Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Noting the Additions and Replacements in the New Second Edition of the Blackwell Companion to Christian Ethics

I was both excited and dismayed to notice at AAR that a second edition of The Blackwell Companion to Christian Ethics (edited by Stanley Hauerwas and Samuel Wells) has been published. (Excitement at potential new or edited material; dismay because I already shelled out money for the first one!) This may be old news to some, but I had no idea, so I was especially surprised when I realized not only that new chapters have been added, but also that some have been removed and replaced by new versions by different authors. Since I haven't seen this sort of comparison anywhere else, I thought I would make note of it if anyone else is interested.

Excised chapters from the first edition

Part V: Re-Enacting the Story
27. Breaking Bread: Peace and War (Gerald W. Schlabach)
28. Receiving Communion: Euthanasia, Suicide, and Letting Die (Carol Bailey Stoneking)
32. Being Thankful: Parenting the Mentally Disabled (Hans S. Reinders)
New chapters in the second edition (whether in addition or replacement)

Part II: Meeting God and One Another
11. Praise: The Prophetic Public Presence of the Mentally Disabled (Brian Brock)
Part IV: Being Embodied
20. Interceding: Standing, Kneeling, and Gender (Lauren F. Winner)
21. Being Baptized: Race (Willie Jennings)
25. Sharing Peace: Class, Hierarchy, and Christian Social Order (Luke Bretherton)
Part V: Re-Enacting the Story
31. Breaking Bread: Peace and War (Stanley Hauerwas and Samuel Wells)
32. Receiving Communion: Euthanasia, Suicide, and Letting Die (Kathryn Greene-McCreight)
Part VI: Being Commissioned
40. The Virtue of the Liturgy (Jennifer Herdt)
The additions all look wonderful, of course. The only question is why the three excised chapters were replaced by newly written ones by different authors. Assuming the best (i.e., not weird academic politics, but rather reasons of mutual agreement or subpar quality or lack of fittingness or whatever), at the very least it should make for useful and interesting comparison.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday Sabbath Poetry: John Mason Neale (Advent #1)

On this the first Sunday of Advent -- worshiping, as we are, for the first time with a strongly liturgical church -- my wife and I . . . slept in. After criss-crossing the last 10 days from New Haven to San Francisco, then on to Texas and Mississippi for Thanksgiving before returning late last night to Connecticut, our bodies were exhausted enough, and our internal clocks disordered enough, that we missed the alarm. Oh well.

In any event, it's still time to celebrate. Each Advent season I usually try to share a hymn or a poem that is thematically fitting, and so I thought I would begin this year's with one everybody knows and sings. Blessings in this (all too often) hectic but happy time of the year.

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O Come O Come Emmanuel

Translated from the Latin by John Mason Neale

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai's height,
In ancient times did'st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

It's Business Time: AAR/SBL Thread

This is the weekend when hundreds upon hundreds of contentious (not to say sententious) scholars of religion, theology, and the Bible descend upon some unsuspecting city's hotel district with all the force of a shy, swag-dangling hurricane. I'll be there (neither interviewing for a job nor glad-handing for PhD admissions: that happy golden mean of doctoral studies), so I thought I'd let this be an open thread for anybody who'll be there or presenting.

Either way, see you there! San Francisco's not a bad place to spend a few days in mid-November.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sunday Sabbath Poetry: Alena Synková

A friend of ours performed with the Chamber Chorus of the Yale Camerata this afternoon, and the very last piece was an adaptation of a deeply powerful poem. Written by a 14-year old deported from Prague to Terezin in 1942 -- she survived and eventually returned home -- its simple, affecting words take on added resonance given the young girl's experiences.

What hopefulness against what surely seemed so hopeless. May it bless you as it did me.

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Before Too Long

By Alena Synková

I'd like to go away alone
Where there are other, nicer people,
Somewhere into the far unknown,
There, where no one kills another.

