Tuesday, May 27, 2008

We may still have Goblins today.

Over my holidays I've been rereading J.R.R. Tolkien's masterpiece, "The Hobbit." Just last night I reached the point where Bilbo and the dwarves encounter the goblins (in "The Lord of the Rings" they are called 'orcs') in the mountains. Tolkien describes his goblins as being "cruel, wicked, and bad-hearted" which sort of goes without saying. But goblins are also clever and crafty which makes a particularly bad combination.

As Tolkien describes the goblins (and the particular predicament in which Bilbo and his friends find themselves) he throws this in:

"It is not unlikely that they [the goblins] invented some of the machines that have since troubled the world, especially the ingenious devices for killing large numbers of people at once, for wheels and engines and explosions always delighted them, and also not working with their own hands more than they could help; but in those days they had not advanced (as it is called) so far" (Tolkien 60).

This theme is further carried out in Tolkien's other works (especially in "The Silmarillion"). In Middle-Earth goblins/orcs were not 'created'... even though it was inaccurately portrayed that way in the movies. In Tolkien's world goblins were people who had been corrupted by Tolkien's satan figure, Morgoth. These corrupted people were then bred with one another and created their own cultures and nations that had the values of their master.

By this definition I think that we may still have goblins today, in our world... and I think that's exactly what Tolkien was getting at.

Any thoughts?
Who are the goblins of today's world?
Are they all communists or Arabs like the media would like us to think?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A Voice from Beyond the Grave...

... well, really I'm just on holidays.

In the meantime check out this picture. I found it rather poignant. There's actually something to it. Or I'm just reading way too much into it:)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Checked Out... so check this out.

So you know how when you're just a day or two away from holidays you start mentally checking out even though you're not there yet? Yeah, well that's starting to happen to me... (just don't tell Harv, OK!).

So, instead of coming up with yet another unbelievably profound tidbit for y'all, please check out the Radiohead music video below. It's well worth the time. Leave your feedback.

"A righteous man knows the rights of the poor;
a wicked man does not understand such knowledge."
Proverbs 29:7 (ESV)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Scriptures that aren't Scriptures?

Our small group has been going through the book of James over the past few weeks. It's been great. James is always good for prompting discussion.

But this last week we ran into this verse:
James 4:5 "Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, 'He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us?'(ESV)"

Now, I'm not going to get into the content of what that quote says (although it is a fascinating quote) but what I'm interested in is the phrase "the Scripture says"... because the fact is that the scriptures we have in our Bible don't contain a quote like that.

I'm not really concerned about the content of the quote because there are other verses that are in our Bible that line up with what the quote is saying, but what do we do with Scripture quoting "scripture" that we don't have as scripture?
James does this once but Paul does it frequently:

Paul quotes early church leader, Clement when he says (quoting Jesus) in Acts 20:35 "It is more blessed to give than to receive ."
We have no records of Jesus saying that in our canonical gospels. But Clement says that Jesus said it (1 Clement 46:7). None of Clement's writings were considered authoritative enough to make it into the Biblical cannon but Paul quotes him!?!

And then there's Paul quoting completely non-Christian sources...

I guess Paul liked reading Greek poetry, because he quotes Aratus' poem "Phainomena" (Acts 17:38), Menander's poem "Thais" (1 Cor. 15:33) and twice quotes Cretan poet, Epiminides (Titus 1:12 and Acts 17:28).
It is clear from the way that the Apostle Paul uses these quotations that, like we use them today, the quotes are used to reinforce the point Paul is making... in other words, they are used to reinforce what we now have as Scripture.
So all of this begs a few questions:
- does scripture need reinforcing?
- do these secular quotations become authoritative because they are included in Scripture?
- do the Christian (but extra-Biblical) quotations (the Clement quote and the one from James) indicate that there are authoritative Scriptures outside of the Bible?