Sunday, January 30, 2011

Friday Five on Sunday: Five Verses

Songbird, over at RevGalBlogPals, writes: “Twenty years ago, I was on a Pastoral Search Committee, and one of the questions we asked the ten candidates we interviewed in the first round was to tell us their three favorite passages of scripture. I loved hearing the variety of verses quoted and even learned some that I didn't know, such as the last line of one of this week's lectionary passages:

He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

For today's Friday Five, list your five favorite passages/verses from the Bible and tell us something about why you love them.”

I had a very busy Friday and haven’t even been able to read others’ Friday Fives yet, but this one seemed appropriate for Sunday morning! So I’m chiming in a bit late.

I’m in the cohort that has seen lots of new Bible translations. When I was a child, the Revised Standard Version was new and controversial; the first Bible I bought for myself was the New English Bible; and I’ve collected a number of other translations and editions since then. When I participate in a Bible study I like to compare them to see what different insights may come from different wording. But when I think of Bible verses, the ones that stick in my head come from the King James version. So that’s the version I’ll quote here, realizing its many flaws but still reveling in its resonant language, in this, its 400th anniversary year. This is a picture of my favorite King James Bible, the one illustrated by Barry Moser.moser bible

On to the verses!

1. Psalm 30:5. For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

I’m generally an optimistic person, and a fortunate one, and this has been my experience. I’m also a morning person, and even in dark days I cherish the hope and possibility that comes each time the sun rises, so the last part of this verse is almost like a mantra for me.

2. Matthew 10:29. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.

I love this verse because of its use of what must have been a very common activity in Jesus’ time to describe God’s care for all God’s creation; and because it is the source of one of my favorite Gospel hymns, “His Eye is on the Sparrow.” And, having read a lot of pre-decimal British fiction, I’m comfortable and comforted in a way by farthings, shillings, sovereigns and so on. The classic versions of “His Eye is on the Sparrow” are by Mahalia Jackson and Ethel Waters, but today I’ll give some men a chance to chime in – the Soul Stirrers (later to be joined by Sam Cooke, but not in this video) and Marvin Gaye.

3. John 14:2. In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

Nowadays this is usually translated “many rooms” rather than “many mansions,” which probably makes more sense, but the idea of a house that contains mansions has always helped me imagine the unimaginable vastness of God. I have heard this verse at many funerals and memorial services and hope it will be read at mine someday. To me, it says that God has room for all God’s children, whatever their beliefs, worship styles, etc. This verse is also (I think) connected with a favorite spiritual, “Plenty Good Room.” I couldn’t find a video of my favorite Marian Anderson recording, but here’s a great rendition by an African group.

4. John 1:14. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

If I were forced to choose between Christ’s humanity and Christ’s divinity, (an impossible choice for a Trinitarian), I would have to choose the humanity. I’ve read in many places that the literal Greek translation of “dwelt among us” is “pitched his tent among us,” which is a phrase that calls up many associations and mental pictures for me. I find John’s Gospel helpful in synthesizing God as Man and God as Spirit.

5. Genesis 8:22. While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

This is part of God’s covenant with humankind after the Flood in the story of Noah. I love the seasons, the “ceaseless round” of night and day, and the rolling cadences of this verse fill me with joy that these things endure. I also love the following verses, where God sets the rainbow to remind us of the covenant.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday Five: Books!

Jan at RevGalBlogPals says: "I hope some of you received books for Christmas presents; I did and have been reading ever since. Then I discovered a new author from those recommendations that pop up on Instead of buying those books, I've been checking them out at the library, which will not help Amazon's future recommendations for me at all.

So tell us what you're reading, what you would and would not recommend--five books or authors! "

I'm currently reading mostly mysteries, and as a relaxation method after a day doing taxes, I recommend the "cozy" kind. I read Roberta Isleib's first in a series, Preaching to the Corpse, as the Connecticut entry in my "A Mystery for Every State" project, and just finished her second in that series, Asking for Murder. The protagonist is a psychologist/advice counselor, Rebecca Butterman, who lives in Guilford, CT and works in New Haven. I thought I'd guessed "whodunnit" and was completely wrong!

I also enjoyed Mary Stanton's Angel's Advocate, which is set in Savannah and has a bit of "woo-woo" (supernatural) about it as well as Southern charm.

A very different type of book was S.J. Bolton's third thriller, Blood Harvest. Like her previous ones, it's set in an isolated rural area of the British isles and there is local folklore and some heavy-duty
dysfunction and just plain scary stuff. I also enjoy police procedurals and in this country Michael Connelly is one of the best writers of those -- I recently read his third Harry Bosch novel, The Concrete Blonde. I do read non-fiction, and am currently making my way through John Keegan's The First World War. As Keegan is a military historian, there's a lot about troop movements which my poor grasp of spatial relations makes problematical for me, but it's still good. I received James McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom, about the Civil War, for Christmas, so that will be my next Big History book.

I did not read every word, but skimmed through Molly O'Neill's One Big Table, a huge American regional cookbook and food history. I was ambivalent. It's got lots of great stuff in it, but it's just too darn big to read comfortably (weighs 5 1/2 lbs!!) and the recipes were a little quirky for my taste -- aebleskiver with blue cheese??? -- and often called for ingredients that are hard to find if one doesn't live in NYC or whatever particular ethnic enclave might have, say, pomegranate molasses on every store shelf. I wouldn't spend the $50 for it but might check it out of the library again -- it's a good book for libraries to have, I'd say.
I do post reviews of my reading on Goodreads.