Random musings on life, the universe and nothing in particular...
Sunday, October 31, 2004
See, Peter, I do link to your blog sometimes...
My younger brother Peter obsesses about Lego® and frequently shows me amazing models that he has found online. As it is Reformation Day, I thought that I would post a link to these models, which Peter has also mentioned on his blog.
While on the subject of Lego®, you might also take a look at the Brick Testament. Some scenes in it are worth missing out, so do pay attention to the rating scheme.
This is also extremely funny and well done.
Confession time. I am a regular reader of James White's blog. I am on the Trinity Foundation's e-mailing list and I follow the Warfield and byfaithalone lists. Occasionally something is said on these blogs and forums that is of benefit (well, apart from the Trinity Foundation). Just yesterday I came across the link to this site from James White's blog. It made me laugh anyway.
Mark is back from uni for the weekend. It is great to see him again. He seems to have had a really good time so far. We had a time of prayer around at Jonathan and Monika's and then played Settlers of Catan. I have not come across any board game that is quite so addictive. I might have to wait for a few days before Elbert is on good terms with me again!
My granny came out of hospital today and seemed to be in better form than she has been for the last few weeks. Peter will be going back to school on Tuesday. I can't wait.
Tomorrow I will probably be going skiing for the first time. I am hoping that my ankle doesn't play up again. It still hasn't properly healed from the time I injured it earlier this year.
His very existence among us would make us question all over again, what it is to be human.
We are not used to this because our ancestors successfully killed off all our close relatives.
This has created a chasm between us and the other animals, a chasm so big that religion went as far as to say that we are not even related to them. Humans have souls and they do not.
Darwin put a stop to this nonsense with his theory of evolution, but amazingly the blindingly obvious truth he discovered is still resisted by large sections of the human population.
They stubbornly continue to insist that we are some kind of special creation.
The arrival of "Mini-Man" is going to give them nightmares.
How can he be "semi-special"? That won't make sense. He can't very well have a semi-soul.
So Mini-Man might just be the evolutionary jewel that, once and for all, sets human beings firmly in the animal kingdom, where scientifically they belong.
So writes Desmond Morris. Personally I am quite excited about this particular discovery and I fail to see why it should pose some huge challenge to Christian faith. The 'Hobbit' may well turn out to be human. I fail to see that this will somehow undermine our humanity. If he is an ape that looks remarkably like us, I will still feel much the same way.
I don't think that there is anything much to be gained by stressing some great difference between the make-up of man and the animals. I just don't think that it is biblical to see some great natural gulf between man and the animals. Man is an animal. Man's greater significance in creation is due to his being the image of God and, no, I do not believe that the image of God is primarily about some capacity that man has that animals do not possess. There are some abilities and faculties that are more peculiar to humankind. As Aquinas put it, man is the animal that laughs. However, I believe that it is unhelpful to situate the primary difference between man and the animals in this area.
In particular, I believe that it is exceedingly unhelpful to think of man being differentiated from the animals in possessing a 'rational soul' or something like that. Man's 'soul' is not a part of his make-up any more than it is part of the make-up of the animals. Man's soul is simply his life. Man does not possess a living soul; man is a living soul. 'Soul' talk is just that — an appropriate way of speaking about certain dimensions of man’s holistic existence. I like the illustration that N.T. Wright frequently uses (one which originated with John Polkinghorne) that regards the relationship between mind and body as analogous to the relationship between software and hardware (although even this analogy doesn't quite capture the tightness of the relationship). I think that the whole idea that the soul is a part of man as distinct from his body is more Cartesian than Christian.
