interim for tea and thought

July 19, 2013

so these are my holidays, and in their gentle auspices I am reading, sleeping, thinking, writing and occasionally singing.

whiiiiiiiich is almost entirely what I do during the semester anyway, except then it’s at a frantic headlong clip with more terror thrown in for kicks. More tea is had. More people are seen. Everything happens faster. And in any case, those are entirely different topics thought about in semester-time. Almost always different topics. That’s the real difference between studying and taking a break; you think about what you want to think about, and read what you want to read.

and yes, at a slower pace. More sleep occurs. I even have time to do a little painting.

mostly I’m reading fiction, or at least I’m trying to. I’m restless and hungry for good stories, so sucking them in at a rate of knots with my brain where I can find them is the least I can do before the drought begins again next week. I bought three Patricia McKillip novels last week in Wellington, and have been savouring them as I go. Am also reading a rather dry book on self-care by Ray Anderson, pastoral theologian, and intend to begin The God Who Rejoices: Joy, Despair and the Vicarious Humanity of Christ, by Christian D. Kettler, who I made heavy use of at the end of last semester. The book I used then (it has a blue cover; this new one is red) is underneath the stack of books I don’t own and still bristles with bookmarks. Maybe I should finish that one too. It’s called The God Who Believes: Faith, Doubt and, you guessed it, the Vicarious Humanity of Christ.

It rather rewrote some of my conceptions of God– or perhaps shed light on what was already happening, made it make sense, all of a sudden made understandable, visible patterns out of what had only seemed like an unexamined thicket of events, which is what life mostly seems like. Bara’. Creation of function and utility out of formlessness. I went to a talk on Genesis last night by Dr. John Walton, which posited an interesting alternative reading of Genesis 1 & 2 as not making statements necessarily on behalf of young earth creationism and against evolution, or in the words of a blog I scratched up online looking for that link, “the text is not trying to tell us how God created the universe or how long it took him to do it. Instead, the text is telling us important truths about who created the universe and what its ultimate purpose is.”*

Or, because scrabbling around other people’s blogs is fun, Walton posits that Genesis 1 is “an account of ascribed functions rather than material origins, providing an evocative view of it as a presentation of God’s preparation of creation to be a place for divine in-habitation. It is the set up for God with us.”**

You should just go watch the talk, particularly if you’re interested in this kind of thing. I’m not opposed to that theory and I find it surprisingly convincing, and of course very interesting, but as the creationism vs. evolution thing has never really been a passion of mine, I took away different things from last night’s lecture. What I’m consistently interested in is who God is, or who he has revealed himself to be, based on the premise that God has revealed himself in the person of Christ in Biblical text and in the gathered centuries of the church, in both people now and in the past, and in traditions (and by church I mean here the collective Body of Christ throughout time).

So I find Walton’s thesis engaging because I like learning about who God is, and Walton’s reading is that Genesis is almost entirely about the nature of God as creating purpose and worth and order out of what is chaotic and worthless and purposeless, rather than necessarily an account of God creating matter ex nihilo (which he doesn’t dispute is a possibility; he just disputes that it’s presented in Genesis 1). And creating order out of chaos, creating purpose and meaning out of things that didn’t have purpose and meaning, does sound rather like the God I’m learning about. So that’s what I took away from last night’s talk.

In other news, next semester looks like it’s shaping up to be theology-heavy, which I look forward to with cautious pleasure. I’m still not decided as to whether last semester was simply a freak accident, so caution and much trepidation is warranted, particularly since next semester is top-heavy with higher-level papers. Christian Ethics and Christian Spirituality are of particular fascination, since I’m really not sure what to expect from them in the slightest. Introduction to Theology I think I’ll simply enjoy, and my one Biblical Studies paper- Psalms and Wisdom Literature- will hopefully shed light on Proverbs in such a way that I’ll stop disliking it so much.

I do enjoy being able to sleep until four in the afternoon, and write whatever I want, and read whatever I want, but learning has its own excitements. Here’s hoping next semester improves on the last.



*Marc Cortez, John Walton and Tremper Longman on Genesis 1-2
** Jon Coutts, Lecture Notes: “Genesis and the Genome” with John Walton and Dennis Venema

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