Outpouring of the Spirit in Our Times By Rollin G. Grams

Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra
Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Rollin G. Grams. 2010. Stewards of Grace: A Reflective, Missions Biography of Eugene and Phyllis Grams in South Africa, 1951-1962. Eugene: Wipf & Stock.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

One of the truly remarkable events of 20th century Christianity has been the outpouring of the Holy Spirit through the Pentecostal movement. It is also relatively undocumented. Rollin Grams’ book, Stewards of Grace, works to fill this gap. Rollin is the son of Pentecostal (Assembly of God) missionaries, Eugene and Phyllis Grams, who labored most of their careers in South Africa. He writes their story in their own words. The book is, however, more than an oral history or a travel diary. Rollin writes from the perspective of a biblical scholar who can interpret their experiences in terms of the biblical tradition.

Why might we, as Christians, read be interested in the lives of these quiet missionaries? Grams writes:

The Story of Eugene and Phyllis Grams is a story of one way to live justly amidst the social injustices of apartheid—the policy and practice of racial separation and inequality of South Africa. It is one way to live missionally before the needs of the world (x).

The words—live justly—and—live missionally—stand out here. Our lives in Christ are in tension with the world—how exactly do we deal with that and remain faithful to our calling as Christians?

Salted throughout the book are asides (he calls them capsules) to explain to a non-Pentecostal audience what is going on. For example, in an early capsule, Grams provides historical insight into the Pentecostal movement. Pentecostalism is often dated to begin with the Azusa Street Revival in 1906 (www.AzusaStreet.org) in Los Angeles, California. However, the Azusa Street Revival was one of many offshoots of the Welch Revival of 1904 and 1905 (19). Pentecostalism builds also on the much earlier holiness and faith healing movements (18). The multi-ethnic, multi-racial context of the Azusa Street Revival is a Pentecostal distinctive and an important contributor to its rapid growth worldwide.

Not all his capsules focus on Pentecostalism.  For example, Grams’ first capsule deals with Apartheid. What was Apartheid? Apartheid started in the Afrikaans Dutch Reformed Church whose General Synod ruled in 1857 that blacks should worship separately from whites. This doctrine pointed to God’s separation of the races at the time of the Tower of Babel–the whites viewed themselves as Israelites entering the promised land (3). This religious separation became law after the Nationalist Party gained control of the government in 1949. A series of laws were passed. The Mixed Marriage Act of 1949 made interracial marriage illegal. The Illegal Squatters Act of 1951 authorized the government to relocate into “homelands”. The Abolition of Passes Act required blacks to carry identity books at all times (4). It was in 1950 that Nelson Mandela was elected to the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress (ANC). After the abolition of Apartheid, Mandela was elected president of South Africa in 1994 (5).

Other than the capsules, Grams primarily writes a series of short stories. The book consists of 21 chapters that frame these stories. These chapters are preceded with a forward and followed by short postscript. Far from dry, Rollin poses a sense of humor that makes the stories come alive.

Historians will likely want someday to understand the events and people that led up to the quiet revolution in South Africa. Apartheid is now history. I can tell you as someone who worked in international affairs that few people envisioned the changes that took place in South Africa. At some point, the role of Christians, such as the Grams, in these changes will need to be evaluated. Rollin’s book provides source material for that evaluation. A good screen writer could place this biography against a backdrop of the times and create a classic in Christian cinema.

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Lester: Threats to Self and Values Evoke Anger

Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra
Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Andrew D. Lester.  2007.  Anger:  Discovering Your Spiritual Ally.  Louisville:  Westminster John Knox Press.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

During my chaplaincy training in a psych ward, I had an elderly patient who had an anger management problem.  He frequently got into altercations with other patients and would get violently angry when staff members served him the wrong foods.  In talking with him, he claims to have murdered a man and have served 7 years in jail for this crime.  He also ruminated about assaulting annoying patients but, being partially paralyzed with a stroke, was physically incapable of acting on his ruminations.  Efforts to work with him on his anger problem proved ineffective.

Being curious on how to work more effectively with such patients led me to Andrew Lester’s book, Anger: Discovering Your Spiritual Ally.  This book is a popular version of a more detailed and technical book:  The Angry Christian:  A Theology of Care and Counseling also by Westminster John Knox Press (2003).

