Verba Sparsa

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Remembering a funeral at a wedding

Every morning my iPad Pro somehow chooses a picture to feature in the little photos gadget on its home screen. This morning it is this photo from July 21, 2021. Here my mother, Dolores, is seated on the little side deck of her house in Hopewell VA with my niece Lauren. This is the house…

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Through the storm

What if you are in a storm, surrounded by enemies and headed for shipwreck? And what difference does it make if God is there in the storm with you?

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In absentia

In case anyone wonders why the verba are even sparser here than usual these days, it’s because most of my meager time and energy for this sort of thing are going into my campaign website and Facebook page. That’s right, friends, I’m running for office. Please do have a look at those two places. [As…

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All those who practice it (Psalm 111)

Psalm 111 is a beautiful psalm of praise. It praises the character of God not as an abstraction but as manifested in God’s works. Note the recurrence of “works,” “work,” “deeds,” and various action verbs (highlighted in pink in the photo). Note also that among God’s works are God’s precepts. God not only gives food…

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Keeping the Declaration of Equality

Another Independence Day rolls around. Heather Cox Richardson has written a brief essay for the occasion. You should read it. It refers, fittingly, to the Declaration of Independence. I want to say a little bit about the Declaration myself. Note that the document itself is not titled “Declaration of Independence.” We are in the habit…

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Story problems

Once you start down the road of insisting that the only permissible stories are ones that align with your sense of how the world ought to be, you are on the road to ideological indoctrination.

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On reading Psalm 93

The Lord is “robed in majesty,” yes, and high and lifted up, but the scripture he has given us: it is given through our own mouths, and portrays our own plight, is right down here on the ground with us, in the mud and the blood and the gore.

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Why Christotrumpians admire Putin

The people who reduce the Trump-Biden choice to anti-abortion versus pro-abortion are victims and perpetrators of the same malignant fallacy as those who reduce the Russia-Ukraine situation to anti-transgender-rights to pro-transgender-rights.

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Illegitimate totality transfer (on praying Psalm 44)

Warnings from biblical lexicography James Barr was for many years, I think, the scholar most feared by other members of the biblical-studies guild. He had a knack for spotting and exposing fallacies that were widely accepted by his peers as standard practice. Probably the best-known example of his work was his book The Semantics of…

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Reading Matthew: Make disciples

Beginnings and endings of books can help us grasp and remember what the books mean. Recently I finished reading through Exodus and left some thoughts on what that book means in light of its ending. I have also just finished reading through the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew begins with a genealogy that grounds the meaning…

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Reading Exodus: Holiness means obedience

‎When you’re reading a text, some parts carry more weight than others. Even if every word matters, some words shape how you understand other words. If we’re reading well, and trusting the text, we could say that every word affects how you understand every other word. But in practice some words—some parts of the text—affect…

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Trump-Russia is not a hoax

If you are not yet reading Heather Cox Richardson’s daily Letters from an American—why not? I am an ordinary US citizen with the education of a theologian, biblical scholar, and pastor, and I work as a religious book publisher. My interests in current American politics are theological, ecclesial, pastoral. Heather Cox Richardson is a history…

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How COVID-19 has sorted us out

Thomas Paine wrote: “These are the times that try men’s souls.” The trials of the American Revolution would distinguish the “summer soldier and the sunshine patriot” for the true patriot. Well, any crisis tries the souls of those who live through it. The crisis puts a spotlight on actors who must respond to it, and…

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