Most books throughout history have been utilitarian, instrumental, meant to be searched rather than read from cover to cover—think of the phone book. And even the absorbed, linear reading of a continuous fictional narrative from cover to cover didn’t use to be seen as a virtue: until radio and film and TV came along to compete, losing yourself in a book was a mark of idleness, not of industry.
Allah, Odin, and Thor: Mythical Gods of War, Not of Love
Brian James’ novel Ragnarok brings the brutality of the Viking Apocalypse to the modern world.
Americans have a naïve view of religion. The religious freedom that is so ingrained in our tradition — and our Constitution — has morphed beyond tolerance to a sort of anthropomorphic acceptance of pretty much anything.
In other words, in order to prove how tolerant we are, we take our basically Judeo-Christian view of what religion and God should be, and assume all other religions share the same goals, have the same values, and are just differing manifestation of the same loving and just God.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, the God of the Bible is unique in the history of the world’s religions. From Baal to Zeus, from Jupiter to Allah and Odin, the gods of paganism are capricious masters, not loving fathers. Control is their goal — when they think of humans at all — not justice or peace.
But saying so is sooooo judgmental!
Marvel Comics master storyteller Stan Lee took the most interesting of the Norse gods, Thor, the God of Thunder, and made him a crusader for truth, justice, and maybe even the American Way… or at least Western values.
But think of it from the view of the Vikings — what could be more capricious and destructive than the god of the weather?
But of course, a self-centered destructive superhero who loves war and longs to be worshiped would make for a crappy comic book.
On the serious side, though, a misunderstanding of a leading world religion has serious implications for most of the current world conflicts.
Even George W. Bush mouthed the diplomatically convenient canard “Islam means peace.” Yes, and Pravda means “truth.”
A non-rebellious slave is at “peace” with his master, too. Read more…
When Amazon first released the Kindle, I was, of course, an early adopter. But…I rarely used it. Why? Because I rarely read fiction. My nose is, usually, and always has been, buried deeply in non-fiction: history, theology, current events, politics, biography, you name it. Non-fiction has been my steady diet for a long while now, though, as a boy, I read fiction and literature voraciously.
Sure, I’d take my Kindle along on trips, and it was great to use, but otherwise, I’d just set it aside until the next trip.
But in the past year I have become a total Kindle addict. It feeds my long buried fiction addiction and I have read, perhaps, more fiction in the past year than I have in the previous ten years, or more.
I thought I was alone in this, but my friend Dr. Gene Edward Veith recently commented on this and told me that using a Kindle to read e-books has reawakened his passion for reading fiction, which got him into his lifelong journey to begin with, leading to his doctorate in literature, etc. He has become one of my best “recommenders” of fiction to read, he turned me on to The Hunger Games, for example. Told me, “Once you start reading them, you won’t be able to stop.” He was right.
I realized that his experiences with the Kindle are precisely my experiences in the past year.
At first, I thought the Kindle was a nice toy, a nice gadget, but surely it could not replace the “experience” of reading. No physical paper or pages. Sure, reading would not be the same. I was one to snort it off and look down my nose at it. No more.
I’m telling you today that in fact reading is every bit as much a pleasure and then some because of the Kindle. I can take my books with me wherever I go and read them wherever I am and whenever I want.
Kindle is with me anywhere my iPhone is, which is to say, everywhere, all the time.
I find myself ending most days now spending at least thirty minutes, to an hour, with my Kindle reader, reading some work of fiction. I’ve got titles stacked up now in the list waiting to be read, all kinds of fiction.
Most recently it has been The Hunger Games [what a great read!], next up will be another read of the British seafaring fiction of Patrick O’Brian which rises to the level of fine literature.
So, that’s my story, the Kindle and I have a beautiful friendship.
Care to share your own experiences with the Kindle or e-books in general? Do you find yourself reading more fiction?
After an unprecedented campaign to raise £9 million ($14.5 million) in 8 months, the British Library has reached its goal and is now the proud owner of the 7th century St. Cuthbert Gospel, the oldest book in Europe that is fully intact from covers to binding to sewing structure to vellum pages. It was the most ambitious and most successful fundraising campaign in the Library’s history, marshaling donations from the likes of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the British Library trusts, the Art Fund, the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Foyle Foundation, major individual donors and members of the public.
Although the former owners, the Society of Jesus, had loaned the book to the Library since 1979, since it wasn’t publicly owned the institution could not spend any money on conservation. It was on display, but with the cover closed to avoid any damage to the pages. Once the money to acquire the Gospel was secured, the British Library brought in leading conservation experts to assess the ancient volume. They found it in unbelievably good condition.
