Update

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The Monday post is coming, I swear! Just, it’ll probably have to be called a Tuesday post. The bad news is that I managed to eat through my buffer again and totally didn’t do my homework on 2 Chron. 29-31, but the good news is that I’m going a great job learning Russian.

It’s all about balance!

A Midsummer Update

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My mom had a tape of Kate Bush’s The Kick Inside album in the car that we listened to (in rotation with Maxime Le Forestier) every time we drove. I’ve rediscovered Bush recently while procrastinating on YouTube, and she is amazing. Since my gentleman friend handed me a pair of earphones when I started listening to her – that look of insistence in his eyes – I’m now in search of another audience to share my new fandom with.

Everything is wonderful about her. Absolutely wonderful.

In other news, we’ve been having a lovely summer. Most recently, we’ve just returned from a fantastic camping trip in the middle of the middle of nowhere. Not to brag, but the young one made it through a 4km hike without asking to be carried. Not even once!

August tends to be the month of our royal progress, so I’ve been trying to write as many blog posts as possible in preparation. My computer access will be spotty, and I don’t want to eat through my buffer again! I am already halfway through 1 Chronicles, though, so I should be fine.

So far, I’ve actually really enjoyed the book. I realize that the first eight chapters are considered soul-crushing, but there’s a zen aspect to sitting down with two (or more) lists of unfamiliar names, trying to find discrepancies. And now that I’m into the narrative portions, I’m finding the same thing again since much of the material is a retelling (with variations) of 1-2 Samuel.

I hope that everyone else is having a good summer (or winter, for any other-hemispherians who may be reading)!

Mini-Break

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I participated in NaNoWriMo 2014. I didn’t win (I made it to just over 38,000 words), but I did get through a lot of content and I feel like I have a better grasp of my story now. All in all, I’m proud of myself and happy with my story.

The downside, of course, is that I didn’t even pick up my Bible for the entire month, which means that I have almost no post buffer left. To give myself a chance to catch up a little, I will be taking a post break through the rest of January, picking up with 1 Kings on February 2.

See you then!

There Is More to Christianity than Penal Substitutionary Atonement

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Libby Anne at Love, Joy, Feminism posted an explanation of penal substitutionary atonement and its place in the history of Christian theology:

I have seen many atheists criticize penal substitutionary atonement as though in doing so they are criticizing Christianity as a whole. That is not in fact the case. Penal substitutionary atonement is only one way of understanding Christ’s death. More than that, it is less than five hundred years old—a relative newcomer to the scene—and is held by a minority of Christians today.

This is something of a complicated topic, and one where I think misunderstandings are rampant – even among Christians. I appreciate Libby Anne’s explanations.

I can’t recall what I was taught as a child, since the focus of my Sunday School instruction was more on the birth of Christ rather than his death. But looking back on how I, personally, viewed the crucifixion, it was always as just a Thing That Happened, rather than part of a plan.

The evidence for “Paleo-Eskimos”

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There’s a fascinating (and frustratingly short on details) article on CBC about the so-called “Paleo-Eskimos.” Apparently, genetic testing has found that there is no relation between this group and the later Inuit peoples. What this means, in short, is that there was a group of people living in the arctic for about four thousand years, totally unrelated to the people there now.

There are two aspects of this story that are particularly fascinating. The first is that despite an overlap between the “Paleo-Eskimo” people and the Inuit, it appears that (almost) no interbreeding occurred. This is extremely rare. Even when cultures have specific prohibitions against interbreeding with outsiders, there are nearly always exceptions – people who didn’t follow the rules, sexual violence from the other culture, things like that.

The second aspect about this that I find really interesting is that Inuit oral legend had preserved their knowledge of this other people:

Inuit still talk about the Tunit people they encountered when they arrived. The oral tradition says the Tunit were very shy and would run away when approached.

This is a complicated issue when looking at mythology because it can be very difficult to tell the difference between preserved history and entertaining fabrication, mostly because so many stories are a combination of both, at least in general terms.

When reading Judges, I talked a lot about trying to find the history buried in the myth, and gave some of my own impressions and stories. Without corroborating evidence from other disciplines – such as archeological and genetic evidence as in the case of the “Paleo-Eskimos” – it remains pure conjecture.

But no less fascinating.

EDIT: A friend posted this article validating another Inuit oral tale, this time relating to the Franklin arctic expedition.

The May 2014 Biblioblog Carnival is here!

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Thatjeffcarter is hosting this (last) month’s biblioblog carnival. Carnivals are a great way to find new blogs, and to get the highlights from blogs that I don’t have time to read, so I always check them out.