Lester observes that we get angry when we feel threatened.  While we could be angry because of a physical threat, most often we get angry because of psychological threats:  threats to our values, our beliefs about right and wrong, our expectations about the way good people should act… (14). When threatened:  The intensity of our response depends on the amount of personal investment we have in the values, beliefs, and means that are being threatened (28).  Following this “threat model” of anger, our first responsibility when we get angry is to recognize that we feel threatened and to identify the nature of the threat (29).  Anger always has an object.

In copying with anger, Lester presents a 6 step model:

  1. Recognize anger;
  2. Acknowledge anger;
  3. Calming our bodies;
  4. Understanding why we are threatened;
  5. Evaluating the validity of the threat; and
  6. Communicating anger appropriately (62).

This list sounds suspiciously like how other authors suggest speakers cope with hostile questions—anger is often suppressed and expressed in a devious manner [1].  Lester notes that anger is often camouflaged as procrastination; actions that frustrate, embarrass or causes others pain; nasty humor; nagging; silence; sexual deviance; and passive-aggressive behavior (88-89).  My chronically angry patient, for example, was probably abused at some point—probably in prison—and this abuse returned as uncontrolled anger (84).

Does God get angry?  Did Jesus get angry? [2]  Lester notes that Jesus was fully human and is portrayed in the New Testament as a person with the full range of human emotion, including anger (46)  For example, Jesus asks:

Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill? But they were silent.  And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, Stretch out your hand. He stretched it out, and his hand was restored (Mark 3:4-5 ESV).

Lester observes that God is not normally thought to be vulnerable, but following the threat model of anger God’s values—justice and love [3]—are sometimes threatened in ways that could evoke anger.  Lester believes that God’s wrath is particularly associated with defense of his compassion and love—neither arbitrary nor capricious like other gods of antiquity (56).

A biblical scholar would note that God wrath (in the form of curses) is required by the Mosaic covenant:   But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you (Deuteronomy 28:15 ESV).  If covenantal obligations require God’s response to transgressions by the Nation of Israel [4] in the form of curses, then how much more would God’s wrath be poured out on those Gentiles, such as the Canaanites, that ignore him and trample on his law and gospel?  Lester’s threat model is helpful in biblical interpretation, for example, in the conquest of Canaan and, later, the Jewish exile to Babylon—even if postmodern sentiments are offended.  In effect, values (laws and treaties) undefended are not really values.

Lester’s Anger is a short book written in 7 chapters, including:

  1. Reconsidering Anger;
  2. Why Do We Get Angry;
  3. What Does the Bible Say?
  4. Did Jesus Get Angry?  (And What about God?);
  5. Dealing with Anger Creatively;
  6. Anger Can Be Destructive; and
  7. Anger as a Spiritual Friend.

These chapters are preceded by a preface and followed by conclusions.

A lot more could be said about Lester’s work.  I was impressed by Lester’s comment about the role of anger.  Anger always has an object.  Some objects of anger are righteous; many are not [5].  Like Jesus himself, a good Christian should express appropriate anger at injustice, idolatry, and innocent suffering (58,109).  Looking around today at the blatant immorality and abuses of human dignity, where is the indignation?  Where is the outrage?  Anger is sometimes appropriate.

 

[1] See, for example, review (http://wp.me/p3Xeut-8o).

[2] Also see post (http://wp.me/p3Xeut-75).

[3] Lester (55) cites:  O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8 ESV)

[4] Consider the commissioning of the Prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 3:18-21 ESV).  Even God’s prophet must honor the boundaries that God lays out for him or his salvation will be at risk.

[5] The Apostle Paul reminds us:  Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil (Ephesians 4:26-27 ESV).

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Prayer Day 24: A Christian Guide to Spirituality by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Available on Amazon.com
Available on Amazon.com

Almighty Father. We praise you for creating of heaven and earth, creating all that is, was, or will ever be, and creating all things seen and unseen. We look out on your creation and just praise your name. Keep us safe in your hands: seal our hearts; strengthen our minds; and shelter our bodies from all evil. In our hour of weakness, may we ever turn only to you. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

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1 Corinthians 8: Jedi Mind-Tricks

Art By Stephen W. Hiemstra
Art By Stephen W. Hiemstra

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that all of us possess knowledge. This knowledge puffs up, but love builds up (1 Corinthians 8:1 ESV).

In Luke 10, Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan in response to a lawyer’s question:  who is my neighbor? (v 29)  The punchline in the story comes when Jesus asks the lawyer:  who was neighbor to the man who fell among robbers? (v 36) Jesus flips the word, neighbor—so-to-speak—from being object to being subject.  Not—who is my neighbor?—but: how do I become a good neighbor?