The Gospel has now gone on display in the entrance hall of the Sir John Ritblat Gallery in the British Library building at St. Pancras and for the first time it is open so that visitors can see two of the pages. This exhibit closes on June 17th.
The St. Cuthbert Gospel is a copy of the Gospel of St. John written in Latin around 687 A.D., the year Cuthbert, Bishop of Lindisfarne, died. The cover and back are made of crimson goatskin leather over birch boards, witha chalice and vine motif embossed on the front. It’s an incredibly rare surviving example of Anglo-Saxon leather work. Inside, the Latin script on the vellum pages is beautifully preserved and extremely clear.
It was written by monks at Monkwearmouth-Jarrow Abbey, probably with the specific intention of creating a pocket gospel to place in Cuthbert’s coffin when it was moved behind the altar at Lindisfarne Cathedral in 698. When the coffin was opened, Cuthbert’s body was found to be incorrupt for the first, but not the last, time.
The Vikings invaded Lindisfarne in 875, and the monks fled carrying the coffin and its precious cargo with them. They were on the lam for seven years until they settled in Durham. The saint was kept in a church on the site of the present Durham Cathedral (with occasional interludes elsewhere while escaping later invaders), then in Durham Cathedral as we know it today until Henry VIII’s marauders came to pillage the cathedral during the Dissolution of the Monasteries between 1536 and 1541.
The monks hid St. Cuthbert’s body, but the Gospel was taken during this time and passed into private hands. It turned up again in 1769 when a private collector gave it to the English Jesuit College at Liège, later moved to England and renamed Stonyhurst College. The Jesuits kept it in the Stonyhurst Library until they loaned it permanently to the British Library in 1979.
Despite this checkered past, the St. Cuthbert Gospel has been preserved in a virtually incorrupt state of its own. You would never imagine looking at it that it’s 1300 years old. Now that the Library owns it, they are making long-term conservation plans to ensure that it retains its preternatural condition. They’ve also digitized the entire volume and uploaded it to their website.
The British Library is partnering with Durham Cathedral so the Gospel will split its time between London and Durham.
The Very Reverend Michael Sadgrove, Dean of Durham, said: “It is the best possible news to know that the Cuthbert Gospel has been saved for the nation. For the people of Durham and North East England, this is a most treasured book. Buried with Cuthbert and retrieved from his coffin, it held a place of great honour in Durham Cathedral Priory. The place in the Cathedral where it was kept in the Middle Ages is still the home of our unique manuscript collection.
“I want to pay tribute to the heroic efforts of the British Library in achieving this wonderful outcome. It has been a privilege to be associated with this fundraising campaign. I am pleased that the Friends of Durham Cathedral have supported it with a generous gift, and that one of the fund’s donors has chosen to channel a major gift through the Cathedral.
“As part of the plan agreed between the World Heritage Site and the British Library for its display, we look forward from time to time to welcoming this precious book back to the peninsula where Cuthbert’s remains are honoured. It will be always be loved and cherished here. I am sure Cuthbert shares our delight.”
New book explores a Jewish view of the New Testament
ENI-12-0117By Chris Herlinger
New York, 29 February (ENInews)–A new edition of the New Testament has done what none other has done before — explain the core body of Christian writings through the lens of Judaism.
“The Jewish Annotated New Testament,” published by Oxford University Press, takes at its starting point the fact that the central figures in the New Testament — Jesus, Mary, the apostle Paul, as well as the gospel writers — were Jewish and lived in a Jewish cultural milieu.
The new volume, edited by American Jewish biblical scholars Amy-Jill Levine, who teaches at Vanderbilt University, and Marc Zvi Brettler, who teaches at Brandeis University, is being called a landmark for placing the New Testament text in historical and cultural context.
The book “fills a huge gap in the world of biblical interpretation,” said the Rev. William Brosend, who teaches at the School of Theology in Sewanee, Tennessee, and who heads the Episcopal Preaching Foundation.
As one example of the annotations, the Jewish Annotated New Testament deals squarely with the issue of the Gospel of John and anti-Judaism. The editors note that the gospel has a number of explicit references to Judaism that are hostile, even though the book “draws extensively on Jewish tradition.”
They noted that “while John’s difficult rhetoric should not be facilely dismissed, it can be understood as part of the author’s process of self-definition, of distinguishing the followers of Jesus from the synagogue and so from Jews and Judaism.”
