Monday, December 3, 2012

Exodus 20:8-11 (ESV):  Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.  On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.  For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day.  Therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.

Back in the late 1950s or early 60s a woman was arrested in my community for buying a gallon of milk on Sunday.  I remember hearing my parents talking about the incident.  They believed the whole thing was a set-up designed to outrage the community into repealing the blue laws.  For those readers too young to be familiar with the term "blue laws" an explanation is in order.  blue law was a type of law common in many states designed to enforce Christian religious standards, particularly the observance of Sunday as a day of worship or rest, and a restriction on Sunday shopping. Most blue laws have been repealed, have been declared unconstitutional or are simply unenforced today.

My father, though an avowed atheist or at least an agnostic at the time, was not in favor of repealing the blue laws.  He owned a car dealership and believed if the laws were repealed and some of his competitors opened their dealerships on Sundays then he would be forced to be open seven days a week as well.  I think his main concern was not being able to play golf on Sundays if the laws were repealed.

In many American cities today, for Christian and agnostic alike, Sunday is the busiest shopping day of the week.  Almost all retail businesses today are open on Sunday.   I say almost because on the way home from church one recent Sabbath, after driving past one business after another that was opened I finally spotted two that were keeping the Sabbath.  The first was a liquor store and the second was an adult bookstore.  

The Truly Righteous Always Promote Justice

Any way you read it...

Proverbs 29:7 NIV -- The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.

Pro 29:7 NASB -- The righteous is concerned for the rights of the poor, The wicked does not understand such concern.

Pro 29:7 CEV -- The wicked don't care about the rights of the poor, but good people do.

Pro 29:7 KJV  The righteous considereth the cause of the poor: but the wicked regardeth not to know it.

Naturally, as a Christian Kvetch, my favorite philosopher/theologian is Soren Kierkegaard. Here is one of my favorite Kierkegaard quotes:
"The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any word in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world? Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church's prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament. "
--Soren Kierkegaard, Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard, ed. Charles E. Moore (Farmington, PA: Plough, 2002), 201

While driving to the Botanical Gardens with my grandchildren a car plastered with Tea Party and Romney bumper stickers swerved in front of me from the right lane and slammed on his breaks so he could make a left turn at the light. Luckily I was driving slowly enough I could break without startling my granddaughters. However, I muttered under my breath, “What an ass.”

Apparently I spoke louder than intended because right away my granddaughter Bridie asked, “Grandpa, is “ass” a bad word?”

Me: It all depends on how you use it in a sentence.

Bridie: What does, “How you use it in a sentence mean?”

Me: Well, ass is another word for donkey, so if you see a donkey and you say, “Look, there’s an ass,” then ass is not a bad word because it’s just another word that means the same thing as donkey.

Bridie: Was there a donkey in that car?

Me: No, but there was a Republican in the car.

Bridie: Is it bad to call a Republican an ass.

Me: No, that’s another case where it means the same thing.

Bridie: Oh.

I love helping my grandchildren learn grammar.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Alice Walker Quote

‎"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any." - Alice Walker

FYI: African-American novelist, poet and activist Alice Walker says she became a radical due to the influence of Howard Zinn who was one of her professors at Spelman College during the 1960's. I knew Zinn at that time because he was the father of a friend of mine and occasionally  lectured at the socialist commune I was living at in 1962-63.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Changing Goals

When I helped edit a left wing newspaper back in the late sixties and early seventies I saw myself as the next V.I. Lenin or at the very least, America’s next E.B. Debs or maybe Herbert Aptheker. Years later, when I was in seminary, I saw myself as the next Billy Graham (but with strong Walter Rauschenbusch leanings).  Now that I’m in the autumn (if not winter) of my years I find that what matters most is that I be remembered fondly by my grandchildren.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Bible and Slavery

All of my life, but especially down here in the southern United States, I’ve heard that the Bible never condemns the institution of slavery. I guess because I’ve heard it so often, I never questioned the statement’s veracity. I read the Bible through every year and have never noticed anything that would specifically challenge that teaching.

Until today. Look at 1 Timothy, verses 8 through 10 in your Bible. Of the translations I have, all but two of them render the Greek noun, ἀνδραποδιστής (andrapodistais) in verse 10 as “kidnappers” (NKJV, NASB, RSV, NAB, CEV), or “menstealers” (KJV).  

Only the New International Version and the English Standard Version correctly translate ἀνδραποδιστής as “slave traders” (NIV) or “enslavers” (ESV). The ESV’s note on “enslavers” reads, “That is, those who take someone captive in order to sell him into slavery.”

According to The New Testament Greek-English Dictionary, edited by Thoralf Gilbrant, the word ἀνδραποδιστής “…is used of those who trafficked in human beings whether by enslaving free men or stealing the slaves of others for resale.” It has no other meaning.

In 1 Timothy 1:8-10 the Apostle Paul is lumping slave traders in with “the ungodly and sinners…the unholy and profane,…those who strike their fathers and mothers,…murders, the sexually immoral,…liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine.…” (ESV).

It seems to me that if Paul is condemning those who enslave, then the whole institution of slavery is tainted as well. Those are my thoughts on ἀνδραποδιστής. What are yours?

Friday, September 9, 2011

War = Profit

"If we could just take the profit out of war, there wouldn't be any." -- Woody Guthrie