Monday, January 15, 2007

Back at It!

I don't know if any of us are stopping by this blog anymore, but just in case I thought I'd let folks know that I'm back at the project here! I've decided that for me, it's not so much Reading the Bible in 90 Days as Reading the Bible in Two Sets of 45 Days! :)

At the beginning of January, I used a gift card to purchase the Bible that's connected to the reading plan and I've found it to be a much more satisfying experience to accomplish the reading on a daily basis. I appreciate the established beginning and ending notations in the Bible. And find it immensely gratifying to be able to see just how far I've come in a tangible sense. First time around I was doing much of my reading online through the RtBi90D website.

So in the past couple weeks I've made my way through the rest of Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and nearly through Ezekiel. It feels wonderful to be back on track again. And I do look forward to being done in less than 30 days from now.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Proverbs and Social Justice?!

You know, as I finished reading through the rest of Proverbs, I decided I had been a little unfair in my reception of that book over the years. Some time ago I read Jacques Ellul's book on Ecclesiastes in which he talks about the Wisdom Literature being in dialogue with itself--so no one book, whether Proverbs or Ecclesiastes or whatever, holds the whole picture. They engage each other, critique each other, play off each other.

But in the vein of a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, I had pigeon-holed Proverbs as being the Book of Wisdom of the Status Quo. Which, in my defense is at least partially true. There are a ton of proverbs which seem to be about keeping things the way they are, swimming with the current, not against it. Don't upset the balance, they seem to say. Rather, learn the balance and live it.

But this is not an accurate description of all the Proverbs. There are some--more than I thought--which upset the apple cart, so to speak, by calling for justice for the poor, for just rulers, for the end of oppression. While there are the verses that say that laziness will lead one into poverty, there are a lot of other verses which do not contend the poor are lazy. This is a subtle distinction I'd never noticed before. There are poor people, according to the Book of Proverbs, because there are oppressive systems, indulgent and dishonest leaders.

So in that vein, here are the proverbs that stood out for me in my reading yesterday:

"When a land rebels it has many rulers;
but with an intelligent ruler there is lasting order.

A ruler who oppresses the poor
is a beating rain that leaves no food.

The evil do not understand justice,
but those who seek the Lord
understand it completely.

Better to be poor and walk in integrity
than to be crooked in one's ways even though rich.

(All from ch 28, verses 2, 3, 5, 6)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

That's Just the Way it Is; Some Things will Never Change

Reading Proverbs leaves me gasping for Ecclesiastes! Really, I find the book of Proverbs to be airtight. All those couplets come together to form an impossible reality--a world where common sense reigns, where the unpredictableness of the Sacred is given no space.

It's not even that I don't agree with much of it. Maybe it's to the extent that I find it so easy to agree with Proverbs that the vacuum becomes complete. It's the cumulative effect of the book that exhausts me.

That said, here are the Proverbs that stood out for me in today's reading:

Hope deferred makes the heart sick
but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life

Each heart knows its own bitterness
and no one else can share its joy

A gentle answer turns away wrath
but a harsh word stirs up anger

Better a patient man than a warrior
a man who controls his temper
than one who takes a city.

Monday, July 10, 2006

The End is Near (or not)


My brother (Cyen) sent me an email this morning, asking if I was aware that we're scheduled to finish up our Reading the Bible in 90 Days on July 12. (gulp)

I am far, far, far from that goal. I lost my traction during our move and haven't been able to find my rhythm since then.

Tonight, though, I went back to the Zondervan website and re-set my start date to reflect where I am in my reading. (In Proverbs, if you must know!) And I hope to re-commit myself to the process. Ever hopeful.

So if all goes as planned, my new finish date is August 22.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Slowly She Creeps Along

Yesterday I finally cracked open the spine of my Bible again and started reading. I picked up with Job and read for 45 minutes--how much time I could spare. I figured something, finally, was better than nothing.

The book of Job always baffles me. Why does God point Job out to The Accuser? (I prefer to translate it that way, rather than the baggage-laden Satan.) God seems almost naive in doing this. What did he expect The Accuser to do? And when God goes for The Accuser deal, he ends up seeming rather whimsical. But these are my perennial questions about Job, nothing new about them for me.

What I did notice for the first time yesterday was Job's wife. Now, I haven't read the whole book now for awhile, so I can't recall if she ever shows up again in the story other than near the very beginning when she says, "Do you still persist in your integrity? Curse God, and die." And Job replies, "You speak as any foolish woman would speak. Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?" (2:9 & 10)

Astoundingly, the footnote in my New Oxford Annotated Bible points out regarding verse 9 the following: Curse, literally 'bless,' a euphemism. Job's wife still believed in his integrity (see 4.6 n.) but wishes to shorten his torture.

Wow. I don't know about you, but the only thing I've ever heard about Job's wife is that she tells Job to curse God and die. And she's gotten an awful lot of bad press over those few words she was given to speak. But now I see that she didn't actually say that? My question is, how do translators know that this particular passage is sarcasm? Are you aware of anywhere else in the Bible where such a justification is used? I mean, what if Job's wife truly meant, "Bless God, and die"?

Along with this thought, it occurred to me for the first time that everything Job lost, his wife lost, too. And yet we never hear about it this way. Was it not her children who were killed? Was it not her home that was lost? Was it not also her fortune that disappeared? And was she not having to watch her husband be tortured and waste away before her very eyes? But we hear nothing of her faith, we don't even hear her cry or suffer along with Job. Surely she suffered!

I know these questions are "outside the text." The story is not concerned with Job's wife, but with Job. Even so, I would love to hear the story told again from her perspective.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Falling Behind, but Not Giving Up

Well, dear ones, I have definitely fallen behind here. What with the move and everything, I've just not been able to get back to my routine of reading yet. But I hope I'll get back into the swing of things very soon.

I think I've just finished Esther.

Friday, June 02, 2006


quick post...
I'm finally into Joshua! (they rest of you must be so far ahead of me now... I can barely see you up there on that dusty road we are all traveling on).
Can someone remind me what moses did to not garner God's blessings on letting him into the new land? He had to stay behind on the mountain when he died, and I forgot what he did that was so bad.
(I remember Aaron was sort of punished in the same way for helping to make the golden idol)
Wow... How could Aaron have decided to help make the golden Idol!? It's not like God wasn't clear on this one :)
I also found the section on the blessings and curses for following the "law"... The blessings were about 2 paragraphs, and the curses just went on and on, and were some of the worst things I've ever heard of doing to another human. I almost found it comical, in how each "curse" tried to out-do the previous curse.