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The Evangelical Christian reading world is not the whole world

I probably shouldn't be taking time to think about the question put forth by Tim Challies yesterday. With only a little over six weeks in the semester remaining and a whole lot of work yet to do, I need to keep focused. However, I did spend a little time thinking about it yesterday, and maybe I'll think about it some more when I have more time. 

The title of the article and the question posed assumes a particular view: "Why Aren't Men Reading Women Writers?" Clearly, in general, that isn't true. All over the world, and throughout history, men have willingly read women writers. What is meant by that question is that in evangelical Christian circles men don't read books by women writers. And likely, considering the original question, coming from a writer named Jen Pollock Michel, the men come from more conservative -- and likely, complementarian-leaning -- circles. 

I was curious about what are the reading habits of those outside these evangelical Christian circles. What are they like among Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans, or even in more academic circles? Is it true that men are not reading books written by women in those environments? I don't think the situations are similar. I suspect the question "Why aren't men reading women writers" would not be asked some places. I recently picked up a book that I'm positive men have read: Paul and Gender, by Cynthia Westfall, who is a professor at McMaster Divinity School. Of course men read women writers; it's just not the same in some circles as it is in others. 

Furthermore, these concerns are confined to Christians in North America (and possibly the UK; I don't know) who have access to books and time to read them. I have friends who are missionaries in PNG, and I'm sure they know nothing about this situation, and they probably don't care. It is interesting how easy it is to assume that our situation is the situation, when in reality, it's only a very small slice.

The answer to that question does lie in the publishing industry and what people will buy. But the fact that it must be asked at all has something to do with the place from where it originates.


I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
"Come unto me and rest;
Lay down, thou weary one, lay down
Your head upon my breast."
I came to Jesus as I was,
Weary, worn, and sad;
I found in him a resting place,
And he has made me glad.

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
"Behold, I freely give
The living water, thirsty one;
Stoop down and drink and live."
I came to Jesus and I drank
Of that life giving stream;
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived,
And now I live in him.

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
"I am this dark world's light;
Come unto me, your morn shall rise,
And all your day be bright."
I looked to Jesus, and I found
In him both star and sun;
And in that light of life I'll walk
Till all my days are done.


Reading Week ponderings

It's reading week, and I have not accomplished nearly as much reading as I should have thus far. Unexpected things always pop up when you're the most busy. While I did parse Greek verbs this morning while I watched the men's curling team lose out on the gold medal match, I have not done nearly as much as I would like. I'm headed out later to the library to pick up some books and meet a friend for lunch.

Having to replace our furnace wasn't on the radar, but I am thankful the temperature last night was only -2 Celsius. Tomorrow, it will be warmer in the house. Space heaters are noisy, and not nearly as effective as a furnace. 

I was listening to the Daily Dose of Greek this morning, specifically James 1:26. When we hear that verse, "If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless," we love to nod our heads as we think of those whom we think ought to bridle their tongues; those people we think should just learn to be silent. But we need to first direct that to ourselves. 

I'm so thankful for the parsing app on my iPad. It really helps me not only memorize vocabulary, but become familiar with the principle parts of verbs. I am thankful that there is no quiz next week.

Next week, my school is having Ministry Leadership Day, and the theme of the day is worship. I'm eagerly anticipating Dr. Fowler's session on how to think theologically about the songs we sing. I am sure I will end up even more discouraged about some of the songs sung weekly in my own church. If the only indication that the song is about Jesus is the capitalized pronouns, there is something amiss.

One of the things I've done this week was also to see my daughter. She was engaged recently, and we had not seen the happy couple in person, so we were able to do that this week. It's an exciting time. Even more exciting is that my daughter (and all my children, actually) are not extravagant. She isn't looking for a big wedding and the thought of spending a lot of money on a dress she'll wear once isn't a part of her thinking. I'm thankful for that. And so is her father.

I am thinking blogging is really and truly dead. Which makes this post kind of amusing. 


O Worship the King

O worship the King, all glorious above,
And gratefully sing his wonderful love;
Our Shield and Defender, the Ancient of Days!
Pavilioned in splendour, and girded with praise.

O tell of his might, O sing of his grace,
Whose robe is the light, whose canopy space!
His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form,
And dark is his path on the wings of the storm.

Thy bountiful care what tongue can recite?
It breathes in air, it shines in the light;
It streams from the hills, it descends to the plain,
And sweetly distills in the dew and the rain.

Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
In thee do we trust, nor find thee to fail:
Thy mercies how tender, how firm to the end;
Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend!

It wasn't easy finding a version I really liked. This version is played on the accordian. I have a soft spot for Celtic reels, so I liked this one. It's really cheerful sounding.


How Koine Greek is teaching me to slow down

I am afraid that I have very fast reactions. That can be good when a kid has hurt himself or something needs to be done immediately. It means that even in my ten year old car, I am often the first one away when the red light changes. But it often has bad repercussions. When we react quickly, we may end up being careless.

Most of the errors I make on Greek quizzes are stupid things. Last week, for example, I got 22.5/25. Two of the mistakes were real mistakes; things I just didn't know well. But one arose from acting too quickly. Instead of translating "waters," I said "water." A half a mark because I was careless. I hate losing marks when I know it but reacted too quickly.

And now we meet participles. Our textbook, by Bill Mounce, has us quaking in fear about participles. They are weird things. They are part verb, part noun, part adjective. We have been pouring over verb endings and tense formatives to learn our verbs cold, and now we have to put noun endings on them. It feels strange. It looks like a verb, and it kind of acts like a verb, but it isn't a verb. It means paying attention.

The verb translated "I am loosing," λύω (lu-oh), in the third person singular ("he is loosing") looks like this: λύουσι (lu-oo-see). The dative, masculine, active, plural participle, translated "loosing," looks exactly the same. "Loosing," and "he is loosing" are not the same thing grammatically. This is where context becomes really important, because it will tell me if I'm translating an indicative verb or a participle. It means I have to slow down. And the kicker of course is that there are countless examples where words look the same but only context will differentiate them.

I could not help but think that the whole issue of learning to slow down is not only beneficial for studying Koine Greek, or any other subject for that matter. I still have nightmares about failing algebra tests because of something as small as a forgotten negative sign. We are a society full of distractions and lacking silence. When we start thinking that 500 words is long, it reveals a lot about how we read. We don't like details; we just want the basic facts. That isn't going to work in Greek, and for much of life, it won't work, either. When it comes to listening to others, it can be crucial to avoid miscommunication. Instead of mentally preparing our response while the other person is still speaking, we need to really listen to others. That means slowing down and paying attention. It may mean asking the person to clarify. Learning how to be thoughtful and measured is still a work in progress for me. But I'm thankful that I'm learning, however slowly.

I highly recommend Christians try their hand at Koine Greek. It's a lot of fun even when it's difficult. And the side benefits are an extra bonus.