Maybe more of us,
A thousand strong,
Will reach this goal
Before too long.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Coining a Neologism: Pneumaterialism

A couple nights ago a colleague asked a question concerning "the new materialism," but I misheard him and thought he said "pneumaterialism." By happy accident, however, isn't this a wonderful theological term? I recall Nicholas Lash talking somewhere -- much more eloquently, of course -- about "Spirit" not being opposed to "matter," but rather death. For Spirit is in fact the life of all matter, the animating force, principle, energy, Person behind and beneath and within all that lives, all creaturely material existence everywhere at all times.

In this sense, then, we might say that "pneumaterialism" names the theological conviction and rule that pneuma contrasts not with matter, but death. In fact, matter that is not pneumatized is no matter at all, for it has no life, no connection to the living God who is Spirit.

The term could also serve to remind us that the rule goes both ways: materiality is not bad, is not "merely" itself but as it were wistfully disconsolate about not being the "better" stuff, namely insubstantial, immutable, incorruptible spirit. The cosmos as God's creature is matter all the way down, and just so good. At exactly the same time, it is not independent of the Creator, divorced from God because not God, but rather (in Hopkins' words) is "charged with the grandeur" of the Spirit's enlivening power.

In short: it is -- because all that is, is -- pneumatic matter.

And now we'll never forget, thanks to the brilliant shorthand: pneumaterialism.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday Sabbath Poetry: Ben Knox Miller

The Low Anthem has been one of the more pleasant musical surprises of the last few years, a band gentle or abrasive depending on the song, but always thoughtful in its lyrics and themes. The following is the first track off their 2008 album Oh My God, Charlie Darwin, which you can listen to here and (thus) follow along if you like. As it happens, I wrote about OMGCD as one of my favorite albums of the year back in 2009:
The album as a whole is equal to its beginning, an energetic mix of acoustic harmonies and electric hooks. But the lyrics are the biggest draw, evocatively interlocking -- as the album's title suggests -- God and world in an intimate dance. Consistent water imagery overlays the music with the sense of a threatened narrative, a worldview under siege, waters rising but somehow stayed. Time and life "float above the storm," and "them ghosts who write history books" look back at the chaos and pen the songs that tell the story of a world that keeps marching along. The Low Anthem's music and words themselves become the means through which that chaos comes to order.
Sounds like some legit music criticism to me. And yes, I did just quote myself from a previous blog post. My blogging credentials are now complete.

(Note: The song may be co-written by fellow T.L.A. co-founder Jeff Prystowsky. I don't think it is, but just in case: now you know.)

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Charlie Darwin

Ben Knox Miller (of The Low Anthem)

Set the sails: I feel the winds a-stirring
Towards the bright horizon, set the way
Cast your reckless dreams upon our Mayflower
A haven from the world and her decay

Who could heed the words of Charlie Darwin?
Fighting for a system built to fail
Spooning water from the broken vessels
As far as I can see there is no land

Oh my God, the water’s all around us
Oh my God -- it’s all around

Who could heed the words of Charlie Darwin?
Lords of war just profit from decay
And trade their children’s promise for the jingle
The way we trade our hard-earned time for pay

Oh my God, the water’s cold and shapeless
Oh my God -- it’s all around

Oh my God, life is cold and formless
Oh my God -- it’s all around

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Who Forgot to Tell Me That Jenson Has a New Book Out?

Ben Myers, that's who. Or maybe the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau. (Is there some kind of online Jenson fan club we can bookmark for all new RWJ news?) In any case, it's called Lutheran Slogans: Use and Abuse, apparently in the same style (and by the same publisher) as his A Large Catechism from 1991. Looking forward to a quick and provocative and no doubt wry read.

(While you're at it -- "it" being following links from here, where no actual content to read can be found -- go check out this piece about Jürgen Moltmann visiting Candler School of Theology in Atlanta and, in the process, speaking at the graduation ceremony for the women's prison seminary program there.)

(P.S. My stylistic preference for blog post titles with every word capitalized, like the title of a chapter, article, or book, comes out oddly in a post like this one, doesn't it? In my liberal gobs of free time, I'll have to give that some serious thought.)