Spread the Word

...observations and ramblings from a learner and traveler...

11 August 2016

Patriotism vs. Nationalism: America & the Olympics

 So, as I said before, I'm watching the Olympics.  Plus, I love America (and other peoples).

  I also love reading the stories of great athletes who either have overcome great difficulty to be at the Olympics or who have achieved greatly. A couple stories stood out to me in this cycle, and I'd strongly encourage you to read them, and then I'd encourage you to listen deeply to the meaning of those stories, especially if you are American!

 Listen to the stories of Ibtihaj Muhammad and Yoshihiro Uchida. At first glance, you may here the story of the American dream succeeding - America, Land of Opportunity! But, if you listen a little longer, you will hear a different story: you will hear a story of success through hardship, often unnecessary hardship driven by prejudice or difference. Yes, these are people who succeeded against great odds, but this is also a story of a country that has still not lived up to its own ideals of being a welcoming land of opportunity to all. Fascinatingly, both of these stories are stories of patriots, people who have lived through dark sides of America, people who know that America has not reached her ideal, but who have not abandoned that ideal in their own lives. May we learn to be better humans and better Americans, through their lives.

May she be a  great bridge, not a blip!

96 years old, still mentoring!

Henry Van Dyke summarized my personal view of a proper patriotism in a line from his poem, "America for Me":

We love our land for what she is and what she is to be.

This is a view that does not deny the broken places but does not deny the good places either. May we be honest patriots and not blind nationalists! May we pursue both justice and peace, truth and grace!

TCK Olympics

 I am a TCK; for those of you who might not know what that means, it means that I spent a significant part of my formative childhood years in a country (Suriname) other than my passport country (the USA). However, TCK stands for Third-Culture-Kid... in other words, kids like me grow up odd: we don't quite fit either country or culture, but are a mix of both. There's all sorts of stuff that I 'should know' from high school, as an American, that I simply missed. Anyways, all that's important because otherwise it becomes odd to say, 'I love America' in the next, related post.  I, also, love Suriname, as well as my country of adoption, Turkey. They have taught me much that I'd never have known if I'd only been American.

 I'm watching the Olympics, for example, and my past gives me a variety of countries to root for; and mostly their areas of competition don't overlap too much, so I can root for all my countries. While I love watching Americans win medals (especially swimming), probably my favorite experience in the Olympics is watching someone earn a gold medal for the first time ever for their country! Most of my life in Suriname was lived with the banknote below as part of the national currency.  Who's that? ANTHONY NESTY: first ever Surinamese Olympic medalist and, four years later, first ever gold medalist! Hero!

This year, at least four countries have won their first medal, and I got to watch Hoang Xuan Vinh win a gold medal as the first medalist for Vietnam! Great experience! What could be more fun to watch than this?

Is it any wonder he's emotional?

23 July 2016

The Honor Competition

  Have you ever considered this command? 'Outdo one another in showing honor.' (10) It is one of a series of commands in Romans 12; and a bit later in the chapter comes this, 'Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.' (17) And, in the next chapter, concerning the governing authorities, it is written that Christ's followers are to give 'honor to whom honor is owed.' (13:7) Finally, Romans 16:1-2 gives the receivers of this letter of Paul's to put this into practice: 'welcome [Phoebe] in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints.'

  How can we put this command into action in our own lives? How do we excel in honoring those around us? This is Gospel inversion, competition turned on its head: compete to make someone else the honored one; try to be the best at putting everyone else's advancement ahead of your own.

(cf: 2 Cor 8:21; Ps 15:4)
An example of giving a teammate honor:

Or, another example that I couldn't embed.

20 July 2016

Trouble: the source of literature and song

Why and when are the beauties of culture and land preserved in writing  and legend?

"But of bliss and glad life there is little to be said, before it ends; as works fair and wonderful, while they endure for eyes to see, are their own record, and only when they are in peril or broken for ever do they pass into song."

