Christmas 2020: Week 5, Day 7: Gentleness

Apparently, Google translates “Kyrie eleison” as “Sir, take it easy.”

Christians are more familiar with “Lord, have mercy.”

But the Google Translate rendering strikes home with me. 

Christians often say that mercy is not giving people bad things that they nevertheless deserve. But this has problematic overtones.

I’ve heard it stated, or strongly implied, that the slightest error warrants a gory death in God’s eyes. This is considered the reason behind Jesus’s awful death: supposedly, he took the punishment we deserve. 

Again, I find this highly problematic. 

Continue reading Christmas 2020: Week 5, Day 7: Gentleness

Christmas 2020: Week 5, Day 6: Saviour

Above all, Tolkien has a fascination with names for their own sake that will probably seem excessive to anyone whose favorite light reading is not the first book of Chronicles.

Robert M Adams

This quote comes from a 1977 review of The Silmarillion shortly after it was first publishedThe book prequels The Lord of the Rings. 

I learned about the quote from my best friend. She said she had been reminded of me.

Touché. 

Continue reading Christmas 2020: Week 5, Day 6: Saviour

Christmas 2020: Week 5, Day 3: Justice

“It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.”

Grantland Rice, sports commentator

There’s a day in the Bible that gets call the ‘day of judgement.’ It’s described in various ways: something long-awaited, vindicating, something that ends long-standing injustice.

But it’s not described as joyful or even good. If anything, it’s described as terrible. 

As I’ve said before, prophecy is a complex genre. The ‘day of judgement’ can be interpreted in a number of ways – many place it as a past event. 

That said, many Christians believe, myself included, that there is one ultimate judgement day yet to come, when God calls all wrongdoing to account. We don’t fear it, but we ask how to live as the day approaches. (Though it could be centuries yet.) 

For some Christians, this creates a desire to “be on the right side” before time runs out. And I kind of agree. But if we’re honest with ourselves, we all like to think that we’re right, good and loving. We all think we deserve to be on the winning team.

Continue reading Christmas 2020: Week 5, Day 3: Justice

Christmas 2020: Week 5, Day 2: Accountability

Some of the things Jesus said were pretty uncomfortable. 

One of them was this: “For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.” (Matthew 25:29, see also Matthew 13:12)

As a Christian, I don’t want to dilute Jesus’s words. I believe he said them for a reason. I also trust that the gospels were written and compiled reliably enough. But sayings like this can make for awkward conversations – particularly with people who are fragile in their faith. 

And I don’t believe the words of Jesus should make us anxious. 

I come to this question: who were these words intended for?

Continue reading Christmas 2020: Week 5, Day 2: Accountability

Christmas 2020: Week 5, Day 1: King

Gondor has no King, Gondor needs no King.

Boromir, The Fellowship of the Ring

Some days, I’m with Boromir. 

This quote comes from the film adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. It’s an epic high fantasy, supposedly set in Earth’s distant past. And it has many plot threads. One of them concerns the land of Gondor, which has been bereft of a king for generations. 

Meanwhile Boromir, son of the Steward of Gondor, is resentful of how much his people have endured, being bordered with the black lands of Mordor. And he’s cynical that some random ‘ranger’ from the North, Aragorn, could be the rightful heir and king. 

And you know, there are days when I’m similarly cynical. 

Continue reading Christmas 2020: Week 5, Day 1: King