Top Three on Tuesday

I’ve been toying with the idea of retooling some parts of my blog to bring them more in line with the overall theme.  For my “Top 3 on Tuesday” posts, that basically means changing the title to incorporate something about civics.  I’m picturing something that conveys 1) the Kingdom civics theme, 2) the fact that it is a collection of pertinent articles, and 3) that it is a weekly feature.  Any ideas?

While you chew on that, I’ll share my top 3 this week:

The Sane Ones, from Experimental Theology

The sanity of Eichmann is disturbing. We equate sanity with a sense of justice, with humaneness, with prudence, with the capacity to love and understand other people. We rely on the sane people of the world to preserve it from barbarism, madness, destruction. And now it begins to dawn on us that it is precisely the sane ones who are the most dangerous.

The bulk of this article (including the above excerpt) is quoted from Thomas Merton.  Some of it resonates with my thoughts on the human capacity for evil, and it also echoes some of my concerns about our tendency to always elevate the logical and dispassionate as morally superior.

Forgo, from Millions of Miles

I am among the 1-3% wealthiest persons of the world. Not because of my income, but simply because I have a bed and access to clean water. To realize I am just like the man to whom Christ spoke in Luke 6:24 is a horrible feeling.

When did retirement become one of life’s biggest goals? When did comfort become the deciding factor in all major decisions? What happened to living like foreigners in the land in which we live (1 Peter 2:11)?

The excerpt from this article is also a quote from a third source, and this time, that source is the creator of an app called Forgo.  I loved the idea behind the app, and even if I don’t end up personally using it (mainly b/c I want to choose my own charities), I was inspired to incorporate the premise into my own life.

A Ban on “Biblical,” from Internet Monk

I made a New Year’s resolution this year: I will try my best to avoid using the adjective “Biblical” to describe what I think “the Bible teaches.” The use of this word as a prescriptive adjective to promote positions and convictions is rampant among Christians. The problem is, it usually obscures more than it enlightens, hurts rather than helps, and stops discussion dead in its tracks rather than promoting good conversation.

Chaplain Mike goes on to list the necessary caveats, but on the whole, I totally agree with his point.  It’s funny because the verses we read in our Wednesday night class last week talked about the banning of oaths.  One of the comments I read on that passage was that people used oaths to claim that God was on their side and basically to stop the conversation.  It was a power play.  It seems sometimes that we do the same thing with the word, “biblical.”  After all, if you claim that your view is “biblical,” and someone disagrees, does that mean that he or she is un-biblical?  That seems to be what’s implied!

Did you read anything interesting this week?

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7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Tim on April 24, 2012 at 10:01 am

    Re: biblical – I thought at first that I haven’t really seen an epidemic of this misuse of the word, but after reading Chaplain Mike’s article (and his excerpt from RHE’s piece) I think maybe I’ve actually just been extremely successful at ignoring those who use the word as a prescriptive adective. Seriously, I realized long ago that reading someone else’s take on biblical economics, sex or politics is usually a chump’s game, just one person’s agenda, thinly veiled by an opinion which is, in turn, poorly disguised as supposedly scripture based analysis.

    Here’s one I liked this week – Aubry Smith’s piece on Potty Training yesterday: http://myofferings.wordpress.com/2012/04/23/why-potty-training-changed-my-life/#comments
    She gets at a lot more than just parenting. The subtext is all about making plans and then finding the plans don’t always work out.

    Tim

    Reply

  2. Posted by bekster081305 on April 25, 2012 at 12:32 am

    Those are all very interesting posts (and, no, I didn’t read anything except for your blog and the TRJ blog, which would be redundant here). The Forgo thing sounds REALLY COOL, and, well, Biblical. (At least that’s what I was GOING to say, ironically, before reading the Internet Monk post.) About the Biblical thing, I understand what they are saying, but I think there are times when it is okay to use it, like to say that loving people is a very Biblical concept (or other things like that that almost no one would disagree with). When you start to get into specifics, sure, you don’t want to use the word to give special weight to your own crazy interpretation of scripture, but to me the problem there is not the actual word “Biblical” but the attitude of “my opinion is better than your opinion.” I know there’s a fine line there, but I feel like it’s okay to use the word to mean “as spoken of in the Bible,” as long as the Bible actually speaks clearly about whatever the thing is.

    For example, I will attempt to use the word now to talk about the Forgo app and you can tell me how it comes off (as an experiment and to give my opinion, which I wanted to do anyway). What I had intended to say before reading the “Biblical” article is that the Forgo app seems to be based on the Biblical principles of self-sacrifice and caring for those in need. I would think that God would smile broadly at something like that because it reflects a victorious outcome of the Biblical struggle between the flesh and the Spirit. In my opinion, something like that is probably what Jesus was trying to get at in the story of the Rich Young Ruler because, more so than wanting the guy literally to sell all of his possessions (which still may have been the case–I don’t know–but for a different reason than what we might think), I think Jesus was trying to teach him the Biblical truths about humility and putting others–and especially God–above ourselves. (Since Jesus seems to make a big deal about the guy calling him “good,” it makes me think that Jesus is trying to break down the hierarchy this guy has set up in his mind, especially considering how the guy makes sure to point out that he has kept all of the commandments. I think he thinks that he is “good,” but he is missing the point.) If we fear that we are putting our money and OURSELVES above others and God, using this app would be a good way to work on being humble. The app seems very much in line with the Biblical concept of serving God rather than money, as well as putting into practice that of trusting in Him to take care of our needs (the opposite of which could be a deterrent to giving). It also gives the user a chance to test the Biblical idea that God gives back to us more than we give up. Because of all of these things, I would say that Forgo is a very Biblically-based app (though I agree with you, Kim, that I would want to pick my own charities).

    Reply

    • Posted by Tim on April 25, 2012 at 8:34 am

      Becky, I like your phrase “biblical principles”: it contrasts nicely with people who say they have discovered “biblical methods”. I remember reading years ago a book on marriage, and in the sex chapter they pointed to Song of Songs 2:6 – “His left arm is under my head, and his right arm embraces me.” The book said this was God’s teaching on the proper sex position (i.e., the “biblical method” for couples).

      Hogwash and poppycock, of course. Really funny too.

      Reply

    • Becky, I see what you are saying, and, upon reflection, I think I may just have personal issues with the word from hearing lots (and lots) of opinions (mostly from other women) of what constitutes “biblical” womanhood. From not working outside the home, to not using birth control, to not wearing pants (only skirts and dresses), I’ve heard so many opinions that are given the guise of “absolute” through the use of the word, biblical. I guess that’s why the article resonated with me.

      But you are right. There’s nothing really wrong with the word itself, is there? And there are lots of legitimate uses for it.

      Reply

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