In 1 Corinthians 8, the Apostle Paul takes Jesus’ Jedi mind-trick (flipping subject and object) and uses it to reframe the perspective on eating food dedicated to idols.

The early church was dogged with questions about food sacrificed to idols.  For example, in the Council of Jerusalem decision, the Council required four things of gentile believers:  abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality (Acts 15:29 ESV).  Likewise, in his prophecy pertaining to the city of Pergamum, the Apostle John writes:  But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols (Revelation 2:20 ESV).  We are accordingly a bit surprised to hear Paul state:  Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do (v 8)[1].

The importance of this conversation about food can be easily dismissed as unimportant, but Paul returns to it over and over in his letters.  In his commentary, Richard Hays makes this point by listing 4 topics touched on by the food issue which even today remain hot-button issues:

  1. Boundaries between church and culture;
  2. Class divisions in the church;
  3. Love trumps knowledge; and
  4. The danger of destruction through idolatry[2].

What is Paul’s argument?  Paul basically says 4 things:

  1. Idols do not exist (vv 4-6);
  2. The dedication of food to non-existing idols is meaningless (v 8);
  3. Knowledge about this subject is helpful (vv 4-7); but
  4. Knowledge is less important than demonstrating love for fellow believers (vv 7-13).

Later, Paul combines his principles of Christian freedom and Jesus’ Jedi mind-trick:  “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor (1 Corinthians 10:23-24 ESV).

Paul’s reiteration of Jesus’ reframing of focus in dealing with neighbors speaks to the heart of the food controversy.  If we abandon our rights as Christians in favor of our fellow believers or potential believers, then our priority is to be a good example—even when it hurts.  Perhaps, especially when it hurts.

[1] We might hear another echo of Jesus here:   The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27 ESV).  This is another Jedi mind-trick by Jesus because he again radically reframes the entire discussion by flipping subject and object.

[2] Richard B. Hays.  2011.  Interpretation, A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching:  First Corinthians.  Louisville:  Westminster John Knox Press.  Pages 143-45.

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1 Corintios 8: Jedi Trucos Mentales

Art By Stephen W. Hiemstra
Art By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Por Stephen W. Hiemstra

En cuanto a lo sacrificado a los ídolos, es cierto que todos tenemos conocimiento. El conocimiento envanece, mientras que el amor edifica (1 Corintos 8:1 NVI).

En Lucas 10, Jesús cuenta la parábola del Buen Samaritano, en respuesta a la pregunta de un abogado: ¿quién es mi prójimo? (v 29) La frase de remate en la historia viene cuando Jesús le pregunta al abogado: ¿quién fue el prójimo del que cayó en manos de los ladrones? (v 36) Jesús voltea la palabra, vecino—como se dice—de ser objeto a ser sujeto. No—quién es mi prójimo—pero:  ¿cómo puedo ser un buen vecino?

En 1 Corintios 8, el apóstol Pablo toma Jedi truco mental de Jesús (volteando sujeto y objeto) y lo utiliza para enmarcar la perspectiva de comer comida dedicada a los ídolos.

La iglesia primitiva fue perseguida con preguntas acerca de lo sacrificado a los ídolos. Por ejemplo, en el Consejo de la decisión de Jerusalén, el Consejo requiere cuatro cosas de los creyentes gentiles: abstenerse de lo sacrificado a los ídolos, de sangre, de la carne de animales estrangulados y de la inmoralidad sexual (Hechos 15:29 NVI). Del mismo modo, en su profecía referente a la ciudad de Pérgamo, el Apóstol Juan escribe:  Sin embargo, tengo en tu contra que toleras a Jezabel, esa mujer que dice ser profetisa. Con su enseñanza engaña a mis siervos, pues los induce a cometer inmoralidades sexuales y a comer alimentos sacrificados a los ídolos (Apocalipsis 2:20 ESV). Estamos de acuerdo un poco sorprendido al escuchar Estado Paul: Pero lo que comemos no nos acerca a Dios; no somos mejores por comer ni peores por no comer (v 8)[1].

