Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Haggis croquettes on lower right of plate
Haggis patties on top of neeps on top of tatties
Haggis is a classic Scottish dish.  Wikipedia describes it extensively as quoted below.

"Clarissa Dickson Wright suggests that haggis was invented as a way of cooking quick-spoiling offal near the site of a hunt, without the need to carry along an additional cooking vessel. The liver and kidneys could be grilled directly over a fire, but this treatment was unsuitable for the stomach, intestines, or lungs. Chopping up the lungs and stuffing the stomach with them and whatever fillers might have been on hand, then boiling the assembly — likely in a vessel made from the animal's hide — was one way to make sure these parts did not go to waste."[12]

Haggis all prettied up

 Somehow, when I eat a local food, I'm trying to identify with the locals and affirm them and who they are. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Back from Edinburgh

Arrived home last night after a week in Edinburgh, Scotland.  Was there on business and Dorothy came along.  We had a wonderful time during the breaks.  In the background is the Edinburgh Castle, first referred to about 1000 years ago and a site of human activity since who knows when.  There was something vaguely familiar about this place even though I've never been here before.  Simply from a mathematical perspective, some of our ancestors must have come from this place or near here.  Edinburgh is sometimes referred to as the Athens of the North.  The Scots changed the world with the Scottish Enlightenment of the 1700's.  That is when Adam Smith invented Economics, Thomas Reid discovered common sense, and James Hutton founded modern geology and paved the way for later U. of Edinburgh student, Charles Darwin.  When a senior at Harding, I wrestled with Electromagnetic Theory.  Much of that is based on the 19th century advances of James Clerk Maxwell, also a grad of the U. of Edinburgh.

The University of Edinburgh Divinity School.

It is important to note that Alexander Campbell was a product to some degree of this intellectual matrix.  He is even mentioned on the Scottish Enlightenment Wikipedia page as a famous example of that school.  And so, my cultural and religious as well as ancestral heritage derives in part from this place.

from Wikipedia
An English visitor to Edinburgh during the heyday of the Scottish Enlightenment remarked: "Here I stand at what is called the Cross of Edinburgh, and can, in a few minutes, take 50 men of genius and learning by the hand." It is a striking summation of the outburst of pioneering intellectual activity that occurred in Scotland in the second half of the 18th century.

They were a closely knit group: most knew one another; many were close friends; some were related by marriage. All were politically conservative but intellectually radical (
Unionists and progressives to a man), courteous, friendly and accessible. They were stimulated by enormous curiosity, optimism about human progress and a dissatisfaction with age-old theological disputes. Together they created a cultural golden age.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Quote from Love Wins and Insurrection

Ah.  With a Kindle one can read several books at the same time.  I was comparing clippings from Love Wins and from a book I just started, Insurrection.  They present similar thoughts and I agree.  This is what religion is all about.

From Love Wins

Religions should not surprise us. We crave meaning and order and explanation. We’re desperate for connection with something or somebody greater than ourselves. This is not new.

And something similar from Peter Rollins' Insurrection

This story presents to us the psychological reality that our pleasure is intimately interwoven with the pleasure (or pain) of those around us. Understanding this can help us unlock something fundamental about the nature of human desire—namely, that the most sought after material in the universe is not some precious metal or limited resource but rather the attention of those whom we desire. We long to be seen by the other and acknowledged by them in some way.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

More From Love Wins

Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived (Rob Bell) 

Rob's approach involves an investigation of what the Hebrew scriptures say about where history is going.  This must be taken into consideration in addition to the explicit passages in the New Testament regarding hell, it seems to me.  The first snippet here is a passage he builds on which is famous and inspiring and which has been used and cited in peacemaking and efforts to convert war technology to peaceful uses.

Direct quotes from his book are in dark blue italics.

The prophet Isaiah said that in that new day “the nations will stream to” Jerusalem, and God will “settle disputes for many peoples”; people will “beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks” (chap. 2).
But that is not all.  There is a continuing optimistic theme expressed by the Hebrew prophets.

Isaiah said that everybody will walk “in the light of the LORD” and “they will neither harm nor destroy” in that day. The earth, Isaiah said, will be “filled with the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (chap. 11). He described “a feast of rich food for all peoples” because God will “destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations, he will swallow up death forever.” God “will wipe away the tears from all faces”; and “remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth” (chap. 25). The prophet Ezekiel said that people will be given grain and fruit and crops and new hearts and new spirits (chap. 36). The prophet Amos promised that everything will be repaired and restored and rebuilt and “new wine will drip from the mountains” (chap. 9). Life in the age to come. If this sounds like heaven on earth, that’s because it is. Literally.
First, they spoke about “all the nations.” That’s everybody. That’s all those different skin colors, languages, dialects, and accents; all those kinds of food and music; all those customs, habits, patterns, clothing, traditions, and ways of celebrating— multiethnic, multisensory, multieverything.

