July 15, 2020

He Is Strong

O my [sic] strength, I will watch for you; for you, O God, are my fortress.
Psalm 59:9

This is a very strange verse. At some point, modern translations seem to have agreed that "strength" must refer to God, and that the pronoun should be the first person singular. But the Geneva Bible (and the KJV after it) thought otherwise. Calvin himself preferred this translation: I will entrust his strength to thee... And, indeed, the Hebrew should not be rendered as modern translations seem to prefer, for it speaks of "his strength" not "my strength."*

The reason, as Calvin sees it, is that the psalmist in Psalm 59 is speaking of threat, and in this case, the threat is from Saul. This interpretation seems clear enough, but there's a problem: Verse 9 is the only place where the

July 14, 2020

Ça Ira

Edith Piaf (1915-1963)
Today is the 231st anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, the beginning of the French Revolution. One of the most famous revolutionary songs (first sung a few months after the Storming of the Bastille) was Ça Ira, which means "it'll be fine." This title and sentiment have American roots, because "ça ira" is what Benjamin Franklin—the American commissioner in Paris—used to tell the French when they'd how the American Revolution was going.

This particular rendition of Ça Ira is sung by Edith Piaf.

We Have Other Gods

Do you indeed decree what is right, you gods? Do you judge people fairly?
No, in your hearts you devise wrongs; your hands deal out violence on earth.
—Psalm 58:1-2

We no longer hear much about Asherah and Baal, Osiris and Isis, Marduk and Ishtar. There's just not that much of a temptation for modern day believers in the God of Israel to kneel before them. We have other gods, though: greed, power, money, lust, capitalism, militarism. But because we don't acknowledge them as gods, we don't realize that we worship them.

But make no mistake—it is by their hand that war, injustice, and oppression is meted out on earth. The ancients at least called their gods gods. We're

July 13, 2020

Gratitude and Praise

I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations.
  Psalm 57:9 

There is, I suppose, more than one way to thank God among the peoples and to praise God among the nations. In my setting, the most obvious way is to make known to people who may not be persons of faith that I am a disciple, and that I attribute the good in my life to God.

In some (many?) settings, this might, in fact, be counterproductive. To talk about God in a society in which people calling themselves Christians advocate racism and bigotry might close more ears than it opens. And so gratitude and praise might better be expressed through sharing with others

July 12, 2020

July 12 Worship

My study on Romans continues with a look at Romans 8:26-30. To better understand the verses 29-30, I bring Harry Potter into the mix. Here's the order:
  • 00:00 Chimes
  • 00:23 Prélude: Hedwig's Theme
  • 01:34 Welcome
  • 02:10 Call to Worship: Psalm 105:4-7
  • 02:32 Opening Prayer
  • 03:12 Scripture Reading: Romans 8:26-30
  • 04:11 Bookshelf Tour
  • 16:26 Bible Study
  • 27:34 Song: My Love Is Always Here
  • 30:38 Prayer/Epiclesis
  • 32:13 Lord's Prayer
  • 32:40 Fraction/Institution
  • 33:26 Benediction
  • 33:54 Response: Go Now in Peace
As always, it's best to watch the video in full-screen mode.