La importancia de esta conversación sobre la comida puede ser fácilmente descartado como algo sin importancia, pero Pablo vuelve a ella una y otra vez en sus cartas. En su comentario, Richard Hays hace este punto haciendo una lista de 4 temas tocados en el tema de la comida que aún hoy siguen siendo temas candentes:

  1. Los límites entre la iglesia y la cultura;
  2. Divisiones de clase en la iglesia;
  3. El amor triunfa sobre el conocimiento; y
  4. El peligro de destrucción a través de la idolatría[2].

¿Cuál es el argumento de Pablo? Pablo dice básicamente 4 cosas:

  1. No existen ídolos (vv 4-6) ;
  2. La dedicación de los alimentos a los ídolos no existentes no tiene sentido (v 8);
  3. El conocimiento sobre este tema es de gran ayuda (vv 4-7) ; pero
  4. El conocimiento es menos importante que la demostración de amor por los demás creyentes (vv 7-13).

Más tarde, Pablo compagina sus principios de la libertad cristiana y Jedi truco mental de Jesús: Todo está permitido, pero no todo es provechoso. Todo está permitido, pero no todo es constructivo. Que nadie busque sus propios intereses sino los del prójimo (1 Corintios 10:23-24 NVI).

Reiteración de Pablo de replanteo de enfoque de Jesús en el trato con los vecinos habla al corazón de la controversia de los alimentos. Si abandonamos nuestros derechos como cristianos en favor de nuestros hermanos creyentes o creyentes potenciales, entonces nuestra prioridad es ser un buen ejemplo—incluso cuando le duele.

[1] Podríamos escuchar otro eco de Jesús aquí: El sábado se hizo para el hombre, y no el hombre para el sábado (Marcos 2:27 NVI). Este es otro truco mental Jedi por Jesús porque él nuevamente replantea radicalmente toda la discusión por voltear sujeto y objeto.

[2] Richard B. Hays.  2011.  Interpretation, A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching:  First Corinthians.  Louisville:  Westminster John Knox Press.  Pages 143-45.

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Bringhurst Illustrates Type Art

Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra
Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Robert Bringhurst. 2012.  The Elements of Typographic Style.  Seattle:  Hartley & Marks [1].

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

When I attended seminary I acquired a new vocabulary for discussing both my spiritual life and my relationships.  What had been only “churchy” words suddenly became clear and meaningful.  It was like a world that I only saw in black and white suddenly experienced an explosion of color; the banality of chopsticks suddenly became Beethoven; the musty smell of dead leaves became spring daffodils.  Carefully chosen words gave structure to hazy thoughts and openned new passageways in thinking and feeling.

Robert Bringhurst’s book, The Elements of Typographic Style, works the same way.  Bringhurst describes typography as idealized writing which functions to record idealized speech (19; 49).  He writes:  Well-chosen words deserve well-chosen letters; these in their turn deserve to be set with affection, intelligence, knowledge, and skill (18).  He observes:  Typography is to literature as musical performance is to composition:  an essential act of interpretation, full of endless opportunity for insight or obtuseness (19).

The question is simply this:  if you could design books anyway that you liked, what design do you select?  What are the colors in the palette; the brushes in the toolkit?  Bringhurst’s book immediately fascinated me.

Bringhurst starts typographic design with reading the text.  He offers these principles:

  • Invite the reader into the text;
  • Reveal the tenor and meaning of the text;
  • Clarify the structure and the order of the text;
  • Link the text with other existing elements; and
  • Induce a state of energetic repose, which is the ideal condition for reading (24).

In other words, the typography selected should reflect the personality of the text.  Underneath these principles is the basic idea that text is itself an art form that can either be ignored by adhering rigidly to convention or practiced with subtly and grace.  How does one provide a helpful context without drawing attention to the typeface, spacing, and page?  Typography has a humble calling.

Definitions matter.  The word, text, for example, is taken from the Latin word, Textus, which means cloth.  A storyteller is a weaver.  Thought is a thread which has color.  Color depends on:  type design and spacing between letters, words, and lines (25).

Other definitions also flow from this thread. For example, Kerning is the space between a selected pair of letters (32). And Ligatures are specialized letters to deal with the issue of overlapping kerns (50-52).  My favorite ligature occurs in German where ss is abbreviated as:  β (a kind of sloped beta from the Greek alphabet).

The fonts themselves come in families which may include:  lower and upper case letters, bond, and italic (55).  (Note that many font families include small capital letters used frequently as a substitute for bond or italics fonts and for subtitles). Fleurons (also called wingdings) are typographical ornaments used to flag text openings (63).

