What is more, the Church’s foundation documents (to say nothing of its Founder himself) were notoriously on the wrong side of history. The Gospel was foolishness to the Greeks, said St Paul, and a scandal to Jews. The early Christians got a reputation for believing in all sorts of ridiculous things such as humility, chastity and resurrection, standing up for the poor and giving slaves equal status with the free. And for valuing women more highly than anyone else had ever done. People thought them crazy, but they stuck to their counter-cultural Gospel. If the Church had allowed prime ministers to tell them what the “programme” was it would have sunk without trace in fifty years. If Jesus had allowed Caiaphas or Pontius Pilate to dictate their “programme” to him there wouldn’t have been a Church in the first place.
Our family is anticipating some quiet vacation time in the coming days. As we’ve done the past few years, we’ll be staying at a friend’s cottage. It’s not quite the middle of nowhere but there’s nothing noisy within a 30 minute drive. Just how we like it. Walks, playing in the lake, cooking, sleeping and reading is the extent of our activity.
Have you read any books this summer worth recommending?
For this trip I’ll finish up The Last Detective by Peter Lovesey, the first book in a series featuring the gruff dective Peter Diamond. I’ve read very little in the detective/mystery genre but have been enjoying this book enough that I’ll likely pick up the next installment from the library.
The library also provided Chicago author Joseph Epstein’s Snobbery: The American Version. Epstein is a great essayist and I’ve read his book on friendship a couple of times.
I recently picked up the handsomely-bound Collins Classics edition of Moby Dick (nope, never read it.) at our local used bookstore and it will make the trip to the cottage as well. Most dusk jackets go directly into the trash can when I bring home a hardcover but I may hang onto this one.
Also making the trip is the current issue of Image Journal, N.T. Wright’s translation of the New Testament, a friend’s chapter from American Christianities, and Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating by Norman Wirzba.
The sabbath was the day when human time and God’s time met, when the day-to-day succession of tasks and sorrows was set aside and one entered a different sort of time, celebrating the original sabbath and looking forward to the ultimate one. This was the natural moment to celebrate, to worship, to pray, to study God’s law. The sabbath was the moment during which one sensed the onward movement of history from its first foundations to its ultimate resolution. If the Temple was the space in which God’s sphere and the human sphere met, the sabbath was the time when God’s time and human time coincided.
-N.T. Wright, Simply Jesus.