Friday, October 19, 2012

Where Has Jesus First and OnWord Gone?

After the synodical elections back in 2009, Jesus First, which is the political action group of the middle to left of Synod, went dormant in 2010.  Nothing more was posted.  In its wake a new organization arose called OnWord, with a decidedly more 'missional' emphasis.  However, after a burst of posts little was added.  Now both sites are out of view.  OnWord claims that the site is "currently undergoing a complete revision."  When bringing up the Jesus First site you encounter the message: "The website you are trying to reach is temporarily unavailable."  The address indicates that it is a "suspended page."  So, like the charismatics of a previous time (RIM - "Renewal in Missouri"), is this political machine going to now disappear as well?  Or is OnWord its next incarnation and it will effectively replace the former site?  Stay tuned....

Thursday, October 18, 2012

On Open Discussions and Alternate Interpretations in Synod

A new issue of the online Daystar Journal is now available.  Nothing new had been published since the Spring, so I was interested to see what was written. Three articles are offered with a common theme detected from at least two of them.  Once more a call arises for more open discussion and study of previously controversial and contentious issues, not least among them being the ordination of women.  In the past I have been resistive to seeing the Synod treat WO as an 'open topic.'  In many ways I still am.  The Daystar folks would undoubtedly label my reaction as one of fear: fear of change.  Perhaps.  Or might we substitute the word cautious for fear?  I take my cue from the beginning of Holy Scripture, remembering the devil's ancient method contained in the seemingly simple question: "Did God actually say...?"  Questioning, of course, is part of the learning process.  However, in our culture today the idea that there are any absolutes has been substituted for a philosophy of relativism.  Thus, questioning does not end with a definite answer, but more questions.  It seems that this is what continues to plague us in the Synod.  At what point are we allowed to rest on truth and accept it as is?  Or is the understanding of truth always subject to more inquiries?  Or do we ask questions only for the answers we wish to have?  Or do we let the world outside the church set the pace for these questions?  I think that all of this needs to be examined before we once again work to dismantle what we confess.  If one takes a careful look at the Synod today you will not have to go far to see where this questioning is going.  Take a very public sight on Facebook called "OWN: Ordain Women Now."  This is not a call for discussion.  If so one would employ the subjunctive.  Instead we are given an imperative.  So we know where the questions are intended to lead.  Others have studied the issue and they ordained women.  So what's holding us back?  Stop the studying and just do it!  Of course the approach could be said to be the same on the other side of the aisle as well.  My point, however, is that those calling for more open discussion appear to already have made up their minds.  So, are we willing to really discuss this?  I wonder.....

Monday, October 8, 2012

On Finding Used Books for Ones Theological Library

Occasionally I'll break down and buy a new book for my professional library, usually at conferences.  However, it's fun to find good books more cheaply in other places.  It may seem an odd venue to find theological/biblical works, but one of my favorite 'haunts' is Good Will. For our community, at least, it's the best source of good used books. Recently I added another pile to my collection, picking up several more reference works and other religious books.  All of the books were half-off, so it was all the better. Finds this time around included The Catechism of the Council of Trent, a reprint by Tan publishers in 1982, but in seemingly new condition.  I also picked up the Biographical Dictionary of Christian Theologians, edited by Patrick W. Carey and Joseph T. Lienhard.(Hendrickson, 2000, 2002).  Both of these are paperbacks and cost me $2.50 a piece.  I took a chance on another book, authored by the Catholic author Aiden Nicholas in 2005 and published by Ignatius press in 2007.  This one was $2.00.  The title is Lovely Like Jerusalem: The Fulfillment of the Old Testament in Christ and the Church.  So far, a $7.00 investment.  The Catechism is listed on for as much as $39+ for the hardcover edition.  AbeBooks has one for $35, so I guess my find was 'a steal.'  The Biographical Dictionary lists on Amazon for $11.99 for the paperback, still a great deal since my copy is clearly 'as new.'  Lovely Like Jerusalem is listed for as much as $13.22 and as low, for a used copy of $7.65.  Using a conservative comparison, it looks like I was able to purchase about $50 worth of books for $7.  Way to go, Good Will!

Other finds also included a few general reference works good for Bible studies and other general classes: Machines, Buildings, Weaponry of Biblical Times: A Fascinating Reference of Biblical Engineering and Design by Max Schwartz (Flemming H. Revell, 1990, 1997) - as new ($2.50); Guide to Bible Data by Andrew E. Hill (Word Publishing, 1981) - as new ($2.50); Atlas of the Christian Church, edited by Henry Chadwick and G.R.Evans (Equinox/Oxford, 1987) - hardbound, good condition ($2.50); 111 Questions on Islam by Smir Khalil Samir, et. al. (Ignatius, 2002, 2008) - as new ($2.50); and the Handbook of World Religions by Len Woods (Barbour, 2008) - as new paperback ($2.50).  If I wished to check, I'm sure these books are also worth much more than I paid for them.  And almost all of them seem new and unused.

As my wife will attest, I am 'swimming' in books having now amassed a respectable library of some size. Yet many of them were acquired quite reasonably.  Perhaps the best find to date was when my wife picked up the entire set of Kittel's Theological Dictionary of the New Testament for less than $10 at a local rummage sale.   Discovering books is a hobby, and the main downside is space.  I keep telling myself that I can't buy any more until I get rid of some, but this discipline is still to be found. 

Have you found some amazing deals of your own?  I'd love to hear the stories!