Asked by ENInews to characterize the reaction to the book so far, Brettler said it has been “overwhelmingly positive” across religious traditions, and among both conservatives and liberals. “If there has been any surprise, it is the surprised delight at how enthusiastic the response has been,” he said.
Brettler said he has heard of groups planning on using the book for interfaith study, and some have even suggested producing a study guide for such groups. Most readers and nearly all scholars and journalists seem to “understand the book and its purposes,” he added.
“On Amazon and several blogs there have been some comments by people who never opened the book. These range across a wide gamut, from Jews who feared that the book is a secret attempt at converting Jews to Christianity, and Christians, who had the reverse fear,” he said.
“These comments are the result of the fear and misunderstanding that the book attempts to ameliorate, and we are very happy that those who have actually opened the book have not expressed these reactions,” he said.
The book uses the New Revised Standard Version of the New Testament.
It is interesting to notice that that German editions of the BOC are somewhat few and far between after the 1580s and 1590s. This is a German Book of Concord from 1739, with a companion document. I’m asking $300, and this includes shipping via USPS Priority Mail (2 day). I will only ship to addresses in the continental USA. If you want insurance and delivery notification, that’s $5 extra. I’ll take PayPal but add 3% to the payment. Money order and check are fine. I’ll hold the check until it clears. Here are photos. It is in good shape, was rebound once. The pages are nice and tight in the binding.
My experience with e-books and e-readers has been … interesting. I’m still undecided if I enjoy reading a book on a Kindle more than holding the actual book. I can say for sure I enjoy being able to take a portable library with me wherever I go, reading it wherever I am, and I enjoy the reading experience every bit as much as turning pages. It’s taken me a while to be able to say that, but with the Kindle, I am drawn as much into the text as I am when it is printed on paper. Though, I like to own a book, as opposed to only owning a right to read my “book” on my gizmo, when it really exists “out there” in a cloud on some servers, somewhere, which download it to my device. My gizmo will grow old and I’ll have to buy a new gizmo and the book in some new format…once I own a book, it’s there. I don’t have to upgrade it, or update it, or buy a new one in order to read it.
My colleague, Laura Lane, sent me this interesting article declaring that the book will remain the better reading experience because of the “non-linear thinking” it encourages.
But if we stop reading on paper, we should keep in mind what we’re sacrificing: that nonlinear experience, which is unique to the codex. You don’t get it from any other medium — not movies, or TV, or music or video games. The codex won out over the scroll because it did what good technologies are supposed to do: It gave readers a power they never had before, power over the flow of their own reading experience. And until I hear God personally say to me, “Boot up and read,” I won’t be giving it up.
My colleague, Dr. Benjamin Mayes, brought me his new book to look at: Counsel and Conscience: Lutheran Casuistry and Moral Reasoning after the Reformation (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2011). It is available on Amazon.com now. Most people are not even aware that there was such a thing as “Lutheran casuistry.”
What is “casuistry”? Casuistry is the attempt to apply general moral principles in particular circumstances, particularly when two otherwise valid principles conflict or when we are unsure of what to do. It is truly where the rubber hits the road when it comes to real-life ministry.
Dr. Mayes has researched and shed light on a branch of Lutheran ethics that has been almost completely ignored for centuries. Besides the historical value of this book, I think it will be of great help in really establishing what the Lutheran doctrine of the conscience is and is not, and in helping us sort through the difficult issues surrounding the ethics of divorce and remarriage. Here is a summary of his book:
In Lutheran Germany of the post-Reformation era (ca. 1580–1750), there was a genre of pastoral/ethical writings consisting in casuistry (i.e., cases of conscience, the hard questions of faith and practice) and in topically or thematically related theological counsels, aimed at instructing and comforting the consciences of Christians. An extensive example from this genre is Georg Dedekenn/Johann Ernst Gerhard (son of Johann Gerhard) (ed.), Thesaurus Consiliorum Et Decisionum [Treasury of Counsels and Decisions], 4 vol. (Jena: Zacharias Hertel, 1671). Lutheran casuistry, related to but also distinct from Roman Catholic and Reformed counterparts, arose especially as pastors looked within Holy Scripture, the medieval tradition, and the writings of Martin Luther and other Lutheran authorities for answers to ethical problems and doctrinal disputes. Dedekenn’s Treasury was an anthology, addressing a wide range of dogmatic as well as practical matters. Dedekenn and the other editors of the Treasury did not view their counsels as necessarily obligating to a Christian’s conscience. Instead, they viewed the counsels as wise advice, and they encouraged readers to avoid individualistic ethical choices and instead to engage in an “aristocratic” process of moral decision making in which one would consult the wise men of the past and present. The counsels included in the Treasury address inter-confessional disputes, intra-Lutheran disputes, sacraments, church government, pastoral ministry, social ethics, marriage, sexual ethics, and many other topics. By examining the cases and counsels on divorce and remarriage, Mayes sees various arguments being made, and several sources of authority aside from Scripture being used, including medieval canon law and ancient Roman imperial law. Usually, a high degree of uniformity can be seen in the answers given in the Treasury. Yet an irreconcilable diversity in the cases on marriage presents a picture of the condition of marital practice in seventeenth-century Germany, a condition which was of concern to the editors of the Treasury and their friends.
