Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Nightwatchman

Reading a historical account concerning whaling in the 1800’s, I came across a peculiar practice among Nantucketers that sparked a thought. The thought, I admit, involves a level of imaginative stretching so my caveat at the outset is to admit my conclusion is more interesting (to me, at least) than definitive or conclusive.

Permit me to spare all the details and give a general overview, the seed of my thought. One particular captain lost his ship and spend a number of months adrift at sea with two other boats. Survival reached the point of desperation that led to cannibalism (an unspoken yet acceptable practice when necessary among early sea-men). Few men survived and were eventually rescued. Once back home, the captain returned to sea in a matter of months and in nearly the same waters as the loss of his first ship, the second was run aground and he once again returned home.

The Nantucket whaling community responded to the first tragedy with great compassion, but following the second disaster, the community was less forgiving. The captain would never again receive his own command. The only place for him in society was to serve as night-watchman, beginning each evening by enforcing curfew, then oversee the town’s safety while the citizens slept. This was the lowest rung on the social ladder for a sea-man, especially a former captain. Granted, the community did not shun him, but he was at the bottom socially. This caused me to think about how and why the nightwatchman became such a low position. Think about this: people are most vulnerable when asleep and a societal outcast is providing security.

On one hand, perhaps it is that the watchman was sleep during the day in order to do his job and remain out of contact with the general population--nobody has to look at the shameful man. On the other hand, the community has not given up all hope on the man--they do still trust him.

Here’s the stretch: consider how God thinks highly of the watchman, for the safety of everyone depends on the watchman. Many passages in the Prophets speak to this. He is the man responsible for life and well-being, for community. God exalts the lowly position. Furthermore, consider the night of the storm, when the disciples were out in the boat during the storm. Scripture records “the fourth watch” when Jesus came walking. The man posted for safety spotted the Ruler of the wind and waves.

Then there were the Roman guards, posted at the tomb. Curious to know what they did (if anything) to get THAT job, only be overcome at the expense of their life because the dead man they were to guard (to keep him safe or keep the community safe?) rolled away the stone.


Things I think about.

Monday, August 26, 2013

"Gilgamesh" As A Benchmark

The Gilgamesh Epic is considered to be one of the first hero stories of antiquity. Any studious reader will find the story connected to one of the earliest documented world civilizations in early Mesopotamia, the kingdom of Sumer namely. Copies of the story have been found all over the Middle East written on clay tablets, which may indicate the story has a longer oral tradition. The epic as we have it today is the result of translation work from various pieces, some of which are still missing. Scholars admit the story’s development is traceable, so the form in which we have today represents the work of collected fragments. One curious note is that some ancient recorders seem to favor some stories over others, giving greater attention to details others completely ignore. Perhaps the greatest “claim to fame” of the Gilgamesh epic is the story of a great flood that seems to parallel that of the great flood recorded in the Bible. Some suggest in an attempt to discredit the Bible that the Gilgamesh Epic existed long before Moses was inspired to record the event. We should comment on this in another entry.

The epic recounts the exploits of a Sumerian King with a bad reputation. The Sumerian gods respond to complaining people by creating from clay Enkidu, who matches Gilgamesh in every way with the purpose of punishing or perhaps replacing Gilgamesh. The difficulty is that Enkidu is more animal than man. Truly the wild, he is found with the beasts of the field and one shepherd notices this magnificent person is out of place so he searches out a way to make a man out of Enkidu. The solution: enter “harlot,” stage left. In short, she bares herself to Enkidu and after significant time together, the animals want nothing to do with Enkidu, who finds himself to be a man.

I want to stop right here and reflect on a few things that stand out to me. First, the Gilgamesh Epic is often touted a the source of the Bible; that is, the Bible borrows material. This means that the epic should be known for more than the Flood narrative. For example: Adam was made from clay, as was Enkidu. Adam found himself among the animals as did Enkidu. One may may the argument of borrowing here. One problem is that other people were in existence before Enkidu, enough for their to be kingdoms and kings. No person preexisted Adam.

