Theology update for the week of October 30

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Dear friends in Christ,

The fifth chapter of the Revelation of Saint John the Divine makes it clear that the main character of Revelation is not John himself, but the Lamb who John sees by the throne of God. Pictured literally it is a grotesque image (zoom in on Albrecht Durer’s woodcarving to see), with the Lamb having seven horns, a plethora of eyes, and bearing the marks of slaughter. To quote Joseph Mangina, “Whatever else this Lamb is, he is not cute.” Yet, as we shall see on Sunday, October 30, the Lamb alone can bring history to its fulfillment. The class meets at 10am on the fifth floor.

How do you think about the concept of sacrifice? Many of us think of what the Rev. Dr. Andrew McGowan refers to as “deadly altruism.” In his upcoming lecture, however, titled The End of Sacrifice: Violence, Ritual and Redemption, McGowan suggests another perspective: that of sacrifice as a gift. The lecture is on Tuesday, November 15 at 6:30pm in Andrew Hall, and a light reception follows.

We soon begin Creation and Covenant: Our Stewardship of the Created World taught by Professor Jeremy Waldron. This series of discussions over three successive Wednesday nights (November 2, 9, and 16) will examine the biblical depiction of creation and our place in it, the implications of God’s covenantal relation to us regarding the created world (e.g., Genesis 9:8), and the responsibilities that arise out of our stewardship of creation. The classes begin at 6:30 p.m.

The Friday Bible Study led by Father Spurlock continues today at 12:40pm, as the group makes their way through the gospel of Luke.

Next week the Christian Doctrine II class continues its study of the service of Holy Eucharist in the Book of Common Prayer, as it is celebrated at Saint Thomas Church. We meet in the church itself and physically walk through the service. If you were recently confirmed or received into the Episcopal Church, or transferred into Saint Thomas from another parish, please be in touch with me about this class.

Finally, many years ago I read Susan Neiman’s book Evil in Modern Thought and found it a helpful way of reconceptualizing the history of modern philosophy as a series of grapplings with the problem of evil. Recently I came across a new article by Neiman, The Rationality of the World: A Philosophical Reading of the Book of Job. It’s not a short read, but Neiman’s perspective on Job, writing as a Jewish philosopher grounded in the Enlightenment tradition, provides a unique way of looking at this fascinating book. The article also shows some of the superlative illustrations of Job by William Blake.

Yours in Christ, Joel