The Evangelical Universalist Forum

What books are our members reading? Post updates freely! {g}

I’ve gotten a number of ‘Dummies’ books and each one has been a big help. ‘Marx for Dummies’ does a great job on Das Kapital.

I’m taking “Grappling with Galatians” with N.T. Wright in Vancouver this week. In addition to commentaries, the two texts from which we will read relevant portions are John Barclay’s opus, “Paul and the Gift,” and Wright’s own “Paul and the Faithfulness of God.”

It should be interesting since Barclay earned his N.T. Ph.D. under Wright, and I took Galatians with Barclay 5 years ago, and 7 years ago studied with Barclay on his early manuscript for “Paul and the Gift.” What was clear is that they disagree at some fundamental points on how to read Galatians, with Barclay being much less sympathetic to the New Perspective on Paul.

Now THAT sounds like a good time! Good coffee up there too…

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And this might be interesting…

I set the ‘reminder’ on…

The class filled up the day one could apply, and this lecture was so sold out, even those of us in the class will need to watch it online. Thanks for posting the link.

Here’s what stood out on day 1 from N.T. Wright: “Galatians’ focus is Not how to be ‘saved’ & get to heaven (or the relation of faith & works for that). It’s that In Jesus we see ancient Jewish promises fulfilled to surprisingly provide a way to universally experience God’s power now in our present age” (1:4).

Since deliverance from giving our power to false idols is offered to all, we should live as one family. Thus dividing over requiring distinctive Jewish works such as circumcision is to deny this vital reality.

The book I’m reading is David Bentley Hart, “The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, and Bliss”

The book series that I want to use as a metaphor of sorts is titled “Nine Princes in Amber” by Roger Zelazny.
These books (Zelazny) are entertaining but in no way great fiction or great sci-fi. But they do have a very interesting ‘conceit’ (in the sense of “something that is conceived in the mind; a thought; idea; imagination”) and it goes like this:
Amber is the perfect city, beautiful, flourishing, the only ‘true’ world, of which our Earth is but a poor shadow. The King has nine heirs who are vying for the throne; each has certain powers and uses them to cast the others out of Amber and into lesser worlds and strand them there.
The number of lesser worlds is all but infinite; like a series of steps, worlds become less and less Amber-like the ‘further’ away, in being, that they are from Amber. The very lowest world is Chaos, from which if you even survive as a sane person you are lucky.
The princes can move between these world by the power of their imagination: the more clearly they remember Amber, the closer they can get to home.
What I want to draw attention to is this: as I’ve been devouring David Hart’s book “The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, and Bliss”, especially in the section on spirit and body as conceived by classical theists from Plato forward, I’m reminded of the ‘myth’ of Amber.
The platonists and others, for instance, conceived of matter (our bodies, Nature etc.) not simply as the ‘inert and opaque matter of mechanistic thought, but rather the mirror of eternal splendors and verities’. Because they thought in this way, (like the Princes in Amber had to recollect the perfection of the City) I’m convinced, they were more adequate to grasp the true beauty of the planet, the wisdom that created our bodies and minds, than we are - the point being, to get back to Amber - that it takes a certain adequateness to ‘see’ the world, the creation, ourselves - truly, in all the splendor there is, AND as a reflection of who God is; until we are able to see that, we are in a ‘lesser’ world and may not even know it, as the outcast Princes needed to remember Amber as perfectly as possible in order to progress to it.
We ‘see’ more comprehensibly and comprehensively as we grow in understanding and thankfulness. We become more ‘adequate’ as we progress in insight and moral strength.
In other words, I see the ‘ladder of ascent’ in Amber, starting at Chaos and ascending by levels to Reality, each level getting more beautiful, more fecund, richer in color and sensuality, (the condition of being pleasing or fulfilling to the senses) somewhat like a ladder of ascent in Christian theology, where by effort we can grow, become more adequate for understanding, and see a truer and bigger world as we do that. I’m also thinking that, perhaps, God could not provide a more perfect world for us than this one, and this will be our home base for our enjoyment, recreation, and perfection forever. Maybe.
The DBH book is deep and rich, btw, and I think most of us here would really enjoy it and grow in understanding from it.

I just bought the Centennial of the Universalist Winchester Profession of Faith 1803-1903. I just can’t stop reading everything I can find about the Universalist Church in America. The church I’m a member of is the last Trinitarian liturgical Christian church in the UUA, and our history goes all the way back to the early 1800s. So I want to learn more about our rich theological heritage and try to get some insight as to what went wrong… what led the denomination towards apostacy.

