I was up before 7:00 as usual to fix my wife’s breakfast.  Normally it’s a hot shower right after, and then I fix my own breakfast and get on with reading/writing, after seeing her off to work.

But this morning I suddenly felt like skipping the comfort of the shower.  Not even a splash in the sink.  I’m a mess, a bit like a man rushed off from an all-night trial to the doom of a public sentencing.

It’s already noon and I haven’t even combed my hair.  I’m not fasting here – I’ve had coffee and all.  But I was right to think that skipping the hot shower would put me just far enough out-of-sorts to work like a hair-shirt, and keep me mindful.

So I’m home today, on Good Friday, with sleep still in my eyes and that overnight grungy feel – but this year I’m staying on point, and managing a little better at ‘keeping’ the awful memorial of my salvation.


Simon Peter – Man and myth

Kevin at Diglotting put up a book give-away offer that has my interest: Peter – the Myth, the Man, and the Writings, by Fred Lapham (2004).

The apostle Peter has already come up for criticism on this blog as one of my special NT problems.

I currently judge Simon Peter as chiefly responsible for the wrong-headedness which introduced error into the early kerygma.  Peter’s Pentecost sermon (Acts 2:14-41), in my view, twisted the evangelism of Jesus in a way which eventually submerged the Galilean gospel of grace beneath the new church’s post-resurrection news-for-Jews:  Repent before the crucified and very angry and very soon to be returning Jewish Messiah brings down the whole age on your heads in the manner depicted by your apocalyptic writers.

It was this ill-considered sermon of Peter which, in my view, changed history for the worse by fomenting all the distracting ‘success’ of fear-based evangelical preaching.  Peter channeled the enthusiasm of the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem into the first Judeo-Christian megachurchagogue (Acts 2:40-42) of the type which now proliferate in places like Texas.

From that point the progress of the Holy Spirit was ‘in check’ until it made two key moves:

(1) to go out ‘in person’ and turn Paul (Acts 9), and then

(2) to speak sense to Peter (a thing which required that the Apostle be semi-conscious – Acts 10) in order to loosen him up and get him over to Caesarea to witness God’s real plan in action (Acts 10:34-45).

The damage was already done to the kerygma, but at least Paul was inspired enough by the news from Caesarea (Acts 11:18-26) to take the mission out to the whole world (Acts 13ff).

Maybe Lapham’s book will cool me off a bit 🙂

Reading break

A 5-night camp in a primitive area gets a person away from workplace and Internet all right, but does not afford as much study time as you might think.  With a night on the road in both directions, and the bulk of the five layover days given to the simple tasks of conducting life without conveniences, one’s free time must be very deliberately set aside (with the nights too cold for comfortable reading). 

For me a great benefit of being unplugged is the return to the old rigor of focused attention on a book, without recourse to electronic search engines offering attractive digressions along the spurs and side tracks of related trivia and close detail. 

Of the seven books selected for the trip, 2 bore fruit.

1. John, Jesus, and History, Vol.1, (Paul N. Anderson & others ed., SBL, 2007).  I tapped this book in preparation for some Fourth Gospel blogging here in the weeks to come.

2. F.D.E. Schleiermacher’s The Life of Jesus (Lecture notes 1832/ German 1st 1864/ Eng 1st 1972).  The English translation was edited (with 50-page Introduction) by Claremont emeritus Jack Verheyden – a key contributor to the JJ&H volume, above.  Schleiermacher was himself a great interpreter and proponent of the Fourth Gospel. 

This would be the third spring retreat in four years in which I have spent rewarding time with Schleiermacher, having studied the Monologen in 2008, and his Religion (a close re-reading) in 2006.

Into the wilderness

Beginning Palm Sunday, I’ll be away until Easter, on our seventh annual spring week in the desert.  This year it happens to be Holy Week.

Approaching Friday, the joshua trees will be a constant reminder of the cross.  Not because they look like crosses (they don’t), but because there is a poetic sense in which the cross became a ‘Joshua Tree’ when Yeshua was placed upon it.

This post gives me a chance to utilize my first embedded image (this one from last year’s trip). A new look for the blog (maybe a portent of the next level).