Picks of the day – Sat 8 March

A first-hand look at a wedding negotiation/introduction in Western Uganda. (complete with photos)

Last year, one of our closest friends went through a similar ordeal. She had to threaten to elope if her family got too greedy. (She was happily married in November, and it all seems like a distant memory now – apart from the huge dowry debt I’m sure.) The people who suffer the most are those who want to honor both the church and their cultural traditions. At the core, this is a great African tradition rooted in helping the extended families bond. Unfortunately, like so much else in the world, it has become so sullied by sin and greed so as to be almost unrecognizable any more. A couple of families I know, who have have been Christians for several generations, seem to have redeemed these traditions and have made them much more pleasant experiences.

Follow the “wheels of hope” – healing and cleansing church tour(msfara)

Everything on the web in Feb about patristics – early church fathers

Does your church have a social justice pastor?

Tony Blair to lead a seminar on faith and globalization at Yale.

See below for quotations from:

  1. What makes a missional church?
  2. Joel Willits on Paul’s Issue with Peter
  3. Scatterings on Erich Zenger – A God of Violence?
  4. Cultural Perspective

New brain research is adding high-tech evidence to what lower-tech psychology experiments have found for years: Culture can affect not just language and custom, but how people experience the world at stunningly basic levels – what they see when they look at a city street, for example, or even how they perceive a simple line in a square.

Western culture, they have found, conditions people to think of themselves as highly independent entities. And when looking at scenes, Westerners tend to focus on central objects more than on their surroundings.

In contrast, East Asian cultures stress interdependence. When Easterners take in a scene, they tend to focus more on the context as well as the object: the whole block, say, rather than the BMW parked in the foreground.

To use a camera analogy, “the Americans are more zoom and the East Asians are more panoramic,” said Dr. Denise Park of the Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas in Dallas. “The Easterner probably sees more, and the Westerner probably sees less, but in more detail.” . . . .

What makes a missional church?

A 1998 book titled Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America was the first work to introduce the concept of a missional church. The multi-authored book grew out of the Gospel and Our Culture Network, a group of professors and pastors that sought to bring the World Council of Churches’ discussions of missio dei (“the mission of God”) and Lesslie Newbigin’s missionary insights to bear on North America. According to Missional Church, the American church had been tied to a “Christendom model” of Christianity, wherein the church focused on internal needs and maintaining its cultural privilege in society . . .

. . . With so many variant views, the term missional church now needs something like an FDA label: Warning: Contradictory and conflicting views of the church inside.

. . . So how can the missional church overcome its tendencies to domesticate an expansive, biblical vision? Missional Church suggests that Americans first need to look at how their various church traditions can inform a missional identity. . . We need to ask questions like: What does it mean to be missional and Anglican/Episcopalian? . . .Reformed? . . . Lutheran? . . . Mennonite?

Joel Willits on Paul’s Issue with Peter (a nice thorough and thoughtful post)

I wish to propose that the issue here is not what was eaten (traditional view), or how (the manner in which) it was eaten (Nanos’ view), but where it was eaten. The contextual marker for this is the verb “withdrew”:

E.P. Sanders voices this perspective on the situation in the Second Temple period:

Jewish food laws permitted them [Jews] to entertain Gentiles, but not to accept Gentile hospitality (unless the Gentiles could provide Jewish food and wine). The new result of this one-sided possibility would be very little entertaining of the one by the other. Social intercourse among equals involved reciprocity (1990:181; cf. Dunn 2002:209, emphasis added).

So the issue is appears to be not whether Jews ate with Gentiles, but where Jews ate with Gentiles—on Gentile terms on Gentile turf or on Jewish terms on Jewish turf?

Scatterings on Erich Zenger – A God of Violence?

Erich Zenger, in A God of Violence? Understanding the Psalms of Divine Wrath (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1994) argues that imprecatory psalms–psalms which call for judgment on one’s enemies–deserve full status in Christian prayer and worship. Many Christians question this because of the colorful imagery used in these texts and the NT’s command to love one’s enemies. Zenger convincingly argues, however, that the full witness of the OT also includes commands to love one’s enemies (Leviticus 19), the hope that all nations will one day be included in the worship of Yahweh (Pss 96-99), but that the full realization of the kingdom of God will involve judgment on some humans in some spheres of existence.

[There’s an interesting story at the end.]

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