Thursday, April 29, 2010

New Christian Website-Worth a Look

After all my huffing and puffing about having to embrace the idea of getting familiar with Social Networking, one of my stealth followers sent me a link to a new Christian website which is still on Beta but well worth a look and I'll promise to update you as new features are added. Although it's American with a lot of contributors from the Far East, it's a good example of how various Christian Churches are embracing new technology and the widening influence if the Internet. Clearly listening to me!

There's a variety of services offered (again not all up and active but we'll keep our fingers crossed) personal profiles, social networking (Meet Christians, Connect with Friends & Grow Your Christian
Network), expert advice (though it doesn't give much info on who they think is an 'expert'-one person's expert being another person's quack and all that), content exchange, job search, and chat. There's also a rather odd idea of earning points for getting people to join up but I suppose we all have to encourage others in what way we can! Good to see the need for this sort of site being embraced. Be aware that you need to sign up to avail of a lot of the services.

Let me (and them!) know what you think and let me know of any other recommendations!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Follow Up on New Media-World Social Commincations Day

I found this video on youtube from RomeReports that you might like to have a look at-it is a general report om World Social Communications Day 2010 but features Mons. Paul Tighe, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications (On a side note, I love that website, Social Communications but only in Italian..). As you can tell from his accent he's Irish, from Navan, and a former lecturer in Mater Dei.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Biblical Brouhaha-Bruce Waltke and Creationism Debate

I've been following the discussion on the Internet closely over the resignation of the reknowned biblical scholar, Bruce Waltke from the the Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando and thought I should put together some links to keep you up to speed.

Essentially, the "brouhaha" as described by Waltke in his letter to colleagues which is now on the SBL website resulted from a video posted on the Biologos website (now removed though a transcript is available here) in which he endorsed evolution. Now I haven't seen the video but considering the uproar in the blogosphere (just google "bruce waltke video" to see for yourself) it would seem that it has been heavily edited and taken rather out of context. Biologos' mission statement is "The BioLogos Foundation explores, promotes and celebrates the integration of science and Christian faith" which would seem a solid enough endeavour and their own blog is quick to highlight their side of the argument and it's worth quoting Dr Waltke's "clarification" that was given to the site:

Dr. Bruce Waltke’s Statement of Clarification:

“I had not seen the video before it was distributed. Having seen it, I realize its deficiency and wish to put my comments in a fuller theological context:

1.Adam and Eve are historical figures from whom all humans are descended; they are uniquely created in the image of God and as such are not in continuum with animals.
2.Adam is the federal and historical head of the fallen human race just as Jesus Christ is the federal and historical head of the Church.

3.I am not a scientist, but I have familiarized myself with attempts to harmonize Genesis 1-3 with science, and I believe that creation by the process of evolution is a tenable Biblical position, and, as represented by BioLogos, the best Christian apologetic to defend Genesis 1-3 against its critics.

4.I apologize for giving the impression that others who seek to harmonize the two differently are not credible. I honor all who contend for the Christian faith.

5.Evolution as a process must be clearly distinguished from evolutionism as a philosophy. The latter is incompatible with orthodox Christian theology.

6.Science is fallible and subject to revision. As a human and social enterprise, science will always be in flux. My first commitment is to the infallibility (as to its authority) and inerrancy (as to its Source) of Scripture.
7.God could have created the Garden of Eden with apparent age or miraculously, even as Christ instantly turned water into wine, but the statement that God “caused the trees to grow” argues against these notions.
8.I believe that the Triune God is Maker and Sustainer of heaven and earth and that biblical Adam is the historical head of the human race.
9.Theological comments made here are mostly a digest of my chapters on Genesis 1-3 in An Old Testament Theology (Zondervan, 2007).”
Yup. There you have it. Adam and Eve. Historical Figures. Fuller Theological Context. Historical Head of the Human Race. I'm salivating at the thoughts of the handout I'm going to make for my students for my course on the Pentateuch next year in Milltown.

Have a look at some websites that bring the arguments together including John Hobbins' brilliant roundup over on the Ancient Hebrew Poetry blog.

