For a number of years I have been setting goals of various sorts at the beginning of the year, things to guide me in my year. Many of them I never get done, but others I do, or at least I get farther than I would have otherwise. This year, my theological reading goal was to read a substantial portion of N.T. Wright's The Resurrection of the Son of God by Easter. I had been told by a good friend that it was probably the best book available on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And, in fact, it has been excellent - there are certainly things to disagree with along the way, but the book has painted a beautiful picture within historical and literary contexts of the ideas of resurrection in the ancient world. Here I'd like to share some extracts, any emphasis is added by me.
Spread the Word
...observations and ramblings from a learner and traveler...
02 February 2017
01 February 2017
This week I got to return to one of my favorite views of Istanbul. There are probably 5 places that I think are best to see the city from, considering both the city's beauty and its vastness. Galata Tower is relatively famous for this, but I think it's terrible - not the view, the expense to get the view, the crowdedness, and the overall experience. The place that we went to instead is a nearly perfect substitute - 360Istanbul. The view is superb in many directions; and the price... well, it's expensive, but only if we are talking about the drinks. A pot of tea today cost us less than a single adult ticket to Galata tower (19tl to 20tl).
|St. Anthony's Cathedral, Beyoğlu (center); Sultanahmet with Hagia Sofia (distant right); Asia (distant left)|
By the way, my other favorite panoramas of the city include the following: The Seven Towers (Yedikulesi - previous post), the Princess Islands (previous posts 1, 2, and 3), the restaurant on top of the Bosphorus Swissotel (where I asked my wife to marry me), and the ferries (many people's favorite part of a visit to Istanbul).
30 January 2017
31 December 2016
The recommendations I can make based on my reading this year may be even more eclectic than usual this year.
The Courage to Teach (Parker Palmer) - This work has been very helpful as I continue to learn my vocation in the practical ways of the classroom. I'd happily recommend it to anyone who spends time teaching intentionally. I posted thoughts from it here earlier this year.
The History of Christian Doctrines (Louis Berkhof) - The notable insight from reading this book was the tremendous unlikelihood that a group of 8-9 guys could create a set of coherent theological documents like the New Testament in the relatively short space of about 60 years, unless under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It took Christian theologians after the NT era a couple hundred years to begin really formulating systematic theology from the NT instead of mostly repeating its language. In other words, a bunch of guys working relatively independently are highly unlikely to come up with a coherent Christological interpretation of the Old Testament by themselves.
Till We Have Faces - C. S. Lewis - This book is the insightful retelling of an ancient myth, detailing the struggles of rationalism, mysticism and faith. It deals with themes like shame and guilt and grace. A thought-stirrer that is classic Lewis.
The Hornblower Saga (C. S. Forester) - These were a re-read, but this saga has fascinated since I first read it in high school. It is a wonderful way to explore the world of the Napoleonic Wars. It's perspective is very British, but it's scope is global.
A Child's Garden of Verses (Robert Louis Stevenson) - I re-discovered this classic with my daughters this year. Stevenson's descriptions were classics for them, as they were for my childhood.
I read several a good bit of new science fiction or fantasy this year. The Silmarillion was neither as difficult to follow nor as dry as some have said. It was fascinating to get a deeper insight into how Tolkien built a world that both reflected his own worldview and yet did not require his readers to share that view in order to enjoy and benefit from this masterpiece. I also read the entirety of the Magic Kingdom for Sale series this year; this is a fun, yet relatively simple, world of classical fantasy creatures. The Secrets of Sagalon and The Magic of Recluse were also interesting. (The former was written by a friend and fellow ESL teacher.)
Halil - The Peddlar of Old Stambul is the relatively true story of the peddler who overthrew a sultan. It was a reminder that historical fiction used to be more history than fiction. Also, because Hungarian author Mor Jokai's works are often free on Kindle, I have a number of them, and they are definitely interesting.
Calico Joe spoke to my love of baseball. The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson (Mark Twain) was enjoyable, and its end note spoke to the difficulty of writing, even for a 'great' writer.
Top song of the year: "The Dark Before the Dawn" by Andrew Peterson - And it wasn't even close! (my blog post here)
Recommendations from years past: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011
22 December 2016
12 December 2016
As I watched a homeschool group share the Christmas story through arts and music tonight, I was pondering the incredible fact that the Gospel of Matthew emphasizes the universal claims of the Messiah-ship of Jesus.
|This is a pictorial genealogy. As far as I can tell, the women are only shown in the top left corner. (link)|
21 November 2016
|Chapel at the cemetery|
This peaceful setting would be well worth a visit on a trip to Istanbul as it is very different from other things one might see here. Here is a quiet place where you can see tidbits of history referencing naval and military history, plague disasters and life-long residencies, religious and educational works, and, really, glimpses of the history of this metropolis. The marking stones range from the 1600s all the way to the present.
|Gravestones of Elias Riggs' family; the one on the far left was the first grave in the cemetery|
23 October 2016
I teach English to a bunch of Translation Studies students, and I am constantly alert for 'authentic material' for them to read or listen to. So, when I came across Martin Luther's Open Letter on Translating, I decided to see if it had anything of use. It really didn't, for my context. However, amid his excellent case for meaning-in-context-based translation instead of a word-by-word translation, he explained why he had translated a phrase in Galatians in a particular way instead of a 'less offensive' way. These comments followed, expressing clearly the distinction between Luther's theology and the Roman church's which he opposed:
15 September 2016
Our family has a friend who brings the kids books when he visits. He visits regularly and particularly brings books that help us educate the girls. The girls particularly love the Usbourne Flap books - we've been through large swaths of history using these books, and they make history memorable. Today, I was reading "See Inside The Second World War" to my oldest; she was impacted and I was impacted. I've read a lot about WWII over the years and heard a couple first-hand accounts, but reading through it summarized in a this way made an impression.
Of course, she wanted to know about the 'good guys' and the 'bad guys,' and there were plenty of bad guys. Even she could understand the horror of people groups, cultures, and entire cities being wiped out, of people inventing so many ways to kill each other faster. It got overwhelming, so we quit for today. For her, things sank in when I told her that her great-great-uncle had been killed in WWII in an airplane; for me, the horror sank in as I calculated that the 60 million deaths that were cited were as if someone died from war every 3 seconds, for the six years of the war. For the equivalent of my daughter's life, every 3 seconds someone dying because of the hatred and greed and fear and ambition of humanity. When we finish reading the book, maybe we'll talk about some good guys - she had a great-grandfather who fought and quietly carried the scars for life, as well as another great-great-uncle who helped open the concentration camps.
History is impacting, even for kids; these books are a great way to share the history of humanity good and bad.
12 September 2016
Regarding Israel's worship, during the Old Testament period: