Friday, April 3, 2009

Surprised by Hope


Linked me to this... Which looks like an interesting read... to me at least.
From Publishers Weekly
Wright, one of the greatest, and certainly most prolific, Bible scholars in the world, will touch a nerve with this book. What happens when we die? How should we think about heaven, hell, purgatory and eternal life? Wright critiques the views of heaven that have become regnant in Western culture, especially the assumption of the continuance of the soul after death in a sort of blissful non-bodily existence. This is simply not Christian teaching, Wright insists. The New Testament's clear witness is to the resurrection of the body, not the migration of the soul. And not right away, but only when Jesus returns in judgment and glory. The "paradise," the experience of being "with Christ" spoken of occasionally in the scriptures, is a period of waiting for this return. But Christian teaching of life after death should really be an emphasis on "life after life after death"-the resurrection of the body, which is also the ground for all faithful political action, as the last part of this book argues. Wright's prose is as accessible as it is learned-an increasingly rare combination. No one can doubt his erudition or the greatness of the churchmanship of the Anglican Bishop of Durham. One wonders, however, at the regular citation of his own previous work. And no other scholar can get away so cleanly with continuing to propagate the "hellenization thesis," by which the early church is eventually polluted by contaminating Greek philosophical influence. 
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"This book is N.T. Wright at his finest." (Rob Bell, author of Velvet Elvis )

This book will be widely read because it stirs together Scripture, tradition, art and world affairs with pleasing metaphors and public courage. (The Dallas Morning News )

"Wright's unwavering faith in the resurrection is quite evident as he defends the Easter narratives on historical and theological grounds." (America Magazine )

"N.T. Wright can write. . . when it comes to questions of Christ's resurrection and what that means, no one is more persuasive. Wright's new book, Surprised by Hope, builds on C.S. Lewis' succinct defense of the faith and takes it to a new level." (World Magazine )

His conclusions are both simple and world-shaking (Library Journal )

A crystal-clear, powerful course-correction for all of us--Christian or otherwise. If you want to know what Easter is about, get yourself a copy of Surprised by Hope and hunker down for the read of a lifetime....literally. (Phyllis Tickle, )

"In calling Christians to an epistemology of love and a re-emphasis of the Easter season, Wright knocked it out of the park." (Beliefnet (A "Top Religious Book of the Year") ) 

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Let There Be Light...

For three days, two thousand years ago, the flame was completely extinguished and the world grew dark. Perhaps darker than it had ever been.

But then from the depths of that particular tomb, a small but incredibly bright flame burst out. Over the next several days this flame ignited other small sparks around the middle east. And then on the day of Pentecost, that flame divided into several small tongues of fire and filled an upper room in Jerusalem with light. Small lights and not so bright as the one intense light, to be sure, but now there were many.

Since that day the fire has been spreading. Many becoming legions, ultimately bringing light to every corner of the earth. Today there are literally millions of points of this pure light. True, many of these flames barely flicker. The wicks often fizzle and threaten to extinguish. They often produce more smoke than light. Yet they always remain capable of suddenly, surprisingly springing back to life.

Many others glow robustly, giving a clear light to the surrounding atmosphere. And there are a surprising number of even brighter flames whose color comes closest to the original pure white light of the original flame. Some of these bright lights we have even known by name down through the ages. Names such as Peter and Paul for certain. But also many others. Francis, and Mother Teresa and Billy Graham come to mind. And some of the brightest flames faithfully repel darkness and obscurity as they burn on, completely anonymous. Anonymous that is to us, but not to the Giver of Light.

And always, little by little, since that Great Darkness was shattered 2,000 years ago, the darkness is continually being driven back. Slowly, oh so slowly, yet inevitably, the Light is coming into the world.

Jesus said: "I am the Light of the world." Even so, Lord Jesus, Come!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Good Friday contemplation poem

In this dying light- a tenebrae prayer.

darkness gathers about the cross, the light there dying draws it.
like lions circle prey
all darkness dances about the cross, for the light there dying draws it.

O tell me this is a ruse,
that you bait destruction with your failing flame,
that you draw it from your nestlings with your broken wing,
that this is not what it seems.

where now is the promise of death’s death in this dying light?

sorrow tarries for the night…
keep me, Lord, keep me ‘til the morning.

- by Brian Wilke

March 28th, 2009
Location: steve bell with the Ottawa Symphony orchestra,
Dominion-Chalmers United Church, Ottawa Ontario.
Music: steve bell moon over berkenau, dark night of the soul.