Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Where I was 10, 20 , 30, 40, and 50 years ago

I was at James Wiser's blog and surfed to Jeni's web site where the meme of the day is where one was 10 * n years ago where n = 1, 2, 3, ...

Ten years ago I was playing with some really bright light emitting diodes at work for exciting fluorescence from thermographic phosphors. I was running out of projects at work and it was getting kinda tight. The previous few months had been very stressful. I held on by doing various odd jobs and about six months later things took a turn for the better and they have stayed that way ever since. Older son marched in the band at football games.

Twenty years ago I was recovering from an infection that hit me while teaching a short course at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City on the effects of Nuclear Radiation on Electronics and preparing to go to do an experiment at Pratt Whitney in Hartford, CT that was later published in an IEEE journal. Read Jung's Man and His Symbols on the airplane there and back. My younger son was 3 months old and as some of you know that point in a parent's life is very intense. The older son was 5. Oh for those days.

Thirty Years ago I was on about the 6th draft of my dissertation and preparing to spend Thanksgiving in Oak Ridge, TN looking for a place to live. I had accepted a job at Oak Ridge. and we are still here! My wife and I were in our third month of living in her parent's camper trailer. Our lease in Charlottesville had ended that August. We were parked at an idyllic campground at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Took walks every day. Marvelous.

Oh no! Forty years ago I was a senior in high school in Rector, AR (population 1600) taking my first physics (there were 3 of us) and chemistry classes. The summer of love had just ended a way far away in San Francisco.

Fifty years ago, I was in the 2nd grade at Guyer Park Elementary School in Lansing, MI. and I can see in my head TV images of rockets blasting off and a cartoon depiction of Sputnik circling the earth.

In commemoration of this meme. Here are the Yardbirds doing "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago" It came out forty years ago. It is the best piece of British psychedelic music there ever was.

Friday, October 19, 2007

August 1962 - Football and Salvation

Richard Beck has started an internet meme on his blog here. He begins it with a reference to me:

"Steve in his comment to my last post, tells a story from his faith journey when he realized that there were Christians beyond the borders of his faith tradition. I have a similar story. But before I tell it, I'd like to try to start my first internet meme.

There are some psychologists who suggest that our personality and worldview is influenced by and symbolized by evocative childhood memories. Primal memories often loaded with emotion, good or ill. Some have suggested that these early childhood memories affect our theological beliefs."

Then Richard requests we reply to his post with links to our stories on our own blogs. He says

"So, here's the meme. Tell a story on your blog (or here if you don't have one) that you consider to be a primal theological memory in your life. The rules:

1. This should date from childhood to adolescence.
2. It should be a memory that you think symbolizes or has directly affected your theological development. And this could be theological movement forward, backward, sideways, or just different.
3. Encourage others to share their memories."

I have another memory to relate. It was August of 1962 and I was not quite yet 12. We were sitting in the car outside the gym watching senior high school football players emerge from the building. It may have been that we were waiting for them to finish so that we junior high kids could go in and get our uniforms. We had Junior Highs in Arkansas and I was a 7th grader and so the football adventure was just beginning. I recall the star fullback walking out and possibly my Dad commented about him. The young fellow would go on to rush for over a thousand yards and the team would go 8-4. It would be the best year for the Pocahontas Redskins until my youngest brother, then 2, would, as quarterback and safety, lead them to the State playoff semifinals 15 years later. My Dad loves his family and the Lord and just behind that he loves sports. He was leading the state in scoring for this our home town 7 games into his senior season before an ankle injury took him out the rest of the season. At this point he was 32 and could have still shown those football players a thing or two except that a collision that involved an asleep-at-the-wheel trucker ruined Dad's right knee two years earlier. Even now, all these years later that incident still has effect. He had a hip replacement recently and is due for new knee when he can get around to it. He has been quiet about it, but he loved us so much that he endured great pain to pitch us batting practice growing up and even play a little basketball.

Sitting there in the car, Dad began talking about spiritual matters and his desire to teach everyone the truth. I can't remember specifics. That is something he did and does often. He may have said something about desiring that all those healthy young men be taught the truth and be saved. That's part of the gist. It was a heady time for the churches of Christ. We had been growing rapidly for several decades. Not sure where I got this but my impression is that there were 16 congregations in that county of 12,000 people at about that time. And we were beginning to make a splash in the culture. Pat Boone had another hit song that summer, it was about Speedy Gonzalez. This was before he transitioned to a more charismatic style of Christianity, eventually identifying with an ascendant evangelicalism.

