Undiluted by Benjamin Corey

UndilutedI had the privilege of reading an advanced copy of Undiluted by fellow MennoNerd Benjamin Corey. The goal of the book is to help us reclaim an understanding of Jesus and Christian faith that has not been diluted by our culture. In my estimation, it does a great job of accomplishing this goal.

General Impressions

It is a very readable book. That much will stand out right away. I spaced my reading out simply because of a busy summer, but I’m sure doing it in a day or at least a weekend wouldn’t have been challenging. That’s an important quality for a book with this one’s goal. To be more specific, each chapter essentially begins more as a memoir and then shifts to a more general discussion of Jesus’ life and teachings on the topic. (more…)

How Long, O Lord?

I haven’t blogged much this summer. One of the big reasons: I really am starting to hate being at the computer absorbing so much bad news. It really has seemed like much more than usual this summer. If case you’ve missed out, it’s all rather depressing: war with borderline genocide in Gaza, extremists killing everyone not like them in Iraq, Mark Driscoll’s latest abuses coming to light and his continued refusal to get help, the suicide of Robin Williams and the many harmful things said by some Christians in response.

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The Birth of Jesus: Solidarity with the Outcast

We typically portray the story of Jesus’ birth in a very romanticized way. It’s all very cute and happy. There’s no blood or sweat or tears or troubling social dynamics. That is pretty far from the truth, as anybody who has had a baby even with today’s technology could tell you.

Jesus the Bastard

I don’t use the word “bastard” to be crude. Before becoming more of a generic insult in recent years, bastard meant somebody who was conceived before his or her parents were married. According to Matthew, Jesus was a bastard: Mary was pregnant before she married Joseph. An even bigger problem was when Joseph found out because he knew that he hadn’t slept with her. As an honorable man who didn’t want to unnecessarily hurt her, he decided to call off the wedding quietly before an angel stopped him. (more…)

Violent Videogames

Micah Murray recently wrote for Convergent Books about how he has stopped playing violent video games. It’s a great piece about how he didn’t feel it made him a violent person or anything like that, but it was weird for him to set aside his convictions for an hour or two for the sake of entertainment. He doesn’t condemn any Christians who still play violent games, but says that he can’t anymore. I think of it like Paul’s teaching on eating meat sacrificed to idols, personally: not a clear right or wrong, but listen to your own conscience and if you do say yes for yourself, also respect those who say no.

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Israel, Palestine, and the Myth of Just War

I’ve gotten myself in trouble a couple of times with one of my Twitter followers in the past couple of days for retweeting a couple of things related to the current war (aka genocide) in Israel/Palestine. The first, to paraphrase, asked why people are surprised that Palestinians are fighting back – unsuccessfully for the most part – against their oppressors. The second tried to be a bit more humorous and suggested that the Israeli mindset was “do unto others as the Nazis did unto you.” Of course, I know that as soon as you compare somebody to the Nazis, you’ve lost the argument. I am familiar with that rule of the Internet, so maybe I shouldn’t have retweeted that one, but I do still think it makes a good point.

The point of both tweets from my perspective: both Israel and Hamas are operating on the same framework that the way they achieve peace is through wiping out all of your enemies. And yes, it was the same framework as the Nazis and really the same framework of most people and most nations. It was the basis of the Pax Romana, the Roman Peace: peace through victory.

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Women in Jesus’ Ancestry

Luke, surprisingly perhaps since he is generally considered the most woman-friendly of the four Gospel writers, does not include any women in his genealogy of Jesus. Matthew, however, lists among his genealogy 3 different women by name and then also references Bathsheba (but only by her husband’s name). These references are a radical idea. Genealogies are typically traced through men, particularly in the Ancient world but we still often do it today, too. That’s why you get so many cases where somebody is introduced as a “son of (father’s name)” in the Bible. Rarely does the Bible or any other Ancient book speak of sons or daughters of their mother as a primary characteristic. It just wasn’t as important as their fathers, so the fact that women were included here does say something about what Matthew wanted to get across.

Even more significantly, these women generally are not the ones you would brag about descending from.

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