Rupert Murdoch — The New Evil Empire

The news came out that Thomas Nelson publishing was sold to Harper Collins which is owned by *GASP*, Rupert Murdoch.

Now, if you don’t know who Rupert Murdoch is, then you know how I feel when someone mentions Kim Kardashian or Nicole Ritchie.

But Murdoch actually does something.

He owns media outlets, like the “evil” FoxNews. (Or the savior of the world FoxNews, depending on your political leanings.)

There are just some things in life one can count on, and sure enough, Joel Watts came through for me! It didn’t take three seconds before his rant began. I love this guy! (Hint: he is NOT a Murdoch fan.)

Christian publishing hasn’t really been “Christian” for a long time. I sure would’t claim that Harper Collins is the bastion of conservatism that Murdoch seems to be. Maybe Murdoch is doing this so he balances out his liberal and conservative leaning portfolios. You know… fair and balanced…

Book Review: The Sacred Meal

A book I received from Thomas Nelson to review has sat on my shelf far too long.

The Sacred Meal: The Ancient Practices Series
by Nora Gallagher is a short read on Communion. It is not about the big words (transubstantiation or consubstantiation or any other ones).

She reflects simply on the meaning of communion. Over the centuries the Church has done a fair job of masking the importance of communion. In my own tradition (Pentecostal) we have not understood this sacred meal as the early church understood it. As a pastor, I have moved my church to weekly communion and put it almost center stage. This book is a great help in teaching my congregation why communion is so vital.

Gallagher breaks it down into three main areas: the waiting, the receiving, and the afterward. In the waiting, there is the examination. We wait as we go up to receive communion. As we get ready to receive there should also be an awareness that we are stepping into a practice much older than our current “church.” We are being connected to a world much older than ourselves. Our participation is re-creating this “old world” practice. We are going to a place that is not always visible by daily life.

In the examination is also the look at what hinders us from reaching God and loving others. I loved her definitions of “sin.” We think it’s about “bigger stuff” (like sexual immorality). Often we need to repent of the “little stuff” (like being addicted to the internet and thus cutting off the opportunity to deepen real relationships). The question really is, “What is separating me from God?”

In the waiting we are to examine our allegiances. Are we really assimilating into the Kingdom of God? The table is a great place to examine those attitudes.

In the receiving we are jolted by the fact that we are doing nothing. All we do in this culture is geared toward doing something. It is about productivity. Receiving at the altar is about inhabiting the present.

We hesitate at times because if we open our hands to receive something we may not know what is going to come in. We want to control the situation. It may also mean we’re saying, “I need something,” and we’re not always comfortable with that attitude.

We are receiving Christ. He is the bread of heaven. He is the wine that brings new life. He gives himself. Are we willing to receiving?

In the afterward there is the understanding that grace meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us. Communion can be a very powerful experience. We may want to dwell in that presence. But it is temporary. We have to move back into the world, but understanding his presence is truly with us.

Weekly we are undergoing transformation. His presence touches us and slowly our spiritual muscles are being formed. There will be powerful encounters at times. It is not unreasonable to expect those encounters at the table of the Lord.

I am grateful Gallagher doesn’t slip into theological arguments about the “actual” body and blood. She keeps things focused on the practice and experience of communion. We are invited to be players in this great narrative and we would do well to take up our part with great care.

She has wonderful stories to illustrated the power of communion. She keeps the history of communion very brief. My one caveat here is she makes the same mistake most Christians make regarding Constantine and Christianity. Constantine did not make Christianity the official language of the Roman Empire. He did allow religious freedom. There are still problems when Christianity became so accepted, but I don’t like seeing an error repeated so much.

This is a great read to help walk through the importance of the table of the Lord. We need to value this practice in our lives and allow transformation to take place on a regular basis.

This book was sent as a review copy from Thomas Nelson. I am under no obligation to give it a positive review.

Book Review: “The Voice” New Testament

“The Voice” is a New Testament translation coming from Thomas Nelson.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

This is a new translation that will eventually include the Old Testament. The translation work combines the work of scholars and artists. This translation has as its stated goal to be a work for ” a church in great transition.” What is different about this translation is they combine translation scholarship with the work of authors, musicians, and other artists to make a translation that is incredibly flowing and easy to read. They actually call it a “literary project.” The goal is to get people back into the Word of God.

The format is interesting. They will put in blocks of writing that help explain the text. It has a flow that makes it much more readable than a commentary, and it does a good job setting the context for the reader. They are also faithful to translation work, in that if they added phrases within the text that are not in the original languages, they italicized them so readers will know this is something just to help explain the text a little better.

It is also written like a movie script. Dialogue is set off by marking the person speaking at the beginning of the verse. It doesn’t really detract from the reading.

I am a translation junkie, but with our recent translation “wars” over the TNIV, ESV, etc., I was leery of looking at another translation. I was especially leery when I noticed some of the names (not translators) attached to the project. What theological damage they could have done to the text seems minimal at this point. I may discover it on another reading. The translators used are solid, in my opinion. For my own ministry, if I had this translation, it would be useful to give to people who had never read the Bible, or had a hard time getting into the story. This translation is helpful.

New Book for Review Just Arrived

It’s actually a new translation called “The Voice” from Thomas Nelson. They sent me a complimentary copy for review. I admit, seeing one of the contributors (not one of the translators) had me skeptical. But I took it to my son’s swim meet tonight and read through some passages. I am pleasantly surprised! I look forward to a deeper look into this fresh translation. Review forthcoming.