Christian Post
Everyday Christian
Get Religion
Science Blog (Got so excited they used exclamation marks)
The Washington Times
Folsom Telegraph (Californian newspaper, clearly not in favour of Evangelical Protestants)
USA Today

Science Now

And I'm also going to try for a class trip to go to the Creation Museum in Kentucky
This walk through history is the centerpiece of the Creation Museum and features amazing scientific and biblical answers for the world we live in today. Witness the true time line of the universe unfold through the 7 C’s of History—illuminating God’s redemptive plan throughout history.
Not much on the shop though, I was hoping for a tshirt...

New Media-Intercom Article-World Day for Social Communications 2010

The article below was just published in the May 2010 issue of the Intercom magazine and is posted here with the kind permission of the editor. Do feel free to take out a subscription!

In his message launching the focus for the 2010 World Day for Social Communications, Pope Benedict XVI called on the clergy to use the latest technologies, such as websites and blogs, to preach the gospel and encourage a discourse with all users of these “new media”, not just practicing Catholics. In an age when the Internet has surpassed all other media except television as the principal source of national and international news, the Church could not ignore communications developments, or allow itself to fall out of touch with them.

Pope Benedict underlined the fact that Church communities have traditionally relied on modern media to open the lines of communication. As the culture changes, the Church needs to use the latest technologies, especially if it wants to reach younger people who are increasingly feeling isolated from the community of the Church, many even believing that the Catholic Church makes no real effort to keep in tune with the increasing range of helpful and readily accessible forms of communications. Jesus used every forum of communication available to him during his earthly ministry; he preached to large groups of people in public places, as well as to small groups of disciples in quieter spaces. He spoke in the Temple and travelled great distances to tell people of the wonder of God. His dedication to this would not leave us with any doubt that had the power and means to access a large audience been available to him, Jesus would have been an avid user of the Internet to spread his Word.

Quick to explain the idea of New Media, especially in relation to its use in this, the Year of the Priest’, the Pontiff notes that, “Priests are thus challenged to proclaim the gospel by employing the latest generation of audiovisual resources (images, videos, animated features, blogs, Web sites) which, alongside traditional means, can open up broad new vistas for dialogue, evangelization, and catechesis”.

The Pontiff acknowledged that new technologies call on priests to become savvier in their use recognising that these technologies can promote deeper types of relationships even across vast distances and will “enliven their pastoral outreach, but also will give a “soul” to the fabric of communications that makes up the Web.” He also urged those involved in ministry to not forget its primary obligation and message.

The Vatican has already made its own forays into cyberspace. In addition to its main website, the Vatican last year launched Pope2you, where users can access a papal Facebook application, see the Vatican on YouTube, and even download the Church’s iPhone application. At Easter 2009, the Holy See broadcast the Pope’s message with subtitles in 27 different languages - a YouTube record.

Interestingly one of the principal suggestions is that greater use should be made of images, videos, animated features, blogs, and Web sites and that those engaged in formation in a seminary environment should become familiar with new media. It is not difficult for a short course on information technology and Internet safety to be delivered in a manner that encourages, rather than prohibits clergy from engaging with these new media. Some religious groups in Ireland have already begun to positively engage with the papal sentiments by drawing up a list of guidelines for their members using the Internet-making sure it is done in an encouraging manner rather than a list of off-putting warnings.

It is vital to highlight that this mission to engage with New Media does not mean that every priest or nun must now start blogging, tweeting, or set up and maintain their own webpage. One problem that seems to have surfaced from initial reactions to the pronouncement, is that clergy are already busy, without the added work of updating your blog or emailing. However this misses a crucial point of New Media; it is designed for those who do not have much time to devote to it. Twitter uses posts of 140 characters and can be updated from most mobile phones (even without Internet connection). RSS feeds and customisable homepages such as igoogle make access to blogs and websites instantaneous.

