in the library). It wasn't minor, either. I've not had one since September, and now I have almost no hair at all. No beard, either. Contact lenses. I get these moods when I decide to go incognito. Nobody recognizes me.

You can't see me, I'm invisible.

I read Postcolonialism: A Very Short Introduction in the RadCam yesterday. I feel a bit badly about being so white and male. Help! I'm complicit in the andropatriarchy, and I don't know how to stop!

I bought some FairTrade coffee for the MCR. Is that a start? The book said so, so let's hope.

Patrick and I need to do another podcast soon. Anybody want to suggest topics? We could always sit around some more and tell each other what's wrong with our respective religions, that never seems to get old (no, we don't do that. I completely made it up, so don't go nuts on me).

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Monday, May 22, 2006

Jesus Stories


So I've been thinking: it's probably blatantly obvious to my readership that any attempt to separate living and doing and being the good news from the proclamation of Jesus' lordship is a pretty faithless move. With that said, it is important to talk about the Lordship of Jesus over the world and discuss what that means in a way that's going to be understandable to the uninitiated - not least because so many Christians aren't as "initiated" as we like to suppose.

Put frankly, I get concerned that some of my theological discussions with my friends are only intelligible with a particular view of the Christian story in mind, and that lots of people don't know that story. If somebody asked me what the basics of the Christian faith are, I have a lot of ideas about what I wouldn't say, but would I say?

To this end, I'm going to start an occasional series in which I challenge myself to explain the important aspects of the Christian faith in a several paragraph "Cliffs Notes" fashion that assumes no basic knowledge of the Christian story. I don't think that the faith is simple as such, or should ever be oversimplified, but it seems to me that if someone said to me, "I don't know much about this Christianity thing, but I want you to tell me a bit about it," I should be able to say something worthwhile in the context of a conversation and not need to unpack it in an eight session lecture series. I don't think it could be done altogether in one conversation, but proper lectures are too much; I've come up with about 9 "Jesus Stories" that I think are the most important to tell.

So here's your part: What do you think of that notion? Second, what are the major aspects of the faith that you would to talk about if somebody asked you that kind of question?

Here's my answer, and I'd like to know what the rest of you think about it.

The major stories in my theology would be:

The Trinitarian God
Men, Women and the Human Problem
The Historical Jesus: Israel's Story and the World's Salvation
Life in the Spirit: Church and Kingdom
Kingdom, Church and World: Christian Mission
What is the Bible?
Practices: How to do the Jesus Thing


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Saturday, May 20, 2006

What is the Kingdom?


The new one from Sven:

You scored as The Kingdom is mystical communion.

You place a strong emphasis on continuity with those who have gone before you in the faith, and you might see the Kingdom of God as primarily a matter of spirituality

The Kingdom is mystical communion


The Kingdom as Earthly Utopia


The Kingdom as a counter-system


Kingdom as a Christianised Society


The Kingdom as Institutional Church


The Kingdom is a Future Hope


The Kingdom as a political state


Inner spiritual experience


What is the Kingdom of God?
created with

Oooh. Shocker. See, I actually think that Kingdom = Church.

What's the problem?

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Friday, May 19, 2006

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Urban Legends


I've been telling my friends here that America doesn't really exist. It's just a story English mothers make up to frighten their children.

I mean, really. "Dick Cheney" is so blatantly based on "Rumplestiltskin."

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"Comment Policy"


I think it's time I had a comment policy. Mind you, this isn't a reaction to anything recent, and in fact, I've been enjoying the interactions on this blog even more than usual (particularly on the Purpose-Driven Life post), but this something I've wanted to talk about for awhile. It's a statement that's more about what I want my blog to be about than what I want commenters to do or not do. The point of this whole thing is to keep in touch with friends, strike up some "e-friendships," and to "do" theology in a way that challenges, instructs and encourages me, my friends, and anybody who comes by to read.

So please understand this "comment policy" as an invitation to challenge, discuss, encourage, and in your own way help me to be consistent with my own intentions in writing the blog. Leave an on-blog comment, write me an e-mail, or just keep reading. It's all great. Have some fun.

There have been several instances when I've been called sarcastic, either as a criticism or compliment. I know that people use the word in different ways, but as far as that goes I'd rather talk my behavior than other peoples' at the moment.

I am often quite critical. Sometimes I have really good reasons, other times not. Sometimes I'm quite fair, and other times less so. I want to be fair. I want to learn to challenge and be challenged in kind ways. That takes patience and creativity, and I want to learn that. It is a major purpose of this blog that I learn to do that - it's more about instructing me in how to dialogue about theology and teach the Faith than giving all of y'all interesting things to consider.

