September 13, 2003
On your Mark...

Rob was not happy that I bailed on the women's ordination argument, because he likes hearing me think aloud. I greatly appreciate the sentiment, but one reason I was losing confidence was that I realized it's kind of stupid for me to pontificate on the Bible when I don't actually know it that well. I mean, I probably know it better than a lot of people, including some Christians, but there's still a lot I haven't read, or that I have read but not that closely.

So to that end, I'm reviving an earlier practice on this blog. For those of you who weren't with me on Blogspot, let me bring you up to speed. The church I used to attend had a Bible journal program, where you are assigned to read a chapter or two from the Bible a day and write your own reflection on it. Telford did it on his blog through Genesis and Exodus; I missed Genesis but blogged through Exodus and Acts earlier this year. It had some interesting side effects, including inspiring Dash to set up her blog, where she is coming to the end of Exodus now.

I had just started Leviticus when a close friend of mine died suddenly, so I dropped from the program and never returned. I stayed off it partly because Telford was so bent on this historical-Jesus thing, so that took up the book-blogging for a while, but now that seems to have fallen by the wayside also. So anyway, I think I'll just let Leviticus lie, and pick it up on the next book that we were supposed to do, Mark. The Jesus story is, after all, the central narrative of Christianity, and there's always discussion going on about who he really is/was, and what he did and didn't say. So it seems like a good time to grapple with it directly.

So chapter 1 should be coming soon. I have the feeling this is going to spark some big arguments, but all are welcome to comment, so long as nobody calls anybody Satan's spawn or anything.

Posted by Camassia at September 13, 2003 12:08 PM | TrackBack

Ok. I'll read along... but I'm probably not going to believe it...

Posted by: David RB on September 13, 2003 12:31 PM

Cool! My Education for Ministry class is beginning this year with the gospel of Mark, so I may actually blog along on this one.

Posted by: Lynn Gazis-Sax on September 13, 2003 04:01 PM

My friend Mark over at is a brand new religious studies prof, and he's in the middle of teaching the Gospel of Mark. His recent comment:

"I just referred to Jesus in the Gospel of Mark as "a badass demon killer" in my 9:00 a.m. class, which is either going to send me to hell or win a dozen converts to the faith -- possibly both. I do know that the 19-year-old guys are a lot more interested now: "I really like this Jesus. He's out there. He goes out and does stuff." Indeed, he does."

Here's hoping you find the gospel of the "badass demon killer" captivating as well.

Posted by: Jennifer on September 13, 2003 04:59 PM

Badass demon killer. H-m-m. That concept suggests some questions that have interested me and that I have grappled with, without conclusion:
+Does belief in God entail belief in the actual existence of Satan?

+If so, and if Satan is "the Prince of this World", what does this say about our engagement with the affairs of this world?

+If the world is the domain of Satan, is the beauty of the natural world some kind of snare designed to attach us to an illusion meant to keep us from seeking God "with all our heart"?

+If all of creation is waiting in frustration for the transformation that is to come, should we despise the world in its present state; did Jesus despise the material world?

Posted by: Rob on September 13, 2003 06:13 PM

Dude, you do need to start your own blog!

Posted by: Camassia on September 13, 2003 06:45 PM

Watch out for equivocations on the word "world." As a rule, when it's used in opposition to Christ or His message, it refers to human society set up apart from, or in indifference to, God.

Beauty is existence considered as something you want to look at, to rest in. Evil is *lack* of existence, so beauty itself cannot be evil. Satan can use the beauty of the natural world to keep us from resting in the beauty of God, but God created natural beauty to draw us toward Him. The natural world is no illusion.

Posted by: Tom on September 15, 2003 06:03 AM

Thanks, Tom,
That addresses the "beauty" part of the question quite nicely, so long as one does not want to open the old questions by trying to define the nature of "illusion".
But, what I was getting at by perhaps using the wrong word, was the idea of attachment to the material world--even those parts of it that seem beautiful or benign--and its possible ill effects on the ability of the ordinary person to receive His message. What does it mean that Satan is "the Prince of this World"?

Posted by: Rob on September 15, 2003 07:05 AM
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