Exhortation, November 6

We often put our minds into automatic pilot when reading the “boring bits” of the Bible. The details of sacrificial ritual in Leviticus, the rules of uncleanness, genealogies, the repetitive accounts of kings – these are not the juiciest bits of Scripture, and we tend to skim over . . . . Continue Reading »

Defoe and the news

In Richard West’s fascinating biography of Defoe, he claims that he was “the first master, if not the inventor, of almost every feature of modern newspapers, including the leading article, investigative reporting, the foreign news analysis, the agony aunt, the gossip column, the candid . . . . Continue Reading »

Defoe on liturgical posture

In one of his works, Daniel Defoe, a well-known non-Conformist, posed as an Anglican who was asked to defend kneeling at the communion by a Dissenter. Spying an altar piece of the Last Supper, the Dissenter asks, “how can your people prosecute us for refusing to kneel at the Sacrament? . . . . Continue Reading »

Bunyan, Defoe, and the Novel

I want to examine Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress and Daniel Defoe in the context of the rise of the Western European novel. Some scholars suggest that novel-like writing is evident in the ancient world, in medieval Japan, and medieval Europe. But the novel-writing that began to take over . . . . Continue Reading »

True and False Union

There are a number of “ecumenical” movements in 1-2 Kings. The first is pursued by Rehoboam, who attempts to reunite the 12 tribes by force and is warned off by a prophet. The second, more successful and elaborate example is the Omride dynasty, which rules Israel for several generations . . . . Continue Reading »

Renewal and the Death of the Mainline

Elisha’s ministry of life was, according to 1 Kings 19, a ministry of judgment. Elisha, after all, was a force of destabilization. By giving life and freedom to the faithful poor, the loyal sons of the prophets, he upset the “natural” hierarchy of the Northern Kingdom. By engaging . . . . Continue Reading »

The smooth way

The NASB translation of Proverbs 11:5 says that the righteous and blameless will walk on a “smooth” way, while the wicked will fall into the potholes that dot his path. The way of righteousness looks easy; the way of wickedness is the difficult way. Yet, Jesus says that the wide and . . . . Continue Reading »

Proverbs 11:1-8

INTRODUCTION This section of Proverbs 11 highlights several issues. The first two verses treat issues of honesty and dishonesty; verses 3-8 describe the security of the righteous. Verses 9-14 return to various concerns regarding the use of the tongue, which was a theme of the previous chapter. . . . . Continue Reading »

Race in the South

James C. Cobb cites revealing statistics concerning the self-identification of blacks in the South: “In 1964, only 55 percent of southern black respondents expressed ‘warm’ feelings toward southerners, as opposed to nearly 90 percent of the southern white polled. By 1976, however, . . . . Continue Reading »

Dynamo and virgin

Modernism, critic Richard Lehan writes, was built on the conception that the world was caught in a conflict between organicism and mechanism, between the feminine and masculine, or, as Henry Adams put it, between the dynamo and the virgin. Modernist writers can be classified by their responses to . . . . Continue Reading »