Monday, October 29, 2012

Predictions for the 2012-2013 NBA Season

Tomorrow is the first day of the NBA season, and as I do each year (see: 2009-2010; 2010-2011; 2011-2012), I offer my predictions below for the season: each team's win-loss record, which teams make the playoffs, and who wins it all. My picks this year are as boring as the season is likely to be exciting: namely, not a lot of surprises in terms of top and bottom, but a quality of play as high as anything we've seen in the league's history. I do think the Lakers' depth and chemistry are a problem, even if they are Finals-bound, and the Thunder doubtless made a mistake in trading away Harden for some unknown future (and to satisfy their own cheapness). As for the East, it's the Heat's conference (and year) to lose. Most important, the Spurs are never out of the hunt.

Now let's play some basketball.

- - - - - - -

Western Conference
1. Oklahoma City Thunder (60-22)
2. Los Angeles Lakers (57-25)
3. Denver Nuggets (56-26)
4. San Antonio Spurs (54-28)
5. Los Angeles Clippers  (51-31)
6. Utah Jazz (50-32)
7. Memphis Grizzlies (48-34)
8. Dallas Mavericks (45-37)

9. Minnesota Timberwolves (42-40)
10. New Orleans Hornets (38-44)
11. Portland Trailblazers (35-47)
12. Houston Rockets (33-49)
13. Golden State Warriors (29-53)
14. Sacramento Kings (23-59)
15. Phoenix Suns (18-64)

Eastern Conference
1. Miami Heat (66-16)
2. Boston Celtics (56-26)
3. Chicago Bulls (52-30)
4. New York Knicks (51-31)
5. Indiana Pacers (50-32)
6. Atlanta Hawks (49-33)
7. Brooklyn Nets (47-35)
8. Philadelphia 76ers (45-37)

9. Detroit Pistons (42-40)
10. Cleveland Cavaliers (37-45)
11. Washington Wizards (30-52)
12. Milwaukee Bucks (22-60)
13. Toronto Raptors (19-63)
14. Orlando Magic (15-67)
15. Charlotte Bobcats (10-72)

Western Conference First Round
Oklahoma City Thunder (1) over Dallas Mavericks (8) in 5 games
Los Angeles Lakers (2) over Memphis Grizzlies (7) in 6 games
Denver Nuggets (3) over Utah Jazz (6) in 6 games
San Antonio Spurs (4) over Los Angeles Clippers (5) in 5 games

Eastern Conference First Round
Miami Heat (1) over Philadelphia 76ers (8) in 4 games
Boston Celtics (2) over Brooklyn Nets (7) in 6 games 
Atlanta Hawks (6) over Chicago Bulls (3) in 7 games
Indiana Pacers (5) over New York Knicks (4) in 6 games

Western Conference Semifinals 
San Antonio Spurs (4) over Oklahoma City Thunder (1) in 7 games
Los Angeles Lakers (2) over Denver Nuggets (3) in 6 games

Eastern Conference Semifinals
Miami Heat (1) over Indiana Pacers (5) in 5 games
Boston Celtics (2) over Atlanta Hawks (6) in 6 games

Western Conference FinalsLos Angeles Lakers (2) over San Antonio Spurs (4) in 6 games

Eastern Conference Finals
Miami Heat (1) over Boston Celtics (2) in 7 games

NBA Finals
Miami Heat (1) over Los Angeles Lakers (2) in 7 games

Friday, October 19, 2012

Athanasius on Christians' Turning Away From War as Proof of Christ's Divinity

"Who, then, is it that has done this, or who is he that has united in peace those who hated each other, if not the beloved Son of the Father, the common Savior of all, Jesus Christ, who in his love submitted to all things for our salvation? For even from of old it had been prophesied concerning the peace ushered in by him, the scriptures saying, 'They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into sickles, and nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn any more to wage war' (Isaiah 2:4). And such a thing is not unbelievable, inasmuch as even now the barbarians who have an innate savagery of manners, while they still sacrifice to their idols, rage against one another and cannot bear to remain without a sword for a single hour, but when they hear the teaching of Christ they immediately turn to farming instead of war, and instead of arming their hands with swords stretch them out in prayer, and, in a word, instead of fighting amongst themselves, henceforth they arm themselves against the devil and the demons, subduing them with sobriety and virtue of soul. This is, on the one hand, the proof of the Savior's divinity, that what human beings were unable to learn among idols, they have learned form him, and, on the other hand, no small refutation of the weakness and nothingness of the demons and idols. The demons, knowing their weakness, because of this formerly set human beings at war with each other, lest if they ceased from mutual strife, they should turn to battle against the demons. Indeed, those who become disciples of Christ, instead of fighting against each other, stand arrayed against the demons by their lives and deeds of virtue, putting them to flight and mocking their prince, the devil, so that, in their youth they are temperate, in temptations they endure, in toils they persevere, when insulted  they forbear, and deprivations they disregard, and, what is most wonderful is that they scorn even death and become martyrs for Christ."