Help me learn to be more kind and season my speech with salt (as it were) and help me to be critical in a positive and constructive fashion. I think that's not only possible, but needful. If anybody cares enough about me and what I write to get offended by something, I care enough to hear about it. I just ask that you assume I'm writing in good faith and not trying to be ugly or hurtful. Sometimes I do say ugly things, and giving me the benefit of a doubt (even if it's a small one!) is probably the best way to call me out on it.

Part of doing theology faithfully is about exposing the lies and pretensions that set themselves up against God's reign and its effects in our lives. We talk these things out in order to learn the Truth (and that's Jesus, not mere propositions about him), and in the course of that we uncover lies, some more worrisome and harmful than others. Sometimes we hold on to some harmful ones pretty tightly. How do we discern that and learn to let go of them? I don’t know, but this whole blogging thing is part of how I want to learn it.

If you think I've been sarcastic in the literal, hurtful sense of the word, let me know, on-blog or by e-mail. Talk to me about what you've heard. I think mostly I respond well to that, and other times I just don't get it (I'm being honest here!). Please assume that I don't mean to malign your faithfulness, and malign mine in turn. Let's put forth a good faith effort to learn faithfulness together.

Okay, so here are the "rules," perhaps better understood as strong suggestions; after all, this policy is really much more about my behavior than yours.

If you make an ad hominem attack, I'll probably delete it if I don't feel like making you look ridiculous instead. Remember to deconstruct and criticize ideas, not people. Especially if the people in question are me.

Telling people they're wrong isn't abuse. (though it matters how one does it!) It's not "denying their personhood." If you think that, I'll be the first to let you know that you find your identity too much in being right, and not enough in being loved and redeemed by the Trinitarian god.

While it is technically possible to leave anonymous comments (I don't want to insist people have a Blogger account to comment), I ask that you refrain from it. Please give me a name and a little context, so I know who you are if I don't already. That's an issue of accountability. Most of my commenters know me and are known to me on some level, so it's most often a conversation among friends on this site rather than a debate between strangers. Please respect that when you join in (and I hope you will!).

For folks with an account, Blogger lets you delete comments you've made on others' blogs. I don't like it because it skirts accountability. Because it's so easy to misread and disrespect one another in a medium like this, I think it's important to go out of our way to show courtesy and discuss things with integrity (And Mike, I'm talking about meaty dialogue or people being jerks, not silly photos, so no worries!).

Or as Mohan suggested, "comments that suck will be deleted."

Any thoughts?

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Amsterdam Update


Check out the album here and stories here; I've added new photos.

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Monday, May 15, 2006

Amsterdam Oh Six, Baby!


I've finally gotten over my cold and done a little bit of work, so I can indulge myself (and the rest of you!) with some tales of our vacation last weekend. I've posted a few of our photos here.

Brad, Chris, Patrick and I left on Friday morning after feverishly getting as much work done as we possibly could, and boarded the Airline bus at around 5:30 in the morning. Now, by way of excuse, a certain member of our group is a great fan of the all-nighter. I don’t think it's a procrastination thing (it seems like he does work during the week), but he always stays up finishing his essay the night before his tutorial, and then doesn't go to bed until the next night. As it happened, this particular individual (who is short, has red hair, and shares the name of an Irish saint but otherwise will remain anonymous) didn't sleep on Wednesday and then packed before going to bed for three hours on Thursday night.

You know where this is going, right? Of course he forgot his passport.

Ever resourceful, the Boy Wonder took a bus to the city center and managed to get a cab that took him the four miles back and forth between the bus station and his house in four minutes, weaving in and out of traffic and nearly taking out some pedestrians.

I won't say that we had written him off, but it's not like we ever expected to see him again.

Happily, our flight was cancelled and we were moved to a flight an hour and a half later, so we all got to Amsterdam without further incident - I'm happy to say that's the most excitement and worry we had to deal with, and it was nice to get that over with at the beginning.

It was a nice vacation: we ate lunch along the canals and in the park, and soaked up the sunshine with about half of Europe. It was a little crowded.

Apparently the thing to do (if you're European) is to go have a weekend-long bachelor or bachelorette party in Amsterdam, and for everyone in the party to wear a t-shirt with the bride or groom's face and name on the back.

What a bunch of dorks. It gets worse, too.

