I blogged today on the subject of Pentecost and its relationship to Shavuoth. Some time I need to come back to talking about how wind, spirit, and breath all have the same origin. You can find my thoughts at Pentecost/Shavuot. Unrelated but in the news, I had a few thoughts about Islam in the light of the release of Sergeant Bergdahl.
Many moons ago, my mother was given a little book by JB Phillips called Ring of Truth. This is the JB who produced those marvelous modern translations of the New Testament. He reflects in the book on what it was like to be a translator and the effect on him of getting close to the text. And then he picks out seven verses that stuck in his mind. They are an unusual selection (I think). I’ve typed them out and given a one-sentence summary of why they stuck in his head. Enjoy his list. Continue reading
Thomas Piketty in Capital shows that the rate of return on capital tends to exceed the rate of growth with the inevitable result that inequality is going to increase, possibly sharply. This tends to confirm Marx’s fears about capitalism. This inequality can be curbed by political means but the political will to do anything about it seems to be lacking, particularly as elites appear to control the levers of political power. I am rather intrigued by the role of the church in all this. Their focus on sexual issues to the exclusion of economic issues has led many to vote for a party that does not act in their economic interest. Others, such as Thomas Frank, have long since noticed this.
Newsweek has a fascinating article about how our prisons are full of people who essentially lack healthcare — and we pay a fortune to keep them there. Apparently over 60% of those booked for a crime are mentally ill and another whole segment are suffering from addictions. If, and I suppose it is a big IF, healthcare reforms can connect to these people then the author suggests that we could (a) empty the prisons and (b) save a bundle of money.
A shocking article about conditions in prisons in Alabama in the New York Times — see http://nyti.ms/1eNXy3s — leaves one wondering just where the church is these days. Jesus was quite clear, “If you do this unto the least, then you do it unto me.” And yet, these appalling conditions continue in a state that is part of the Bible belt. No wonder more and more people are finding the church irrelevant.
I have just been watching a series of young musical performers on a site called Flixxy, an alternative to YouTube that was new to me. One example can be found at http://www.flixxy.com/trumpet-solo-melissa-venema.htm. I was reminded as I watched of the notion that we grown down – from heaven – not up. Judy Garland and Elvis Presley along with Mozart are among the many examples of individuals who seem to have come into our world with their talents already fully-formed. They came to give; not to get. We can only stand in awe and wonder from what celestial realm these children came. And what that tells us about the world in which we live.