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Showing posts from October, 2018

The hubris of humanism

“Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.”

So begins one of my favourite books in the Bible: Ecclesiastes, the Preacher. His message? Basically: everything is meaningless. All our work, all our effort, ends in one thing: death. Everything that we achieve will one day be forgotten. “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; and there is nothing new under the sun.” I’m pretty sure that if Ecclesiastes walked into a Clinton Cards shop and saw all the Hallmark motivational messages - “you make a difference,” “life is a story you write as you go,” “your only limit is you” - he’d probably laugh, rip them off the walls, and either burn them or just use them for toilet paper, if he was in good mood. Happy Monday, everyone.

I wrote a little last week about the biblical books of prophecy, and how we need to be like the prophets, speaking truth to power. Well, Ecclesiastes is part of a different collection of Old Testament books called the “Wisdom” books. The other on…

Moses: a model leader for our times?

The Lord came down in the Cloud. He spoke with Moses, but took some of the spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders. When the spirit came on them they prophesied, but not again.  Two men had stayed back in the camp; one was called Eldad and the other Medad. The spirit came down on them; though they had not gone to the Tent, their names were enrolled among the rest. These began to prophesy in the camp. The young man ran to tell this to Moses, ‘Look,’ he said ‘Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.’ Then said Joshua the son of Nun, who had served Moses from his youth, ‘My Lord Moses, stop them!’ Moses answered him, ‘Are you jealous on my account? If only the whole people of the Lord were prophets, and the Lord gave his Spirit to them all!’ - Numbers 11:26-34
Numbers: the fourth book of the Bible, which probably wins the prize for the least exciting title, but nonetheless contains some interesting stories. We’re going back here way before the time of Jesus. Moses has …

Do not be afraid

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Now, we all know that God isn’t some kind of white-haired old man sitting on a throne up in the clouds – but wait a minute! – that is just how the Old Testament prophet Daniel sees him in a vision: a white-haired old man sitting on a throne up in the clouds. Surrounded by fire and angels, ten thousand times ten thousand all around. The Bible is full of pictures of God. Most of them are not of an old man at all. A cloud of darkness at the top of a mountain, a pillar of fire, a burning bush, the sound of thunder, a still, small voice of calm, a potter, a rock, a gardener, a warrior, a mother, a builder, even a drunk waking up with a hangover: all these are different pictures of God from the Bible. They are not all as comforting as the “white-haired grandad in the sky.” Nor can they all work at once: some are contradictory. How can God be both cloud and fire? Both father and mother? Both still small voice of calm and destructive thunder? It doesn’t make sense. And that’s the point. God is n…