Monthly Archives: November 2011

an interpretation of the shrewd manager in luke 16

The Parable of the Shrewd Manager (Luke 16:1-13) is, in the words of Leon Morris, “… one of the most difficult of all the parables to interpret.”*

Most people with whom I have discussed this parable have little to no idea as to what it might mean. Indeed the idea that a dishonest person is commended is troubling at the very least.

The most common solution I have heard is that Jesus is saying we should be wise with our resources and opportunities just like the shrewd manager, to the point of using them dishonestly if necessary in order to get a good outcome.

Is this a fair interpretation?

I don’t think so.

Read the rest of this entry

misogyny on the radio: the kyle sandilands episode

Warning: The following post contains explicit quoted material that may offend.

Late last week Kyle Sandilands, a well-known Australian breakfast radio host, made headlines all over the country.

In response to a news article by a female journalist about the unpopularity of his new television show, Sandilands launched into an on-air rant:

Some fat slag on news.com.au has already branded it a disaster. You can tell by reading the article that she just hates us and has always hated us …

… What a fat bitter thing you are. You’re deputy editor of an online thing. You’ve got a nothing job anyway. You’re a piece of shit …

… This low thing, Alison Stephenson, deputy editor of news.com.au online. You’re supposed to be impartial, you little troll …

… You’re a bullshit artist, girl. You should be fired from your job. Your hair’s very ’90s. And your blouse. You haven’t got that much titty to be having that low cut a blouse. Watch your mouth or I’ll hunt you down.

Within days 20,000 people had signed an online petition calling for sponsors of Sandilands’ radio show, and also the radio network on which it appears, to drop their support. So far at least 16 sponsors have pulled out in varying capacities.

Much has been said about this event in opinion columns throughout the weekend, so I will not add to the cacophony.

What I do wish to add however is some thoughts about the underlying misogyny reflected in Sandilands’ comments. Read the rest of this entry

bible infallibility & the act of reading

Someone on my Facebook News Feed wrote the other day something along the lines that God used fallible people to write his infallible Word (the Bible) and so people should stop thinking they are smarter than God (I assume by questioning this apparent fact).

I don’t mean to disrespect this person (if they are reading this, hello!) …

… but I do wish to ask questions about this way of thinking.

To me the idea of an infallible Bible is riddled with problems. This is not because I doubt the power of God in any way, but rather because I doubt the ability of humans to write anything that is infallible, even under divine inspiration.

(Yes that’s right, I am differentiating infallibility and inspiration – they are not the same thing.)

Some may argue that God can overcome the shortcomings of humans to achieve his will, including the composition of the biblical text. This is however a problematic claim – does God override the will of the person to do so? Why use a person at all?

We could explore this for ages, so I’ll move on to my main question Read the rest of this entry

mental disability and praying for logie awards

Last night I went along to a church service with friends while staying in Brisbane. The group I joined was made up of 60% people with mental disabilities.

I was told that a number of the people present had previously attended particular Pentecostal churches, but having been prayed for for healing over varied periods of time without success some had been ostracised by these communities.

If order and predictability were what someone was after in a church service this was not the place for them – some congregants danced alternatively in the middle of songs, other shouted out comments during the proceedings and one blessed soul prayed that God would make them famous and give them a Logie* award. Two members even declared their marital engagement during the announcement time, though I was told that this was a regular occurrence, often between different people.

In the midst of such “chaos” I must tell you that I sensed the presence of God more potently than I have in a long time. Read the rest of this entry

individualism, desire and the christian self

It is frequently said that we live in an individualistic society.

This is not all bad. The fact that individualist philosophy values the individual’s worth is fantastic.

Not so fantastic in light of Christian theology is the individualist insistence on rejecting all forms of external interference on one’s interests. This is not simply because of the existence of God, the ultimate “external” authority, but also because of the unrealistic, even naive, view of human existence it represents.

What human is able to live according to their own interests, unabated by the interests of society? We live in a world of social connections in which even our most basic needs are dependent on relationships. I think for example of food whereby most of the people I know are completely disconnected from the production and manufacture of almost everything they eat.

How would individualism even work in a world such as this? Read the rest of this entry

rethinking bible “heroes”: how wise was solomon?

In my last post I looked at the character of Joseph in Genesis and suggested that perhaps he became a far more sinister character than is often thought.

I also suggested that the way we perceive some Bible characters could have more to do with our taste for imperial theology than with thoughtful reflection.

In this post I will turn my attention to Solomon.

Solomon

Most Seasoned Bible readers are aware that Solomon did not, as is often said, “finish well.” He married a lot of foreign wives for the sake of international diplomacy and compromised himself with their gods.

Despite this ending it is often thought that Solomon ‘started well.’ But how true is this? By comparing aspects of Exodus and Genesis with Solomon’s story in Kings we might be surprised by what we find. Read the rest of this entry

rethinking bible “heroes”: joseph the imperial henchman

Sometimes when we read the Bible we impose our own worldviews and values on the text.

One area in which this is apparent is that of “Bible heroes.” Are these people all we crack them up to be?

In the space of a few posts (maybe consecutive, maybe not, I haven’t thought about it yet) I’m going to explore some of the characters in the Bible who may have been misunderstood, for better or for worse.

Joseph

No, I am not talking about the stepfather of Jesus.

The son of Jacob’s story can be found in the later chapters of Genesis. He is often esteemed as a great man of God, someone to be imitated. Joseph, it is said, overcame great hardship, even his own attempted murder and imprisonment, only to be put into a position of great authority in Egypt by God: Read the rest of this entry

tgif (trash goes into flight): the bastardisation of creativity

Turn on the radio and you’ll find yourself bathing in the cesspool that is popular music.

Whoa, slow down there cowboy! That’s a pretty harsh way to start, you can’t open with that!

Maybe you’re right. I suppose that lots of music on the radio is actually very good. But you have to admit that a good deal of it can hardly be called beautiful.

Yes, yes, you’re right on that one. But on the other hand beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and those songs you’re talking about tend to be very popular, hence why they are on the radio. Somebody must like them!

Of course, I’m not denying their appeal. But I think the problem with these songs goes beyond their appeal.

What do you mean?

Well, I wonder what makes a song beautiful, or creative. Surely much of what appears in the music charts cannot be said to be creative.

That opens up a big set of questions. What does it even mean to be creative? Read the rest of this entry

the perils of hipster-dom: subcultural exclusivity

Today I watched a story on the news about a fellow who set a challenge for himself – he would become a hipster and study his experience.

One definition of a contemporary hipster might be: Read the rest of this entry

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