The latest update to my Markan commentary is here.
(Updated January 11 2011)
The truism says every age thinks it's the one where something truly significant is happening. It's always said with hindsight, safely separated from the disaster or event in question. But our time is the moment in which we must live, and at the moment we are watching with horror as the deranged president of the United States seems hell bent on accelerating the decline and fall of his nation in order to satisfy his own narcissism. If this tragedy, which will reshape the world, and if the current pandemic were not enough, they are distracting us from the accelerating climate catastrophe which according to the science, not to opinion, will cause unparalleled suffering, and which risks societal collapse, and may threaten our very survival. How do we live in this? What does the gospel say?
I'm currently working in the Gospel of Mark and for some reason thought of the two women in Chapter five. Does this story say anything to us in our predicament?
The story is a Markan sandwich. The story of the older woman is placed within the story of the girl who is on the cusp of womanhood, and starting her life. This literary technique tells us to read and interpret the story which is "the bread," the girl's story, in terms of the filling which it contains. The bread is the story of a little girl who is on the point of death. The father comes to Jesus in desperation... Read on >>>>
This was a 238km loop with lots of gravel. I wanted to ride Niblet Gap as a little joke between friends, but it's also a way to see some really remote farming country. Niblet Gap itself is only about a kilometre, so strictly road bikes would be a fairly easy carry through. The Tothill Range area to the east of Robertstown has numbers of similar tracks cutting through the ridges. Read on >>>>
It was clear the papers were correct about people not going to the doctor during lock-down. Because within ten days of seeing my own doctor, I was sitting in a socially distanced chair outside the office of a skin specialist: one Dr. Tully Harris.
I wondered if he was the same Tully Harris who had been in the youth group of a congregation where, years ago, I had filled in for a few months. He would be old enough by now.
That Tully Harris had been a quiet kid who seemed to live in a universe which occasionally intersected with the one the rest of us were in. But he had a skill which the youth group were keen to show the new minister: Out on the basketball courts, Tully Harris sat backwards on his pushbike and rode a perfectly symmetrical figure eight across the asphalt... Read on >>>>
I've wanted to see a stretch of road between Truro and Eudunda that I've only ever ridden late at night, so this trip was the opportunity. I setup the route for scenery and low traffic rather than minimising distance, and to allow me to get the whole thing done in a long day without being heroic about the time on the bike.... Read on >>>>
March 2020: The plan was to ride to Leigh Creek, and return, over three days, a 1,000km round trip. The weather had other ideas, with 30+km east and south-east winds forecast for the weekend. These autumn winds were not expected to drop at night, which ruled out what is often an opportunity to make up a bit of time. In the end I put in about 800km on a modified course... Read on >>>>
I often tell people you can ride from Angaston to Willunga, and do in on bike paths and back streets. I've wondered about doing it as a full loop in the one day, and here it is.
Google will take you from Angaston to Willunga through the hills; 121km, or you can take the highways and expressways through the city. That's 133km. By bike and bike path, it's about 150km.
The possible routes are endless. I took a fairly direct route from Elizabeth to Willunga, and then had fun linking together a whole heap of paths on the way back to Angaston. From Angaston, I took the quickest way home if I stayed on the path. It resulted in 330km all up... Read on >>>>
In the abstract of a scientific paper, or the engineering plans for a bridge, words are precise and their meaning is tightly agreed and defined. One must rigorously exegete the text; that is, determine the unambiguous meaning of its author. The gospels are not such a literature. Here, we need to identify as much as possible what the author meant; that's the exegetical task. But we always bring ourselves and our own culture to a Gospel text. The art of reading the gospels is to avoid importing ourselves unduly so that we become eisogetes, those who read into the text, rather than those who bring insights out of the text.
And then there is the Gospel of John. The exegesis of John is very simple: Jesus shows us the Father; trust Jesus. But John desires us to bring ourselves into the text in a way the synoptic authors do not. His poetic text means to alert us to the experience of God, and to open us to the experience of God. He does not seek to define what this experience will be, but leaves us to take flight from his words to discover new heights of experience. So we come with all the necessary cautions about 'exegesis rather than eisegesis,' but eventually we must take flight into the endless skies of human experience, or John will remain obscure and our reading of him will be wooden. As Jesus said, "you will do greater works than these because I am going to the Father. [You will see things John never imagined.]" And when we see such things, we exclaim, "That's what he was talking about!"
Mine the poetry of John; dwell in it and muse upon it, and ears which have struggled with its strange cadence and imaginaire, will find a sudden clarity, and an affirmation of their experience of God... Read on >>>>
From the text: If we ignore the artificial chapter divisions in John, it is clear that blindness, and thieves and bandits, go together.
9:40Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, ‘Surely we are not blind, are we?’ 41Jesus said to them, ‘If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, “We see”, your sin remains. 10:1‘Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit... ...
There is something about human culture — the thief — which kills and destroys us, but Jesus comes to give life, and "more abundantly." The word for life is the same as the word Jesus uses in John 3:16... ...
But what this life will seem to be will depend upon our imagination. It will depend upon who we choose our models to be.
As a younger child, I imagined the fullness of life and being lay in being good. If I was good, I would have life. I was, of course, completely unconscious of how I came to this thought, but it was very clear to me by Grade 5 that "being good" worked for survival. As the whole class accused me of lying in order to deflect their own guilt in a certain matter— the consequences of this accusation were clearly going to be unpleasant— Mr Rosenthal, the Headmaster said, "I have never know Andrew Prior to tell me a lie," and believed me. My conversion was complete. Being good was 'salvational!' ... Read on >>>>
From the text: When Thomas has Jesus come before him that evening, he is being invited upon the Way to Emmaus. He is being invited into the communal, journeying life of church, with its weekly Eucharist. Upon this journey, "beginning with Moses and all the prophets" Jesus will interpret to him "the things about himself in all the scriptures." ...
Thomas knows that you can be raised from the dead, "since Thomas had recently seen Jesus raise Lazarus." I note that Thomas is the only disciple specifically named in the story of Lazarus in John 11. This is meant to highlight the oddness that it is he, of all people, who later "doubts" the resurrection of Jesus... the key point is that in John's "imaginaire" – in the realm of his imagination – resurrection is not the problem it is for us today. Resurrection, as such, is not the problem he wants us to see.... Read on >>>
This site is about celebrating life. My own life is too busy; my work is almost designed to keep me from reflection and enjoyment. In the busyness and competition of life, it is hard, especially for men, to be honest about fears and feelings. All this works against celebrating and enjoying life except in a most shallow fashion. So here, I seek to be unbusy.
One Man's Web has grown haphazardly, reflecting the interests of friends and myself. You will find abandoned blind alleys, ideas we no longer adhere to, things we never believed but "hung out there" to see what would happen. There are areas where I am remain passionate, but can't keep up; the area on Australia's refugees is one.
If you find some enjoyment or challenge here, I am glad. Celebrate life!