The great difference between man and the animals is mankind's place in relationship to God and the vocation that God has given us. Man is distinguished from the animals more by God's gracious purpose than anything that is inherent in him. Man is the animal that God has chosen to place as His image in creation, as a symbol of His rule. Man is called to be conformed to God's likeness and be renewed according to His image. Man's imaging of God is not so much to be thought of as human beings individually (although it undoubtedly has this dimension), but of humanity as a whole, with all of its relational aspects. Man's peculiar faculties are brought into play in his active imaging of God. However, individuals who do not possess the full faculties that are generally possessed by human beings (e.g. unborn infants and the mentally handicapped) are no less made in the image of God for that reason. Apart from the place that man has been given in the creation by God's grace the difference between man and the rest of the animals is not that significant.
In my estimation it is no bad thing if the discovery of 'Mini-man' somehow 'sets human beings firmly in the animal kingdom' and reminds us that we are not that far removed from the animals at all. However, the idea that this undermines the Christian doctrine of creation utterly fails to convince me.
From what I have read so far this is one of the better books on the sacraments from a generally Reformed perspective. Although there are a few things that I might like to see treated differently, and some things that I disagree with, on the whole this is a very good book.
Is anyone going to be attending the debate between Doug Wilson and James White next Friday? I would be interested to hear how it turns out. I would also like to hear what is said at the talks that will be held the following day, although I think I can give a pretty guess...
One of Peter Leithart’s most recent posts got me thinking about a few things. Leithart outlines the argument of Galen Strawson, who questions whether human lives are or should be narrative. Strawson speaks of the possibility of human experience being ‘diachronic’ or ‘episodic’ rather than merely narrative.
In his fantastic book, Orality and Literacy, Walter Ong argues that the shape of the modern plot line has been largely formed by the printed word. The degree of manipulation, revision and reconsideration that is possible for the modern author encourages a far less open-ended view of the narrative. The story-line is self-contained and ‘defined by closure’. The very permanence of the printed word adds to this; printing ‘locks words into space’. The physical unity of the text binds together what it contains. In the oral culture, before the existence of ‘texts’, the narrative binds things together in a far looser fashion, in far more of an open manner. As authors have more conscious control over them in the age of the printed word, story lines become tighter and tighter and tend to adopt the climactic structure of the ‘Freytag pyramid’, rather than the episodic approach to narrative that was almost universal in purely oral cultures.
Ong observes that the pyramid-shaped plot is most fully expressed in a detective story. Within the plot of detective story we can also observe the ‘inward turn of narrative’ — closure is first achieved inside the mind of one of the characters and then later revealed to the reader and the other characters in the novel. Ong contrasts the detective story with the old oral narrative: “The oral narrator’s protagonist, distinguished typically for his external exploits, has been replaced by the interior consciousness of the typographic protagonist.” Writing also raises the level of reflective consciousness, both in the writer and in the reader.
Characterization differs in the oral narrative from characterization in the written narrative. ‘Rounded’ characters in narrative are largely a product of the written word. The oral narrative produces ‘flat’ characters, who are largely predictable in their behaviour.
Oral narratives do not generally follow a linear plot as closely as written narratives do. Chronological order is not maintained. The oral narrative often starts in the middle of things and only later explains how the situation arose. However, even speaking of starting ‘in the middle of things’ is misleading as it tends to establish the linear plotline of the written narrative as some sort of norm against which the oral narrative can be assessed.
What made a good epic poet was not mastery of a climactic linear plot which he deconstructed by dint of a sophisticated trick called plunging his hearer in media res. What made a good epic poet was, among other things of course, first, tacit acceptance of the fact that episodic structure was the only way and the totally natural way of imagining and handling lengthy narrative, and, second, possession of supreme skill in managing flashbacks and other episodic techniques.
Ong argues that we should be careful not to think of oral plots as a departure from a form of plot that they never knew, one that we often think is normative. In the present day there are many narratives that reject the tight climactic structure that was brought in by the printed word. However, Ong maintains that they are not episodic narratives akin to those of a primary oral culture, but rather ‘impressionistic and imagistic variations on the plotted stories that preceded them’.