Bringhurst spend most of his time discussing roman types, but he also talks about blackletter types (274-277), script types (278-280), Greek types (281-291), and calligraphic capital types (291-299).

Bringhurst writes in 11 chapters introduced with a foreward and historical synopsis and followed by a length set of 5 appendices and other end materials.  The chapter titles are:

  1. The Grand Design
  2. Rhythm and Proportion
  3. Harmony and Counterpoint
  4. Structural Forms and Devices
  5. Analphabetic Symbols
  6. Choosing and Combining Type
  7. Historical Interlude
  8. Shaping the Page
  9. The State of the Art
  10. Grooming the Font and
  11. Prowling the Specimen Books (7).

Especially interesting are Bringhurst’s displays of the different font families.  This is his fourth edition which in and of itself speaks to the reception of the book.

Like any good reads, Bringhurst brings a lot of historical insight to his writing.  I was fascinated to learn, for example, that Gutenberg’s press (1450) was not the first with movable type.  That distinction belongs to Bì Shēng in China (1040).  Bì Shēng has, however, mostly been forgotten, in part, because movable type did not catch on in China the way it did in Germany (119).

Why read a book about typography?  Outside of pure fascination, good communicators need to be aware of design practices. Works of beauty point to the designer.  The more I become aware of design practices, the more the beauty and complexity of creation stand out.

[1] www.HartleyAndMarksGroup.com

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Results of Book Cover Survey

Book Covers by Stephen W. Hiemstra
Book Covers by Stephen W. Hiemstra

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Thank you!

I want to thank all of you that participated in my book cover survey over the past week.  The survey is now the second most popular posting on T2Pneuma.net since the blog was established in September 2013.

Who Participated?

Twenty-four people (24) completed the survey.  Everyone responding said that they speak English at home, but about 10 percent live outside the U.S. Slightly more than half of respondents (54%) were male.

Surprisingly, about that many (54%) also listed their age as under 30 years old.  Another 37% were over the age of 50—the demographic profile of most people attending church these days.  About the same number of people (71%) as in national surveys cited their religion as Christian.  The other affiliations cited were Other (21%) and Not Sure (8%).

Survey Results

The most popular choice (57%) of respondents was the Hagia Sophia book cover (1).  The second place honor was pretty evenly split among the other 3 book covers.

Rankings suggest that the Path book cover (2) was actually everyone’s second choice; the Blue Leather cover was third choice; and the Postmodern cover was the last choice.  However, this result looks suspiciously like a survey weakness because the rankings mirror the order of the covers presented in the survey.

Seventy-eight percent (78%) prefer a paperback book.  Respondents were evenly split in their preferences for electronic and hardback books.

Comments Received on the Book Covers

A total of 20 comments were received from respondents and they serve as an interpretative lens on survey numbers.

In the comments below, the numbers cited in parentheses are the ages of the respondents.  The age diversity of the different covers is truly striking.  It would be hard to anticipate the distribution of ages of respondents and religion affiliations favoring particular covers.

Hagia Sophia:

  • As a Catholic, I am drawn to icons and today, with a severe muscle spasm, I have a serious attitude, which this cover portrays. On other days, I might like the path cover. I like covers #1, 2 and 4, but not the plain blue leather, which seems noncommittal. Spirituality is perhaps the most crucial aspect of our lives and that cover seems bland. The postmodern cover is nice, but is it too busy – trying to include too much? Overall, 3 of the 4 covers are excellent in my opinion (51 to 60).
  • The cover is right in tune with the thesis of the book (61+).
  • This clearly gives the potential reader the subject matter from afar and looks great and clean (21 to 30).
  • It is a common Byzantine Christian icon, by showing the figure of Christ himself it makes the content seem important. Therefore, before you open the book the viewer is under the assumption that the material is profound (21 to 30).
  • I have always loved this one (21 to 30).
  • “Jumps out at you the most”. It is clear that it is a Christian book (51 to 60).
  • Looks more interesting and has depth (21 to 30).
  • It caught my eye as a religious book before I read the title (61+).
  • It is peaceful and meditative. The colors have such depth (61+).

Path:

  • Although the lettering is more difficult to read than the first. This cover looks more modern. An appealing book cover that looks up to date may go a long way to opening it (1-20).
  • Non suggestive. A cover anyone would see and want to know what the book is about (21 to 30).
  • This image creates a relatable book cover for all walks of life (1-20).