If even all this seems too much you should take the spirit of involvement to heart and assess where you can improve and engage further with New Media. For example have a look at your parish’s website-is it updated as often as it could be? Is it accessible and easy to use? Websites are usually very easy to update and all parishes have at least one person who is skilled at web design and up-keep who is only too willing to help-often with only the expectation of a recommendation for future work. Why not collect some email addresses of parishioners and send around a weekly or monthly version of the parish newsletter? You could always include some relevant websites for people to explore while they browse the Net, for example the websites of the Vatican or a Bible Study website. Try asking a tech-savvy member of your congregation to give you a few pointers with how to improve your own use of the Internet or ask them to address your Parish Pastoral Council. Could you set up your own Facebook page to communicate with members of your parish? None of these ideas require a huge time outlay and will start you confidently on your journey of spreading the Good News to as wide a possible an audience.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Bible in Minute Video Clip

One of my former students in Maynooth posted this video by Barat and Bereta on my Facebook page. Haven't seen it in a while and it made me laugh, then made me weep a little when he said he was going to show it to his students :) It has over 2.3 million hits on YouTube with several "copy cats" and brings back fond memories of watching the Reduced Shakespeare Company perform The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged) in London, so much so I've ordered the CD. (See a review of the show here) My Wisdom Lit students also received the link for this as a "goodbye and thank you" present for the last 12 weeks!
Make up your own minds and enjoy!

And the lyrics!

Bible In A Minute

Earth made, Adam Eve

Cain kills Abel, has to leave

Boring genealogy

Great flood, olive leaf

Tower Babel, Abraham

Sodom and Gomorrah, and

Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses

Ten commands, promised land

Judges, David, Solomon

Sent away to Babylon

Job, then a bunch of psalms

Proverbs and the Song of Songs

Major prophets, lion’s den

Minor prophets, Bethlehem

Gold and myrrh and frankincense

Satan and Samaritan

Choose disciples, other cheek

Walk on water, thousands eat

Lazarus, fig tree

Last supper, Gethsemane

Blood money, third denial

Pontius Pilate, public trial

Forty lashes, to the tree

Why have you forsaken me?

Third day, empty tomb

Reappears, five wounds

Acts of the Apostles next

Epistles and Apocalypse

Irish Biblical Association Conference-CANCELLED

Just got this email from Tom, our secretary


Irish Biblical Association Annual Conference

Dear Member

Further to yesterday's preliminary notice, I write to inform you that, as a consequence of the grounding of air flights resulting from the volcanic ash episode, our two speakers - Prof. Larry Hurtado and Dr. Eddie Adams - have been unable to travel.
It has, therefore, been decided, with great reluctance, to cancel the Association's Annual Conference planned for this evening and tomorrow at All Hallows College, Dublin.

I am sure you will be disappointed at this turn of events. A final decision was postponed as long as there was any possibility that the speakers would be able to travel. The possibility of presenting some or all of the programme at a later date will be considered by the executive committee.
With best wishes,
Tom Gillen
I think the only possible reaction to this is boo-urns and fingers crossed that we can re-schedule as soon as possible-in the mean time I need to get back to letting everyone know!If you need any more info just post below.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Book Review: All Together: Creative Prayer with Children

This book review appeared in Intercom magazine (October 2009) and is reproduced here with the kind permssion of the editor.

Luke 11:1-“Lord teach us how to pray”

All Together: Creative Prayer with Children makes it clear from the outset that it is not a “last minute” resource that should be dipped into to help facilitate last minute prayer groups or assemblies, rather it seeks to nurture and deepen the prayer life of the adults involved with children and facilitating their prayer. While it is primarily aimed at those working in an educational environment, it is extremely useful for anyone involved in a parish situation and appeals to a wide variety of age groups and abilities that may participate in the increasingly popular children’s Liturgy of the Word.