Well, imagine my surprise when I click through a link and land at my own blog! (I’m under Judges, linking to my post about land allotments.) I don’t know who sent it in, but thank you! It was a real thrill to be included.

Taking a little break

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With several projects on go, I’ve managed to eat up all of my posting buffer, so I will be taking a little catch-up break. We’ll resume with Joshua on April 4. In the meantime, I will still be posting comics, jokes, and other Bible-related stuff I find interesting.

Cheers!

Jesus of Nazareth: Man or Myth

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I’m helping to organize a debate/discussion between Richard Carrier and Zeba Crook on whether or not Jesus was a real, historical figure. The debate will be held on April 5, in Ottawa, ON, and you can see the Facebook event page here.

Jesus of Nazareth

There’s a few aspects of this event that I think really make it special. Perhaps the most obvious is that neither guest will be taking a position of faith (and, in fact, both are personally atheists). We are also asking both guests to provide their speaking notes to the other guest at least two weeks before the event so that responses can be more informed and considered – since one of my pet peeves about the debate format is that the ability to think on one’s feet scores more points than having the more informative response for the audience. We’ve also tried to pick fairly evenly matched guests, so it won’t be a professional against a crank, for example (though Earl Doherty is local and would have been quite a bit cheaper to get!).

I’m very excited about this event, and doing just about everything in my power to make sure that it will be recorded and – eventually – posted online (I will, of course, post links here once that happens). If you happen to be in the Ottawa area, or can make it, I hope that you’ll come out!

And if you make it out, please do make sure to stop by any of the info/merch desks and let them know that you follow this blog. I’d love to meet readers!

 

EDIT: The video is now online!

Sundial Hunting in Switzerland (and France)

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I have many hobbies, and one of them is sundial hunting. A few years ago, I spent about a month in Switzerland visiting as many historic sites as I could and, as a fun little side project, I photographed as many sundials as I could fine. Here are some nice ones:

Sundial1

Our first sundial is a fairly classic example spotted in Geneva. This was found on the corner pillar of a building in the historic part of town, with a Geneva flag fluttering nearby. This Old Faithful will tell you the time, but it certainly won’t wow any passing tourists.

Sundial2

Our second example was spotted above a fountain, also in Geneva.This one is a little more artistic and reminds the viewer of what awaits when time has finally run its course. It’s a beautiful use of a modern artistic style mixed with a medieval subject that is very common in Switzerland. Have you ever wondered why Eeyore is always so depressed?

Sundial3

Confession time: I cheated a little bit. Our third sundial was actually spotted in France, in the Chateau de Joux. Europe’s a small place and borders are easily hopped, so I think it should still count. This simple yet effective design helpfully reminds us that the sun rules all (at least in our little neck of the universe, I suppose).

Sundial4

Number four is also from the Chateau de Joux. Sorry about the terrible picture, but this sundial was painted on to the outer wall of the fortress, which was modified at some point by Vauban. If you’re familiar at all with Vauban’s work, you’ll understand that I couldn’t get close enough to get a good picture because no one gets close to one of Vauban’s walls.

Sundial5

The modern art aficionados over at Gruyère decided to take a whole new artistic approach to the sundial concept by placing it on an inner wall and omitting the gnomon. In this case, function is sacrificed for form.

Sundial6

Number six was found on the wall of a church build next to Schloss Thun, in the German (ptui) side of Switzerland. Thun, by the way, is a great place to go if you’ve ever wanted a really good illustration of the role terrain plays in the castle defence. The schloss is built at the top of a hill that’ll definitely test the mettle of even the bravest knight. In any case, this sundial features a dual gnomon, one to tell the time and the other to do something involving the zodiac – I assume it tracks the seasons?

Sundial7

Chateau Chillon, on the other hand, doesn’t need a sundial. That’s because Chillon boasts an extremely badass mechanical clock originally built in 1543! You can see that giant bad boy on the larger tower in the photo above. If you visit the castle, one part of the tour takes you into that tower and you can actually see the mechanism that powers the clock (rebuilt in the 19th century).

Changing things up a bit

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I’ve been reading Don’t Know Much About the Bible by Kenneth C. Davis recently (I’ll get a review up eventually) and I quite like the way he’s ordered the books of the Old Testament. Rather than simply following the traditional Christian Bible’s order, he’s arranged the books with consideration to both theme and chronological order.

Reading the summaries of what’s in store for me, I found that his choices made a lot of sense, so I’ve decided to follow it for my own reading. You don’t notice a difference for a good long while since we have to get through the Pentateuch before there’s any deviation, but I thought you might like a heads up anyway.

You can check out the new order over at the Old Testament page.

Think I got it wrong? Want to suggest a different order? Let me know in the comments!

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