Religion and Spirituality

Word Woche 11.10

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Word Woche is BACK! Again, I apologize for the delay in my posts.  Sometimes schoolwork gets the best of you.  Honestly, just this quarter alone has given me enough blog material to overload anyone’s brain.  Ethics and World Religions really get your noodle cooking.

 

Anyways, I thought I would teach everyone a Hindu word this week since we are studying the history & theological concepts in Hinduism this week.  Now, everyone knows karma.  What action you do has an affect.  Well, another word is

It is the term used to describe the liberation to samsara and karma.  It is the primary goal of any Hindu.  Reaching liberation and the union with the Ultimate Reality, the One (yes its not, really–its Vishnu, who can be in any form, in any concept…let’s just say its very confusing sometimes…)

It’s similar (and yet completely different) from the concept of grace and liberation from sin/bondage through the knowledge of Christ in Christianity.  Just thoroughly interesting.

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Word Woche 9.29

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This Monday (tomorrow) is the beginning of the fall quarter at school.  I am so glad to be going back.  I love learning!… however, this quarter I decided in order to keep up my language skills, I am auditing Greek.  Ironically, last Tuesday a class started at church in our CALL (Christian Academy for Life-Long Learners) that referred to many Greek words affiliated with the indescribable “powers and principalities.” So I thought–what better than to look at this word for the word of the week! So with no further adieu…

ἐξουσία

It means power, dominion or authority over something.  It is used multiple times in matthew referring to God’s power as it comes through Jesus Christ.  Many times it just refers to “power over something” or control. The basic root is “exesti”… Break down the word even further and it is “ek” or “out of” and “eimi” or the “to be, being” in a state of power.  It is privileged power…authority. Rulership.

God holds this power.  And gives Jesus this same power to heal the sick and raise the dead.  It almost sounds likes “existence.” Which is to say something living.  The word gives me more strength in the Living God has authority and that Jesus has the authority to take care of it all.  Kind of nice–when you think about it.

Immanuel in Our Place by Tremper Longman III

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See on Amazon!

Last year I had the fortune of taking two Old Testament classes from one of the most prestigious scholars in the field and the author of this book.  Immanuel in Our Place is a book looking at the Sacred elements of the Israelite’s worship in the Old Testament.  Tremper reviews the set aside spaces, acts and how these connect to the Christian understanding of faith and worship.

Theologically it is an excellent book.  I know for me personally I struggled with hearing about the Jewish worship and teachings of the Old Testament and having a hard time figure out why every Jew wasn’t a follower of Christ.  This book 1) helped me bring that in perspective and 2) enlightened me on what items were not.  The descriptions and structure is also very easy to understand even if one has no knowledge of Jewish practices.  It’s also a reasonable length so good for a plane ride or a vacation read.

Practical wise–Tremper provides not only questions at the end of chapters for a study group format, but also travels through each “sacred” element first through the Hebrew Bible Narrative and then through the Christian narrative.  One can see the importance for Christians of understanding Israel’s understanding of the Sacred and it also helps explains the important of Christ’s salvation & work.

Definitely check it out!

Exodus & Revolution by Michael Walzer

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As school season begins, the required reading reviews will begin to appear.  This quarter should be thoroughly interesting, as I will be taking German 101 (independent study) , Christian Ethics and World Religions through Christian Perspective (name could be better there but with the books I already have I’m willing to accept a more loving approach.)

This book, Exodus & Revolution is about the relationship between the biblical story of the Exodus (including from the Book Exodus through the arrival into the Promised Land at the end of Deuteronomy) and similarities it holds with political revolution. Walzer sticks mostly to the Biblical story and the Israelite people–what it means to be “in bondage in Egypt”, what the covenant and the story of the idol calf in the wilderness and how they can apply to a modern revolution.

From a theological standpoint–I love this book.  Walzer makes just enough of a connection not to disturb anyone but yet makes a strong enough stance to point out how the exodus story relates to the world’s history of revolution.  He admits he will not be able to fully review all revolutions, but he provides enough examples, first and third world, good and bad.  For example, he looks at Lenin’s response in Russia and the similarities and the purging Moses preforms after the Golden Calf.  He also discusses that just because someone sets you free doesn’t mean you do not have responsibilities and moral law.

Arguably the best part of the book is Walzer’s discussion about covenant.  Only recently did I discover the importance of an Ancient Near Eastern treaty and its similarities to the covenant God makes with the people of Israel in the wilderness.  It is not the first (see Abraham & Noah) nor will it be the last (see David.) But God’s covenant with his people provides the support for even the idea of revolution–that commitment and faith in the Lord can set you free.

Another positive regarding this book is its length.  Honestly, in theology and social sciences, there are too many 500-1000 page books.  Most people, in fact most theologians do not need every details every time a book comes out.  This book is less than 200 pages (including glossary and notes) with informative yet simplistic vocabulary. I highly recommend this book for ministers, seminary students and even lay people!

The God File, A Novel by Frank Turner Hollon (no spoilers)

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A long time ago in a … wait a minute.  J/K; One summer I decided to get a job at Barnes and Noble. I loved reading (admittedly) and wanted to get more into reading all kinds of books, not the just the occasion recommendation.  At B&N, they have a section called “Discover: New Writers” where maybe local or new upcoming writers get their chances to show off their stuff.  That is how I came across one of my most beloved books: The God File.

The story is about a man thrown into prison for a crime he did not commit. He states from the beginning that his goal is to create evidence that God exists.  And not in the “happy ever after” stories where the man with a decent job gets cancer and has a huge support system that eventually helps him go into remission and become “cured.” No-Gabriel Black is going to search for God where he is–prison.  With the problems, enemies, the frustrations that come along with being placed in prisoner for something you did not do wrong.

My original copy is hardback, which I prefer in this case, because if gives you the feeling you have sheets of paper in a hard file, which is the way the book is set up. Chapters are short, there is a brief introduction in the beginning to give you the setting and each chapter is a description of Gabriel’s description of why that topic is included in his God File.  There are duplicates along with some “choice language (I would not let anyone under 14 read this) and a conclusion that, well, is interesting. (I try not to provide spoilers so you can read!)

I highly recommend this book. It’s short–only 147 pages give or take a page for publishing.  You can read it in a two hour flight.  It’s definitely deep and good to have on a reader’s shelf.

different cover now, but click to check out on amazon!

Creation Interact

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Though I consider myself a very sociable person with the human side… I talk to my dogs a lot.  In fact, I have theological conversations if they are hanging around when I’m studying or I need an “audience” to practice a sermon.  Yes, I have asked both my dogs if they know Jesus. It gives me a nice laugh (especially their facial expression of “do you really have to ask me that…”)

So this got me thinking.  We as believers need to interact with God’s creation more.  Now I don’t necessarily mean talking to your dogs or fish or plants (even though there are tons of articles and philosophies about talking to plant life.) But I do mean going outside more, taking a moment to be thankful of the Creator that not only has created everything around but also given us as humans the responsibility to take care of it.  Sometimes I think as humans we take advantage of this.  We abuse our creation every day and sometimes don’t even take a second to acknowledge the blessings God has given use through His creation.

And that’s why I have dogs…that’s what my dogs remind me of.  They remind me of God.  They remind me to be thankful (they are rescues) and to be happy even for the smallest things of coming through the front door and being home among family.  To be happy about even the simplest food….and to enjoy EVERY toy!