Monday, June 28, 2010

A Good Sermon

Calling himself an aggressive cyclist, religious historian Keith Watkins reports on four sermons he heard this summer on one of his journeys. He asks: What makes for a good sermon?

He lists four characteristics from his experience:
  1. Personable speaker
  2. Biblically focused
  3. Oriented to life today
  4. Appropriate to the liturgical setting
Check Keith's account and tell me what you think makes for a good sermon.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Hayden in Hollywood - A Story for Bibliobloggers

My dad, Hayden Brentlinger, was born, raised, and lived most of his life in one small Missouri town. So it was no small thing when, in the the 30s, he left home for California to seek his fortune, like a lot of others from that part of the country during the "dust bowl" days. His destination - Hollywood!

And once in Hollywood he found work in one of the major motion picture studios, meeting stars such as Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, and the original Tarzan, Johnny Weissmuller.

One day I asked daddy about his Hollywood days, wanting to learn more about this important story in our family's oral tradition: "Tell me, what did you do out there in Hollywood? What was it like working with those movie stars?"

"Well, Son, it was like this. I worked on a lot of Tarzan movies. My job was to stand by with a shovel. Every so often the director would stop the filming and yell, 'Brentlinger, bring your shovel. Tarzan's elephant needs a clean up.' And then I would run onto the set and start shoveling s _ _ _ ."

So bibliobloggers, on those days when the elephant visits your world (links that don't work, comments that miss the point, posts that fall flat, etc.), listen for direction:

"(Bird, McGrath, West, et al), Tarzan's elephant needs a clean up."

Then grab your shovel and get to work.

Winter's Bone

Missouri author Daniel Woodrell's 20006 novel, Winter's Bone, is now a movie and has won the Sundance Film Festival's Grand Jury Prize. It should be on your "must see" list. Set in the Missouri Ozarks, filmed in Christian and Taney County, this movie is unrelentingly dark, but also unrelenting in its profile of courage and determination.

The plot is straight forward. 17-year-old Ree Dolly's dad, Jessup, has been busted for cooking meth. He has put his family's home up for collateral to make bond and, as the movie begins, has skipped his court date. Unless he's found, Ree, her two siblings, and invalid mother will lose their home.

This story will show you a side of the Ozarks beyond the shows in Branson and the rides at Silver Dollar City. Here's the movie trailer.

This one qualifies for the revJohn seal of approval.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Bible Atlas - Not One But Two

If you are looking for a Bible Atlas, two evangelical publishing houses are competing for your dollar(s). And both deserve a look.

Published in June, the Zondervan Atlas of the Bible by Carl G. Rasmussen is a revision of their NIV Atlas of the the Bible. Using 3D imaging and over 100 full-color maps, this work has spectacular graphics. You can browse inside part of the volume at the Zondervan web site by clicking here.

Not to be outdone, the publisher of the ESV Study Bible, Crossway, will release June 30 the the ESV Bible Atlas. Given the graphics in the study bible, I would anticipate this to be a stunning volume as well. See the promotion here.

Both volumes can be found at Amazon. Both are graphically pleasing. Both are theologically conservative. (caveat emptor)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Marcus J. Borg Website

Marcus Borg has a new website and has started to post occasional theological reflections, as well as promoting upcoming speaking engagements and his many books. To visit, click here.

For a sample of of his approach to a biblical concept, see "Narrow is the way."

Monday, June 21, 2010

Comedy Central at a Church Near You

What role does "humor" play in worship?

None you say. We all know better. What preacher doesn't try to make the congregation at least chuckle once during the sermon? Sometimes it's a series of one-liners. And at a recent Conference on Homiletics, ministers were instructed on the 10 Commandments of Stand-Up.

Collin Hansen at Christianity Today raises his concerns about comedy in the pulpit.

So what is your experience with humor at church. Do we need more or less from our worship leaders?

By the way, did you hear the one about a priest, a rabbi, and a pastor who . . .


Ben Witherington continues his posts on the lands of the bible, this time Ephesus. Below are three posts with pictures and text that are worth your while.

Ephesus - Part 1

The Cave Church of Paul and Thecla

Ephesus - Part 2

Monday, June 14, 2010

Lands of the Bible

Ben Witherington has started a series on Lands of the Bible in conjunction with a DVD series he is filming around the ancient Mediterranean. These blogs have some great photos and supporting narrative that help us understand the setting of the our New Testament documents. Here is his most recent post, this one on Philippi.

Contemporary Worship - An Instructional Video

In a recent visit with my sister, we attended her church, which has a contemporary service. Since I do not normally attend a contemporary service, I was somewhat apprehensive about "how to" worship in this style. Fortunately, I was able to consult the following instructional video that provided many useful tips. I share it in case you may have the same concerns that I did.

BP Deals with a Coffee Spill

Thanks to Robert Cargill for posting this YouTube video that answers the penetrating question: How would BP handle a coffee spill?

Theological Diversity

New Testament scholar, David E. Aune, comments in Direction Journal on the importance of theological diversity.

Since most of our theological language is analogical rather than univocal, or metaphorical rather than literal, it seems to me that we do a basic disservice to the theological task when we transform diversity into contradiction, varieties into irreconcilables. Diversity is not only a sign of the vitality of the Christian religion, it is absolutely necessary if Christianity is to be meaningful and living for people of radically different social, cultural and historical contexts.

See all of his article here.