A Good Thing about That Emoji Bible

One of my favorite questions as a Bible-scholar-lady is “So, what’s the best translation?” I love this question not only because it opens the door to substantive discussion that can last for the better part of a class period… no matter how long the meeting. But I also love it because we get to talk about paradox: The best translation is precisely not the one. Rather, the best translation is a whole mess of ’em, side by side, allowing a reader to see the varieties of ways this ancient text can mean (and sometimes revealing the biases of whoever’s behind said translation). So even when I disagree with some version’s particular word choice, turn of phrase, or punctuation, finally I say bring it on. Give us a new translation, and keep them coming. Come they do.Bible Emoji cover225x225

A Babylonian New Year

And so we’re off! — 2014, a new year, ready or not. Resolutions or not, there’s something about recognizing the end of a year and the beginning of a new one that’s downright refreshing.

The earliest public celebrations that we know about are Babylonian, dating back thousands of years. I’ve been spending a lot of time in ancient Babylon (in my head) these past few years, and it occurs to me that for all our distance from an Iraq of the B.C. years, we share some things in common. Take New Year’s. Sure, there are loads of differences. For one thing, the Akitu New Year festival happened around the time of the spring equinox and went on for days. But at its heart was this sense of putting aside the old and beginning anew with hope and possibility.Marduk

Starting Over

Finally, I’ve revamped my website’s “Bio,” even the “Q&A,” to reflect some big ol’ life changes. Shoshin, the Japanese Zen call it. “Beginner’s mind” — to be sought and cultivated. It’s all of everything a person ought seek, according to wise men from the east. And everything is in it. Yet, these days, I’m right back there and not so sure it’s all that.

The Radical Vulnerability of God

As far as religious paradox goes, the radical vulnerability of God has got to take the cake (or the stollen, the bunuelos, the figgy pudding, the buche de noel, the truchas de navidad…).

As I’ve lost my grip on all the other Christmas traditions still dear to me — the weekly advent services leading up; making pepparkakor, rum balls, and sweet rye bread; practicing my piano part for the “Jesu Bambino” trio with my sisters; the pickled herring and cold duck; singing carols to myself while skiing through Lester/Amity’s quiet woods of birch and pine; even the iconic tree itself… Even as I’ve let these slip away in the context of new relationships and warmer climes (differently rich and delightful), there is one, sparkling mystery of the season that will not let me go.


Enjoyed a fun conversation about Bible Babel with radio host Faith Ranoli yesterday. Listen live in a week or so.

We talked for about an hour about all things Bible — where it came from, what’s the best translation, how people use the Bible to argue different sides of the same issue, why the Bible says people lived for centuries, and what’s with all those names for God. I’m afraid I rambled an awful lot but it sure was fun.