Tag Archives: church

A brief note about John the Baptist

The sermon at St. Clement’s Episcopal Church was given by Bob Shoemake. He preached on the appointed Gospel John 1:29-42. This passage is about Jesus and John the Baptist. One thing Bob said was that, unlike in the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), there is no baptism of Jesus by John. Why the Gospel of John Depicted John the Baptist So Differently suggests that is because John (the Evangelist) has a different, “higher” Christology.

Return to St. Luke’s

My wife Mia and I left Windycon about 9AM Sunday, missing the con events of that day. It took nearly an hour, in perfect traffic conditions, to reach the east side of Evanston. Our objective there was St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. We were members of it from 1977 until 1997, and were married there in 1978. The church went through a difficult period in the late 1990’s, but has since recovered and seems to be thriving again. The liturgy is still excellent. Some people from our day are still members, and we were able to talk to a couple of them, including our old EFM mentor. There was quite a crowd for an ordinary Sunday in November, especially in the age of Covid. We introduced ourselves to the new Rector and told her how happy we were at how the parish is doing under her leadership.

Columbus and the Flat Earth

Inventing the Flat Earth: Columbus and Modern Historians, by Jeffrey Burton Russell, is the book for the day. Columbus did not show the world that the Earth was round. No educated European in 1492 believed that the Earth was flat. They all knew it was round. As all math geeks know, Eratosthenes of Cyrene had made a good calculation of the circumference of the Earth about 200 BCE.

Catholic church authorities did not say that the plan of Columbus to reach the orient by sailing westward was impossible because the Earth was flat. Their scholastic theology was based on the philosophy of Aristotle, who understood perfectly well that the Earth was round.

There are passages in the Bible that suggest a flat Earth, but almost all theologians of ancient and medieval times knew the evidence for a round Earth was overwhelming, and understood the Bible was not to be taken literally in this and similar cases.

The objection to the plans of Columbus was that, thanks to Eratosthenes, people had a good idea of the distance from the west coast of Europe to the east coast of China, and could easily calculate that no ship of the day could possibly carry enough supplies for the voyage.

Columbus, acting like a 21st century Republican, rejected the best science of the day and chose a smaller alternative value for the circumference that suited his purposes. He was just lucky that the Americas happened to be there. As a result their inhabitants were then horribly unlucky.

The story about Columbus and the flat Earth is a 19th century invention, not history.

Also posted on Facebook.

Patience: Sermon Notes

Notes from a sermon by the Rev. Jennifer Allred at St. Clement’s Episcopal Church, St. Paul, MN. Third Sunday of Advent, December 15, 2019. Any errors, mistakes, misinterpretations, etc. are my responsibility, not the Rev. Allred’s.

Largely about the need for patience, directly referring to the Epistle. It is the call of the Advent Season. “We want everything just about now.” The Rev. Phillips Brooks said “The trouble is that I’m in a hurry, but God isn’t.” The Rev. Allred also quoted from the “Romero Prayer,” which apparently was not actually composed by Archbishop Romero.

A techie note from church

This morning in Church it was my turn to read the lesson from the Hebrew scriptures, about Joseph being sold to the Ishmaelites for 20 pieces of Silver (Genesis 37). I also read the assigned part of Psalm 105, where this story also comes up.

17 He sent a man before them, *
Joseph, who was sold as a slave.
18 They bruised his feet in fetters; *
his neck they put in an iron collar.

I saw the phrase “iron collar” and my mind immediately went “Anachronism!”. Continue reading

Too many books

In Church this morning some announced that there was a group being formed to read and discuss the recent book Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. I have heard good things about this and my first reaction was Sure, I should get the book, read it, and join the group. My second thought was Wait a minute, I am reading several books already. My third thought was Just how many books am I reading now? So I made a list. Here it is, in no particular order or organization:

Continue reading