There I was, sitting on a plane to Israel, not knowing what to expect. I had been selected to take part in an archaeological excavation on the north-western shore of the Sea of Galilee. My almost total lack of practical archaeological experience was greatly outweighed by my excitement to be processing millennia-old Jewish and Christian objects. As a scholar of textual culture, this would be my first foray into the world of material culture. Read More
Recently, an article by on the Guardian popped up on my facebook newsfeed, entitled Cloud Atlas ‘astonishingly different’ in US and UK editions. Just beneath that you could read ‘Academic discovers dramatically altered stretches of narrative while researching a paper on David Mitchell’s bestselling novel’. This immediately drew my attention as it is something close to what we study in biblical studies. Read More
Spectrum Magazine asked me to review Reinder Bruinsma’s latest book Facing Doubt: A Book for Adventist Believers On the Margins. As I was reading and thinking about Bruinsma’s book, I decided that some of my musings would be worth a blog post.
I really feel that Bruinsma has done an admirable job with this book. That said, I don’t really feel like I am the audience for this book, though I couldn’t at first put my finger on why. After a while, I figured out what was at the core of my issues. As I wrote in the review:
My only true problem with the book, is one that is not Bruinsma’s fault at all. As I read the book, I didn’t feel that I was the audience. Not because I lack doubt, not because I haven’t thought of leaving the church, but because my worldview and thus my reason for doubts are different. Ultimately, I would estimate that this book answers more questions for Baby Boomer and Generation X readers, than for younger ones.
Ultimately, my issues with Bruinsma’s book are because what I see as the problems with the church don’t seem to be the ones Bruinsma points out. Allow me to muse a bit about why Bruinsma’s doubts are the doubts of a Baby Boomer (which Bruinsma is) or of Generation X. Not, and let this be very clear, not as a critique of Bruinsma’s book, but as an addition to the discussion. Read More
Monsters are hot. It seems that networks are producing more and more monster shows: Penny Dreadful, The Walking Dead, and The Vampire Diaries, just to name a few. Monsters have escaped the fetters of the horror genre and broken free into blockbusters. Even classical works are being rewritten by mixing monsters with century’s old texts, to create new works and their film adaptations: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
In the ancient near east, monsters were everywhere, including ancient religious texts. The beasts of Daniel and Revelation, the giants of Genesis 6, the evil spirits, and people possessed by them are all examples of monsters and the monstrous immediately present in Biblical writings. Moving to extra-canonical works the examples are even more apparent: the tortures and tortured souls in the early Christian apocalypses, Lilith, and primordial beasts such as Leviathan and Behemoth. The monstrous nature of some of these is immediately evident in their embodiment (e.g. giants). Others are monstrous in geography or location (e.g. tortured souls) and behaviour (e.g. demon-possessed humans). All are monstrous in the impact they have on the audience, they embody otherness, threaten commonality, yet strangely attract. Read More
[This blog post is part of series on metamodernism and awesomeness. If you don’t know what metamodernism is, read this first, otherwise you may be left in the dark. I’m developing some thoughts here, and reactions are more than welcome.]
Pete is an adventist. Pete believes in heaven. Pete believes Jesus lives there now, and will come soon to pick the faithful up. Pete wants to believe he can join Jesus in heaven. Pete thinks heaven is awesome.
Pete could never be an Adventist. Pete knows that heaven is a fallacy. Pete knows that the idea of heaven is just used to bribe us to be good. Pete doesn’t even want to go to heaven. Pete thinks heaven is awesome.
Pete is both of these things. And neither. Pete is metamodern. Read More
[This blog post is part of series on metamodernism and awesomeness. If you don’t know what metamodernism is, read this first otherwise you may be left in the dark. I’m developing some thoughts here, and reactions are more than welcome.]
Pete is an Adventist. Pete believes in prophecy. Pete believes in the prophetic task of the end-time church. Pete believes that the Bible and Ellen White predict future events. Pete thinks prophecy is awesome.
Pete could never be an Adventist. Pete knows that prophecy is a fallacy. Pete knows there is no end-time church. Pete knows that the prophetic parts of the Bible about history were obviously written after the fact. Pete knows that other prophetic parts were simply socio-religious critique. Pete thinks prophecy is awesome.