That’s an extraordinarily complex, interconnected, and diverse reality, a reality in which individual identities aren’t lost or repressed, but embraced and celebrated. An expansive unity that goes beyond and yet fully embraces staggering levels of diversity.

So, overall, there is a definite optimism for the end of history on the part of the Hebrew prophets in these places.  And Rob places an encouraging interpretation on them.  There are a few places in the Hebrew scriptures that might be interpreted as supporting the traditional concept of Hell, but they are not so explicit nor obvious without traditional assumptions.  (Exception:  One reference in Daniel which I think was written very late.)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Today's Quote from "Love Wins"

This from early in the book Love Wins by Rob Bell. This expresses my feelings as well.  When I discovered that many years ago, it removed a barrier to my spiritual life.

Often times when I meet atheists and we talk about the god they don’t believe in, we quickly discover that I don’t believe in that god either.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Reunion for the descendants of Bill Ed and Zonie Allison

The gathering was at the home of Earl and Doris Highfield which is near Powhatan, AR. It was held on Saturday, Sept 3, 2011. Bill Ed and Zonie were my great grandparents. Their son, Cleo, was my grandfather. Bill Ed died before my Dad was born but I remember my grandfather and great grandmother. We had a great time at the reunion. By the time I was born and was growing up, most everyone from this family had left Northeast Arkansas and I never had the opportunity to meet them. It was great meeting everyone.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Surprized by Kuyper

Somehow I found myself at the blog of John Stackhouse one morning six weeks ago.  He is Professor of Theology and Culture at Regent College.  I had enjoyed his thoughtful comments from time to time but had been out of the habit of visiting there lately.  He is a Canadian evangelical and he wrote a short note recommending Richard J. Mouw's new book regarding the progenitor of Neo-Calvinism -  Abraham Kuyper: A Short and Personal Introduction.  Richard is president and professor of Christian philosophy at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.

It is so easy given the wonderful resources of the internet to spend all of one's spare time only engaging sites and books that support one's interests and viewpoints.  But I was moved by the recommendation and decided to download the book to my Kindle.  It was good that I did.  Abraham Kuyper (1838-1920) was a Dutch Reformed theologian who, very briefly, became active in politics, founded a university and eventually became Prime Minister of the Netherlands. 

Had heard of the guy before, having encountered a snippet of his thought here and there.  I was prepared to encounter a stern 19th century Biblical literalist with a slightly different set of rules to follow and some possibly good insights here and there but another version of why my form of the Christian religion is better than yours. 

Was surprized and happy to be jolted out of such dogmatic slumber on the part of myself.  Below in italics are direct quotes from Richard Mouw's book which is a short well presented summation of Kuyper's thought.

The fact is, Kuyper insisted, that the true church "can reveal  itself in many forms, in different countries; nay, even in  the same country, in a multiplicity of institutions." He saw it  as a major contribution of the sixteenth-century Reformation  that it had "ruptured the unity of the Church," breaking "that  one Church into fragments," in order to encourage "a rich variety  of all manner of church formations."   Kuyper wanted us  to see the "differences of climate and of nation, of historical  past, and of disposition of mind" in a positive light - thus acknowledging   a reality that "annihilates the absolute character  of every visible church, and places them all side by side, as differing   in degrees of purity, but always remaining in some way  or other a manifestation of one holy and catholic Church of  Christ in Heaven.

I come from a tradition that values unity.  But the above helps me to see that there is a difference between unity and uniformity.  So often uniformity has been the goal.  It has been confused with or substituted for unity.
Kuyper's fondness for pluriformity ran deep. He was convinced   that God himself loves many-ness. Indeed, on his reading   of the biblical account, the Creator had deliberately woven   many-ness into the very fabric of creation. Kuyper even
wrote an essay on the subject to which he gave the telling title  "Uniformity: The Curse of Modern Life."  Many-ness, Kuyper argued, was necessary for created life  to flourish in a "fresh and vigorous" manner.'   Referring to the  Genesis creation story, Kuyper noted that the Lord willed  "[t]hat all life should multiply `after its kind."' That the concept   of "kind" in that context applied specifically to animal  life did not deter Kuyper from making a more general application.   "[E]very domain of nature," he says, displays an "infinite  diversity, an inexhaustible profusion of variations." And this  many-ness also rules the world of humanity, which "undulates   and teems" with the same sort of diversity, bestowed  upon our collective existence by a "generous God who from  the riches of his glory distributed gifts, powers, aptitude, and  talents to each according to his divine will."'

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