What I was wondering, in the light of all of this, is the degree to which our idea of the connection between self-identity and narrative has been affected by the printed word, and latterly electronic media. To what degree is our idea of what narrative lives should look like shaped by our interiorization of the written and printed word? When we talk about human lives being narratives, what sort of plot lines are we thinking in terms of? Are we thinking of our lives as oral narratives, as novels, or films? Would we think of our narrative identity differently if we lived before the Internet and other media that affect our understanding of what plotlines should look like (e.g. film)? Will the ‘openness’ and non-foundationalist character of the Internet cause us to narrate our lives in a different way?
What will our future narrative selves look like as electronic media and such things as globalization have their effect? Some have claimed that globalization leads to the undermining of our narrative identities. William Cavanaugh argues that, in the world created by globalization, man is ‘cast adrift in a sea of disjointed and unrelated images. If identity is forged by unifying the past, present, and future into a coherent narrative sequence, the ephemerality and rapid change of images deconstructs this ability.’
I am also wondering to what degree in the retelling of our stories by God’s grace in the Church, different forms of plot structure are produced as a result of the divergence of Jesus’ history and cosmic history after the ascension and the marriage between the two, particularly in the celebration of the Eucharist.
I would be interested to hear other people’s thoughts on these questions.
This looks like a book that will be a 'must buy' when it comes out. It is recommended by such theologians as Michael Horton, Fergus Kerr, Catherine Pickstock and Kevin Vanhoozer. If it succeeds in making Radical Orthodoxy intelligible to a wider public, it will be of great benefit indeed.
I have not blogged an awful lot over the last few weeks and I have not had much energy to do so. However, I have, as usual, written quite a few e-mails and engaged in a number of discussions in the comments of blogs. I thought that I would plagiarize myself and post a few summarized scraps of e-mails and blog comments that I have written over the last couple of weeks. These comments are occasional and have a lot of gaping holes where much more could be said. They should not be read as complete arguments.
My first comments come in response to the question of whether anything other than wine or grape juice are permissible in communion.
Wine in communion
The common practice of celebrating the Supper with grape juice or some other form of substitute for alcoholic wine is, to my mind, a serious departure from the biblical pattern. In the old covenant there were many different rites, each with detailed instructions. God expected His people to be faithful to His command and celebrate these rites precisely as commanded. Any departure from the instituted pattern was regarded as a very serious error.
It seems to me that many evangelicals have relegated this precise God, who expects to be obeyed in the details, to the OT when it comes to the practice of the Lord’s Supper. Even some conservative churches, who loudly proclaim their adherence to the ‘regulative principle’, tamper with the menu of the Eucharist. God has only given us a few simple new covenant rites and yet many churches seem determined to play fast and loose with His instructions.
What shocks me is that fundamentalist Christians are generally the worst offenders on this point. Fundamentalists, who are the most adept at ramming the Bible down people’s throats, are often the ones who treat the Bible with least concern when it runs counter to their prejudices. People who will loudly denounce anyone who holds to anything other than full submersion as the proper mode of Baptism will happily celebrate communion with Ribena. Whilst there are occasions when compromise might be appropriate (legitimate compromise does not, I believe, stretch to Ribena), in the vast majority of cases it is merely an unbiblical intolerance of alcohol that causes people to compromise. They nullify the Word of God by their tradition.
What’s the Supper all about?
At this stage some people might argue that I am missing the whole point. To insist on the use of alcoholic wine is to misunderstand the purpose of the Supper. The Supper is essentially about knowing communion in our individual hearts with God, as we meditate on what Jesus did at the cross. The outward elements of bread and wine are little more than pictures that help to draw our attention to the body and blood of Christ.
What such people forget is that the Supper is an inescapably physical ritual and cannot be reduced to a mere linguistic or mental reality. Without the elements there is no Supper. Without the physical act of eating and drinking of the elements in the assembly of God’s people there is no Supper. The danger inherent in many lowgrade forms of eucharistic theology is to reduce everything to the sursum corda. However, Jesus instructed us to ‘do this’, not ‘theologize about this’, ‘look at this’ or even ‘meditate on this’. That which He instructed us to ‘do’ was to eat bread and drink wine. The physical elements and the physical act of eating and drinking are absolutely essential. The Supper is primarily a public event and not merely a time of private communion with Jesus.
