October 14, 2004

Abroad as I was walking
One evening in the spring,
I heard a maid in Bedlam,
So sweetly she did sing;
Her chains she rattled with her hands
And thus replied she:
"I watch my blogs because I know
My blogs watch me!"

Dwight at Versus Populum has been taking a course on the Book of Revelation, which I still haven't read, and has some interesting observations on how it differs from the usual fantasies of Left Behind types:

For example, John writes that he has heard – meaning it has been reported in prophecy and/or been taught – that only 10 percent of the people of the world will be saved once God enters final judgment. And John reports that just as he is about to present a vision. Then John “looks and sees” and finds that what he had “heard” – i.e., the tradition and traditional interpretation of the prophecy – in undone by what he now “sees.” Rather than only 10 percent’s being saved, John sees that 90 percent are saved and only 10 percent lost – and in that latter case because they fought off the salvation.

That all suggests a theological method that does not too literally read the prophecies (however one wishes to define that term) in a way that limits God’s grace and power to be graceful. Rather, be alert to ways in which the grace of God is munificent. God is always abroad to surprise – and his surprise is always on the side of goodness and mercy for the human condition.

Joe Guada has been blogging his way through a pamphlet that attempts to define what being a Quaker entails; see here, here and here. In many ways it seems to deal with the issues I've been wrestling with about what a church ought to be doing, but from a distinctly Quaker perspective.

NJL at Except for These Chains argues that Christians who believe homosexuality is a sin don't have to be jerks about it:

Herein lies the challenge for those of us who wish to live out both Christ’s commands of love and justice with Christ’s ethical values. As it has primarily Christian leaders and politicians who have scapegoated homosexuals and thus endangered them, it is imperative that we followers of Christ, especially those of us who do not affirm homosexual behavior, transform the Christian discussion of homosexuality. We must be adamant in pushing for the inclusion of hate crimes against homosexuals in hate crime laws. Wherever one stands on the issue of legalizing gay marriage, we must ensure the Christians do not frame the debate as one of “us” and “them.” We must call our churches into repentance for the homophobic joking that we so often pass off as innocent. We must call our churches to truly be responsible to the universal love for sinners they all claim to have.

On a somewhat related note, Dappled Things points to the latest twist in research into the genetics of homosexuality -- a tie to female fertility:
Camperio-Ciani's team questioned 98 gay and 100 straight men about their closest relatives - 4600 people in total. They found that female relatives of gay men had more children on average than the female relatives of straight men. But the effect was only seen on their mother’s side of the family.

Mothers of gay men produced an average of 2.7 babies compared with 2.3 born to mothers of straight men. And maternal aunts of gay men had 2.0 babies compared with 1.5 born to the maternal aunts of straight men.

Meanwhile, Among the Ruins and Verbum Ipsum have joined the many Christian bloggers agonizing about how, and whether, to vote, and appear to have been reading the same editorials about it. See here and here on ATR, and pretty much anywhere on the front page of Verbum Ipsum.

Posted by Camassia at October 14, 2004 09:01 AM | TrackBack

Camassia, your writing is normally so polite that it was a bit jarring to see the religious beliefs of millennial Christians dismissed as "fantasies." This seemed uncharacteristically harsh.

Thank you for the link, though. Dwight's post describes what sounds like a very interesting interpretation of a difficult book. Translations I've seen have portrayed what John hears as the voice of God (red text and all), so I'm intrigued to see that described instead as prophecy.

One thing, though: Dwight sees in Revelation the notion that the only people lost are those who fought against the salvation. Whatever the numbers may be (10% vs. 90%), isn't that ultimately the same message set forth in the Left Behind books?

Posted by: Tom T. on October 15, 2004 05:16 AM

Well, books like Left Behind are fantasies, in the sense that the authors quite openly made a lot of it up -- they don't claim to know how the End Times will unfold with that degree of exactitude. Whether dispensational premillennialism is itself a fantasy, well, I hope so, but I suppose I can't say for sure.

Dwight will have to speak for himself, but the point I read into his post was that prophecies are not set in stone, and may not turn out exactly as foretold, but the surprises will be in benevolent directions. Therefore, saying 90% will be saved is not any more definite than saying 10% will be saved, we can just trust God to deal with the future rather than trying to obsessively predict it.

Posted by: Camassia on October 15, 2004 12:22 PM

Fair enough. Certainly none of us truly knows what lies ahead.

Posted by: Tom T. on October 17, 2004 01:41 PM

Hi Camassia. Reading your wonderful search provides an answer to Ann Althouse's question, "What's to blog about after the election?" What but the Spirit?! (I'm not a Christian, or -- though ethnically and culturally Jewish -- anything else particular but a believer in God, but I probably learn more from thoughtful Christians than anyone else.)

I just made up my tortured mind about who to vote for:


And here's a post on the cultural civil war within Western civilization:


- amba

Posted by: amba on October 20, 2004 09:06 AM
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