I’m thrilled to tell you that my good friend, Mr. Timothy Goeglein, with whom I have enjoyed working closely over the years, has written a book: The Man in the Middle: An Inside Account of Faith and Politics in the George W. Bush Era. You can place an order for it via Amazon. Be sure to watch the video preview below. Tim’s book will be available starting on September 15.
Timothy S. Goeglein is vice president of External Relations for Focus on the Family, lobbying for the Colorado-based organization’s pro-family causes in Washington, D.C. He served as deputy director of the White House Office of Public Liaison under President George W. Bush for nearly eight years. Goeglein and his wife have two sons. I would be remiss if I did not also point out that Tim was a key leader in the President’s Commission on the Sanctify of Human Life for many years, under the LCMS Presidency of Dr. A.L. Barry and was instrumental in obtaining for us a talented writer to help us draft what I believe to be, to this day, one of the very finest statements on the sanctity of life produced for English speaker: That They May Have Life. That writer was Michael Gerson, who went on to become President Bush’s speech writer.
Tim has served our nation in many capacities, and weathered a personal crisis in a way that was so admirable for the manner in which he dealt with a failure in an honest and open manner, a very Christian manner. Read the first chapter of his book and you will understand what I’m talking about. Link here.
Here is the publisher’s description of Tim’s book.
Timothy Goeglein spent nearly eight years in the White House as President George W. Bush’s key point of contact to American conservatives and the faith-based world and was frequently profiled in the national news media. But when a plagiarism scandal prompted his resignation, Goeglein chose not to dodge it but confront it, and was shown remarkable grace by the president. In fact, Bush showed more concern for Goeglein and his family than any personal political standing. So begins The Man in the Middle, Goeglein’s unique insider account of why he believes most of the 43rd president’s in-office decisions were made for the greater good, and how many of those decisions could serve as a blueprint for the emergence of a thoughtful, confident conservatism. From a fresh perspective, Goeglein gives behind-the-scenes accounts of key events during that historic two-term administration, reflecting on what was right and best about the Bush years. He was in Florida for the 2000 election recount, at the White House on 9/11, and watched Bush become a reluctant but effective wartime president.
Goeglein, now the vice president with Focus on the Family, also looks back at how Bush handled matters like stem cell research, faith-based initiatives, the emergence of the Values Voters, the nominations of both Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito-in which Goeglein had a direct role-and debates over the definition of marriage.
In all, The Man in the Middlebacks historians who view the legacy of President George W. Bush in a favorable light, recognizing his conservative ideas worth upholding in order to better shape our nation and change the world.
President Matthew Harrison wrote a great book in 2009 titled A Little Book on Joy: The Secret of Living a Good News Life in a Bad News World. It proved extremely popular and after he was elected president of The LCMS, Pastor Harrison asked Concordia Publishing House to pick up the title and reprint. I’m happy to tell you that it is now in stock and available for immediate shipping from Concordia Publishing House. If you are unfamiliar with the book, you can download and take a look at a sample from the book. Simply put, it is a great book. I promise you that if you start reading it, you won’t be able to stop. Here’s the information from our CPH web site about the book. You can order it online, for $12.99, plus shipping and handling. Another book by President Harrison, At Home in the House of My Fathers, will be out in a few months also.
Rediscover the joy of being a Christian! LCMS president Matthew Harrison has produced a well written exploration of the nature of life in the fallen world and the joy that we have in Christ. Read about the joy of life together in community, marriage, and family, or the joys of humor, worship, the sanctity of life, and the wonders of creation.
Study questions at the end of each chapter, perfect for Bible study or small group study.
A Prayer Guide for “The Great Ninety Days of Joy after Joy with texts and prayers from Ash Wednesday through Pentecost.
“Something to Think About” questions are included at the end of each chapter.
What Others are Saying:
Matthew Harrison takes the subject of joy and succinctly brings it into clear view. Something that any “dyed in the wool” Christian—even a staunch German Lutheran—can grasp and embrace. The book provides a fresh and honest look at how and why joy is an integral part of one’s life.”