We should also recognize that, as many leading liturgical and biblical scholars have observed, the ‘remembrance’ that we are called to is not primarily the private and subjective bringing to mind of a past event, but a public memorializing (much as the Passover functioned in Israel). We should also avoid over-psychologizing the call for self-examination and discernment of the body.
A related, but more important, objection is that the Supper is inescapably public and ecclesial. The Supper is about communion, and not just communion with Jesus in the privacy of the human heart. The Supper constitutes the Church as one body. ‘Private communion’, quite apart from being somewhat oxymoronic, is patently unbiblical. The fact that it is, to all intents and purposes, practiced in many churches where people partake as if the Supper is just a ‘me and Jesus’ meal is extremely worrying and shows how far the eucharistic doctrine of many evangelicals has departed from the biblical pattern.
The Supper is only the Supper when it is performed by the Church of Jesus Christ. The Bible does not teach a merely functional ecclesiology, but presents us with a visible Church outside of whose walls there is no ordinary possibility of salvation. In 1 Corinthians 11 it is interesting to observe the manner in which Paul speaks of the ‘body’ of Christ. One verse He speaks of the sacramental body of Christ (the bread as Christ’s body); shortly after he speaks of Christ’s historical body (the body crucified for us); later he speaks of the ecclesial body (the body as the Church). Only by maintaining the close relationship between the three aspects of the body of Christ can we protect the Supper from the Scylla of becoming a mere mnemonic device (as it has become in a lowgrade evangelical form) and the Charybdis of becoming an extrinsic miracle (as in some extreme forms of transubstantiation).
The Supper is a memorializing meal that is celebrated by the assembled church and not a mere picture for individuals to meditate on. Consequently, the physical elements that constitute this meal are very important.
Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi
By arguing for the validity of grape juice in the Supper, evangelicals have greatly reduced the significance of the Lord’s Supper. The Supper celebrated without wine is a radically distorted Supper, a Supper that is at risk of being entirely eviscerated. In many churches today, the Supper has become a time for people to put on funereal countenances and engage in sombre introspection, whilst meditating on how unworthy they are and how much it cost Jesus to pay the price for their sins. Whilst elements of the Supper instituted by our Lord are undoubtedly retained, the true character of the Supper is badly obscured.
Part of the problem is found in the fact that evangelicals often fail to appreciate that the theological meaning of the Supper is embedded in the concrete practice of it.
There is a world of difference between grape juice and wine. If you were arranging an important party and instructed a friend to go and buy some of the finest wine for your celebration, you would be appalled if he returned with cartons of grape juice instead. The character of a celebration can be considerably altered by the type of food and drink that is served.
I am a firm believer in the statement lex orandi, lex credendi. The manner in which we worship has a powerful effect upon our beliefs. If we consistently worship God falsely, we will be moulding our minds to believe in a false God. Arguably nothing is more urgently required in the Church today than a reformation of worship.
Many evangelicals today find it hard to believe in a God who would command His people to celebrate with wine and strong drink in His presence. They find it hard to believe in the God of Scripture (Deuteronomy 14:26). In place of this God they have created a god in their own image—an irascible and judgmental party pooper. This god would have us engage in morbid introspection and look melancholy at His table. This god is reluctant to have us too relaxed in His presence; we might forget that we are unworthy and sinful worms.
The problem is that for all too many evangelicals the Supper is not a joyful feast of memorial of Christ’s great victory over the powers in the assembly of the Church; rather, it is a time for dour individuals to contemplate their personal relationship with Jesus. It can look more like a funeral than a feast.
Stripping away the Symbolism
The phrase ‘fruit of the vine’ should not be read in isolation from the rest of Scripture. Christ’s institution of the Supper takes place against the backdrop of the Passover, OT prophecies of an eschatological feast, tithe feasts, drink offerings, sacrificial meals, images like that of Lady Wisdom’s feast (Proverbs 9:1-6) and an OT network of symbolism in which wine—the sabbath drink—plays a significant role as a symbol of judgment and blessing.
