Battlestar Judaica

I don’t watch much television, but it’s not because I hate tv, it’s probably more that I could sit and watch it for hours. However, there are some shows, such as Lost, that I watch and spend time looking at. It probably has to do with good writing. Battlestar Galactica has writing that appeals to me.

I was old enough to watch Battlestar Galactica, the first series, as a 10 year old fan of Star Wars. It failed to grab my attention. When the second series came out, 4 years ago, I was not interested, until some fairly interesting and intelligent people I know started saying “you have to watch this.” And so I did, and now I’m a junkie. It’s got a monotheism/polytheism angle, and a Christian/Jewish angle, and issues surrounding identity and sin and predestination and on and on.

Here’s some great talks on the show, which are good to watch even if you haven’t yet gotten into the show (and there’s only a half season left, so I encourage you to get into it.) The links come courtesy of Galactica Sitrep, which is the best Galactica blog out there.

REVIEW – The Year of Living Biblically

A.J. Jacobs’ book, (subtitled “One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible”) has been out long enough that there are probably many reviews available, so mine will just be a quick summary of why you can skip it.

It’s contrived. You may be aware of people who can play the handsaw. They can play recognizable songs. This guy is playing Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I’m sure it took some time to learn to do it, and it’s interesting, but it has very little impact on the musical world.

It seems to me that A.J. Jacobs has made a similar contribution to religion. He spent a year, looking at Biblical law and trying to follow all the rules, no matter how obscure. (His previous book was about his year spent reading the Encyclopedia Brittanica) He did this with the help of some advisors, but not in community. He acknowledges this deficit.

I’m trying to fly solo on a route that was specifically designed for a crowd….This year I’ve tried to worship alone and find meaning alone. The solitary approach has its advantages…But I was doing it [specifically, observing holidays, but I think it sums up the whole exercise] cluelessly and by myself, and it felt empty.

The Guinness Book of World Records is a fun book.In it you can find out some cool things about odd people doing odd thing. Jacobs’ book is similar. He plays the saw, or dances for 72 hours straight. It is not really a faith journey, though some of it allows him to discuss his lack of belief. He does not end up seemingly much further down the road then he was when he began.

Jacobs has a good sense of humor throughout his self-imposed ordeal. I imagine his wife had to have had the patience of Job. Jacobs writing is worth reading, I just wish his wit and energy was put into something a little more substantial.

Race and the church

I am part of a church that is mostly rich white people. We have some people who might be at the low end of the middle class, and we have had a few people of Asian descent, and one woman whose husband is black, but he’s a member of another congregation.

One group that I’m part of, the Ekklesia Project, is also mostly middle and upper class white people. We’ll be discussing some of the reasons when we meet this year at the gathering.

Another group that I’m a member of, though I’m not much of a contributor, is the Emmaus community, and it’s also mostly middle class white people.

And yet another group which I am involved in, which has no name other than coffeehouse theology, is middle class white men. In May we’ll be discussing issues of race as well, using this article by Dr. Gene Davenport as our starting point.

During Holy Week, our church hosts other churches for noon services. There’s a thirty minute worship service, followed by lunch. One of the CME churches in the area led the Good Friday service. Then we ate together, or at least we ate in the same room. A few of their members sat on the side of the room that was largely occupied by members of our congregation, but most from the CME church sat at two long tables. After the meal, we did more socializing, but eating was separate, and I’m not sure how intentional that was from either group. But it was noticeable.

There are members of each congregation that are old enough to remember separate fountains and movie theater entrances. The best hamburger joint in Tennessee (which happens to be here in Henderson) has a walk up window. It’s handy for ordering a quick milkshake, but I’m wondering if that was its original purpose.

I don’t know what to do about this. I have heard that there are efforts by the United Methodist church to work more closely with CME and AME churches, to help us all figure out why we’re still so divided by race and economic circumstances. Locally, I’m going to do what I can to connect Methodist congregations in the county (regardless of whether they’re United, Christian or African) so that we’ll all be aware of one another. Maybe the Holy Spirit will help us to pray together, worship together and eat together a little more often.