-Athanasius of Alexandria, On the Incarnation, trans. John Behr (Yonkers, NY: St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2011), 163, 165

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

"Hooking In, Sitting Loose: A Call for Theology in the Churches of Christ" Published in Restoration Quarterly

The latest issue of Restoration Quarterly has just come out, and it includes an article of mine. The piece is a slightly revised version of the paper I read at the Christian Scholars' Conference in June, as it was entered into and ended up winning a competition for graduate students' essays, the prize for which was publication in RQ. Many thanks to the editors for their recognition of the paper and for their inclusion of it in this issue.

The official title and citation are: "Hooking In, Sitting Loose: A Call for Theology in the Churches of Christ," in Restoration Quarterly 54 (2012): 219-228.

It was a joy to write the article, and a wonderful experience to read it at CSC and to hear from peers and colleagues their thoughts in reaction to it. The argument is straightforward: Churches of Christ have a rich theological tradition on which to draw for the sake of edifying the church catholic, and we -- congregations in general and theologians in particular -- ought to take up that task intentionally and thoughtfully. The way in which this might be done is modeled paradigmatically for us by John Howard Yoder and James McClendon, who did this very thing for their own similarly situated believers church traditions, and we would do well to emulate their example. As a sort of test case, I conclude by presenting believers baptism as, on the one hand, a practice we, as a tradition, have to offer to the ecumene for reflection and implementation, and on the other hand, a locus of sacramental theology whose logic we have not followed all the way through to the end as we have with the Lord's Supper.

I hope others both within and without the tradition find in the article something substantive and worthy of engagement. I look forward to hearing from folks how they find it.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Robert Jenson Has (Another) New Book Out

One and a half, really. Last year I asked who forgot to tell me about Jenson's latest book, Lutheran Slogans: Use and Abuse. Fortunately, the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau emailed me this time: Jenson has written a short work (a third part to his ALPB mini-trilogy, begun with A Large Catechism?) titled On the Inspiration of Scripture. It's ordered and on the way, so I don't have any comments at the moment; but it looks to continue Jenson's late-in-the-game focus on Scripture as a special locus of theological interest.

And speaking of Jenson -- that is, the "half" mentioned above -- Jenson has co-edited (with Eugene Korn) a book just released, called Covenant and Hope: Christian and Jewish Reflections. I do have this one in hand, and what I have read so far is superb. Jenson's essay, "What Kind of God Can Make a Covenant?" is particularly enjoyable. Other contributors include David Novak, Michael Wyschogrod, R.R. Reno, Miroslav Volf, and Douglas Knight, among others. Highly recommended.

Here's to Jenson's continued vitality and productivity in his increasingly golden years.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Rest in Peace: Abraham Malherbe (1930-2012)

Abraham Malherbe, the Buckingham Professor Emeritus of New Testament Criticism and Interpretation at Yale Divinity School, passed away last Friday, apparently from a sudden heart attack. Malherbe was 82 years old and is survived by his wife, Phyllis.

Malherbe was a trailblazer for scholarship within the churches of Christ, and I had the opportunity to meet him and Phyllis both here in New Haven and elsewhere; they were consistently kind, welcoming, and warm. I am happy to have met and been in the presence of Malherbe, who indirectly made it possible for someone like me both to seek and to achieve a degree and a career in the theological academy. I'm also happy to have heard him speak: the self-described "professional festschrift writer" was quite the orator, and exactly as gregarious and wry as his reputation suggested. He was one of a kind, and it is a gift to us all that his gifts were recognized and afforded time and space to enrich others, in the academy as well as in the church.

Read further reflections and remembrances from Yale, ACU, and a former student. Blessings on his family in this sad time.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sunday Sabbath Poetry: Charles Wesley

I could have sworn I had shared a poem from the younger Wesley before, but apparently I haven't. This one is a personal favorite, and a classic for good reason. We sang it this morning as our opening hymn.

Later in the service, I had the experience of walking up to the rail holding my sleeping son, still just days old. I knelt with him in my arms, received the body and blood of Christ, and watched as a priest of God blessed him in the name of the Trinity. It was a moment I'll never forget: so solemn I nearly wept, so giddy with beauty and happiness that I almost burst. God is great.

- - - - - - -

Love Divine, All Loves Excelling

By Charles Wesley

Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of heaven to earth come down;
Fix in us thy humble dwelling;
All thy faithful mercies crown!
Jesus, Thou art all compassion,
Pure unbounded love Thou art;
Visit us with Thy salvation;
Enter every trembling heart.

Breathe, O breathe Thy loving Spirit,
Into every troubled breast!
Let us all in Thee inherit;
Let us find that second rest.
Take away our bent to sinning;
Alpha and Omega be;
End of faith, as its Beginning,
Set our hearts at liberty.

Come, Almighty to deliver,
Let us all Thy life receive;
Suddenly return and never,
Never more Thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
Serve Thee as Thy hosts above,
Pray and praise Thee without ceasing,
Glory in Thy perfect love.

Finish, then, Thy new creation;
Pure and spotless let us be.
Let us see Thy great salvation
Perfectly restored in Thee;
Changed from glory into glory,
Till in heaven we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before Thee,
Lost in wonder, love, and praise.