Blue Leather:

  • It’s a classic type of cover, not too simple and not too busy. All the other ones are too old fashion (21 to 30).
  • Hey Steves. I just asked a group of people what they thought and they liked the blue 2:1 (21 to 30).
  • It’s very simple (21 to 30).
  • I like simplicity (41 to 50).

Postmodern:

  • I like the blend of images which seems to say that there are many forms spirituality can take, not just one, even as we affirm there is one God (61+).
  • Looks the most unassuming. Blue Leather and Hagia Sophia look too pious. Path isn’t bad but I just prefer Postmodern (21 to 30).
  • Blends ancient and modern (61+).
  • It’s a nice collage and very inviting to the eye (51 to 60).

Commentary

As I drafted this survey, I had two questions on my mind.

  • Which book cover is most popular?
  • How should I match book covers to alternative editions of the book?

Clearly, the Hagia Sophia is the most popular book cover surveyed.  The only caveat to this conclusion is that because I have used the Hagia Sophia in association to the book in my postings, perhaps the survey is simply picking up this association—a kind of survey bias.  Setting this possibility aside, matching the Hagia Sophia cover to the paperback edition—the most popular cover and most popular edition—is an obvious conclusion.

Less obvious are how to choose covers for the electronic and possibly hardcover versions of the book.  The preference of young people for the Blue Leather cover may not, for example, match up well because blue leather is also more-expensive.  The use of the Postmodern cover on an electronic edition, by contrast, might make sense.

This survey was done online using SurveyMonkey (www.SurveyMonkey.com).

Background on the Book Covers

The Hagia Sophia cover (www.pallasweb.com/deesis/picturegallery.html) is a 12th century mosaic found in the Church of the Holy Wisdom in Istanbul, Turkey.  Hagia Sophia is Greek for holy wisdom.  The image that I have been using is licensed from iStock (www.IStockPhoto.com).

The Path cover is a photograph that I took on my IPhone 5 after a snow storm on March 6, 2014.  It shows the portion of Popular Tree Road in Centreville, VA which was cut off with the construction of Route 28 and turned into a part of Ellanor C. Lawrence park (www.FairfaxCounty.gov/parks/ECLawrence).

The Blue Leather cover was modeled after a number of denominational hymnals sitting on my bookshelf.

The Postmodern cover builds on the idea of a collage which is a stereotypical postmodern art form.  Articles on how to draw books covers often advise prospective artists to illustrate non-verbally the contents of your book which is easy with a collage.

The drawing on the Postmodern cover depicts Jesus’ baptism in Matthew 3:16:  And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him.  The image shows a hint of a dove (>), a hint of clouds on either side, a hint of sun beams, and a hint of a stream with Jesus (+) parting the water.

FYI.  Check out my first You-Tube video (Welcome to T2Pneuma.net!).

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Marcos 16: Pascua

New Life
New Life

Por Stephen W. Hiemstra

—No se asusten —les dijo—. Ustedes buscan a Jesús el nazareno, el que fue crucificado. ¡Ha resucitado! No está aquí. Miren el lugar donde lo pusieron (Marcos 16:6 NVI).

Uno de los recuerdos más vívidos que tengo como una persona joven ha sido la experiencia de un amanecer de Pascua. La Pascua es misterioso, estremecedora noticia. ¿Cómo iba a dormir con él?

En el funeral de mi abuelo, me dieron una cabeza de trigo que cuelga ahora en mi cocina. El trigo me recuerda dicho de Jesús: Ciertamente les aseguro que si el grano de trigo no cae en tierra y muere, se queda solo. Pero si muere, produce mucho fruto (Juan 12:24 NVI).

El misterio de la resurrección está en todas partes en la naturaleza. Amanecer es la resurrección del día. La primavera es la resurrección de las estaciones. La metamorfosis de oruga a crisálida a mariposa adulta es una resurrección dramática. El apóstol Pablo escribe: toda la creación gime con anticipación de nuestra redención (Romanos 8:19-23).

Profecías de la resurrección de Jesús comienza temprano en la escritura. Teólogos sistemáticos de ver la historia de la salvación como la creación, la caída y la redención. Porque el pecado es la causa de la muerte, la vida eterna requiere el perdón de los pecados que se produce en la resurrección de Cristo. Esta transición está profetizado en el Génesis: pondre enemistad Entre tú y la mujer, y Entré tu simiente y la de Ella, Su simiente te aplastará la cabeza, Pero tú le morderás el talón (Génesis 3:15 NVI).