It was a great time to be alive. Well, for most everyone, their youth was a wonderful time. Life was so immediate and analog. John Glenn circled the earth 3 times. The Telstar satellite enabled the first live transatlantic broadcast very close to the day I'm thinking about. And I was becoming a big boy, going to high school (grades 7 to 12 in the same building) and was going to play football and march in the band. Guys were talking about girls more. That mystery was beginning to beckon as it never had before.

Its hard to not project back my present feelings to that moment so I won't elaborate too much. But I'm pretty sure I remember feeling some pity for these fine young men and discomfort or puzzlement at the justice of it. And I wondered at my good fortune at being in the right spot to get the right teaching. For sure, I have replayed that scene in my head often in the intervening 45 years. So it was important whatever my first impressions and however my memory may have augmented the situation. It must've been significant in my life and develoment because after so many years a conscious vestige of it is still with me.

What's yours?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Joy at Work

I found this to be meaningful. From Dennis Bakke's web site. These are the first six of 10 ten items. See the remainder of this list here.

1. When given the opportunity to use our ability to reason, make decisions, and take responsibility for our actions, we experience joy at work.

2. The purpose of business is not to maximize profits for shareholders but to steward our resources to serve the world in an economically sustainable way.

3. Attempt to create the most fun workplace in the history of the world.

4. Eliminate management, organization charts, job descriptions, and hourly wages.

5. Fairness means treating everybody differently.

6. Principles and values must guide all decisions.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Madeline L'Engle

This is lifted from Radical Congruency. I've never read this lady but it now looks to me like I should.

Madeline L’Engle [Daniel]

Posted Saturday, September 8th, 2007 at 8:39 PM by Daniel under News View recent posts with the tag News on Technorati

The ever-wonderful Madeline L’Engle passed away on Thursday. She was 88.

I grew up reading, and loving, the Wrinkle in Time books. She was a beautiful soul.

“Why does anybody tell a story? [It has] something to do with faith - faith that the universe has meaning, that our little human lives are not irrelevant, that what we choose or say or do matters, matters cosmically.”

May her memory be eternal.


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Embrace Uncertainty - William James and Me

Rummaging through my desk at home on Labor Day I found the summer issue of the Wilson Quarterly. Not sure when it arrived, it must have been several weeks at least. It is the case that the last half of each issue's ~120 pages is devoted to short essays and reviews of interesting periodicals and books. As always, I read this entire section first and then worked backwards to the larger full length articles in front of the magazine. After reading for awhile and as dusk dimmed the light coming through my window, I almost tossed the magazine, thinking I'd given it its due. Then I came upon an article on William James.

The title was One Hundred Years of Pragmatism and it was by a doctoral candidate from Yale, Theo Anderson. Having recently read a bio of James as evident from recent posts, Anderson's summary provided me with added perspective on this man's meaningful life. At this juncture in time when America was becoming industrialized, bureacratized, and modernized, James was a forerunner of that post modern humility that notes our human limitations is grasping reality. Anderson gives a quote without specific attribution:

Objective evidence and certitude are doubtless very fine ideals to play with but where on this moonlit and dream visited planet are they found?

It seems that for most of my life I've been pulled in two opposing directions: the orthodox vs the modern Enlightenment. James, who retired 100 years ago this year, found an alternative path that resembles the postmodern. He affirms that life is worth living. His life was a testimony that truth is not a fixed, immutable, and certain thing. It is time dependent. It is a verb. It is a "provisional, evolving relationship between ideas and consequences..." "Truth happens to an idea. It becomes true, is made true by events."

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Today's Quote

As Boccaccio said in his “Life of Dante” (1374), “Everything that is acquired with toil has more sweetness in it.”

From this article suggested to me by George.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Mother-Sea of Mind - Cosmic Consciousness

Amidst twelve hour work days, home and church projects, I finally finished the book on William James last night. As usual, I awoke around 3 am, surfed the internet for a while, then took on the final twenty pages or so. It was better reading this book in small chunks so I could spend several days savoring what I'd read.

Man, this is beautiful.