If we as adults consider how we worship, it is often a linear practice-we do the same things at the same time, following instructions such as “Let us pray together” or “now we shall stand and sing”. This is the outer symbolism of how we as a community come together to worship God. Anyone who has worked with children of a primary school age knows that children seldom operate in this way. They are used to fulfilling individual tasks, often several at a time, or working in small groups. It is always recognised that children present with different abilities and levels of participation and the often packed schedule of a children’s Liturgy of the Word can often struggle to accommodate their individual needs. This book, written by experienced catechists encourages you in a friendly and supportive way to engage with the children in your group so that the prayer is their prayer and in turn, it is their hearts and mind that are raised to God. The group exercises and methods of prayer detailed under various themes lend themselves well to the interactive classroom and curriculum or to the group format most commonly adopted during a children’s Liturgy of the Word. The authors strive to highlight that “prayer can never fully be taught” (93). Those who engage with younger children need to understand that it is much more than a technique, or a time when we ask God for favours but rather a conversation we have with God, not just using words, but engaging our hearts and minds. Children embrace change and can easily bore of the same format and this book promotes the need to make prayer accessible for all children. Formats of prayer discussed include dialogue, litany and eye-witness accounts, examples of which are all provided.

The book is clearly divided into sections and it is fruitful to read them in sequence, as the initial section on the Foundations of Creative Prayer with Children underlines the basis for the entire book, including an explanation of the keeping prayer with children “real”, namely that prayer must emanate from their concerns and express these concerns so that it truly is their prayer to God. The text allows for excellent guidelines and principles for the adult to begin the positive, creative and engaging liturgy, encouraging a rooting of the prayer in scripture and to provide a respect for Tradition.

Section two contains insights, explanations and creative resources for various liturgical seasons and occasions such as Advent and Lent as well as foundations, ideas and resources for celebrating Mary and the Saints. These three chapters focus on praying together in a group situation such as class or an assembly time. The fifth and final chapter focuses on creative ideas for individual prayer and is appropriate for group and individual use. All of the exercises are adaptable to a variety of situations, as well as ages and abilities. Each exercise is clearly laid out with foundations for the prayer subject, for example the exercise on Sorrow and renewal of life (105) explains how prayer is a movement from us to God and from God to us and how this explanation can be illustrated with the image of a bridge. The children write on one half of a piece of paper how things are now and on the other half how they would wish god to make things. They can then make a simple (depending on skill levels) Lego bridge and imagine in prayer the crossing from one side to another. Due to time constraints, a children’s Liturgy of the Word cannot always be completed in the church and therefore some of the prayer activities described can be adapted for home use, possibly involving parents and other family members.

Main points for the religious educator to communicate with the children are clearly laid out at the beginning of each prayer theme. It is imperative that the educator fully comprehend the liturgical basis for the activities also allowing for their prayer. Children can adopt what they have heard in the children’s Liturgy and apply it to their own life, facilitating Christian practice into their everyday being. Activities such as Sin Bin and Sorry beads are eminently suitable for this purpose.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Irish Biblical Association Annual Conference

Just a quick note about the IBA conference that is taking place this weekend in All Hallows College,

The Conference Schedule:

Friday 16 April

7:30 p.m. Conference Registration
8:00 p.m. Public Lecture:

Professor Larry Hurtado
Who is ‘God’ in the New Testament? : The Particulars of the New Testament Deity in a World of Gods

Coffee and Tea will be served after this lecture.

Saturday 17 April

9:00 a.m. Conference Registration

9:30 a.m. Dr. Edward Adams
The New Testament House Church: A Reassessment

10:45 a.m. Coffee, Tea and Biscuits

11:15 a.m. Dr. Edward Adams
Early Christian Meeting Places: Beyond Domestic Spaces

12:30 p.m. Wine Reception
1.00 p.m. Lunch

2:30 p.m. Professor Larry Hurtado
‘God’ and Jesus: The Implications of Jesus for ‘God’

3:45 p.m. Annual General Meeting

Conference, excluding meals, €25
Individual lectures, €7 each
Lunch Saturday, €15
Supper Friday, €10

2010 Ordinary Membership Subscription, €30
2010 Associate Membership Subscription, €20
Special Associate Membership for STUDENTS Subscription, €10 (for 3 years)

Map for All Hallows:

And have a look at the All Hallows website for more details.

If you need any more information just email me and looking forward to seeing you there!

For those of you who have inquired about the beautiful graphics we used on our fliers and posters, the painting, "The Prodigal" was created by Daniel Bonnell and the layout of both were designed by Amanda Dillon