Otros teólogos ver la resurrección surja de sufrimiento justo. El profeta Job escribe no sólo de Cristo, sino su propia resurrección: Yo se que mi redentor vive, y al final, triunfará que sobre la muerte. y cuando mi piel haya sido destruída, todavia vere a Dios con mis propios ojos.Yo mismo verlo espero, espero ser yo quien lo vea, y no otro. ¡Este anhelo me consume las entrañas! (Job 19:25-27 NVI). En el nacimiento de la Iglesia el día de Pentecostés (Hechos 2:27), el apóstol Pedro profetizó la resurrección ve por el rey David: No dejarás que termine mi vida en el sepulcro; no permitirás que sufra corrupción tu siervo fiel (Salmo 16:10 NVI).

Cuando se le preguntó para producir una señal de Jesús mismo habló de la señal de Jonás (Lucas 11:29-32). En el vientre de la ballena de Jonás oró: Llamé a Jehová, fuera de mi angustia, y él me respondió; fuera del vientre del infierno pedí auxilio, y tú escuchaste mi voz (Jonás 2:2 NVI). Y la ballena le escupió en tierra firme.

Resurrección no comenzó con Jesús. Algunos ven la historia del sacrificio de Isaac como una cuenta de la resurrección[1] y una profecía de la cruz (Génesis 22:1-18). El profeta Eliseo resucita al hijo de la sunamita de los muertos (2 Reyes 4:32-37). En el valle de los huesos, Ezequiel profetizó acerca de la resurrección (Ezequiel 37:3-6).  El éxodo del pueblo de Israel de Egipto y el regreso de los exiliados de Babilonia son dos relatos de la resurrección, donde una nación muerta se eleva a una nueva vida.

En los evangelios, Jesús mismo realizó varias resurrecciones. Él resucitó a la hija de Jairo de entre los muertos (Marcos 5:22-43).  Él resucitó al hijo de la viuda (Lucas 7:12-17).  Lo más notable después de acostarse cuatro días en la tumba que él resucitó a Lázaro de la muerte (Juan 11:1-45).  Al igual que otras resurrecciones, curaciones de Jesús y exorcismos trajo esperanza donde no la había.

Algunos estudiosos creen que el evangelio de Juan Marcos Testimonio grabado apóstol Pedro mientras estuvo en Roma durante AD 41-54. Marcos más tarde viajó con Pablo. Papel de Mark era para enseñar acerca de la vida de Jesús.  Más tarde, Lucas pudo haber asumido este rol en el equipo misionero de Pablo.

Curiosamente, Marcos no hizo ver el evangelio termina con Jesús. Tampoco lo hizo Lucas, cuyo evangelio fue seguido por el libro de los Hechos.  El evangelio de Marcos empieza por: El Principio del evangelio de Jesucristo, el Hijo de Dios (Marcos 1:1 NVI).  Los eruditos creen que el evangelio de Marcos termina con la mujer a salir de la tumba para transmitir el mensaje del ángel:  Pero vayan a decirles a los discípulos y a Pedro: “Él va delante de ustedes a Galilea (Marcos 16:7 NVI).  Del mismo modo, nuestro papel en la historia de la salvación es pasar a la historia.  A medida que el hymnist Katherine Hankey (1834-1911) escribe:  I love to tell the story, of unseen things above, of Jesus and his glory, of Jesus and his love.….. (www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh156.sht)

La esperanza cristiana comienza con la resurrección: sabemos que la muerte no es el final de la historia de la vida. Y porque sabemos que el resto de la historia, podemos invertir en la vida y vivir cada día con valor y alegría.

[1]¿Creyó Abraham a Dios resucitaría a Isaac de entre los muertos? ¿Por qué el ángel tiene que decirle a Abraham dos veces?

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Marco 15: Viernes Santo

The Crucifixion
The Crucifixion

Por Stephen W. Hiemstra

Y el centurión, que estaba frente a Jesús, al oír el grito y ver cómo murió, dijo: —¡Verdaderamente este hombre era el Hijo de Dios! (Marco 15:39 NVI)

Poncio Pilato va directo al punto: ¿Eres tú el Rey de los Judios? Jesús responde con dos palabras – σὺλέγεις, lo que significa: que usted dice (Marcos 15:2).  Los jefes de los sacerdotes lo acusan de muchas cosas.  Pilato pregunta a Jesús una segunda pregunta: ¿No vas a contestar? (Marco 15:4 NVI)  Jesús no responde (Isaías 53:7).  Pilato se sorprendió.