"that we with our lives are like islands in the sea, or like trees in the forest. The maple and the pine may whisper to each other with their leaves, and Conanicut and Newport hear each other's fog-horns. But the trees also commingle their roots in the darkness underground, and the islands also hang together through the ocean's bottom. Just so, there is a continuum of cosmic consciousness, against which our several minds plunge as into a mother-sea or reservoir." p. 509

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Harold Bloom on The Gospel of Thomas

I haven't said anything about the GThom in a while. Here is a quote from Harold Bloom. It introduces us to a new category of Jesus and thinking regarding the beginning and eschatology.

"Whatever surges beneath the surface of the Gospel of Thomas, it is not a Syrian Christian wisdom teaching of the second century. The ascetic accepts creation, but always upon the basis of having fallen from it, and always with the hope of being restored to it. That is hardly the aspiration of Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas. Like William Blake, like Jakob Böhme, this Jesus is looking for the face he had before the world was made. That marvelous trope I appropriate from W.B. Yeats, at his most Blakean. If such is your quest, then the Gospel of Thomas calls out to you."

Who we are has to do with where we have come from, where we began. That is why we are interested in Genesis. That is why we are interested in the Big Bang. These have everything to do with how we perceive ourselves and how we choose to live.

Below is from the Gospel of Thomas translation and notes from Patterson Brown's website Metalogos. These are probably pertinent verses to Boom's thesis.

18. The Disciples say to Yeshua: Tell us how our end shall be. (Ps 39:4) || Yeshua says: Have you then discovered the origin, so that you inquire about the end? For at the place where the origin is, there shall be the end. Blest is he who shall stand at the origin— and he shall know the end, and he shall not taste death. (Isa 48:12, Lk 20:38, Jn 1:1-2, Th 1; T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets: Little Gidding: ‘The end is where we start from’; Jack Kerouac, Visions of Cody: ‘What kind of journey is the life of a human being that it has a beginning but not an end?’)

50. Yeshua says: If they say to you: From whence do you come?, say to them: We have come from the Light, the place where the Light has originated thru itself— he [stood] and he himself appeared in their imagery. If they say to you: Who are you?, say: We are his Sons and we are the chosen of the Living Father. If they ask you: What is the sign of your Father in you?, say to them: It is movement with repose. (Isa 28:12 30:15, Lk 16:8, Jn 12:36, Th 27; Bhagavad-Gita 6.27: ‘When his mind is tranquil, perfect joy comes to the person of discipline; his passion is calmed, he is without sin, being one with the Infinite Spirit’)

So, where our origin is, our end will be. And, our origin is the light. We come from the light and we return to the light.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Apothegm from Emerson

We are born believing. A man bears beliefs as a tree bears apples.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

But some of us have a harder time of it than others. Then again the real issue is which apples are good and which ones aren't.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Reasoned Argument is a Surface Exhibition from Subconscious Depths

Robert Richardson below describes some of what William James was thinking as James was putting together the Gifford lectures for delivery in 1901-2 at the U. of Edinburgh. These became a book still read today, The Varieties of Religious Experience.

That these feelings - intuitions- come from something other than day-light reason does not disqualify them as valid experiences. James is at some pains to show that these "unreasoned and immediate assurances(s)" are "the deep thing in us, the [reasoned] argument is but a surface exhibition." p 395 William James in the Maelstrom of American Modernism

My point, we (that includes me) often think we have followed inexorably the path of reason when it is really the case that our motivations/conclusions/beliefs come from out of our personal , subconscious depths.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Words/Expressions from William James

stream of consciousness


one great blooming, buzzing confusion

bitch-goddess success


healthy minded

live option

the moral equivalent of war

These are cited by author Robert Richardson in his biography as originating with James.

In my dim past I learned that James was a philosopher who promoted pragmatism. I have always felt the appeal of pragmatism, to some extent. It must be in part due to his influence and also to my having been born and raised in the U. S.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Some Quotes of William James

Richard Beck recommended a book to me William James: In the Maelstrom of American Modernism. Life is busy and it has taken me 6 weeks to read the first 300 pages, what with vacation and 10 hour work days and all.

Here's some good stuff. I googled William James and got some of these quotations from the Quotations Page:

A great many people think they are thinking when they are really rearranging their prejudices.

As a rule we disbelieve all the facts and theories for which we have no use.

Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact.

Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Jesse Beams - Illustrious U. of VA Physics Prof

I met Dr. Jesse Beams during my time at the U. of VA. I've heard that he was in the running for a Nobel Prize and came very close. Here is a story about him. It was related by a technical staff member Milt Branham probably in 1976.

One day, in the morning, Jesse opened the door to a lab and found several students inside studying. He said "Boys, the morning is the best time to do research." (accent on first syllable).

Another day, in the afternoon, again he opens the door and says "Boys, the afternoon is the best time to do research."

One evening, yet again, he pokes his head in the lab and responds to guys there studying "Boys, the nightime is the best time to do research."

I was a young newlywed at the time I heard this and at the time was just starting out on my own research. This wasn't exactly what I wanted to hear. Thought it was depressing as well as the story that he would attend the first half of the Saturday UVA football games with his wife and then leave her and go back to the lab for the second half. I was a young man, a newlywed and wanted to have fun and live life.

He was still working in his bed in the hospital almost to the day he died.

I work all the time now and now I know perhaps how he felt. He was a great man. But, in the workaholic aspect I do not want to emulate him. I've been getting close lately though.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Thank God for Failure

Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird quotes a poem by Bill Holm titled August in Waterton, Alberta.

Above me, wind does its best
to blow leaves off
the aspen tree a month too soon.
No use wind. All you succeed
in doing is making music, the noise
of failure growing beautiful

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Quote by John Haught

Developments in geology, evolutionary biology and cosmology have left no doubt that the whole of nature, and not just our planet and human history, have an essentially narrative character.

John Haught at Metanexus site.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Anne Lamott Attacks Reason

more thoughts regarding Bird by Bird

You get your intuition back when you make space for it, when you stop the chattering of the rational mind. The rational mind doesn't nourish you. You assume that it gives you the truth, because the rational mind is the golden calf that this culture worships, but this is not true.

What? My hero in high school was Mr. Spock. He was how we should ought to be. Rational and logical. My high school classmates were irrational. They didn't study. They laughed and joked when they should have been listening to the teacher. They were silly. They took risks with sex and alcohol. They weren't serious. They played too much. Oh that was an ancient world, the 1960's. It was a world that was still analog and not digital.

Well, the rational mind helps to give us truths. But that is not the end of it. Anne is right. It is not what nourishes us.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Another Quote from Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Because for some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live an die. page 15

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Discovered in a Walnut Ridge AR Antique Store

Last Monday, while in Arkansas visiting my folks, we trekked a few miles down to road to Cross Roads Antiques in Walnut Ridge where I found a hardbound copy of the1994 book Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. Am half way through it. It talks about writing - how to do it - and I found it to be a great help to me already. Here's one quote, a bit of food for thought.

"One of the gifts of being a writer is that it gives you an excuse to do things, to go places and explore. Another is that writing motivates you to look closely at life, at life as it lurches by and tramps around."

These are good things to do even if you are not a writer.

Monday, June 25, 2007

William James and Doubt - It's a Good Thing

"This review not only clearly records James's impatience with determinism but shows his new agility - which owes much to Renouvier in particular - in turning pejorative terms into positive concepts. 'Doubt itself is an active state,' says James, and he quotes Renouvier for support: 'The radical sign of will, the essential mark of that achieved development which makes man capable of speculating on all things and raises him to his dignity of an independent and autonomous being, is the possibility of doubt.' "

from page 177 ch 27 The Trouble with Herbert Spencer of "William James: In the Maelstrom of American Modernism" by R. D. Richardson.

So it seems that doubt is a path to knowledge and progress.

William James was Depressed

I suppose I've always had the subconscious opinion that famous productive people live their entire lives self confident and psychologically healthy. It has been helpful to me to learn that the famous psychologist William James was depressed for most of the time from his twenties until his late thirties. He wrestled with it for a long time. I'm reading a biography of him ( "William James: In the Maelstrom of American Modernism" by R. D. Richardson.) and he is now in his late thirties, recently married, and it looks like he is finally going to win this battle.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Meister Eckart

Why do I find this fascinating? It is a quote from Meister Eckart.

I am as certain as I live that nothing is so close to me as God. God is nearer to me than I am to my own self; my life depends upon God's being near me, present in me. So is he also in a stone, a log of wood, only they do not know it.