While sitting on the grass eating our lunch, we saw a bicycle gang arrive in the park. Yes, bicycle gang. It was perhaps a half dozen middle age men and women on bicycles that had been pimped out like choppers. I could not make this up. Instead of leather, they were black jeans and wife-beaters. There was nearby a bachelor party that had started a small, smokey fire to cook their food. Now I know in the States, when somebody does something they're not supposed to do like that, people tend to leave them alone and let the police or forestry service come by.

Though they were outnumbered 2 to 1, the apparently leader of the "gang" walked up, arched his hips and placed his hands on them, snapped in a z-formation and told them off. Then he stomped out their fire, said something else and stared them down. They let him get away with it, until about thirty minutes later one of the guys from the bachelor party approached Queenie and decked him. Biker guy landed hard and stayed there.

It was pretty funny.

We splurged on dinner at a "Mexican" restaurant owned and operated by a Dutch man. We asked him about the food before ordering, and he got defensive a bit when Brad said he was from California. It's pretty clear why: he overcharged for food, charged me for water, and the nachos had cucumbers on them. The only thing Mexican about that nonsense was that it was good food that happened to be wrapped in tortillas. The similarities ended there.

We had a lot of fun together, and I'm glad we went. Patrick and I hit the Rembrandt House for a couple of hours, and that was pretty interesting.

Oh, and there were drugs everywhere.

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Saturday, May 13, 2006

On Apocalyptic Language


Israel's theological asperations ... had an inescapably historical and political referent. If someone had offered a first-century Palestinian Jew the consolation of pie in the sky, it would have been refused, no matter how kosher the pie. One of the great myths of twentieth-century scholarship is that most first-century Jews expected the space-time universe to end immediately. They did not: they expected their God to act dramatically within history, with effects that they could only describe with metaphorical end-of-the-world language. We might describe the fall of the Berlin Wall as an 'earth shattering event'; 2,000 years hense no doubt, some pedantic literalist will argue, in the Martian Journal of Early European Studies, that the wall fell because of a large earthquake, and we will all turn in our graves at the misreading of our everyday metaphors.

N.T. Wright, "The New Testament and the State," in Themelios 16.1 (1990): 11-17.

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Friday, May 12, 2006

Library Issues


Last term when I got tired of shushing or yelling at the same handful of finalists for talking in the library, I complained to the librarians. They said they didn't have time to police the library.

Yesterday I talked to the dean of the College about the problem. She suggested I go study somewhere quiet, like the Radcliffe Camera or the graduate lounge.

I think I should petition the governing board or someone about getting a partial refund of my fees since I (and the other 60 graduates) find the library useless for study.

My choices essentially are to declare war on these kids and see to it that they find me more irritating and disruptive than I find them, or to just study in my room two miles out, the Bodlean, or one of the faculty libraries. I know what would be simplest, but it's kind of the principle of the thing, y'know?

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Living Dangerously


This one's for Creech and Noakes.

The Venerable Bede records this excerpt from a letter written by Pope Gregory to Abbot Millitus upon the latter's journey to Britain:

"Therefore, when by God's help you meet our beloved brother, Bishop Augustine (of Canterbury), we wish you to inform him that we have been giving careful thought to the affairs of the English, and have come to the conclusion that the temples of the idols in that country should on no account be destroyed. He is to destroy the idols, but the temples themselves are to be aspersed with holy water, altars set up, and relics enclosed in them. For if these temples are well built, they are to be purified from devil-worship, and dedicated to the service of the true God. In this way, we hope that the people, seeing that it's temples are not destroyed, may abandon idolatry and resort to these places as before, and may come to know and adore the true God. And since they have a custom of sacrificing many oxen to devils, let some solemnity be substituted in its place, such as a day of Dedication, or the Festivals of the holy martyrs whose relics are enshrined there."

Quoted in Bruce D. Reed, The Dynamics of Religion: Process and Movement in Christian Churches (London: DLT, 1978), 104-105.

This inspired me. When I get back to the United States, I'm going to start visiting churches and replacing American flags with crosses.

Wonder how long it'll take me to be martyred?

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Thursday, May 11, 2006

No, Really.

Sometimes I feel like that half-crazed priest in the original Omen who bursts into Gregory Peck's office and says, "You must accept Christ as your Savior and eat his Body and drink his Blood! It's the only way you have a hope of surviving what's coming!"


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Wednesday, May 10, 2006


A kind reader has challenged my understanding of the Incarnation and Jesus' vocation as Messiah in my previous post, "Five Things I Believe and Trust." I thought I might offer a new post describing just what I believe 'bout that stuff.

The Incarnation. Uh oh.

I do affirm with the whole Church that Jesus of Nazareth was the Incarnation of the second person of the Holy Trinity, pre-existent in all eternity, outside of the Creation. The works of creation and re-creation/redemption are the work of all three persons of the Trinity.