Second, the Bible is often accused of being against women. The Gilgamesh epic presents women in a particular way that will receive comment later, but suffice this comparison and contrast: Adam found himself among animals only to discover there was no mate for him and one was provided. Don’t read that too fast: Adam is man, not animal, so he does not need to be transformed into man from an animal. He finds no companion for himself with animals.

Also, consider the treatment of the woman so far: a woman of ill-repute is brought to the animal in order to make him a man. What does the Epic say of women so far? They are disgusting and can be used, without dignity. Furthermore, she is expected to have sex with an animal, which is deeper degradation of the woman. The Bible give a higher place to the woman, speaking of her creation after man (not an animal) and from the man. She is presented to her husband by her Creator, not a shepherd.

So far, Gilgamesh is more of a piece of ancient literature, but a commentary of society. It can also be a benchmark to see which direction is favored when one attempts to discredit scripture.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Book Review: "Shepherding Horses"

Humphreys, Kent. Shepherding Horses: Understanding God’s Plan for Transforming Leaders. Oklahoma City: Lifestyle Impact Ministries, 2010

Humphreys builds this leadership book on an allegory designed to narrow the field of influence concerning leaders. He proposes that within the flock for which the pastor is responsible as shepherd, horses have infiltrated. These horses are for Humphreys symbolic of strong workplace leaders within the church--and these leaders must be tamed.

Humphreys begins by asking “What did Jesus do?” as the perfect shepherd. He proposes that horses are trained when they respond to the gospel, understand God’s principles, work, reproduce and relate to the Father. He continues by building on a vision that he suggests will transform cities and churches. The principle hinges on the the way leaders are equipped as ambassadors through relationships, understanding each other contextually and affirmation.

The allegory on which the premise of the book is built is problematic as it exceeds the bounds of the principle it tries to illustrate: shepherds taming wild horses found among sheep? The allegory breaks down further as the author examines the character of the horse through the lens of scripture, only each scripture speaks negatively and Humphries forces it into his imagery with a positive spin. This reader is not convinced of the premise due to the weakness of the foundational argument. What did Jesus do? He did not train horses, but was a shepherd to sheep.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Think About

“The man who thinks he knows all the answers is either not a Christian at all or a Christian with a very defective sense of the mystery and wonder of his faith.” (Casserly, Langmead. Man’s Pain and God’s Goodness. Mowbray: London, 1951. P. 14)

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Bullet Journal

Been testing this out and am quite impressed with the whole system. It's rockin' my world right now!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Servant of the Lord: The Album

The apostle Paul settles a controversy in the Corinthians church through the inspiration of the Spirit by pointing out the source of the conflict: the selfish ambition of those in the fight. People were taking sides in the church saying that one teacher was better than another. Paul levels the field concerning the teachers emphasizing their unity by asking, “What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one.” (1 Corinthians 3:5) 1 Corinthians 4 builds on this fact concerning the church leadership: “Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” Here we find the first page of a photo album (if you will), a series of snapshots picturing the Servant of the Lord.

The Servant of the Lord is (and some points are worth deeper exploration):
  1. Servant of Christ (1 Cor 4:1)
  2. Steward of the mysteries of God (4:1)
  3.  Trustworthy/faithful (4:2)
  4. Examined/assessed/evaluated by the Lord, not by men (4:3-4)
  5. Obedient to The Master (4:5)
  6. “Does not exceed what is written”; that is, he follows the job description written by God. Why ask more of a man than God? (4:6)
  7. The least of all (4:9)
  8. Condemned to death (4:9)
  9. A spectacle to the world, angels and men alike (4:9)
  10. Fool for Christ’s sake (4:10)
  11. Hungry and thirsty (4:11)
  12. Poorly clothed (4:11)
  13. Roughly treated (4:11)
  14. Homeless (4:11)
  15. Worker with the hands (4:12)
  16. Blesser, when reviled (4:12)
  17. Endurer, when persecuted (4:12)
  18. Encourager When slandered (4:13)
  19. Scum of the world, dregs of all things (4:13)
  20. Admonisher (4:14)
  21. Fatherly in the gospel (4:15)
  22. Model (4:16)
  23. Supporter (4:17)
  24. Teacher (4:17)
  25. Present, engaged (4:18-19)
  26. Conduit of Kingdom Power (4:20)
  27. Shepherd (4:21)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Randoms

Faith and Competition: CrossFit athletes Dan Bailey and Rich Froning speak about glorifying God in everything.