Wine is the drink that brings gladness (Psalm 104:15), wine is the drink of kings (Nehemiah 2:1), wine is forbidden to the priests because their work is not yet done (Leviticus 10:9); wine is also the drink of victors (Genesis 14:18). Wine is something that matures and is produced by man in time. It does not occur naturally.
The choice of wine was not primarily motivated by its colour, but by its place within a network of symbolism (although wine was certainly associated with blood in the OT). Besides, if we are going to rule out anything except the explicit command of Christ in the institution of the Supper we could just as easily celebrate communion with white wine (indeed, the blinkered literalist could celebrate with tomato juice; tomatoes are the fruit of a vine) as the colour is never expressly stipulated. Of course, whilst white wine or some other alcoholic drink would preserve far more of the meaning of the Supper than red grape juice, there are clear reasons to prefer red wine.
Most evangelicals presume that the alcoholic nature of wine is not an important part of the symbolism of the Lord’s Supper. I disagree. The symbolism attached with wine throughout Scripture plays much on its alcoholic quality. Wine is seen as that which distinguishes between fools and wise. Wine is dangerous and demands wisdom, power and maturity to control it properly. Cups of wine are symbols of judgment for this reason and kings are often associated with wine (we see a few cupbearers to kings in the biblical narrative).
Priests were forbidden to drink wine as their work was not yet done. I doubt if they would have been forbidden to drink grape juice. Jesus refused sour wine on the cross, as he had promised that He would not drink of the fruit of the vine until He had finished His priestly work and entered into His kingdom (Matthew 26:29). Grape juice damages this element of the biblical symbolism.
Wine emboldens and this imagery of wine emboldening for battle is used of both God and man in Scripture (Psalm 78:65; Zechariah 9:15). Wine is that which makes hearts glad, leads people to sing and loosens inhibitions. Grape juice does not have quite the same effect, at least in my experience. Wine is the sabbatical drink, the drink of feasting which men take to relax (e.g. Deuteronomy 14:26). It is therefore fitting that wine is associated with the Spirit in certain places in Scripture. Grape juice empties much of this imagery also.
The Bible is full of feasts of wine. Take Esther, for example. Or the eschatological feast in Isaiah 25:6. Or the marriage suppers. Or the victory feasts. Or the tithe feasts. Are we willing to sacrifice all of this biblical imagery associated with the Lord’s Supper on the altar of modern evangelical prejudices concerning alcoholic drink? We cannot exclude alcohol from the Lord’s Supper without losing much of the theological import of the celebration. Having grape juice at the Lord’s Supper is like having a vegetarian substitute at Passover.
New Testament Teaching
In addition to the OT background, I believe that there are certain other things that can be demonstrated from NT teaching. The Lord’s Supper should be more of a joyous feast than a sombre occasion. It is a foretaste of the great Marriage Supper of the Lamb and should, to some degree or other, be celebrated in a manner that brings this truth out. I believe that it is one of those occasions when we are called by God to ‘rejoice’ (like in Deuteronomy 14:26). We should encourage joy.
A further thing that we should encourage is fellowship. The Lord’s Supper is about communion—not just with God but with one another. If we go through the Lord’s Supper with grave faces and fail to fellowship with others, I believe that our celebration is woefully lacking. We are corporately memorializing the great victory of the Son of God over Satan, in which event the community of the Church sees its foundation; how can we not rejoice?
Wine in Bible Times
Few will deny that Christ used wine when He instituted the Supper. However, many argue that the wine of those times was considerably weaker, perhaps so diluted as to barely have any alcoholic content at all. Scholars have produced detailed word studies, trying to argue that the references to wine in the old and new testaments can include grape juice.
