Sunday, June 28, 2020

Josephus, The Essential Work

A wonderful book for those of us that believe in history in this day in which it is being torn down.

While it does mention Jesus, and Jesus half-brother James, and it is for that reason that Jesephus is somewhat familiar to Christians, I am much more impressed by it's chronicling of Jewish history and relation to the Bible, Torah, and other period works.

Josephus was born in AD 37, so he is a near contemporary of Jesus. He is a Jew that fought with the Romans, but ended up submitting, and becoming a client of Vespasian, which is the reason his works survive (history is told by the winners).

The brutality of those times is reported in maybe more detail than one would desire -- we live in a world where we avert our eyes from the still prevalent human cruelty in order to maintain the modern illusion that "human nature is basically good". One quote from emperor Augustus; "It is better to be Herod's pig than his son". Reporting the killing all the male children from a few years in a small area would be FAR less interest in that time than China killing a few hundred Uighurs today. (some people question the veracity of the Massacre of the Innocents, thinking it would be "big news" if true)

Meyer is a master of using ancient history and archaeology to establish the truth of the Bible, highly recommended to those of us who have inherited the curse of Thomas -- the desire to put our hands into the wounds.

Friday, June 26, 2020

The Book Of Concord

I bought the hardcover and HIGHLY recommend it! It is a beautiful book, well printed, well bound -- a physical object that testifies to the critical importance of God being made man in the person of Christ. In this mortal coil, the physical is real to us, so it is critical that Christ came, died, was buried and rose in "the flesh". As man, he lived, breathed, cried, loved, bled, and died.

As a Risen Saviour, he lives and comes to us as a resurrected perfected body and blood that can eat and drink, yet can walk through walls and be a real presence at multiple communion tables where that resurrected body can nourish our weak and barely there spiritual self. The communion table is where our physical temporary selves have a critical connection with the eternal -- our current reality is physical, we must physically connect with the eternal through regular participation in the Body and Blood of Christ in a corporate worship.

If you have any faith, or no faith, this is a wonderful work. Coming from a Baptist tradition, this book shows the issues that led led to the Reformation, and attaches them to the Bible and the fathers of the Christian Church Universal -- based on the FAITH of Peter, rather than the person of Peter, and also deals with the further thinking that it is possible to enter the Kingdom with no sacraments at all, only "your personal decision". (unless you are a thief hanging on a cross next to Christ)

To be human is to flee God, therefore all our churches are constantly drawn away from "Saved by Grace alone through Faith in Christ alone".  The old Adam is not completely buried until we are.

So we and our churches are constantly tempted to be saved by -- "the church", "our decision for Christ", "our works", "our love", etc

Even if you are certain you will never agree, this book will make you aware of what it really is that you are not agreeing with!

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Infinite Jest

A huge and widely acclaimed novel by David Foster Wallace -- deceased by his own hand, or in his terms, "he eliminated his own map". His version of "hope" would seem to be that this life is all there is. The only thing the book makes "clear" is that human life is a maddeningly meaningless "jest", and that the endless search for entertainment, escape, diversion, pleasure, etc is most likely to make it even more nasty.

Somehow, reading "The Secular Age", another gigantic book, led me to Jest ... I first tried a cliff notes version of Secular Age in "How To Not Be Secular", however I felt I needed the "real deal", so ended up jumping off that cliff as I did with Jest.

I started reading Jest because of the Corona lock-down terror -- a surreal time seemed appropriate to take up a surreal, long, difficult work. Then came the BLM riots, "cancel the police", the building of our addition project started, and then my dad died. It was NOT "an appropriate time" ... although the fact that Wallace was plagued by anxiety, depression and panic attacks, as I have been, made the surreal somewhat too real.

Not a book to be recommended unless grotesque, pointless, highly detailed despair is something that appeals to you!