President—Michigan District LWML
“A singular contribution! Matt Harrison’s A Little Book on Joy is a big book in great need today. In his characteristically incisive manner, Matt has given today’s Christian the keys to real joy—the kind the Savior intended, and the kind he created in his life, death, and resurrection. I commend it to all as a healthy antidote to the travails of modern life. Matt continues to be one of the most interesting, topical, and important authors on today’s theological scene.”
Vice President—Corporate Business Development
Lockheed Martin Corp.
Past Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Washington D.C.
“Let’s face it: serious Lutherans too often come across as dour sourpusses. A Little Book on Joy shatters that caricature. Matt Harrison leads readers on an exuberant romp through the Scriptures and the multiple facets of unbridled Christian joy.”
Rev. Harold L. Senkbeil, STM, DD
Executive Director, DOXOLOGY: The Lutheran Center
for Spiritual Care and Counsel
Here is a Latin edition of the Book of Concord from 1677. For whatever reason, finding copies of the Latin BOC from this time period is not as common as finding them printed after 1700. You can find Latin BOC editions from the 1700s somewhat easily, but finding them printed, in this good a shape, from before 1680 is more difficult.
It is in great shape, tightly bound.
It is yours for $325, including shipping via USPS Priority Mail (2 Day). If you want insurance and delivery confirmation, that’s $5 extra. I will accept discreet Paypal, money order, or check. I will ship only to continental USA addresses.
I’m putting up some books for sale and here are two more. If you want them, let me know by sending me an e-mail to BOC1580@gmail. I’ll take payment via discreet PayPal, but please add 3% to the price. I’ll also accept checks, and will hold books until the check clears, or money order. Shipping via USPS Priority Mail (2 Day mail) is included in the selling price, but if you want delivery confirmation and insurance, add $5 extra. I will ship only to the continental USA.
Here is a Latin BOC from 1847 for sale. I’m asking $75, shipped, for it.
I’m beginning to divest of some of my books so you’ll be seeing “for sale” ads over the coming months.
First, I begin with a set of Walther’s doctrinal textbook that he edited. These are in very good condition. The spine material is wearing, but each of these volumes is nice and tight in the binding and the paper is in very good shape. Baier’s Compendium is in Latin, with extensive citations from Lutheran theologians, in German. This was printed at Concordia Publishing House in 1879. They are yours for $265, which includes shipping via USPS Priority Mail to addresses in the continental USA. These books are from the first printing, first edition.
Here is more information about these books.
Dr. Robert Preus, in his The Theology of Post-Reformation Lutheranism said this about John William Baier:
“John William Baier (1647-95) studied at Jena, where he came under the influence of John Musaeus, who later became his father-in-law. He was called as professor at the University of Jena and later at Halle, where he did not always get along very peaceably with the pietists. However, like many of the later orthodox Lutherans, he was somewhat affected by Pietism. Baier is known primarily for one book, his Compendium Theologiae Positivae (1685). While demonstrating that the Jena theology was not syncretistic but orthodox, this work, which on every page leans on Musaeus, is not wholly free from the latter’s synergism. Baier’s presentation and formulations are very scholastic and indicate a decline in the forcefulness of orthodox Lutheran dogmatics. His theological shorthand, although precise, becomes so abbreviated at times as to be quite bewildering to one who has not read in other theologians of that day. Nevertheless, because of its clarity and convenient size the book was used in many schools and was re-edited in Germany and America in the 19th. century.”
Apparently from the beginning of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Baier’s Compendium of Positive Theology was used as the basic dogmatic textbook, primarily because it was easy to find. John William Bauer (1647-1695) had been professor at the University of Jena and the University of Halle. Although he wrote a number of other books entitled Compendium (one of historical theology and one of exegetical theology), his Compendium of Positive Theology is his best known work.
In 1865, Dr. C. F. W. Walther wrote that he had been persuaded to try and write his own dogmatic textbook, but this, unfortunately, never happened. Instead, synodical president H. C. Schwan “compelled” Walther to publish an edition of Baier’s Compendium that would include “annotatioins,” and that edition began coming off the press in May 1879. Besides correcting the publishing errors of earlier editions, Walther included copious quotations from sixteenth- and seventeenth-century theologians as elaborations on Baier’s terse comments. In this translation, the major loci and footnotes to them are from Baier. The interspersed quotations from Luther, Chemnitz, Gerhardt, et. al., were added to this edition of Baier by Walther.