The persuasive power of such studies lies purely in the mind of those who want to rationalize their unbiblical practices with regard to the Lord’s Supper. It is patently clear in Scripture that wine is alcoholic and the alcoholic quality of wine is central to both its positive and negative uses. Those who focus exclusively on lexical studies often (willfully) lose sight of the fact that wine is given significance by its place within a system of symbolism; extract wine from this setting and its significance diminishes considerably.
I have yet to see someone explain how grape juice ‘makes the heart glad’ in the same way as wine does. Feasts are practically universally celebrated in scripture with some form of alcoholic drink. The fact that drunkenness is reported to have taken place at a number of biblical feasts suggests that, even if their wine was heavily diluted, they were drinking more than mere thimblefuls of it.
We should also remember that God did authorize the use of strong drink alongside wine in the tithe feasts (Deuteronomy 14:26); there is nothing wrong in principle with the use of stronger alcohol in communion.
The Tradition of the Church
Just about every aspect of the Lord’s Supper has been controverted at one point or another. There have been differences within the church on whether the wine should be mixed with water or not, or whether the issue was indifferent. There were differences between the azymites and the prozymites with regard to the kind of bread to be used. There have been differences over the legitimacy of intinction. The list could go on.
Nevertheless, with regard to the use of wine in communion, there has been a clear consensus throughout the church for well over 1800 years. The impetus towards change on this matter did not arise from some new biblical insight, but from cultural prejudices.
Some Christians bring up such passages as Romans 14 as reason for abstaining from wine in communion. There are weaker brothers and sisters who might be caused to stumble if wine were used in communion.
If anyone has a problem with strong alcohol in communion, it can be diluted. Besides, no one drinks enough communion wine to even get tipsy, let alone completely drunk. If a person in a congregation has a problem with the use of alcoholic wine I would suggest that it would be better for them to abstain, rather than change the biblical institution to accommodate their biblically uninformed conscience / lack of self-control. It should also be recognized that for many former alcoholics, the Church is such a radically different context for drinking that temptation is not a real issue.
I do not believe that the pattern of Romans 14 teaches us that we can play fast and loose with Christ’s institution. There is an important distinction to be drawn between those who might be led into sin by our enjoyment of liberty and those who simply carry unbiblical cultural prejudices that they want to impose upon everyone else. The institution of Christ should not be held hostage by the tyrannical opinions of such people.
In my experience, the most militant teetotalers are not the type who would be led into sin by other Christians partaking. They are not appropriately described as ‘weaker’ brethren, but are those who habitually judge brothers and sisters who drink, contrary to Scripture. Such sin should be confronted and not pandered to.
A further point must be made. Seeking to bear with the scruples of the weak should not involve disobeying God’s positive commands. There are areas on which we have freedom. In other areas we do not have freedom. I am convinced that the use of alcoholic wine in the Supper is mandatory. Departing from this is not an option.
The reference to wine in Romans 14:21 should be read in context. It is paralleled to v.17 and some have taken it as hypothetical. I do not. The instruction takes place within a particular cultural context in which Jews fasted on particular days and those who did not fast and abstain from wine on those days of fasting (cf. Luke 5:33f., 7:33-34) would possibly cause others to stumble in the young church in Rome. That fast days are prominent in Paul’s mind is clear from Romans 14:5-6. The idea that Paul is thinking of relativizing Christ’s institution for the Lord’s Supper is out of the question. We fast in order to prepare for feasts. The friends of the bridegroom cannot fast when the bridegroom is with them. Joyful celebrations of the Supper, using alcoholic wine, reinforce the truth of the Bridegroom’s presence on such occasions.
Some churches give members of the congregation a choice between grape juice and wine for communion. This is certainly an improvement upon grape juice only. Nevertheless, it still falls far short of the biblical pattern. For one, I believe that, if there is to be any sort of substitute, it ought to be alcoholic in order to retain the biblical character of the Supper. I also believe that sharing from one cup is to be preferred. Individual mini-cups simply reinforce the individualism of our culture.
