Monday, August 30, 2010

The Bible is not about us, it's about Jesus

Good, pithy job.

HT: Reepicheep

The only thing that I'd want to beef up is that Jesus is not merely revealed in the people in the Bible, he's also revealed in the law. We often miss that.

For example, we read Gn 2.24 as pertaining primarily to human marriage rather than to Christ. I.e., we read it as applying first to the type rather than to the antitype. But Paul doesn't read it this way:

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall be come one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.”

The first application is to the antitype – Christ and the church. The second application is the type, i.e., human marriage. (So, too, cf., 1 Co 6.15-20, although it’s a bit more blended there. Still, the focus is on the implication for our union with Christ.)

I'd suggest that the first application of the adultery laws in the OT is to Christ's relationship with the church.

After all, in the OT, there is far more extended discussion of idolatry as spiritual adultery than there is discussion of human adultery. But, still, we read the sex laws in the Law of Moses almost exclusively anthrocentrically rather than Christocentrically (or Yahwehcentrically, as the case may be).

This despite the fact that Christians know that the law reveals Christ first, as the speaker points out (Lk 24.27, 44). This means that the law on polygamy, the law on taking interest, the laws and theft and murder and etc., first reveal Christ – and I mean that it reveals to us the person of Christ directly (and his relationship with his people), not just stuff about the ethics for his people.

And don’t we see this explicitly in Moses as well? E.g., Exodus turns at the Golden Calf incident. But isn’t the bitter waters test in Nm 5 a development of the rite that Moses implemented in Ex 32.20-21ff?

To be sure, this doesn't at all mean that the Bible doesn't apply to us. It certainly does. But the Bible is radically Christocentric, and we miss a lot of that by the way we read the Bible looking for "life lessons" for us.

We also miss the way that, e.g., the parables reveal Christ to us. We read them anthrocentrically rather than Christocentrically. I dicuss the parables here.

Study Reports that College Students are Studying Less

Here's a story from the Boston Globe, reporting on a forthcoming article in the Review of Economics and Statistics that college students study less today than they did in previous decades.

The Boston Globe article discusses several theories for why this might have happened.

First, the authors of the study itself suggest that teaching evaluations might have caused this. I.e., less demanding faculty receive higher evaluation scores from students. To the extent that pay raises and promotions are based, in part at least, on student evaluations, then they provide incentives to faculty to reduce demands on students. Or it could just be that faculty like to be liked, and so court higher evaluations by reducing demands on students.

A second theory is that students are busier today than they were in past decades, mainly because more students work during college in order to pay for higher tuition and fees.

A third theory is that access to computers decreases time that students would count as studying, but really is just time wasted finding a book in the library.

One theory discussed only in passing in the article is one that seems plausible to me: The greatest decline in study time came between 1960 and 1980. During this period there was a huge increase in the number of students going to college. But the increased enrollment came at a cost: the marginal student was less prepared for college than previously. Increased retention came along with increased enrollments, and than meant that course requirements needed to be lowered for all students to avoid flunking out the less prepared marginal student.

That said, I'm not entirely convinced that the article gets it right. The Globe also reports that high school seniors have been studying a lot less than previously. While my kids are not yet in high school, my impression so far -- and from other parents -- is that they are studying a lot more than I did at their age. To be sure, a lot of the studying, in my opinion, is pointless busy work. Nevertheless, they are in the habit of studying several hours every night, and quite a few hours on the weekends.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sin, Forgiveness, Sacraments and the Gospel

A solid presentation of the Gospel (Word and sacraments fully integrated) along with some solid wisdom from a young man.

HT. Pr. Paul McCain

"No Hiding Place Down Here" on Babylon 5

We're watching the entire Babylon 5 series on Netflix's instant viewing. Episode 20 of season three is named after the Gospel song, "And The Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place Down Here." You can listen to the entire song here.

In an jarring juxtaposition, interspersed with a Gospel singer singing the song on B5 itself (as a result of another part of the story), we see Lord Refa being beaten to death by a group of Narns on Narn, led by G'Kar -- there is "no hiding place down there" for Refa. (Refa was set up by Londo, but I won't recap that aspect of the story.)

The title verse is, "I went to the rock to hide my face, but the rock cried out, 'no hiding place.'" It's apparently a reference to passages such as Rev 6.6, "they said to the mountains and to the rocks, 'Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.'" The threat of judgment in the song sits oddly to my ear with the joyful music. This seems to happen a lot in "Gospel" music, however. In any event, it is a toe tapping tune.

The juxtaposition of the Gospel song with the vicious beating death of Lord Refa did remind me a bit of the brutal scene in The Godfather, where the Corleone family makes its move by killing a bunch of competitors, all interspersed with a baptism scene in which Michael "renounces the devil and all his works." Chilling stuff.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Several LCMS Schools Fail Ed Dept's Financial-Strength Test

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that several of the Concordia colleges fail the Department of Educations financial-strength test for non-profit schools. Concordia Theological Seminary-St. Louis is included on the list. You can read the article here.

A number of Christians college and seminaries are on the list, including Covenant Seminary in St. Louis.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Summer movies (no spoilers)

Inception - "eh" with a shoulder shrug. I didn't resent the movie, but it seemed longer than its 2+ hour length. I'd choose The Matrix over Inception almost any day.

Salt - a lot like the "Bourne" movies, although stupider. I do like the Salt character herself, and perhaps the sequels won't have such a stupidly over-the-top story line.

Despicable Me - the screen play teeters a bit at several points. But overall a touching, if predictable, film. It worked for me.