Pete has both of these identities, and neither. Pete is metamodern. Read More
Almost 25 years ago Nelson Mandela was released from prison. He has been an inspiration for many people, and I am sure he will remain one for generations. In 1993 his contribution to society was honoured, when he won the Nobel prize for peace, together with F. W. de Klerk. Mandela’s mission was founded in love and human rights.
Mandela’s fight for love and human rights is special to me. I lived in South Africa when he was released from prison. I remember the elections where De Klerk was voted president. I remember the hope that many had that he, from a position of power, would bring change. And change was direly needed.
The meaning of life, for a Christian, is taking care of the earth. God’s primary wish for humankind is being a faithful steward to the earth and everything on it. Sadly, when we talk about stewardship we often talk about money and tithes. But what’s up with the world?
When I was at Newbold College I was a member of the NSA. Not that NSA, the American organisation that keeps an eye on us at all times. I was a member of the Newbold Student Association. That was in a time when Newbold was having seven lean financial years, while all students were mandatory paying members of the NSA. The students were richer than the school. So we decided to give the College a hand. We had a plan that would not only help Newbold, it would save the world. We wanted to get a windmill on campus. The electricity would be shared with the College. Newbold is in a part of England that is well-suited for wind energy. Everything was sorted: plans, planning permission, you name it. But, if you go to Newbold today. No windmill. Why not? When we got to the final vote, one of the students stood up and said: ‘Why should we take care of the environment if Jesus is coming soon?!’ His argument was apparently very powerful, because when we got around to voting we decided against it. Read More
The ordination of female pastors has been a hot topic in the Adventist church in the last years. The excitement is growing now that the General Conference is getting closer. Sadly, I am not a delegate the the General Conference so I will have no vote in the matter.
For the record, I wholeheartedly support the ordination of female pastors. I don’t think that anyone who knows me has any doubt in that issue. In November of 2012 I wrote an article for Spectrum Magazine, where I said:
As an ordained male pastor I have no direct stake in the argument, yet this is an issue in which I have always felt personally involved, and on which I cannot conscientiously remain silent. As a church it is our responsibility to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, and as Christians it is our moral duty to speak out where we see our fellows treated unjustly. Having grown up in South Africa during the years of apartheid, I witnessed institutionalised injustice first-hand. Discrimination is wrong no matter what form it takes, and I cannot see any fundamental difference between how the church treats women (as less than men), and how South Africa treated black Africans (as less than white Europeans).
Met enig regelmaat schrijf ik een gastblog voor het Nederlands Bijbelgenootschap. In de veertigdagentijd vroegen zij of ik iets wilde schrijven over het evangelie van Johannes. Het is altijd een uitdaging om iets te vermakelijks schrijven voor zo’n breed lezerspubliek, maar de volgende zinnen uit Johannes 16 gaven mij goede inspiratie:
‘Nu spreek ik nog op een manier die jullie niet begrijpen. Maar er komt een tijd dat ik dat niet meer doe. Dan zal ik jullie over de Vader vertellen in duidelijke taal. […] De leerlingen zeiden: ‘Ja, nu spreekt u duidelijke taal. Dit is niet te moeilijk voor ons.’’ (Johannes 16:25, 29 BGT)
De verhouding tussen de duidelijke taal waar Jezus over profeteert en de duidelijke taal van deze nieuwe bijbelvertaling was te mooi om te laten liggen.
De blog gaat als volgt:
Voor het eerst in mijn leven dacht ik dit jaar mee te doen aan de veertigdagentijd. Ik kom uit een traditie die geen nadruk legt op het kerkelijk jaar. Een traditie waarin de heilige dagen voor de meesten te rooms ruiken. Gelukkig veranderen de tijden, en ik verander mee.
Zo’n drie weken geleden begon het Nederlands Bijbelgenootschap voor de veertigdagentijd met een actie op Facebook: elke dag wordt een bijbeltekst uit het evangelie volgens Johannes gedeeld en een overdenkingsvraag voor de dag. Ik ben een fervent Facebooker, en ik ging meedoen.