Many will argue that my position is simply impracticable. Members of churches will not accept a Lord’s Supper without a non-alcoholic option. To be absolutely frank, I don’t see that this should be a real issue. The real question is whether God accepts alcohol-free celebrations of the Supper.
I sympathize with the situation faced by leaders of churches who have large numbers of militant teetotalers in their congregations. However, I believe that such people need to be opposed. God does not want us to tinker with His instructions for the sacraments. We should be far more concerned with what God thinks than with what congregations think.
Change on such matters will undoubtedly be painful, but I do not think that we can see it as optional. If churches are more concerned with keeping congregations happy concrete steps will never be taken towards reformation on such controversial issues. Church leaders need to be prepared to bite the bullet on this matter.
The way that we worship has a powerful effect upon the way that we think about God. If we move away from the biblical form of worship we will move away from the biblical picture of God and of where we stand in relationship to Him. Checking downgrades in worship is, in my opinion, far, far more important than many evangelical and Reformed Christians are accustomed to think. The use of non-alcoholic substitutes for wine in the Eucharist represents just such a downgrade.
If there is one thing that Church history has taught us, it is that old habits of worship die very hard. Calvin pointed out about 450 years ago that the Lord’s Supper should be celebrated weekly if we are to follow a more biblical pattern. Countless other theologians have said the same things since. Nevertheless, there is such a powerful inertia in churches that few pastors feel like pushing towards change on these issues. I believe that the leadership of churches needs to be far more proactive in the reformation of worship if we are to get anywhere.
Just another illustration of modern man's relentless (and quite ridiculous) urge to quantify and measure everything, even that which cannot be measured. How anyone could be deceived by the illusion of objectivity that such research relies on for its plausibility simply boggles the mind.
I would love to attend the World Conker Championships sometime. I remember spending countless happy hours building up vast collections of horse chestnuts after school and playing conkers with my brothers. The various attempts at 'doctoring' were particularly memorable. They would be varnished, put in the freezer, put up the chimney and many other things.
Horse chestnuts, of course, have other uses. We used to have a prayer meeting in our lounge some evenings. Our lounge had a big open fire and before we used to get to bed we would hide some horse chestnuts in the back of the fire, listen upstairs and laugh as we heard them explode during the meeting.
For those of you who might be wondering, I can confirm that I am still alive, even though I have not blogged an awful lot of late. Other things have been taking my time. I have written the beginnings of a very basic analysis of some aspects of a Christian critique of globalization, which I might post soon. God-willing, I will also be returning to my series on Wright when enough free time presents itself.
Most of my evenings and weekends are occupied with various offline activities at present. I believe that it is important that my priorities are correct and I think that there is always a danger of blogging taken precedence over embodied fellowship and shared times of prayer. I would love to be able to have enough time to devote to both activities, but such a luxury is not always afforded to me.
This evening Elbert and Annewieke, Peter and I started reading the Bible through. We take it in turns to read aloud and while others are reading we listen with our own Bibles closed. A number of other young people in our church hope to join us in this in the future. The difference in the manner in which the text hits you when you are hearing it, rather than seeing it, is very interesting. I find that I am far better at noticing parallels when I hear the text read. For example, this evening I heard the connection between Genesis 4:24 and Matthew 18:21-22 for the first time, along with many other things. I kicked myself for not recognizing it before.
In other news, Mark is settling in extremely well at university. Thank you to all of you who have prayed for him. He has had the opportunity to share his faith with a number of non-Christians, including a Muslim who wants to start a Bible study with him. He has settled in well in the university Christian Union and has found a church where he feels at home.
I would appreciate prayer for my Granny at this time. She has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. She moved into accommodation just across the road from us a few months ago and it has been a real blessing having her so close at this time. Please pray for her to have strength to deal with the pain. Please pray that she would know God's presence with her through this difficult time. God has been so good in various ways in her situation over the last few months and we have no doubt that His hand will continue to be seen in the situation in the coming months.