Monday, February 25, 2013

Video: Jerusalem: 4,000 years in 5 minutes

If you can get passed the pro-Israeli politics at the very beginning and end, this really is a neat 5 minute presentation of 4,000 years of Jerusalem's history. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Reflections on Ruth, Part IV

The seventh piece in Chrissie Crosby’s series represents an interpretation of Ruth 3:16, where Ruth returns to her mother-in-law after encountering Boaz on the threshing floor. The starscape is Hubble’s view of the Crab Nebula. Chrissie suggests that “we lean forward with Naomi into the future to await the greater fulfillment.” I thus see Naomi (on the left) reaching out to receive both the person of Ruth and God’s future of blessing that has attached itself to the Ruth-event (symbolized by the Crab Nebula).


The eighth artwork (below) illustrates Ruth 4:13, where the Lord grants Ruth the miracle of a birth. Chrissie explains, “God’s mighty power surrounds just the two of them [Ruth and Obed], illustrating God’s action as mother love.”


The ninth (and final) artwork is an interpretation of Ruth 4:15, where the women of Bethlehem bless Naomi and describe Ruth as better to her than seven sons. The body-like figures of the Eagle Nebula M16 surrounding the two women, Naomi and Ruth, represent the women of Bethlehem and/or the seven sons that Ruth represents to her mother-in-law. Thus, I understand that God’s blessing flows into Naomi’s life here, reversing her earlier extreme bitterness in ch. 1, flowing through the village women and also through Ruth, who encompasses the ideal (“7”).


Friday, February 22, 2013

Reflections on Ruth, Part III

The fourth piece in Chrissie Crosby’s series is based on Ruth 2:1, where the reader first learns of Naomi’s kinsman Boaz, a man of חיל, of capacity, authority. Chrissie writes, “I picture Boaz coming into his fields, with the aura of God surrounding him.” (Hubble’s view of the Helix Nebula is used to convey this well.) “I used an image that also reminds of an eye.”

For me, this artwork illustrates God looking for potentials within the village society of the time that could be tapped and co-opted in forwarding the divine plan. Note the clan-authority (חיל) of Micah (3:8) and the 70 elders (Num 11:16 E), which God also tapped in this way! The aura here could thus be the “spirit of Moses” of Num 11:17! 


The fifth artwork in the series is based on Ruth 3:8, where Boaz is startled to awake at night next to a woman! I like how the arm over the eyes suggests that Boaz at first does not know what/who is there, and what might happen to him. Only then he senses “a woman.” The Hebrew term  הנה invites us into Boaz’s perspective, in which the night visitor is still a mystery. The starscape is Star Forming Region LH95. By initiating intimacy and marriage, Ruth sets in play God’s creative/procreative miracle—new birth, new life, out of infertility, new birth for Ruth and for all Israel.


The sixth image in the series is based on Ruth 3:9, where Boaz spreads his כנף over Ruth. Earlier, at Ruth 2:12, Boaz had used the same Hebrew term to refer to the protective “wing” of God, which he prayed would shelter Ruth. Chrissie, then, writes that Boaz here in 3:9 may thus be fulfilling his own prayer that he offered earlier. Boaz makes his own prayer a reality, and in this act God and humankind are surely working together (the starscape is Spiral Galaxy M74.)


Please add your comments by clicking below.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Reflections on Ruth, Part II

Chrissie’s second artwork is an interpretation of Ruth 1:6, which describes Naomi’s decision to return to Judah upon hearing that God had reached out to her people to give them what the need. The verse reads in Hebrew:

ותקם היא וכלתיה ותשׁב משׂדי מואב כי שׁמעה בשׂדה מואב כי־פקד יהוה את־עמו לתת להם לחם׃

Chrissie writes, “I wanted to show how God’s presence moves from a heaviness to a lighter touch, how God breaks through the story in many different modes, how the various words bring forth different understandings of how God reaches each of us.” The Hubble image is Merging Clusters in 30 Doradus. Click the image below to enlarge it.

In the art I perceive a light, “wispy” quality to God’s “visit” (פקד)---you can see the night sky through the streaks---yet, there also seems to be something of a strike/impact as God’s presence funnels down between the mountains of Judah.


