An Open Notebook

ArchiveAugust 2018

Sacrificial Love and Social Ethics


Continuing with Rauschenbusch, he offers the proposition capitalism teaches one to value personal good above common good, directly contrary to the Christian ethic of self-sacrificial love. The sentence by itself is too vague to be convincing to anyone of the opposing position; but at least Rauschenbusch has been forward about his point-of-view, this is where he is coming from. All Christians can...

Politics, Ethics, and Theology in the Book of Judges


The Book of Judges in many ways, remains an exegetical enigma – the politics, theology, and ethics of the book wrapped up in an intricately-woven bundle. But, throughout the history of interpretation, it has never been completely ignored. Gale Yee once observed the phenomena that new hermeneutical methods often make Judges a test case, on account of its relative unfamiliarity (compared to say...

Christianizing the Social Order


In the essay, Christianizing the Social Order, Walter Rauschenbusch starts with the provocative statement, ‘We often hear the assertion that no one can tell whether Christianity would work, because [true] Christianity has never been tried. I deny it. Christianity has been tried, both in private and public, and the question is whether in the history of humanity anything has worked except...

Leonard Cohen, ‘Hallelujah’


The Leonard Cohen favorite, Hallelujah, is the quintessential ‘secular hymn’ —a song that borrows from elements typically associated with Christian or religious music. Though the Beatles’ classic, ‘Let it Be’ would also fall into the genre, Cohen, the Quebeçois songwriter from Montréal, easily mastered the task. Like all works of genius, the song depends upon the borrowing of resources actually...

The Iconography of Architecture


There’s a church I’ve been frequenting lately that has some of the best iconography among churches I know. It’s just a small chapel, but brightly lit, crosses on the outer shadows that display the Cross as the ‘light of the world.’ On the windows are lilies — a common symbol for the resurrection — and,  the inner pillars are large-scale versions of the flower. Lilies are the ‘love’...

Ezekiel & Esther


Esther and Ezekiel are a pair of names rarely intertwined in ordinary conversation, even among the devout. In fact, my search of these terms together in journals and databases often reveals ‘zero’ results. Ironically, the lips that utter each of these names in the same breath (when first mastering the number and sequences of biblical books), are likely not adults, but children. As it often seems...

Shechem, the Uncrowned Queen of Palestine


Long ago, off high-mountain walls, bounced an echo of voices. It was the Israelites, shouting at each other from the slopes of nearby mountains, Ebal and Gerazim (Josh 24). Not far away, between the two, lay the ancient city of Shechem (שְׁכֶם, Συχέμ) a stone-fortified settlement with a long, complicated past.[1] This armed fortress-settlement stood in the middle of a small valley, funneling...

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