- The Silmarillion, "Of the Sindar." Tolkien

27 June 2016

The Courage to Teach

  Parker Palmer's The Courage to Teach has been a very insightful and strengthening book as I have been reading it, seeking to learn more about teaching. If we imagine teaching as both a science and an art, the author speaks more to the art side, the heart side. Certainly there are other perspectives that might balance his, but what he presents is quite beautiful.

  So much of what Palmer says rings true to the greater human experience, not simply to the vocation of teaching. He speaks of what it means to have a vocation, what it means to change, and what it means to interact deeply with those who see or have experienced the world in ways different from how you have. I hope these extracts interest you in his book.

... Frederick Buechner offers a more generous and humane image of vocation as “the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” In a culture that sometimes equates work with suffering, it is revolutionary to suggest that the best inward sign of vocation is deep gladness— revolutionary but true. If a work is mine to do, it will make me glad over the long haul, despite the difficult days. Even the difficult days will ultimately gladden me, because they pose the kinds of problems that can help me grow in a work if it is truly mine.

In classical understanding, education is the attempt to “lead out” from within the self a core of wisdom that has the power to resist falsehood and live in the light of truth, not by external norms but by reasoned and reflective self-determination. The inward teacher is the living core of our lives that is addressed and evoked by any education worthy of the name.

...the self is not a scrap of turf to be defended but a capacity to be enlarged.

Otherness, taken seriously, always invites transformation, calling us not only to new facts and theories and values but also to new ways of living our lives— and that is the most daunting threat of all.

(Palmer, Parker J. . The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher's Life (p. 31, 32, 39). Emphases mine.

01 June 2016

what is 'a progress'? or, 'a royal progress'?

  As I read a chapter in a book this evening in preparation for a class I am to teach tomorrow, I came across the idea that Queen Elizabeth I would make a 'progress' from time to time.  The first time I read this, I glanced at the explanation in parentheses which commented '(entry).' But as I kept reading it became clear that 'a progress' was something more than that - it was, in fact, some sort of official trip apparently.  Indeed, once I started looking, Merriam-Webster provided the clarity I needed.  It says that a progress can be both a royal and a non-royal journey.

  With a nudge from the book, I made the connection to Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress and thus made sense of a title that has never made a ton of sense to me. (When I checked to see if my wife knew this tidbit, she promptly guessed it; maybe that's why I am sharing it here.) :) 

15 May 2016

Honor and Shame in Anselm

  In long-distant conversation with a cousin, I have been making my way through Louis Berkhof's The History of Christian Doctrines this year. It's not that long actually, but we (or, at least, I) have not been in a hurry. Today, I came across this passage regarding Anselm's understanding of the doctrine of atonement. In line with my study of the Bible on the topic of honor and shame over the last several years, I found it quite interesting that Anselm "finds the ultimate ground for [the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ] in the honour of God." (Berkhof, 174-175) Berkhof then summarizes Anselm's position very helpful as follows.

As a creature of God man was under obligation to subject his will absolutely and entirely to the divine will, and when he refused this in a spirit of revolution, he dishonoured God and thus contracted a debt. God was robbed of His honour and this must be restored in some way. His mercy could not simply overlook sin, for this would be an irregularity and an injustice. There were two and only two ways in which the divine honour could be vindicated, namely by punishment or by satisfaction. God did not pursue the way of punishment, since this would have spelled ruin for the human race and would have defeated His very purpose. He chose the way of satisfaction, which included two things: (a) that man should now render to God the willing obedience which he owed Him; and (b) that he should make amends for the insult to God’s honour by paying something over and above the actual debt. But since even the smallest sin, as committed against an infinite God, outweighs the whole world and all that is not God, and the amends must be proportionate, it follows that these are beyond the power of man. A gift - and Anselm looks upon satisfaction as a gift rather than as a punishment - surpassing all that is not God can only be God. God only could make true reparation, and His mercy prompted Him to make it through the gift of His Son. It was not sufficient that the one rendering satisfaction should be God; He had to be man as well, one of the human race that contracted the debt of sin, but a man without sin, who was not himself burdened with debt. Only the God-man could satisfy these requirements and thus do justice to the honour of God.

