Illusion and Truth

Illusion and truth are opposites, right? But isn’t it the case that illusion is an integral part of true perception. The sofa across the room is no bigger than my thumbnail, and I can blot out the tree with my forefinger. If these objects appeared to me in their actual size, I could have no . . . . Continue Reading »

Perfectibility

The Enlightenment held to a belief in human perfectibility, it is often said. The term itself was coined by Rousseau, but Rousseau saw it as a deeply ambiguous faculty, “the source of all misfortunes of man.” Perfectibility is the faculty that draws together and motivates all other . . . . Continue Reading »

Rivers

Jesus warns at the end of the Sermon on the Mount that those who hear His words and fail to do them will collapse. The image of the collapsing house, as NT Wright has suggested, likely refers to the temple: Jesus is setting out a program for Israel’s national survival (as well as a program . . . . Continue Reading »

Turn the cheek

James Jordan points to structural links between the death of the innocents at hands of Herod (Matt 2) death of innocent Jesus at hands of Romans (Matt 27). While Jesus escapes the first slaughter by fleeing to Egypt, he enters the “Egypt” of Jerusalem/Judea to suffer the slaughter. . . . . Continue Reading »

Spanish Civil War

In an illuminating review in TLS (June 2), Felipe Fernandez-Armesto summarizes the evidence that the Spanish Civil War was, as it turns out, thoroughly Spanish. He debunks the myth that Spain never participated in European cultural movements, pointing out that “liberal” is derived from . . . . Continue Reading »

Gone Missing

The library of Dr Daniel Williams (Presbyterian minister, 1643-1716) in London is selling its copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio, and to mark the occasion Peter Lindenbaum examines not only the Folio but the library (TLS June 2). The Folio is not the only (modest) surprise in this library, . . . . Continue Reading »

Ritual

David Martin comments (TLS, June 16) on Maurice’s Bloch’s view that ritual crushes human creativity: “No doubt that is how the Jesuits (with their Spiritual Exercises) turned into such scientifically incurious stay-at-homes, how the Mormons built a city in the desert, and the . . . . Continue Reading »

Sermon Outline, July 2

INTRODUCTION After Josiah, Judah unravels rapidly. Josiah’s son is imprisoned by Pharaoh Neco (23:33), and before long Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonians are invading, destroying the temple and the city (24:1). It is Good Friday for Israel. THE TEXT “Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old . . . . Continue Reading »

Strategies of Defilement

In the account of Josiah’s reform in 2 Kings 23, there is frequent reference to “defiling” (vv 4, 6, 8, 10, 13, 14, 16, 20). Josiah defiles by scattering the ashes from a destroyed Asherah pole, by filling holy places with bones, by burning bones on altars. It’s not enough . . . . Continue Reading »

Baptismal Meditation

2 Kings 23:12: The altars which Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of Yahweh, the king broke down; and he smashed them there, and threw their dust into the brook Kidron. Josiah was one of the great heroes of the faith, providing an example not only for leaders of the church but for . . . . Continue Reading »