The Euphemist

Reflections on Jewish Studies and many other subjects big and little, by a perpetual student who sometimes searches a little too long for just the right word ...

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Location: Minnesota, United States

Christian, truth seeker, husband, son, brother & uncle, Lutheran pastor, musician (cello, etc.), Jewish Studies grad student, intellectual historian, aquarium enthusiast & pet owner, philologist, astronomer, Norwegian-American, Ford pickup driver, buffoon.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Aunt Clarice, 1922-2006

My aunt passed away in Christ early Saturday morning after a life of 83 somewhat difficult years, though I believe her life would appear heroic to those who are discerning enough to value quiet loyalty over outward achievements. I had the privilege of seeing her a couple hours before she died, and will be presiding at the funeral tomorrow. I only wish her only daughter, who lives in North Carolina, had been able to arrive in time before her mother died.

May her memory be eternal.

This, of course, will slow down my already-slow blogging pace of recent days (how can you get slower than "motionless"??)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

My "Dangerous Idea"

Professor Jim Davila of recently responded to a challenge for bibliobloggers to post "their one 'dangerous idea' for biblical studies." Being a biblioblogger wannabe myself (a biblioblogger is basically someone who blogs on the study of biblical and related texts) I thought I would submit my "dangerous idea":

The differentiation between Judaism and Christianity did not begin at the time of Jesus Christ's earthly life or afterward. The parting of ways between Judaism and proto-Christianity was already under way some time before Christ was born.

While attempting to find out if anybody else has conceived of my wild little idea, I learned that a scholar named Gabriele Boccaccini has written of what he calls "Enochic Judaism", apparently a parent community both of Essene Judaism and Christianity, and which parted ways from what he calls "Zadokite" Judaism, which had a closer connection to the Temple. Whether this relates to my "dangerous idea" I really don't know yet, since I haven't yet read Boccaccini. But I'm intrigued. Meanwhile, in my quest to master elementary Hebrew I've just been getting into the "absolute" and "construct" states and pronominal suffixes, so it'll be awhile before I can run with the big dogs of Biblical studies. Maybe by the time I've gathered the tools, someone will have already offered a compelling proof (or rebuttal) of my Dangerous Idea.

I like someone else's Dangerous Idea that "Q is a mirage". The Q Theory really isn't a bad theory. It's a very ingenious way of accounting for the fact that Matthew and Luke have lots of overlap besides the parts they share with Mark. But the Big Reason why people shouldn't be so dogmatic about Q is as simple as this: Nobody's ever found a manuscript of Q. There's an ancient tradition that Matthew is, in fact, the first Gospel written, and a number of scholars have been favorable to that theory lately. There's nothing like a missing primary source to tempt people to fill in the blanks themselves.

Quadratic meme

I've been tagged for another meme! Yet another chance to tell the world even more about myself than they ever imagined knowing. It's almost like being in the tabloids ...

4 Movies You Could Watch Over and Over

1. Lord of the Rings (all of it)

2. Fantasia 2000 (especially the "Rhapsody In Blue" & "Steadfast Tin Soldier" segments)

3. How Should We Then Live by Francis Schaeffer (nobody said I couldn't include a 10-episode Christian historical documentary, did they?)

4. Star Wars (all of it ... well, most of it, anyway)

4 Places You Have Lived (I've lived in 13 communities in 6 states, so this is just a sampling)

1. Alexandria, Minnesota

2. Minnewaukan, North Dakota

3. Pleasanton, Texas

4. Whitestown, Indiana

4 TV Shows You Love To Watch

1. Star Trek: The Next Generation

2. Keeping Up Appearances

3. Gilligan's Island

4. Jeopardy

(Noone said they needed to be current TV shows - I hardly watch any TV these days)