I don't think it follows necessarily that the man Jesus of Nazareth thought of himself in terms of Trinitarian theology, or even considered himself to be divine in his essence. I don't think we can know this side of the eschaton how he might have completely unpacked his understanding of being the "son of God," but particularly since the Scriptures do not make statements about the omniscience or omnipotence (or omni- anything) of Jesus before the Easter event, I'm not comfortable ascribing those things to him. What's more, I think the early formulations of the church are on my side: Hebrews insists the he was a human like us, only without sin. If the fact of the pre-Easter Jesus' divinity gives him some kind of pass whereby he didn't suffer the fact of human frailty and limitation (at least the "normal" ones) we have denied his humanity.

It's not a cut and dry thing - the Church has always understood that if we're not careful in the way we talk about the humanity and divinity of the God-Man, we will expound the one in such a way as to implicitly deny the other. It took about 400 years for those communities to come up with some bare-bones formulations, after all.

This is what they finally came up with:

The Definition of Chalcedon

It doesn't solve all of our problems, but essentially offers a guideline that says we can't talk about those natures in a way that contradict one another. Haha, good luck on that.

In regard to Israel (it gets worse - I love me some historical Jesus!):

However Jesus might have thought about the salvation of the world (and Paul talks about that a heck of a lot more than Jesus does, which ain't very much), I don't see any reason to suppose he wouldn't have thought of himself first in terms of Israel and Israel's vocation, and his own vocation as her Messiah. Whatever Christ might be to the world, he is first that to Israel, as God's annointed to and for the Nation.

The primary reference point for the cross is what it was historically: a symbol of God's wrath upon Israel in the very concrete form of Roman imperialism. Jesus stepped in the way of that very deliberately, and offered his followers the opportunity to escape that wrath by refusing to take up arms (as per the Sermon on the Mount) and fleeing in AD 70. Over and against Jesus' interpretation of the prophetic tradition, the Nation as such proceeded to revolt.

You might recall Jesus' aversion to carrying out the Gentile mission himself: he without a doubt understood his vocation in terms of Israel and her collective calling to be the light of the World. He would reconstitute the nation in terms of allegiance to himself, and provide a "course correction" for the national life.

I also believe (of course!) in the Cosmic Christ who is the head of the Church, under whom the entire creation will be restored (and is being restored), but that's a development that springs from the historical situation and apocalyptic theology of Israel.

My kind commenter said,
"I believe punishment and correction come through an ongoing relationship with Christ and though the Holy Spirit, but what was taken on the cross was very different. It was pure evil. I believe that he literally took on the full evil of every sin that ever was and that was why God had to look away."
I would agree, in that taking on the chastisement of Israel and from there the alienation (from God) of the entire world is a theological reality that exists alongside the political and historical realities I've described. I do also believe that Jesus took on evil as only the trinitarian God could: he suffered the full force of rebellion against and alienation from God as a man. The persons of the Trinity absorbed all of it into Godself.

The nature of relationship with God and chastisement post-Pentecost is another matter I don't want to pick up for the moment, but the chastisement of Israel and the de facto alienation of the world are square one for understanding salvation.

So I guess that's my Christology in a nutshell. Thanks to Brianna for pushing me. Any thoughts?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Besides, Chicks Hate That


When I was 18 or so, I was having a conversation with a couple of baptists about "women in ministry" (because such things were important then, I suppose), and I pointed out that Paul called a woman an apostle. They insisted that this couldn't be the case, and when I picked up a couple of bible commentaries in the pastor's own office to demonstrate this, said pastor accused me of playing "scholastic gotcha" or something like that.

And they never made a response to make sense of why Paul would call a woman and apostle, or the fact that he did so. Here's an article on it in Books and Culture.

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Monday, May 08, 2006

Emailing Me

Sorry, critters, stories from Amsterdam will come soon.

In the meantime, I want to note that I've tweaked the junk mail settings on the account that I use for the blog; it appears that some folks might have e-mailed me, but I've never seen it.

If you've sent me an e-mail and I appear to have ignored it, please accept my apologies; the junk mail filter ate it, and I don't ignore correspondance.


Sunday, May 07, 2006

Persons More Clever Than I


I just got back from Amsterdam and I'm trying to figure out what my responsibilities are this week, other than continuing to sleep off this cold. I essentially lost second week because of it and various pressing concerns. However, my meeting with my supervisor focused me very well, so the work will pass quickly for the remainder of the term.