This is from page 511 of Campbell's book cited in the two previous posts.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Erich Smallwood

A close friend of two of my nephews in Northeast Arkansas is killed in Iraq. His name was Erich Smallwood. We honor you Erich.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Cool Quotes while thumbing through Soul Tsunami

Knowledge is both objective and participatory - Chemist Ilya Prigogine

Live with your century, but do not be its creature; render to your contemporaries what they need, not what they praise. - Poet Frederich von Schiller

from the first chapter of Soul Tsunami by Leonard Sweet

Monday, May 28, 2007

Rob Shaver visits Ocean Springs MS

My sister's son, Rob Shaver, visited Al Sturgeon of Ocean Springs, MS last week. I had visited Al's blog some time ago but had no idea that he was Rob's former basketball coach. The blog is Minutes to Memories and the May 23rd entry describes their visit which I reproduce here, minus the picture.

Then, best of all, my old friend Rob Shaver arrived from Arkansas to hang out with us for a while! Rob was my star point guard back in 1994 when we won our conference and had a spectacular season. He was an unbelievably quick, long-range bomber who scored points like John Dobbs collects blogs! In addition, he was a deep-thinking young man with whom I shared a lot of great conversations. A lot has changed since 1994. I hadn't seen Rob in ten years, and in that time he nearly died with Stage 4 cancer. In that battle, he had his left shoulder blade removed, and in awful irony, he can't lift his left arm high enough to even shoot a basketball anymore. But more importantly, it is inspiring to hear Rob talk about how cancer changed his life for the better - his new lease on life has translated into an even deeper place from which he approaches life.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


In our backyard by the fence. Dorothy's flowers. This is VISUAL MUSIC. I am more of an auditory music person than a visual music person. But even I can appreciate this.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Return to the Source

Jan Van Ruysbroek, "the great Flemish mystic", said:

Knowledge of ourselves teaches us from whence we come, where we are and where we are going. We come from God and we are in exile.

I lifted this quote from The Unfolding Self: Varieties of Transformative Experience by Ralph Metzner

This theme comes up from all kinds of places, including the Gospel of Thomas.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Old Age and Mysticism

Occasionally in the past thirty plus years of my life, I would recall that I had read somewhere that a man becomes a mystic in his old age. I would wonder and hope that perhaps there is truth to mysticism and that a skeptical streak within me was a necessary stage along the way of a life's journey.

At last, when sitting in a restaurant Berlin last spring and reading an elementary dual English/German book*, I found the quote that spurred this thinking. It was a passage by Goethe.

Every age of man has its own appropriate philosophy. The child appears as a realist....The youth...is transformed into an idealist....the man has every reason for becoming a skeptic...The old man, however, will always espouse mysticism.

Maybe he is right. I used to think that mysticism was about believing things that were not true. I now believe it is about experiencing and perceiving certain things. I have not had those experiences. Or, perhaps I have had and don't yet know or remember it. Mysticism is fluid and paradoxical like that. I have more to learn.

* First German Reader: A Beginner's Dual-Language Book ed. by H. Steinhauer. Library of Congress Number 64-7673. page 89-90.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Women as Church Administrators

The post below was made by the late Dr. Ken Schrable on the BereanSpirit newsgroup on Tue Oct 15, 2002 9:18 pm

This was a year or so before his death. He was a psychologist who was originally from the area around Mammouth Spring, AR. and was raised in the Church of Christ there. He attended Pepperdine and was a university administrator in the Northeast, if I recall correctly.

----- Original Message -----
From: "swallison"
Sent: Tuesday, October 08, 2002 5:53 AM
Subject: [BereanSpirit] Re: Woman as Administrators -- Secret of the

--- In BereanSpirit@y..., "Kenneth Shrable" wrote:
> TO: Steve Allison
> FROM: Kenneth Shrable
Steve, I inadvertently deleted your follow up post which
clarified further your statement above to the effect that "'the instructions
from Paul (concerning women) were clearly a function of his time and place"
and your later post explicated the basis for "it would be a great thing to
have women elders". I wish to agree with what I judge to be your thesis but
propose a variation in wording. .............
Grace, in Christ
Kenneth Shrable
Vancouver, WA

Thanks for the many interesting thoughts, Ken. They evoke a number of
feelings on my part. It is instructive that you mention the word
"elder" along with other offices of ancient times like
"procurator" etc. And, that they had a complex of meanings for people
living in
those times in their specific cultural situation. In order to
understand our scriptures and our heritage, it helps to know as much
as possible about the world of our first century spiritual forbears.
It helps to know what they meant with such terms. The frustrating
thing is that we know so little. In addition, knowledge about those
times is growing but difficult to access. You point out that the
qualifications for elders are similar to those for Roman Army
officers. You cite a book reference for that. I am sure there is
lots of relevant information on this topic but most of us do not have
easy access to the kinds of libraries that would have the kinds of
books and periodicals necessary to dig it out. It is hard work to put
it all together.