Finished reading this thought-provoking and extremely enlightening book the other week…

Here is an interesting portion from ‘Irrevocable’… pages 84-87 on Rom 9:3, dealing with what on a correct understanding (and its implications) means within Paul’s larger argument in favour of ‘the salvation of all Israel.’ What follow demonstrates the type of nuggets Max King’s book has…

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Heh, interesting! I brought up much the same to BAaron a few years ago, mmm, here: Why did Paul use "Accursed" and not "Kolasis" punishment

(I think that link goes to the post, unsure how code works on the forum now.)

{{This is all completely aside from the question of actual translation there, which as I have argued elsewhere on the forum doesn’t have to involve Paul saying that he could even wish to be anathema from Christ for the sake of his brethren. The grammar might mean instead that Paul has continuing pain in his heart for his brethren because he himself once wished to be anathema from Christ (as they currently do)! The verb for wish there is {êuchomên}, which is a very unusual tense that can indicate a past event now done and over with. If that is the proper translation of the verb–and certainly no one can deny that Paul was once the most zealous of anti-Christian Jews–then he is absolutely and definitely not meaning something intrinsically hopeless by “anathema”.

But even if that is not the proper translation, the context and the other uses of the term in the NT do not necessarily have to involve being hopelessly bound with a curse; and trying to claim that the term necessarily does involve such a thing will logically require St. Peter to be hopelessly lost having called such a curse against himself.}}

I haven’t been able to find where I previously made that linguistic argument, though. It’s kind of nice to see I’m not crazy! {g} (Note, Knoch’s CLT which we’re all familiar with, goes with the finished past tense, too.)

FWIW NT Wright’s translation in The Kingdom New Testament reads:
“Left to my own self, I am half-inclined to pray that I would be accursed, cut off from the Messiah, on behalf of my own family, my own flesh-and-blood relatives. They are Israelites; the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship and the promises all belong to them”

The book davo cited looks very interesting and the paperback should be out in a year or less.

Well yes that’s it, that’s the very point of what Kings argues is the correct understanding of Paul’s words here… unlike the more conventional approach as per NTW’s rendition provided above by Dave. Contradiction seems to be the popular thought around here atm and many a scholar have supposed that Paul contradicts himself in 9:1-3 relative to his then broad statements in 11:26-32, but again… understood as King postulates resolves any apparent contradiction. King goes onto say…

I’m reading Dr. Beecher’s A History of Opinions of the Scriptural Doctrine of Retribution (late 1800s). Excellent book. Puts modern scholars to utter shame. Beecher proves what aion means, without a shadow of a doubt. He shows that in the instances it’s used in extra-biblical literature of those times, if it meant eternal, none of the sentences they used containing it would make sense. He shows how it’s translated in the Apostles’ Creed as “the world to come,” as well. Great book. I highly recommend it. I’m on my second read-through of it now.

Oh, and once in here, someone said that the Christian “schools” back in those times were basically just people who shared common ideas, not a formal school. Beecher disproves that false notion. He shows that only the two schools that didn’t believe in Universal Restoration were like that. But the other 4 schools at the time were at actual full-scale schools with buildings, courses, etc. So just wanted to correct the person’s mistake in case anyone else hears it from him.

“An Art of Our Own: The Spiritual in 20th Century Art” by Roger Lipsky.
Opens up a world of wonder in the sometimes beautiful, sometimes disconcerting, often ambiguous (at least to me) art of the 20th century. This includes painting and other media - sculpture, ‘found art’, Op art - lots of artistic expression I was not aware of but now have a real appreciation for. It’s a long book but filled with anecdote, pictures, history - a rich stew.


I had a friend paint me a copy of the picture on the front cover of the book. It speaks powerfully to me. It’s Suprematism, by Malevich. I have it hanging in the loft.

The term suprematism refers to an abstract art based upon “the supremacy of pure artistic feeling” rather than on visual depiction of objects.

I have to be honest, I’m reading a Clive Cussler novel. Sorry.

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Eh, I’m reading (among other things), the 2nd edition of Paulides’ Missing 411: Hunters.

Not everything has to be theological. :slight_smile:

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Sounds interesting…

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Here’s a link to an interesting podcast touching on some of the content in Rom 9 from the book Irrevocable mentioned earlier up the page…

Yep, interesting. They are ‘coming from’ a place I don’t yet fully understand; like ‘evolution’ and ‘spiral’ and ‘post-Christian’ (!!??) and ‘integral’ and that type of thing. I don’t have enough grasp of their frame of reference to really assess it as of yet.

Yeah those terms are not your regular evangelical jargon. They do have other podcasts on their site where they explain it all. It’s a grid used to demonstrate the ‘evolution’ of human consciousness, i.e., thought and behaviour, called ‘spiral dynamics’ aka ‘integral’ when applied theologically. ‘Post-Christian’ aka “spiritual but not religious” is an acknowledgment of the growing number of believers becoming unshackled from religion as traditionally practiced and yet maintaining and enhancing their faith — or as I say of my own experience… I lost my religion and kept my faith.