Monday, July 28, 2008

So much for the snare - David gives Saul Double what he requested

I just noticed this last week.

In 1 Samuel 18, Saul seeks the death of David by having him kill 100 Philistines as a bridal dowry for Saul's daughter, Michal (vv. 21 & 25). (Saul figured that David would be killed in fighting that many Philistines.)

David instead strikes down 200 Philistines (v. 27), twice the number that Saul requested.

1 Million Miles

I recently passed the one-million mile threshold in American Airline's frequent-flier program. That's not all miles sitting in a plane for AA's program, but it still represents a lot of flying.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Christology & the Prohibition on Eating Blood in the OT

One of the reasons I accept the Lutheran doctrine of the Supper relative to the Reformed doctrine is that the Reformed doctrine seems to me to leave a pretty significant Old-Testament Christological theme sitting on the table.

From Noah onward, God expressly forbade people from eating blood, "for the blood is the life, and you shall not eat the life with the flesh" (Dt 12.23, cf,. Gn 9.4, Lev 7.11, 14).

"The blood is the life."

So when Jesus comes along and says "you have no life in yourselves" "unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood" (Jn 6.53), well, that seems really straight forward based on the OT teaching.

The blood is the life. We do not have life in ourselves, so we must get life, and the way to get life is to drink blood. Not just any blood, mind you, but the blood of the Savior. We drink his blood, and receive life as a result, because "the blood is the life."

Denying that we receive Christ's true blood in the Supper just seems to me to make a thematic dead end out of the OT prohibition on eating blood, because "the blood is the life."

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

McCain's Trip to Latin America

It seems to me that the media missed the real point of John McCain's trip to Latin America. The press -- at least that part that I pay attention to -- went on and on about how McCain was highlighting his free-trade credentials. That's true enough, I suppose, but with Michigan in play (a bastion of anti-free trade sentiment), burnishing one's free-trade credentials shouldn't be a priority.

I think McCain went to Latin America because because it was one of the few ways he has left to court the Latino vote without upsetting the anti-immigration folks.

I've never been with the anti-immigration folks as a matter of policy. I happen to believe the invitation written on the Statute of Liberty.

But even as a matter of politics, anti-immigration policy is a third rail for the GOP (i.e., touch it, and you die). The GOP was competitive in California before Pete Wilson decided to ride the immigration issue to victory. He not only lost miserably, he ruined the state for the GOP as well. I think the issue threatens to do to the national GOP what it did to the California GOP -- turn the party into a permanent minority.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Does Anointing Integrate the King into the Tabernacle? Thinking about Kings versus Judges

I've read a few commentators who say something like "anointing is a prototypically 'royal' or 'kingly' action." And it certainly is there, starting in 1 Samuel (2.35, 10.1, etc.).

But before that point, anointing is a uniquely tabernaclely action. In Ex 40, for example, God commands Moses, saying, "take the anointing oil and anoint the tabernacle and all that is in it" (v. 9), specifying all the utensils, the altar, the laver, and Aaron and his sons.

Now, perhaps, this constitutes Aaron and his sons as a "royal" priesthood. But I don't know. Israel herself is supposed to be the royal priesthood (Ex 19.6, cf., 1 Peter 2.9). There's no indication that this designation is removed from Israel and given only to Aaron and his sons.

Instead, I wonder if the action moves the other way. Prior to the creation of the monarchy in 1 Samuel, Israel is ruled by judges (and led into battle by Spirit-inspired "major" judges). Kingly powers are redundant with many of the judgely powers.

There are several distinctions, however, between judges and kings. One of these is that kings are anointed while judges were not.

Rather than thinking that anointing then is some sort of distinctively "kingly" event, I'm thinking that perhaps anointing is a tabernaclely thing that integrates the king directly into Israel's cult, something that did not happen to the unanointed judges. And so the development of the monarchy in Israel is primarily a cultic development rather than a political or military development.

I'm of course not suggesting that judges did not have a role to play in Israel's cult, only that the king is more directly tied to the cult than the judges were -- kings are anointed like the other utensils in the tabernacle, and so "belongs there," as it were, in a way that the judges did not. (Given the Edenic motif of the tabernacle, perhaps this is emblematic of restoring Adam's otherwise lost royal prerogatives.)

This, in turn, might account for the continuing concern of Israel's king with the temple, and aspiration not shared by the judges.

But I don't know. It just seems that the idea of "anointing qua tabernacle action" is a really fertile source of thinking about the role of the king in Israel (and in God's plan more generally). Writing off anointing as a kingly action, while not incorrect, seems maybe to emphasize the wrong thing, and so misdirects our eyes away from the way that anointing seems to integrate the king into the cult in a way that judges were not. And that that's the big change in the movement from judges to kings.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Wall-E (No spoilers)

Wall-E is the best movie we've seen this summer. It keeps your attention even though it has a remarkable lack of dialogue. Amazing graphics as well.