TO: Steve Allison
FROM: Kenneth Shrable

Steve, forgive my delay in responding to your thoughtful comments.
I will provide you with an abbreviated summary of the reference which I made
to Onosander's statements about the qualifications for a general. Liddell
and Scott (Greek-English Lexicon) reference the time of Onosander as the
beginning of the first century A.D. This would place him just prior to the
time of Jesus and the apostles.

There are discussions of the comparison between Onosander and the
Pastoral Epistles with regard to the qualifications of a general and that
of the overseer in first Timothy 2 and Titus 1 in several scholarly
publications. An extended treatment of this topic can be found in the
commentary by Martin Dibelius and Hans Conzelman in the Hermeneia Series.
The qoute from Onosander is in the Hermeneia volume on the pastoral epistles
published by Fortress Press in 1972. The discussion of the qualifications
of the general as listed by Onosander is found on pages 158 through 160. I
will quote the opening paragraph on page 158. Onosander writes as follows:

"I believe, then, that we must choose a general, not because of noble birth
as priests are chosen, nor because of wealth as the superintendents of the
gymnasia, but because he is temperate, self-restrained, vigilant, frugal,
hardened to labor, alert, free from avarice, neither too young nor too old,
indeed a father of children if possible, a ready speaker, and a man with a
good reputation. "

Steve, the requirements of a tested and mature person for leadership
as expressed by Onosander seem self-evident in the culture of the period of
our NT. In other words, the culture understood such matters as the
requirement of demonstrated maturity when it came to the social role of
leader. What I find of most interest is the fact that both Paul and
Onosander provide an introductory statement concerning the importance of the
office in question and then take up their qualifications. Onosander follows
his abbreviated listing of the qualifications with an extended statement of
a rationale for each of his qualities. Similarly, Paul introduces his qualif
ication list with a statement of the importance or nobility of the office
and then provides a rationale for at least three of his stated qualities.
For example, 1 Timothy 3:4-5 provides a rationale for the requirement of
household management. First Timothy 3:6 also provides a rationale for the
requirements that one not be a novice. Again, in 1 Timothy 3:7 there is a
rationale given for requiring the overseer to have a good reputation. What
I find of interest is that the apostle seems to follow the format found in
Onosander except for the fact that Onosander provides a rationale for each
of the qualifications which he lists.

There are important similarities as well as significant differences
between the two lists just as one would expect. The apostle Paul has his
focus on the matter of proper conduct in the household of God (1 Tm. 3:15)
and his statement of qualifications would be expected to pertain closely to
the office in question wherein the example of Jesus as Lord and servant
leader would be foremost. In order that you might have a feel for the
fascinating way one can compare these two lists of leadership qualifications
from the first century, I will cite the qualification with regard to
reputation which gives the flavor of the way Paul and Onosander elaborate on
the statement of qualifications.

(Paul in 1 Timothy 3: 7). "He (the overseer) must also have (qualification)
a good reputation with outsiders, so that (rationale for qualification) he
will not fall into disgrace and into the Devils' trap" .

(Onosander. ). "The general should be (qualification) a man of good
reputation, because (rationale for qualification) the majority of men, when
placed under the command of unknown generals, feel uneasy. For no one
voluntarily submits to a leader or an officer who is an inferior man to
himself. It is absolutely essential, then, that a general be such a man, of
such excellent traits of character as I have enumerated, and besides this,
that he have a good reputation".

Steve, I hope this will be helpful in supplying the information of interest.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, J.W. McGarvey published a small
volume on the eldership in which he contends that the qualifications for the
elder are both general and specific. For example, the requirement "apt (or
able) to teach" would be both general and specific; in that ability to
teach, though somewhat generalizable, would vary with the constituency of
the congregation in question. Similarly, reputation will be both general in
an abstract sense and specific to a given community. One could extend
consideration to the way we might specify leadership qualities in a
community in a third world country versus the leader qualities required in
an advanced Western Democracy. Social roles are somewhat culturally
specific, as I would understand them.