The third piece in the series (immediately below) is an interpretation of Ruth 1:16-17, Ruth’s stirring proclamation of loyalty to her mother-in-law. The figures of Ruth and Naomi appear against a backdrop of Grand Design Spiral Galaxy M81. For me, the art captures how minute acts of selfless-loyalty may have cosmic magnitude in God’s grand design for human history.

Chrissie writes, “I see God’s hand holding Ruth while she outlines for the elder woman what she envisions for their future.” Then, I wonder if the image might represent God holding Ruth in addition to its more literal depiction of Ruth holding Naomi. Or, perhaps better, is this an image of God becoming tangibly present for each figure in the hands of the other woman to whom she is now forever bound?


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Crosby’s “Reflections on Ruth,” Part I

CM Crosby, a most gifted student of mine, has produced a wonderful project interpreting Ruth in Hebrew exegesis and artwork. She has entitled her project, “Reflections on Ruth: Art and Study.” She has given me permission to post her art in this blog, which I will do over the next two to three days.

Each of her nine images contains figures from the tale of Ruth with a backdrop consisting of renderings of photos captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. The images of wonder from space represent the presence of God in the book of Ruth, thus inviting the reader and viewer to contemplate God’s subtle, mostly indirect (non-overt) presence in the events of the narrative. As you study the images, please consider adding a comment to the blog posts about how Chrissie’s study and art enrich your thinking about God.


Chrissie’s first artwork (below) is based on Ruth 1:13b:

אל בנתי כי־מר־לי מאד מכם כי־יצאה בי יד־יהוה

In Ruth 1:13b, Naomi expresses her dark emotions of bitterness at her sorry fate. One possible translation of her words to her two daughters-in-law is “My bitterness is too much for you to bear” (cf. NET, NABre). The star-scape is based on the Mystic Mountain in Carina Nebula. In the art, I can imagine Naomi free-falling below the Mystic Mountain; or, does the Mountain have five “fingers,” representing the “hand of God” that she claims has gone against her?


Click the image to enlarge it. Your reflections are welcome in the comments below.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Free On-Line: Two New Bible Briefs



As editor of the Bible Brief series, I am delighted to announce the on-line publication of two new booklets. The Rev. Rhetta Wiley, Ph.D., who teaches at Notre Dame of Maryland University, has contributed “Judges” to our series (click here). Russell L. Meek, who teaches at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, has contributed “2 Samuel” (click here). Both booklets will reintroduce the Scriptures to readers in powerful and inviting new ways. Our thanks to the authors! Don’t miss out on these great downloads!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lent in Cyberspace


I’ve researched and collected the following set of videos and web resources in preparation for an adult forum on “Lent in Cyberspace” to be presented at St. Paul’s Church, Alexandria, VA, on Sunday February 17, 2013. Enjoy!

This initial video is a Trinity Cathedral production. The one below is a lovely version of Psalm 51 in Hebrew, perfect for the start of Lent:


Below, Father Jack (from the Busted Halo site) has an amusing overview of the Church’s practices of Lent:

The Busted Halo site has an on-line Lent calendar. Click the image below to check it out:


The above video introducing Lent 2013 is from the Xt3 site, which also has an on-line Lent calendar. Click the image below to check it out:


The above web-version if of-course free, and for $1.99 an iPhone version can be yours:


Beyond Lenten calendars, there are several worthwhile collections of meditations and prayers available for e-readers such as iBooks or Kindle. An example is Carol Mead’s Disciples on the Way: Meditations for 40 Days of Lent (Forward Movement and Morehouse):


Finally, two more videos (both from Igniter Media) making a move more toward Easter:


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Update: Sharing the Clipboard between iOS and Windows

This post is now updated (9/7/2013)!

A while back I wrote a post on various apps and hacks that allow you to share text and images easily between an iPhone and your laptop or desktop PC (click here). Since that time, although myPhoneDesktop has been updated, and I have started using it again, several other of the apps and web-apps that I have used have ceased development and have not updated for Apple’s newer equipment. I’ve done some testing, and have two new apps to recommend. The app AirForShare is awsome for two-way sharing of text and files between iPhone and PC (both devices should be on the same WiFi network). The app ShareClip is even more powerful, especially nice for when you want your two devices to actually share the same clipboard over an extended period. The initial setup takes a little bit of effort but is easily done. When you use it, be sure to take advantage of the "music workaround" that keeps the app running in the background for a long, long time.