It was necessary for the God-man to render the obedience which man failed to render to God. But this was not sufficient to maintain the honour of God, for in doing this He did nothing more than His duty as man, and this could not constitute merit on His part. However, as a sinless being He was not under obligation to suffer and die. This was entirely voluntary on His part, and by submitting to bitter sufferings and a shameful death in the faithful discharge of His duty to His Father, He brought infinite glory to God. This was a work of supererogation, which could accrue to the benefit of mankind, and which more than counter-balanced the demerits of sin. Justice required that such a free gift should be rewarded. But there is nothing which the Father can give the Son, for He needs nothing. Therefore the reward accrues to the benefit of man and assumes the form of the forgiveness of sins and of future blessedness for all those who live according to the commandments of the Gospel. 

  Berkhof also presents several areas where Anselm's formulation is insufficient or incomplete, logically or theologically.

14 April 2016

re: the dark before dawn

  Saying 'It's always darkest before the dawn' makes nearly as much sense as saying, 'You always find something the last place you look for it.' Of course you do... you don't keep looking after you find it, and if it got even darker, then it wouldn't be getting lighter, aka dawning!

  Alternately, despair.com has a different approach to this...

  However, this brings to mind one of my most recent favorites, Andrew Peterson's "The Burning Edge of Dawn."

I've been waiting for the sun
To come blazing up out of the night like a bullet from a gun
Till every shadow is scattered, every dragon's on the run
Oh, I believe, I believe that the light is gonna come
And this is the dark, this is the dark before the dawn...

This is the storm, this is the storm
The storm before the calm
This is the pain, the pain before the balm
This is the cold, the cold
It's the cold before the warm
These are the tears, the tears before the song
This is the dark
Sometimes all I see is this darkness
Well, can't you feel the darkness
This is the dark before the dawn.

30 March 2016

The Psalms are messianic

A logical extension of the belief that all the Scriptures point towards the Christ is that each of the Psalms is Messianic, not just some of them.  Still it is remarkable the number of Psalms which are directly related to Christ in the New Testament.

 As far as I have been able to find, there are at least 20 of the 150 Psalms that are directly referenced in the New Testament as being related to Jesus Christ. There are several other likely or possible Messianic references as seen in the chart below.

Psalm Verses References Verses References Verses References Verses

1-2 Acts 4:25; (Rev 19:19) (6) (Rev 14:1) 7 Acts 13:33; Heb 1:5; 5:5 9 Rev 19:15; (2:27)
2 Mt 21:16 4 - 6 Heb 2:6-8; 1 Cor 15:27

8-11 Acts 2:25-28, 31; 13:35

(2) (Heb 2:13b)

1 Mt 27:46; Mk 15:34 18 Mt 27:35; Jn 19:24 22 Heb 2:12

5 Lk 23:46

20 Jn 19:36; (Ex 12:46)

11 Mt 26:60 (allusion)

6-8 Heb 10:5-9

9 Jn 13:18 10 MESSIANIC?

6-7 Heb 1:8-9

18 Eph 4:8

4 Jn 15:25 9 Jn 2:17; Rom 15:3 21 Acts 1:20 25 Acts 1:20
2 Mt 13:35

(6) (Jn 10:34)

3-4, 35-36 Acts 2:29-30

11 - 12 Mt 4:6; Lk 4:11-12

(13) (Rev 19:11)

(7) (Heb 1:6)

25-27 Heb 1:10-12

3 Jn 15:25 8, 17 Acts 1:20; Jn 17:20

1 Mt 22:42; Mk 12:36; Lk 20:42, 43; Acts 2:34-35; Heb 1:13 4 Heb 5:6, 10; 7:17, 21 (5-6) (Rev 6:15-17)

22-23 Mt 21:42; Mk 12:10-11; Lk 20:17; Acts 4:11; 1 Pet 2:7 25-26 Mt 21:9; Mk 11:9; Lk 13:35; 19:38; Jn 12:13

11 Acts 2:29-30

A beautiful depiction of the interlocking nature of the Bible's text is available here.

The chart above as an image:

Kindly message me if you see any errors in the chart!
Related post: on the use of the OT