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Sabbath Day

March 30, 2017

OK. I will at least write something this week.

My Sabbath Day today seems to have been equally divided between Biblical study, reading fiction, and hanging with my son.

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First, most of my morning was spent with the Apostle Paul. I’ve been preaching a series of sermons on Paul’s Letter to the Romans during Lent. This has involved dozens of books, read or re-read, and has been the most mentally stimulating project I have undertaken in a while (especially the chance to re-read the secular philosophical appropriation of Paul over the past two decades). A shout out to Sigve Tonstad’s contribution to the Earth Bible Commentary SeriesPaul Among the Ecologists. Earlier this week I sent the author a note of appreciation:

Mr. Tonstad, I have just finished your commentary on Paul’s Letter to the Romans and want to say thank you. I am breathless. I do not think I have enjoyed a commentary quite as much before, with so many surprising riches on nearly every page. Your description of the debasement of language and descent into violence actually moved me to tears (and could have been taken from our daily news). The bracketing of the troublesome opponent in Romans 1, who wants to insist on God’s wrath, is brilliant – and has the sympathy of this pastor. And I cannot “un-see” Eve now that you have shown her to me! Having read your prose, I was unsurprised to find you write poetry. I serve a congregation committed to combatting climate change, and ‘Paul the Ecologist’ will be an indispensable companion as I prepare to preach. With much appreciation. Pastor Jeff

The commentary is ridiculously priced on Amazon, but is less expensive directly from the publisher (Sheffield). The author has copies available for just $35. Run, now, and get a copy. (Search “letter to the romans” on Facebook).

My afternoon involved chicken wings, a dark beer and taking notes for my sermon on Sunday, and then a couple hours with Tolkien’s The Children of Hurin. I’ve been quietly working my way slowly through the Histories of Middle Earth as my only fictional diversion from reality since the election. The Tale of Turin is as dark as they come. In this one, the forces of darkness prevail against all attempts at either heroism or liberation.

I wonder where I would be without certain essential myths – the scripture, Star Wars, Tolkien,  the universe of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy (with a new volume due out in October), Harry Potter. August is pressing me to choose whether I prefer Tolkien or Philip Pullman. I’m hard pressed to decide. Feel free to weight in.

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Late afternoon was spent with August at the Nature Center, tending the large animals and enjoying watching a snake eat a mouse. I mentioned the later on Facebook and received numerous responses from encouragement (to buy a snake) to eww. Together August and I spent the evening cleaning his room, washing our creature habitats, and watching Harry Potter. We read, played music, and August cooked dinner. This was our celebration of the end of the first week of state testing in english language arts.

Happy Sabbath.

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