29 June 2014

The Scandal of the Old Testament God

Reading the Old Testament, one cannot help but be surprised and confused by the violence. Furthermore, the violence appears not merely to be condoned by God but even commanded by Him! It seems unnecessary and even unChristian. How can the God that we read about in the Old Testament truly be the same God revealed in the New Testament?

Questions like these have been asked by many (most recently in my hearing during a study time with some grad students). They deserve answers. A recent article in the The Banner, "The Scandal of the Old Testament God" does a really good job of looking at the difficulties, and it deserves to be read.

Unfortunately, there are no easy answers to the difficulty of the violence in the Old Testament, as Benckhuysen acknowledges in the article. At the same time that this reality (and the violence itself) makes me uncomfortable, I would also argue that I find a completely comforting and simple to understand God also problematic.

24 June 2014

flying: the good side

While flying to Detroit and Toronto has been problematic, flying to Amsterdam has almost always gone well for Matthijs and I. (I have to admit I'm trying not to read too much into that! The reality, I think, is simply that international flights are almost always more reliable than national/local).

Today I am flying, and it is going well. A friend/student picked me up and put me in a good mood with his cheerfulness and niceness. The bus left and arrived on time. My first flight also arrived on time. The next flight looks to be on time. There's been internet and outlets in both airports!

The best part, however, has been the sense that this is extra free time. I am flying, so I am busy. No one is expecting me to do anything, and so I can email (or not). I can read whatever books I'd like (and thanks to my housemate, I got a chance to explore NT Wright's Revelation for Everyone - his explanation of chapter 12 was really good!). And while I was biking(!) I got to read more of 'Who's got time? Spirituality for a Busy Generation'. In the Philadelphia terminal, there are exercise bikes and rocking chairs, and I couldn't resist trying them out.

As I was biking, it was fun to watch the people go by and to see their expressions as they saw people biking along the pathway. It was a very tangible way to be reminded of the world around me, especially as my simple actions could not only bring me joy but also bring a smile to others. Such a reminder to pay attention is one that I can never hear enough of. Perhaps I'll have to check out the rocking chairs next :)

17 June 2014

Update on my Life

I have not written much lately. I have been discovering the joys and challenges of campus ministry, delighted that God is allowing me to do this with these people while at the same time realizing that this could ask much of me. I need more time to ponder how to describe this well, and so I have not yet written about it here.

And so instead I will give you some glimpses of life here.

I have been thankful to be able to visit with much of my family this past month and see good friends. I have my uncle Dick (and my dad) to thank for this - my aunt and uncle sold me their old car for very little - and it's very good on gas! - and my father took care of getting it on the road for me.

Matthijs and I have been trying to organize a move to the United States. A normal move is a lot of work, but this one just feels worse. After all, we're trying to find a place to live in a new place, figure out how to get what we want and need across an ocean, as well as deal with the challenges of visas and adjusting to a new country.

I think the moving to a new country has been the most challenging and stressful part of my life lately. That, and my dissertation - and this in spite of the fact that when I work on it, it has gone very well, and I've gotten great feedback and support from both my supervisors! My difficulties in making time to work on it disappoints me, while at the same time I'm trying not to be too hard on myself. I think I underestimated how challenging the move here would be and how much being away from Matthijs creates disorder in my life.

Thankfully, the disorder and stress are only a (small) part of my life. A better description of me is that, despite missing Matthijs and feeling somewhat off-kilter, I am full of joy in what I've been able to do and thankfulness for how God is working in and around me.

05 June 2014

Logistic challenges in having multiple homes

I'm the type of person who doesn't make a shopping list to buy groceries. Nor do I even (usually) have to open the cupboards to know what we need. I usually just know what needs to be bought because I've opened the cupboards and fridge umpteen times in the last week, and I remember what I've seen or looked for and what we'll want to have.

So I was a bit surprised a few weeks ago when I bought salad dressing herbs only to discover that the salad dressing wasn't anywhere near empty. Apparently my system of remembering wasn't working that well. It is only when I returned to Lansing that I realized that my memory wasn't the problem. The salad dressing is almost empty here: both in my house as well as in the fridge at work. The problem is less my memoy and more the challenge of having three different kitchens in my head, and my brain can't entirely unsort them from each other.

All the information runs together and makes my normal way of doing things more difficult - this seems like a fairly adequate metaphor for my whole life in this inbetween time. On the bright side, though (and this is pushing the metaphor a bit far), just like the contents of my three kitchens provide much more interesting food to eat than my previous single kitchen, the changes and this move bring with them the spice of new challenges and experiences.