Sunday, December 01, 2019

"Original Sin" and the Old Testament

I was asked a question in Old Testament Theology about the notion/idea of "original sin" in the Bible as we end the semester.

The question emerged after a conversation about the relative near and total absence of The Satan in Hebrew Scripture, and a comment I made about how Christian persons too frequently give emphasis to things in the Bible where the Bible offers little emphasis.

In that regard, I pointed out that even "The Tree of Life" which seems so important as a notion to most people, at least that they recognize it as a concept, appears a single, solitary, one time in Hebrew Scripture (though I did point out that trees and fertility, fruitfulness and care of Creation appear numerous times in various contexts).

My reply on the question about Original Sin came out in a way where, after stating it, I "captured it" in order to remember it. As I said to the students present, every once in a while something comes out of my mouth that is "not bad."

On the question of "Original Sin" I pointed out (again to students in this class) that the word for sin is not used in the story of Genesis 3, known as "The Fall" (even where the word "fall" is not used, either!).  [We really would discern Scripture much better if we focused on the terms the Biblical writers used in their writings, and understood in their social/historical/cultural contexts.]

After pointing out that the supposed passage in the Bible that supposedly introduces "Original Sin" in the Bible doesn't *say* that . . . I talked about humans as gardeners and stewards and care-takers (taking care of "subduing" Creation with God toward goodness.)  And, when I pointed out, as has been pointed out in too many passages, that God calls persons to obedience, to Torah, to faithful living in response to God's work, I stated that the Bible has a call to obedience, in the face of human fracture and brokeneness, emphasizing that humans can live an obedient life.

Then I said, back to the original question, on "Original Sin" that the Bible, Hebrew Bible, doesn't really have a notion, properly speaking of "Original Sin" and it might be better to affirm what the Bible says in its terminology, within it's theological perspective, and that is that:

"The Bible accepts humans for who they are; bearers of God's image.  Images of God who poorly reflect the image of God.  And yet.  They are constantly called to better reflect the image of God for all of Creation."

Monday, October 07, 2019

What orients your days?

I have been reflecting recently on how we each calendar our lives.

With the reality of Yom Kippur on my calendar, I note that this date is important to me, though it does not orient my lived reality.  I am aware of it, though I don't live and change in precise ways because of it.  Clearly, practicing Jews are reshaped by this day!

The same could be said for any religious holy days - and many holidays.  I know people who spend weeks of their year and considerable cash planning for events specific to Halloween, or Easter, or Capitalism Festival (formerly known as Christmas! ha!).

In all of my life I want to be more intentional. 

I want to be more intentional  - NOT about having appointments and calendared dates on my agenda - and instead more intentional to how I live as a person, who I am as a human, in awareness of the dates, holidays, and holy days that orient my existence.

~ marty

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Finally! It has arrived!

It's mostly true.  I hate it when the temperature outside is above 70 degrees Fahrenheit.  72 can be tolerated.  Anything over 75 and certainly in the 80s or higher and I'm cranky.

I love being outdoors.

I love, love, love, love, love being outdoors.  And, I hate the sounds of "manufactured" air blowing in air ducts.

I'd rather go work in the yard, ride a bike, go for a hike in the low 40's and put on a jacket, then sweat miserably and be uncomfortably in the 70s, 80s.  And, where I've been living out my exile, too often the weather here is in the 90s and 100s.

I'm much more attuned to how weather shapes not just my comfort, yet more, my life practices, than most.

Among many things, I prefer to ride my bike to work if possible.  But, if the temperatures in the morning are in the high 60s or more, I can't reasonably pedal.  I arrive to work a sweaty, stinky mess - and often have to pedal home sopping wet with sweat.

Last Fall, (2018) the weather stayed warm into the Fall and then, when it finally dropped in temperatures, it dropped precariously into the 40s and 30's.  Pedaling isn't fun in the 30's - fingers freeze and faces get chapped.  I simply want a mild, comfortable climate several months (or more!) of the year.  Pedestrian friendly ! ! !

Today! The first time since May!  Temperatures are in the 60's all day!

Glorious Freedom!
Wonderful Freedom!
No more in chains of heat I repine!

~ marty

Monday, September 09, 2019

Try to help others - intentional mentorship

I work diligently to try to help young people in University classes.

Oftentimes this takes place in an ad-hoc way, where I address specific issues I notice in the class or, on occasion, with an individual.  Every year though, I teach one class that is required for all Sophomore level students planning for ministry.  This class has a number of strategic assignments in the course, each of which builds toward the formation of the students understanding how to "methodically" engage in the steps necessary for Scholarly Research.

In addition to specifics of course research, I work in the class intentionally to help young people develop some kind of self-autonomy and self-realization for how they plan for their projects.  I work to give students practical tips on how to manage their time, how to work in blocks of time, how to think about large tasks as a series of small tasks that each need to be accomplished and more.

I've blogged about this in the past at this site, including sharing with young people the need to learn how to GTD Get Things Done (If you don't know it, google it.)

Related to fact that persons need Next Action steps to take in order to move beyond an amorphous set of unclear statements in a "To Do List" - I share with learners the need to put specific tasks into a set plan with definable steps and clear next action steps - which requires verbal specificity and deliberate action.

These verbs of action help frame way to move forward:

Look Into
Roll Out
Set Up

Other verbs might include:

Fill out
Update (single-step)
Wait For

Getting action steps in order, and then acting upon them, is the key to Getting Things Done!

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Find out what it means to me.

In the 1960s Aretha Franklin popularized the lyrics: "R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Find out what it means to me! All I'm askin' - Is for a little respect when you get home."

What Aretha called for then "proves" true with studies on human persons decades later.

From the Ten Percent Happier Podcast, I was introduced to Christine Porath

She has a TED Talk, "Why being respectful to your coworkers is good for business" and there and in her other public presentations she discusses workplace happiness rooted in how we are treated at our places of employment.

In this past week, I was with a friend who, at her place of work, was "treated" to ice-cream treats from her employer.  It lead to a conversation about how often her work places offers "treats" or "incentives" to acknowledge people.  It turns out her place of employment does this nearly weekly - and certainly in every month.  Perhaps it's academics - or churches - or the places where I have been in academics or church settings, though this routine kind of "treat" is not something I have experienced in any routine way.

Porath's TED talk includes these statements: 
"What do people want most from their leaders? We took data from over 20,000 employees around the world, and we found the answer was simple: respect. Being treated with respect was more important than recognition and appreciation, useful feedback, even opportunities for learning. Those that felt respected were healthier, more focused, more likely to stay with their organization and far more engaged."
 . . . 
"So where do you start? How can you lift people up and make people feel respected? Well, the nice thing is, it doesn't require a huge shift. Small things can make a big difference. I found that thanking people, sharing credit, listening attentively, humbly asking questions, acknowledging others and smiling has an impact."

Someday I hope to work for a place that offers this, and so much more.  

One day, someday.