La noche anterior, el sumo sacerdote preguntó a Jesús si él es el Mesías (Cristo). Jesús respondió con las palabras de Éxodo 3:14 Dios dice:  Yo soy.  Luego, en caso de que alguien lo incomprendido, parafraseó la profecía mesiánica de Daniel 7:13: Y ustedes verán al Hijo del hombre sentado a la derecha del Todopoderoso, y viniendo en las nubes del cielo (Marcos 14:62 NVI). El sumo sacerdote en consecuencia acusaron a Jesús de blasfemia, que se castiga con la lapidación bajo la ley judía (Levítico 24:16). Pero desde que Roma se reservaba el derecho de decidir todos los casos de pena capital, los principales sacerdotes acusaron a Jesús del delito político de sedición–traición contra Roma. Por eso Pilato le preguntó a Jesús: ¿Eres tú el Rey de los Judios? (Marcos 15:2)

Al darse cuenta de que Jesús es inocente de la acusación de sedición, como un buen político Pilato comienza a trabajar a la multitud. Al ofrecer a liberar a un prisionero llamado Barrabás, que era culpable de sedición y homicidio (Marcos 15:7), Pilato está efectivamente pidiendo a la gente qué tipo de Mesías que ellos prefieren. La multitud pidió a Barrabás se sabe que un nacionalista judío.

Mesías significa ungido en hebreo que se traduce como Cristo en griego. Hay tres tipos de roles son ungidos: profetas, sacerdotes y reyes. En su ministerio terrenal, Jesús se encarnó las dos primeras funciones (profeta y sacerdote), pero la gente quería un rey–alguien que conducir a los romanos–como ya hemos visto en Marcos 11:10.

Pilato les dio lo que querían (Romanos 1:24-25) y se lavó las manos

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Marcos 14: Jueves Santo

Foot washing
Foot washing

Por Stephen W. Hiemstra

Tres veces al año todos tus varones se presentarán ante el SEÑOR tu Dios, en el lugar que él elija, para celebrar las fiestas de los Panes sin levadura (הַמַּצּ֛וֹת), de las Semanas (הַשָּׁבֻע֖וֹת) y de las Enramadas (הַסֻּכּ֑וֹת; Deuteronomio 16:16 NVI).

Semana Santa como la conocemos, es a menudo celebrado al mismo tiempo que la fiesta judía de los Panes sin Levadura (Festival de Matzos), a menudo llamada la Pascua. Las fechas diferentes debido a las diferencias de calendarios. En tiempos de Jesús, la Pascua era una de las tres fiestas que requieren los fieles a viajar a Jerusalén. La otra fiesta familiar para los cristianos es la Fiesta de las Semanas comúnmente conocidos como Pentecostés. La Fiesta de los Tabernáculos es una fiesta de la cosecha en el otoño.

Pesaj conmemora la liberación del pueblo judío de la esclavitud en Egipto. Dios instruyó a Moisés que le dijera a los israelitas a sacrificar un cordero y poner la sangre del cordero sobre sus jambas para que el ángel de la muerte que les pasan. En la noche de la Pascua, el ángel de la muerte hirió a los primogénitos de Egipto y pasó de largo las casas israelitas. Faraón reaccionó inmediatamente al expulsar a los esclavos israelitas. Se fueron tan rápido que no hubo tiempo para hacer pan para el viaje. En su lugar, se prepararon pan sin dejar que la masa de subida pan sin levadura (Éxodo 12). Marcos 14:12-26 describe cómo Jesús y sus discípulos celebraron la Pascua en Jerusalén, ahora recordado como el Super Final.

El Super Final es importante para los cristianos, ya que introduce el nuevo pacto en Cristo. La palabra, pacto, que se encuentra en el versículo 24 aparece en ninguna otra parte en el Evangelio de Marcos, y alude a la comida de pacto que Moisés y los ancianos de Israel compartió con Dios en el Monte Sinaí (Éxodo 24:9-11). El simbolismo siniestro del vino como la sangre de Cristo es una alusión a la sangre del cordero pascual (Éxodo 12:7), que alertó al ángel de la muerte para pasar por encima de las casas que muestran la sangre. En este sentido, somos cubiertos por la sangre de Cristo. Por la sangre de Jesús nuestros pecados son perdonados (Hebreos 9:11-28).

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