Scaring the theologian

As a theologian, I regularly hear scary things. Of course there is plenty of scary theology going around, but I’m not talking about that in this short post. I get scared other ways, too!

Scary thing the first: People ask me what I do, and when I tell them, they ask me what I teach. After I say theology, they will frequently ask, “Oh. Does that have to do with the Old Testament or the New?” It’s scary that many Christians don’t know that there’s a thing called “theology” or anything to learn about our faith besides the Bible.

Scary thing the second, related to the previous scary thing: As before, I give the answer, “theology.” Once a woman immediately replied, “Be careful with that, or you’ll miss the Kingdom of God!” She must have had a scary idea of what theology is!

Scary thing the third: I’ll admit that, when called upon to preach, I will frequently “sermonize” a theology lesson. I change the presentation and delivery, remove jargon, and build up the practical application part. Believe it or not, usually it’s very well received. After the message, people will tell me, “Brother, I enjoyed that very much!” That’s the nice part; here comes the scary part: “I’ve never heard anything like that before!”

So many people and churches are thirsting for good, sound theology, but they are not getting it. Frankly, it’s a scary situation!

George Herbert, “Easter”

Rise heart; thy Lord is risen. Sing his praise
Without delays,
Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise
With him mayst rise:
That, as his death calcined thee to dust,
His life may make thee gold, and much more just.

Awake, my lute, and struggle for thy part
With all thy art.
The cross taught all wood to resound his name,
Who bore the same.
His stretched sinews taught all strings, what key
Is best to celebrate this most high day.

Consort both heart and lute, and twist a song
Pleasant and long:
Or since all music is but three parts vied
And multiplied;
O let thy blessed Spirit bear a part,
And make up our defects with his sweet art.

I got me flowers to straw thy way:
I got me boughs off many a tree:
But thou wast up by break of day,
And brought’st thy sweets along with thee.

The Sun arising in the East,
Though he give light, and th’East perfume;
If they should offer to contest
With thy arising, they presume.

Can there be any day but this,
Though many suns to shine endeavour?
We count three hundred, but we miss:
There is but one, and that one ever.

George Herbert, “Easter,” from The temple, 1633

I came across this while rereading N. T. Wright’s The Resurrection of the Son of God. I normally am not fond of poetry, but I like this one.

“Black Friday” sales, Bible & theology edition

And a happy Thanksgiving to all who are celebrating it!

I’m not a huge fan of the whole “Black Friday” concept; it’s devolved into a consumerist orgy and is a sure sign of cultural decadence. Nevertheless–I’m going to take advantage of it when it helps me out. After all, the internet never takes a holiday.

Logos has posted its sale for the weekend. There’s not much that’s too terribly exciting here, at least so far (they’re keeping a few items back as a teaser). They based this on their loyal customers’ wishlists. (I am aghast that Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology came in at #2!) The only I thing from mine is The Early Church Fathers, which they’re giving for $50 off (about 20%) the normal price. As this is absolutely vital for historical theology studies, I went ahead and got it as an early Christmas (and probably New Year’s and birthday) present. This is the old late C19 edition of Schaff et al. (They have a newer edition in the works but it’s almost 10 times the price.) I’m not very fond of spending real money on public domain works that are available for free all over the internet, like here. However, I’ve used these web editions for serious work, and they are a pain to navigate. The Logos edition should be vastly superior. I’m paying primarily for convenience, ’tis true, but convenience for the rest of my life.

Barth’s Dogmatics is also on sale (technically); I got it on pre-pub for much less. It is another resource where having it in electronic format is much better than print. CBD has the print edition on sale at a much better price.

Anyway, if you’re interested, give Logos a click. Apparently some of the books are reduced even further once you proceed to checkout, so you might need to click through that far to get the final price.

Terminal insomnia

“There is a gulf fixed between those who can sleep and those who cannot. It is one of the great divisions of the human race.”–I. Murdoch, Nuns and Soldiers

For the last several years, I have suffered periodically from terminal insomnia. That’s a scary name, isn’t it? A better one is “early rise” insomnia. I simply wake up too early. Today it was 4 a.m.

As I’ve gotten older–older, not old, mind you–I have lost the ability to sleep in; making it past 6 a.m. is a rare and notable achievement. I also seem to rarely be able to sleep more than six hours. That might sound good enough, but living in a tropical climate with extreme temperatures I find I need closer to eight. I almost never get it. I’ve always been a morning person, so I can get a lot of work done in the morning and enjoy doing so, but many days by 1 p.m. I’m washed out. In recent months I’ve started to take naps in the afternoon; thankfully my schedule allows it, and while I’m not particularly good at sleeping during the day either, even 10 or 20 minutes helps me recover the rest of the day. (Today, unfortunately, is one of those days when I will not have the opportunity.)

The bad thing about this type of insomnia is that there is precious little that can be done about it. I have no difficulties falling asleep at night, so most of the advice for the more common type on insomnia doesn’t apply. Last night I just couldn’t stay up and was out before 10, which pretty much guaranteed the early rise. There’s no medication for this sort of thing, and I wouldn’t want to try sleeping pills anyway. I don’t have caffeine after 6 a.m. (not a typo). On days I’m not too exhausted I exercise, which helps some, but mostly it seems to increase my overall sleep requirement.

My insomnia seems to be connected with intense, vivid dreams. This is a constant thing practically every night, and all the members of my family have reported the same thing as long as we have lived in our present city. (When we travel to a different city, the dreams lose their intensity and frequency.) I remember last night’s quite well; it was so stupid. I was managing a radio station, overseeing a program expansion, juggling budgets and personalities. Okay, so I know why I was dreaming about budgets, but otherwise it was so pointless. I woke up at 3, fell back asleep uneasily and dreamt some more until I woke again, fully alert, at 4. This is a very typical pattern.

So, that’s why I’m able to write and get a post up before 5 a.m. I will now scurry around and try to get some work done before the rest of my family and the sun rise, then hope and pray that I can get through a rather busy Thursday.

Web freebies: November 2013 edition

One of my mottos is, “Cheap is good; free is better.” Thankfully there are tons of free theological resources on the internet; basically anything that’s old enough to be in the public domain someone has scanned or otherwise put into an electronic format and posted. Also, some journals make their content available after a certain amount of time has gone by. Things like that and more.

However, not everything that is free is free forever. Lately I’ve been finding good limited time deals on material that’s normally charged for. It’s too bad I wasn’t blogging last month. SAGE Publications had all of their journals open for the entire month. Normally they’re really pricey, like $20 for a single article. This was a tremendous gift; they have some really good academic journals.

There are two good freebies going on now through the end of the month (or almost). The first offer is access to 14 philosophical and theological journals put out by Maney Publishing. Quite frankly few of these journals interest me all that much, certainly not in comparison to SAGE, but I haven’t gone through all of them yet. Black Theology seems the best of the bunch so far. (This offer is good through November 29.)

Also, Crossway Books is giving away the online edition of the ESV Study Bible. You have to set up an account and give a shipping address, but it unlocks the content for free. The way the promotion is worded, it’s not clear if the content is available for free only through the 30th or if that is just the deadline for signing up for it. My impression is the latter.