Thank you for your kind comments.

Grace, in Christ
Kenneth Shrable

Monday, February 05, 2007

Onosander's list of Qualifications for a General

Below is a list of qualifications for a general that was written about the time of Jesus birth. You will note a similarity with Paul's list of qualifications for elders.

Onosander, De imperatoris officio*

1. I believe, then, that we must choose a general, not because of noble birth as priests are chosen, nor because of wealth as the superintendents of the gymnasia, but because he is temperate, self-restrained, vigilant, frugal, hardened to labour, alert, free from avarice, neither too young nor too old, indeed a father of children if possible, a ready speaker, and a man with good reputation.

2. The general must be temperate in order that he may not be so distracted by the pleasures of the body as to neglect the consideration of matters of the highest importance.

3. He must be self-restrained, since he is to be a man of so great authority; for the licentous impulses, when combined with the authority which confers the power of action, become uncontrollable in the gratification of the passions.

4. Vigilant, that he may spend wakeful nights over the most important projects; for at night, as a rule, with the mind at rest, the gneral perfects his plans.

5. Frugal, since expensive attendance upon th eluxurious tastes of commanders consumes time unprofitably and causes resources to waste away.

6. Hardened to labour, that he may not be the first but the last of the army to grow weary.

7. Alert, for the general must be quick, with swiftness of mind darting at every subject - quick, as Homer says, 'as a bird, or as thought.' For very frequently unexpected disorders arise which may compel him to decide on the spur of the moment what is expedient.

8. Free from avarice; for this quality of freedom from avarice will be valued most highly, since it is largely responsible for the incorruptible and large-minded management of affairs. For many who can face the shields and spears of a host with courage are blinded by gold; but gold is a strong weapon against the enemy and effective for victory.

9. Neither too young nor too old; since the young man does not inspire confidence, the old man is feeble, and neither is free from danger, the young man lest he err through reckless daring, the older lest he neglect something through physical weakness...

12. I should prefer our general to be a father, though I would not refuse a childless man, provided he be a good man. For if he happens to have young children, they are potent spells to keep his heart loyal, availing to bind him to the fatherland. . .

13. A ready speaker; for I believe that the greatest benefit can accrue from the work of a general only through this gift. For if a general is drawing up his men before battle, the encouragement of his words makes them despise the danger and covet the honour; . . . 16. No city at all will put an army in the field without generals nor choose a general who lacks the ability to make an effective speech.

17. The general should be a man of good reputation, because the majority of men, when placed under the command of unknown generals, fee uneasy. For no one voluntarily submits to a leader or an officer who is an inferior man to himself. 18. It is absolutely essential, then, that a general be such a man, of such excellent traits of character as I have enumerated, and besides this, that he have a good reputation.

*from the commentary by Martin Dibelius and Hans Conzelmann, The Pastoral Epistles, page 158-160, Fortress Press, 1972, ISBN-0-8006-6002-1.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Women Make Good Church Leaders

Here is part of a post (August 16) by a blogger calling themself "anthropos" at the Blog called "Theo Sunergos". It gives a succint list of reasons for women leading in the church. I've seen a lot of well reasoned articles on this but this list provides a greathard hitting summary, easy to remember and easy to communicate. I came across anthropos at another interesting site, The Church and Postmodern Culture.

Biblical Support for Female Leadership in the Church

1. Men and women are created in the image of God.
2. All four Gospel's record women as the first witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus.
3. At Pentecost the spirit of prophecy fell upon both men and women.
4. Junia was recognized by Paul as an apostle herself.
5. In Christ the distinction between male and female is overcome.
6. There are numerous scriptural references to women excercising leadership in the early church.
7. Passages in the NT in traditionally thought to be in opposition to female leadership in the church are either interpolations or capable of being interpreted in non-oppositional ways, and with good reason.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Way People Do Church is Changing

And I'm glad.

See Wade Hodges post to his blog. He has an article in Leadership Journal about it. For example, they have changed the name of his church from the Garnett Church of Christ to the Garnet Event Center. Quite a few other churches now use/rent their facility. This sharing of resources sounds great to me. Interesting things are happening.

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