len on January 15th, 2015

Rubem Alves, the Brazilian poet-philosopher, died this past year. In his memory Called Keefe-Perry writes in Theopoetics,

Alves had [a] vision for how it is that he could contribute:

“The origin of my liberation theology is an erotic exuberance for life. We need to struggle to restore its erotic exuberance, to share this with the whole world.” It was this exuberance – a genuine desire for all of creation to be whole – which eventually lead him away from theology to what he called theopoetics. His books and essays · most notably The Poet, The Warrior, The Prophet · are vital texts for those whose passions fall at the intersection of embodiment, imagination, theology, and the poetic. And it was that same exuberance that eventually pulled him toward public advocacy and the encouragement of critical thought and imagination in education.”

The use of the word “erotic” may seem out of place here, but if you have read James KA Smith and his worship liturgy series, then you have a richer sense of what Alves and other south hemisphere writers are aiming at. Some dance, though they have never heard the music. Some hear the music but have forgotten how to dance…

len on January 12th, 2015

“It’s all going to burn one day.”

And of course, if heaven is our final destination, then we might have justification for not caring for the creation. Environmental stewardship might then indeed be a waste of time and energy.

Although — the cost of ecological disaster is an ongoing and daily legacy, where people are impacted by all sorts of toxins that produce all kinds of suffering. But still —

what is the end of creation? Renewal? Or destruction?

“I challenged an adult Sunday School class I was teaching at Grace Missionary Church (my home church in Jamaica) to find even one passage in the New Testament that clearly said that Christians would live in heaven forever or that heaven was the final home of the righteous.

“I even offered a monetary reward if anyone could find such a text. I have been making this offer now for my entire adult life to church and campus ministry study groups and in many of the courses I have taught; I am happy to report that I still have all my money. No one has ever produced such a text, because there simply aren’t any in the Bible.”

J. Richard Middleton and others aim to help us move beyond our quick assumptions. His new book is titled as this post notes above. He blogs about why he wrote the book HERE.

len on December 25th, 2014

African artThis African art — I can’t recall the source – depicts Mary, Joseph and Jesus. Best wishes to you and your family, may you know God near to you, and may his peace fill your life this day and every day!

len on December 24th, 2014


len on December 23rd, 2014

I requested a review copy of the collection of essays edited by James McGrath from Wipf & Stock, and it arrived a few days ago. The chapter breakdown follows:

1 The Dark Dreamlife of Postmodern Theology (Janca-Aji)
2 Sorcerers and Supermen: Old Mythologies in New Guises (Robertson)
3 Star Trekking in China: Science Fiction as Theodicy (Lozada)
4 Science Playing God (Bright)
5 Looking Out for No. 1: Concepts of Good and Evil in Star Trek and The Prisoner
6 Robots, Rights and Religion (McGrath)
7 Angels, Ecthroi, and Celestial Music in the Adolescent Science-Fiction of Madeleine L’Engle
8 Unocvering Embedded theology in Science-Fiction Films: K-PAX Revealed (Blythe)

I read the first half of the book, more or less, the next day. McGrath writes the introduction.

The first chapter is outstanding. The books/films it exegetes are Delicatessen, The City of Lost Children, and Alien Resurrection. These are dark films to be sure, and the latter is the only one I have seen. The first two were the projects of French directors Jean Juenet and Marc Caro. The best sense I can give you of these two films is offered by Janca-Aji, “Although replete with biblical personas, themes, and narratives, their fractured and conflicted presentations disallow refuge in orthodox, or even coherent, theological narratives.” (9)

A fascinating discussion follows. On page 30 Janca-Aji focuses her analysis around the (apparently) anti-Christian concept of Gaia. Although many would see this as incompatible with faith, she quotes Stephen Scharper —

Gaia is significant because it fuses scientific insight and religious imagination in a potentially energizing and transformative way, challenging persons across a broad spectrum of disciplines to deal in an integrative fashion with the ecological crisis. Moreover, just as the Copernican revolution forced humanity to alter its self-proclaimed centrality within the universe, so may Gaia hold the potential for a similarly foundational cultural transition . . . As Lovelock himself comments, Gaia helps us to look at the world, not as a mechanistic Cartesian engine, but as an interrelated, vital, and cooperative enterprise in which interdependency rather than competition is the hallmark of life, revealing at the same time that the context in which human praxis is waged is also one of critical and unavoidable interconnectedness… Gaia forces us to expand our notion of context beyond social, economic, and political dimensions to include a critical planetary dimension. (30)

Wipf & Stock

len on December 22nd, 2014

DominionI’m still shopping for an agent for my first novel – DOMINION. 75,000 words, 225 pages. SYNOPSIS

Dr. Tom Woodward is the Director of NASA/AMES Research Center, and finds himself in the active nucleus of a scientific storm. When Tom Woodward meets Drs. Chris and Lisa Torrance at the University of Washington, he discovers that Chris has experienced an instantaneous ‘jump’ in space-time, combining a genetic anomaly with a rare catalyst in the pollen of an unusual flower from the mountains of northern Argentina.