Some good stuff to read:

Alan Creech > "things we repeat." Regarding sex, the eucharist, prayer and saying 'i love you.'

Joshua Hearne > "at the end of my first year."

It turns out that even though I’m finished with 1/3 of Divinity School, they still haven’t started teaching me to be divine. I was hoping to be able to, at least, turn water to wine by now. I’d like to major in Water-Based miracles with a minor in paradoxical sayings. All they’ve been teaching me about is ministry, theology, history, and biblical studies. I assume we start cracking into the miracles and feats and such next semester.

J. Patrick Briscoe talks about politics and his family, and features "Monday Things Around the House Blogging" at his Gladly Suffering Fools. He's hilarious, and you should read him.

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Thursday, May 04, 2006

Gone Fishin'

Amsterdam, here we come...

Silly Things About Me


I can't stand the feel of jeans on my ankles, so I am almost never barefoot while wearing them, even just sitting around the house.

It's very important to me that I keep up correspondance with people, and knowing that I probably know too many people to do this with regularity doesn't alleviate my guilt. I have a number of friends that I love but I have not spoken with in about two years. I hate that.

When I was 17 I turned my hair bright orange. It was awesome, and I've always entertained the idea of doing it again.

I love coffee. I never liked the stuff, but started drinking it a little in response to peer pressure friends. It's also the thing to do amongst VBCC. Between the inherent coolness of the activity and the Eucharistic overtones, I eventually became hooked. Alan and Liz have this neat coffee machine that grinds the beans and doesn't use paper filters. Best stuff ever. I lived in their house for about four days before decided it would be my little "job" to make the coffee.

Other than that, I'm pretty much their Kato Kaelin.

The other Kyle is one of my best friends, and except for that whole "me living in Dallas or Oxford" thing, we've been almost inseparable for the last 5 years. This is why it continually amuses me that we have few common interests, except that we're both just so awesome. Case in point:

I have never stayed awake through an entire Star Wars film.

ESPN's SportCenter makes me want to poke myself in the eye.

My favorite bits of are this icon of the Emmaus Road encounter (it's my favorite gospel story) and Rembrandt's Return of the Prodigal Son.

My favorite breakfast for myself is coffee and toast with jam. If I'm with other people, I love to make pancakes or a fritata.

My friends make me a better man. I could name at least a dozen people who give me more than I could ever imagine to offer in return, but I won't because we're all a bit shy.

I could listen to Jen or Johnny talk for a very long time, because their Northern Irish accents amaze me. They're also great people.

I almost never listen to music while I study.

I think about Rowan Williams at least once a day.

My reading for Biblical Interpretation is a bit more boring than I thought it would be, and that bums me out.

I love throwing frisbee, but I don't like formal games. Sports have rules, and that really upsets me.

One of my favorite things is sitting in the Creeches' living room and exchanging clever remarks with Alan as we surf blogs on our laptops and watch EWTN.

I have so much stuff to go get done right now, but I wanted to sit down and write something fun.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006



I had the best time ever last night; several folks came over to watch Swingers, one of my favorite films. I think it's gotten us all ready for Amsterdam.

We are so money.

I've been awfully sick for these past few days, so I've gotten very little done: no writing, a few lectures, and very light reading. I hope to have just a little background work done by the end of this week so I can write an intelligent draft of my dissertation proposal.

My remaining proposals will go somewhere along the lines of...

Mission Module: "Christian Missions and the American Empire"

Experiential Module: "Ministers and Priests in the Postmodern Church"

Dissertation: "Evangelism as Hospitality in Post-Christian North America"

Suggestions for my bibliography are quite welcome.

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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Good Stuff


I'm still feeling awful, but I hope to be better by the end of tomorrow.

Mike Aquilina at Way of the Fathers has posted on Rodney Stark's The Rise of Christianity (one of my favorite books) and linked an interview he did with him for Touchstone. If you have an interest in the growth of early Christianity, I recommend this very highly.

Go read what Alan's written this week on "charism, vocation and ministry."

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Monday, May 01, 2006

What I'm Doing Today

Philip & James, Apostles
Thomas a Kempis

I'm ill today. Between the traveling and staying up too late over the weekend, I guess I've done exhausted myself. It's funny the way it happens, too. The first day I'm fine except for a headache in the morning and a sore throat in the evening. On day two, swollen throat and stuffy head. This will continue for two more days. Oh well. I should get better in time to go to Amsterdam this weekend.

Today I'm attending lectures on the biblical canon, eschatology, and art in the Bible, and studying at Coffee Republic with Edith and Brad in-between. Pretty sweet.

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