Friday, January 16, 2004

How I Find and Learn Things

In which the author exhibits frustration at chronological Bibles

So, I'm through Psalms, now. And I'm really only about 100 pages away from being half-way done with the whole Bible. I guess that means I'm still a little behind, but I'm not too far behind.

I think I have finally decided that I don't like the chronological Bible so much. I mean, it's kinda' neat to have things in chronological order, so you can put things in their historical context, but (for me) I really think the Bible loses quite a bit of its pedagogical power when it is put together this way. I suppose I really have two main complaints.

1. My visual cues are gone! Every time I read something that interests me, I reference it visually. In other words, I look up and see what's around it on the page. I don't memorize it. I just visually reference it. Unfortunately, 1st Chronicles can be right smack dab in the middle of the Psalms, or Psalm 34 might be followed directly by Psalm 56. This makes finding the information more difficult for me in the future. Hmm. I know it was around Psalm 56. It HAS to be around here somewhere!!!

2. My spiral curriculum is gone! Just up and missing. A little bit of educational theory says that we learn best by adding just a little bit to what we already know (i+1). The Bible (in its non-chronological format) does this splendidly. I read along, and I think Wow! I think I remember reading about that a couple of days ago. And then I really learn it. But with the Bible in chronological order, the story is just right there again. Boom! And I think to myself yadda yadda yadda. I just got through reading that. I don't want to read it again. And even though I do read it again, it doesn't stick the way it did when it was a spiral curriculum. :-(

But, really. Those are my only two complaints, so far.

I'll check in again later.


Friday, January 09, 2004

New Acquisitions

In which the author "hurrays" over recent gifts from his mother

Thanks to, Christmas from my mother came a bit late this year. It was good. I like it a bit more spread out. It's like the surprise dessert after an already satisfying meal. Anyway, the gifts came late. She sent us "Winged Migration" on DVD, "You are the New Day" CD by the King's Singers, and several books on bird watching for Kendra.

As for books for me, I received The Emerging Church, Tolstoy's The Gospel in Brief, and Lyle Schaller's 44 Questions for Congregational Self-appraisal. They were all on my wish list. How handy is that?! Thanks, Mom!!!

But because I'm reading through the Bible until February 9, the books sit on my shelf unread, taunting me like an iPod in a candy store. Of course that's a different topic for a different blog.

Still Plugging Away

In which the author admits missing a day or so

Right. So I've mostly caught up to where I'm supposed to be. I missed a day's reading. And then put in a bit of extra time trying to make it up. Luckily, I've established this as reading the Bible through in 40 days, but calculated how much I need to read based on 31 days. That way, there's some room for slip-ups.

So far, I'm through with Genesis, Job, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, and Ruth. Right now I'm in the Samuels somewhere. In fact, Jonathan has just rescued Israel from almost certain peril by going maverick and killing a bunch of Philistines.

Judges is really an interesting book. It's also very pertinent to the times we're living in now. It just keeps on saying that there was not yet a king in Israel, so everyone did what he thought was right in his own eyes. And so disaster kept coming on the people until things got so bad that the people turned back to God. Do we really need so much prodding? Maybe so.

I'll check in again soon.

Friday, January 02, 2004

The Bible in a year?

In which the author attempts to do it 12X as fast

I'm attempting to read through the entire Bible in 40 days. I've done it before in a month's time. It seems like a good way to start out the year. This year, the Bible I'm using is the One Year Chronological Bible, New Living Translation. It has the Bible divided up into "365 daily readings arranged in the order the events actually happened." The theory is that if I read about 12 of these per day, I will be done in about a month.

I read the Bible through in a month because it's easier than reading it through in a year. I can take all of my normal reading time (and some internet time) and devote it exclusively to reading the Bible. You hardly even notice the boring parts of the Bible when you're reading it through so fast. Leviticus is done in a day. In a normal year's reading, you'd be in Leviticus for ten whole days. Who could abide that???

Another advantage to reading the Bible through in a month is that you start to see recurring patterns and themes. You get the bigger picture. Granted, you can't spend the same amount of quality time deciphering certain passages, but you see the forrest, not just the trees.

This is my first time through a "chronological" Bible. So far it is quite interesting. We started in Genesis (duh!), had some Chronicles interspersed, and then went directly to Job. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

Getting directly to Job was a nice addition to the pain and suffering book set that I just completed. Now there's a book that really tells you where pain comes from. You see, there's this great conflict between God and Satan. And Satan demands the right to inflict pain and suffering even on people devoted to God. If all your pain and suffering left when you became a Christian, it would basically be God bribing the entire world to follow Him, whether it made sense or not. God wants us to love Him out of fairness and freedom of choice, not because we're bribed.

Anyway. I'm in Leviticus now. It's actually quite interesting. We'll see where I land at my next posting.

Thursday, January 01, 2004

How We Die - by Sherwin B. Nuland

sensitive, technical, moving

Read this book and then write out your living will. In How We Die, Sherwin Nuland takes the time to demythologize the process of dying. I almost cried about 4 different places in the book, as Nuland was describing the processes of real people along with real doctors trying to fight a battle they cannot ultimately win.

Nuland is very technical as he takes us step by step through cells, organs, and systems shutting down. At the same time, he writes with the passion, sensitivity, and insight you might expect from a poet or philosopher.

I have never read a more balanced perspective on death and dying. Nuland boldly commands us to go not gentle into that dark night. Yet, he also has the insight to tell us that sometimes enough is enough. And treatment sometimes only prolongs and increases agony.

The Psalms tell us "to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." Reading this book may be a good way to do just that. In the end, what Nuland wants to say to us is that "[i]t is not in the last weeks or days that we compose the message that will be remembered, but in all the decades that preceded them."

I think this book is a must read for anyone who is a medical professional or who has to deal with medical professionals. It should be read by everyone who is going through the loss of a loved one, and by everyone who is terminally ill. It would make sense for pastors and social workers to read it.

Truly a great book.