Meanwhile, the genetic control mechanism is also connected to an incident at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, when a Russian technician ‘blinks out’ of the Universe for a moment, and the rip in the fabric of space-time is reflected instantly on the other side of the world at Brookhaven National Laboratory during an experiment with the National Synchrotron. The Russian FSB, carefully monitoring developments in Geneva, also take note of the incident, rumored to be the creation of a microscopic singularity.

In Los Angeles, a Japanese American scientist, Sakuma Shiratsu, who is involved with the BICEP2 cosmology experiments at the South Pole, has published a paper theorizing a human, genetic link to gravitational waves and the elusive ‘graviton’. Shiratsu suspects that a plasma collider might be adaptable to manipulating graviton particles, thus accessing the folds in space-time. His paper comes to the attention of Woodward through a Canadian scientist connected to the dark matter experiment (DEAP-3600) deep underground near Sudbury, Canada.

As the ‘black’ project gets underway, it is also militarized, and the team realize that any local singularity may connect to the supermassive black hole being explored by the Galactic Center Group, and thus act as a gateway to other systems and galaxies. With the burgeoning list of earth-like exoplanets growing out of the Kepler mission, the team capitalize on the 2015 discovery of a new planet in Alpha-Centauri, only 4.4 light years distant. Using the ESO’s VLT observatory in Chile, they confirm the likelihood of both continents and an atmosphere on the new planet, christened Nova Prime One. Together the team and the American military construct an FTL system underground at Brookhaven and plan a jump to Alpha Centauri, creating a new view of the Universe and our place in it.

I finished volume 1 about two months ago — and you can purchase it at CreateSpace. Or get the Kindle version at Amazon.

len on December 21st, 2014

“Clearly we have to inhabit the world of immediate bodily experience, the actual terrain in which we live, and where our engagement with the world takes place alongside our fellow human beings, and we need to inhabit it fully. Yet at the same time we need to rise above the landscape in which we move, so that we can see what one might call the territory. To understand the landscape we need both to go out into the felt, lived world of experience as far as possible, along what one might think of as the horizontal axis, but also to rise above it, on the vertical axis… One needs to bring what one has learned from one’s ascent back into the world where life is going on, and incorporate it in such a way that it enriches experience and enables more of whatever it is that ‘discloses itself’ to us (in Heidegger’s phrase) to do just that.”

McGilchrist, Iain. The Master and His Emissary (Kindle Locations 619-626). Yale University Press, 2014.

len on December 20th, 2014

“Into the Darkest Hour,” a poem by Madeleine L’Engle

It was a time like this,
War & tumult of war,
a horror in the air.
Hungry yawned the abyss —
and yet there came the star
and the child most wonderfully there.

It was time like this
of fear & lust for power,
license & greed and blight —
and yet the Prince of bliss
came into the darkest hour
in quiet & silent light.

And in a time like this
how celebrate his birth
when all things fall apart?
Ah! wonderful it is
with no room on the earth
the stable is our heart.

— from Winter Song, Christmas Readings by Madeleine L’Engle and Luci Shaw

len on December 18th, 2014

This African Christmas art represents a much older understanding of why God became human..

len on December 16th, 2014

An original Canadian Christmas carol — and from roughly 1643? Jean de Brebeuf penned the words while working among the Hurons in what would later become Ontario.

This version by the Elora Festival Singers is beautiful.

This version by Bruce Cockburn is more authentic but less appealing. When Betty and I were up around Penetanguishene last summer we saw the original artwork by Frances Tyrrell in the museum there – very beautiful work.

The words below represent the translation by Edgar Middleton made in 1926. The WIKI article details the history.

‘Twas in the moon of wintertime when all the birds had fled
That mighty Gitchi Manitou sent angel choirs instead;
Before their light the stars grew dim and wondering hunters heard the hymn,
Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born, in excelsis gloria.

Within a lodge of broken bark the tender babe was found;
A ragged robe of rabbit skin enwrapped his beauty round
But as the hunter braves drew nigh the angel song rang loud and high
Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born, in excelsis gloria.

The earliest moon of wintertime is not so round and fair
As was the ring of glory on the helpless infant there.
The chiefs from far before him knelt with gifts of fox and beaver pelt.
Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born, in excelsis gloria.

O children of the forest free, O seed of Manitou
The holy Child of earth and heaven is born today for you.
Come kneel before the radiant boy who brings you beauty peace and joy.
Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born, in excelsis gloria.

THIS version of the carol is sung in three languages, including what I think is Cree. I added the illustration panels from Frances Tyrell’s beautiful book and uploaded at 1280x720p.