"Mistakers In the Hands Of An Absentee God"

"Why would you want to escape from Alcatraz when you could eat Beef Pot Pie Anglaise for lunch on Tuesday, Baked Meat Croquettes on Wednesday, and Bacon Jambalaya on Saturday? It’s just a rhetorical question."

"Is It Possible To Hear a  Meteor?"

"Galileo’s trial before the Roman Inquisition in 1632-33 has long been used as an example of a scientist persecuted by religious zealotry. Those who promote the idea that science and religion are at enmity like to bring up Galileo’s unfortunate treatment at the hands of the Roman Catholic Church. However, there is much more to the story than the neat and tidy picture of Galileo as a martyr for science and reason. Not only was Galileo himself a devout Catholic throughout his life, but his trial was far more about his insulting the Pope directly than it was about whether Earth actually moved around the Sun." (Link opens directly to Print command)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

"Youth Ministry: What's Gone Wrong?"

Youth Ministry specialists are noticing that as technology accelerates, spiritual apathy among young people is increasing. Many teens are biblically illiterate, bored, and find the church to be irrelevant. Parents are frustrated. Youth leaders are burned out. And high school and college students — if they ever attended — are leaving the church by the droves. What on earth has gone wrong?

Dr. David Olshine, director of the Youth Ministry, Family and Culture program at Columbia International University explores what needs to change and offers practical advice to youth ministry leaders in his new book, “Youth Ministry: What’s Gone Wrong?”  

Olshine is the author and co-author of 19 books and is a regular contributor to Youth Worker Journal. He is ordained in the United Methodist Church and has served for over 30 years as a youth pastor and lead pastor of a college-town church. He is also the co-founder of Youth Ministry Coaches, an organization that helps the church strategize for youth ministry.

Youth Ministry: What’s Gone Wrong” is published by Abingdon Press and will be released in October. It’s available for pre-order at Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Fascinating Observation

“One of the world's premier sperm-whale experts, Hal Whitehead, began observing whales in [the Galapagos] in 1985 . . . . He has found that the typical pod of whales, which ranges between three and twenty or so individuals, is comprised almost exclusively of interrelated adult females and immature whales . . . . The females work cooperatively in taking care of their young . . . . Young males leave the family unit at around six years of age and make their way to cooler waters of the high latitudes. Here they live singly or with other males, not returning to the warm waters of their birth until their late twenties . . . .

The sperm whale’s network of female-based family unites resembled, to a remarkable extent, the community the whalemen had left back home in Nantucket. In both societies the males were itinerants. In their dedication to killing sperm whales the Nantucketers had developed a system of social relationships that mimicked those of their prey.”

Philbrick, Nathaniel. In The Heart Of The Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship “Essex”. Penguin, 2000. (p. 70-71)

Monday, August 12, 2013

And Now For Something Just A Little Different

I actually think Vivaldi would "like".

"Vivaldi Tribute", played by Tina (14 y.o.), played on her Vigier Excalibur, teached and filmed by her teacher Renaud Louis-Servais 

Friday, August 09, 2013

Salvation Army Museum

The following pictures were taken with permission at the Salvation Army Evangeline Booth College Historical Center. What an amazing history to study! Scroll down for my personal favorite exhibit.
















The two pictures below shows the "Walkie-Coffee." It is a back-pack allowing the wearer to carry coffee (on one side) and soup (on another) as they did ministry while moving through disaster areas, giving physical and spiritual nourishment where it was most needed.









Monday, August 05, 2013

"I'll go it laughing"

“I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I'll go to it laughing.” ― Herman Melville (Moby Dick)

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Randoms

"In Christ Alone" rejected?

Winning is a trophy. Failing is an education. (Be sure to click through for the full article)

That's about it for this week.

Popular Posts