4 Places You Have Been On Vacation

1. Orlando & Cape Kennedy, Florida

2. Greatham, Hampshire, England (not exactly a vacation, but an extremely memorable trip)

3. Estes Park, Colorado (also not quite a vacation, but a nice trip)

4. Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

4 Websites You Visit Daily

(Not sure there are 4 that I visit every day, but here are the 4 most common:

(other than blogs)

1. Yahoo

2. Wikipedia

3. Juno Webmail

4. The Weather Channel

4 Of Your Favorite Foods

1. "Veggie Lovers'" Pizza

2. Pineapple (but not on pizza)

3. Wheat germ patties, from a 7th-Day Adventist cookbook we have

4. Pancakes & Home fries from the little cafe in our tiny town

4 Places You Would Rather Be Right Now

1. Actually, right here in NE South Dakota is just fine.

2. South Texas

3. The Minnesota North Woods

4. In a college library

4 Bloggers You are Tagging

1. Kevin

2. & 3. Lars & Phil

4. Michael H (not sure if you have a blog these days, but feel free to have at it if you do)

4.1 Anyone out there who actually reads this is welcome to have at it.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Far out, man! I'm a crunchy conservative!

I've just discovered, via this post in "Mere Comments", that there's a name for what I've been for nearly 30 years: a "crunchy conservative." The Mere Comments post references this Sunday Times (London) article which really describes the phenomenon more thoroughly. And I completely relate. Like writer Rod Dreher, I recoil "from a crass conservatism that had no use for conservation and which never saw a field or a forest that it didn’t want to pave over to create a Wal-Mart parking lagoon." I'm a religious traditionalist who has for years conducted my life "in certain ways that might not have been kosher with the right-wing mainstream but that flowed naturally from our conservative moral and religious beliefs."

Not that I radiate crunchiness the way that some people do, but here's where I'm coming from. When I was growing up I was deeply influenced by an interesting Bible study group my family attended. One of the chief leaders was a man named Dave who was (and still is) a career organic vegetable farmer, a conscientious objector during Vietnam, who served briefly as a missionary in Mexico under Wycliffe Bible Translators, who with his wife was a pioneer of home-schooling during the 1970s. He introduced us to Francis Schaeffer, a Christian thinker who visibly cultivated a Christian countercultural image, and whose home in Switzerland became a ministry called "L'Abri", to which a steady stream of young people on the "hippie trail" came to visit during the 1960s. Very conservative in his Bible-believing convictions, Schaeffer wrote a number of books, including Pollution and the Death of Man.

Francis A. Schaeffer - Patron saint of crunchy conservatives?

Years later while living near Indianapolis my crunchy roommate Michael H (a 7th Day Adventist at the time) introduced me to the amazing natural food grocery in Indy's "Broad Ripple" neighborhood, which I continued to visit occasionally after marrying my wife, also a crunchy conservative. Through her I met a whole group of crunchy people who belonged to a church she had belonged to for awhile, who in the words of one young convert were "a group of hippies who never sold out." Their church had made a long journey from being an idiosyncratic sect to embracing the Eastern Orthodox Church, but in the process had retained some rather countercultural ideals, such as a semi-communal lifestyle and yes, lots of natural food. So what I'm saying is, I keep on meeting Christians every so often who combine traditional Christian beliefs with "crunchy" ideals such as taking care of oneself with good food, taking care of one another through community compassion, and taking care of the world through conservation. How did it come to be that these things would seem contradictory? Isn't "conservatism" really about conserving things? Does it make sense that "conservatives" and "conservationists" have somehow been separated into opposing camps? Last March my wife and I attended a natural cooking seminar at the 7th Day Adventist Church. Though I have my differences with the Adventists, I appreciate the fact that (unlike some of us) they actually have a vision of how Christian faith can reshape every detail of life - and parts of the Adventist vision are a bit on the crunchy side - for example, love them wheat germ patties!

Anyway, I'm glad to know that I'm not alone. Are any of you out there "crunchy conservatives? And could someone please pass the scrambled tofu?