Friday, March 27, 2009
What's new this summer!
You may also take a three-day course while enjoying the natural beauty of Sagada. On 28-30 April 2009, UPB will also hold summer classes in this famous highland vacation spot.
Register early and get a discount! Call, text or write the organizers:
mobile phone: +63 915 790 7243; +63 917 506 0080
landline: (074) 444-8393
The Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals.
The sermon this morning: 'Jesus Walks on the Water.' The sermon tonight: 'Searching for Jesus.'
Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.
Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our community. Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say 'Hell' to someone who doesn't care much about you.
Don't let worry kill you off - let the Church help.
Miss Charlene Mason sang 'I will not pass this way again,' giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.
For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.
Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.
A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow.
At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be 'What Is Hell?' Come early and listen to our choir practice .
Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.
Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.
Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.
The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and gracious hostility.
Potluck supper Sunday at 5:00 PM - prayer and medication to follow.
The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.
This evening at 7 PM there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.
Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10 AM. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B. S. Is done.
The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the Congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.
Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM. Please use the back door.
The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7 PM.. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.
Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.
The Associate Minister unveiled the church's new campaign slogan last Sunday: 'I Upped My Pledge - Up Yours.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Perhaps the greatest danger -- and the most tempting idol -- is to imagine that God is the servant of our desires, who meets all our needs and is there for us in crises in exactly the way we need him to be there for us. But this idol is built on a false base, as if our 'needs' are really our deepest needs, as if the only and best way to resolve a crisis is to do so in the way we think it should be resolved -- as if we were all-wise, all-knowing, and all-loving.
- Mark Galli, Jesus Mean and Wild: The Unexpected Love of an Untamable God (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006), 171.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Here's a guide on Edward Fudge's new book, Hebrews: Ancient Encouragement for Believers Today. Abilene, TX: Leafwood Publishers, 2009. It shows why Hebrews: Ancient Encouragement for Believers Today is a must read. [Note: Q = Querist, EWF = Edward Fudge].
A NEGLECTED BOOK
Q: Hebrews is not a book we hear discussed very often. Why do you suppose that is the case?
EWF: You are right about that. This neglect is very unfortunate, in my view, because Hebrews is one of the most Jesus-focused, gospel-packed books in the New Testament. You will see the evidence for that on almost every page of Hebrews: Ancient Encouragement for Believers Today.
Q: Why do most people miss this focus?
EWF: It comes from a lack of real study of Hebrews. Folks go away from it without ever seeing and appreciating the book's real message. They assume it is just an old book about even older Jewish rituals, sacrifices and priests, with no meaning or value for them.
WHO WROTE HEBREWS?
Q: Do you know who wrote Hebrews?
EWF: I know as much about it as anyone else, which is finally nothing for sure! J Origen told the truth about two centuries after Christ when he said that the author "is unknown to God alone." It almost certainly was not Paul, for a variety of reasons. My personal vote among the candidates goes either to Barnabas or to Apollos.
Q: Why do you favor Barnabas?
EWF: The author of Hebrews calls his own work a "word of exhortation" (Heb. 13:22). The same Greek expression is found at Acts 13:15, where it is translated as "word of encouragement." There, Paul and Barnabas are invited to address a Sabbath synagogue audience, which they do for the next 31 verses. Their remarks are called a "word of encouragement." Not only is Barnabas involved in that, his name means "son of encouragement" (Acts 4:36) -- a comment on one of his chief characteristics. He is also a Levite, who would be very interested in the subjects of priesthoods, sacrifices, and their results. These themes permeate Hebrews and can also encourage us today, as I show in Hebrews: Ancient Encouragement for Believers Today.
Q: What can you say in favor of Apollos?
EWF: Well, for starters he is called "mighty in the Scriptures" (Acts 18:24). This fits Hebrews very well since its author clearly was exceedingly familiar with his 'Bible,' which was the "Old Testament" as we call it. (Hebrews actually tells the Story of the Son of God -- from heaven to earth and back to heaven again -- based on four different Psalms.) Apollos was also "an eloquent man," as was the author of Hebrews). And he was from Alexandria, Egypt -- a city of learning noted for a particular type of Scripture interpretation. The author of Hebrews reads his Bible in a similar manner.
WHY WAS HEBREWS WRITTEN?
Q: Do we know why Hebrews was written?
EWF: Yes we do, although we don't know exactly to whom, when, where, or precisely what was going on. But we do know that, for a variety of reasons, the original recipients of Hebrews were worn out, disheartened, tempted, and seemingly about ready to walk away from their faith. The book hints at some possible causes, including persecution, passing of time, being misfits in their culture, the appeal of sin, and so forth.
Q: That situation sounds very up-to-date! How does the author of Hebrews respond to it?
EWF: I love it! To revive his readers' spirits and to renew their commitment, the unknown author re-tells the Story -- the story of the Son of God who became a man, to live and die as our representative, and who is now in heaven representing us as our High Priest. Hebrews is thoroughly focused on Jesus! Its message is always contemporary. We can never go wrong by focusing on the Savior himself. I am very pleased that several reviewers have described Hebrews: Ancient Encouragement for Believers Today in those same terms.
A 'BRIDGE' COMMENTARY
Q: You call Hebrews: Ancient Encouragement for Believers Today a "bridge" commentary. What does that mean?
EWF: When it comes to Bible studies, there are two worlds out there which often never come together. One is the ivory-tower world of academic specialists with all their scholarly issues and technical jargons. The other world is where most believers live and work and worship. Hebrews: Ancient Encouragement for Believers Today attempts to bridge this gap. For example, I worked form the Greek text of Hebrews but Hebrews: Ancient Encouragement for Believers Today doesn't have a single Greek word in it. Although the bibliography covers eight pages and includes 80+ scholarly articles from theological journals, this book uses everyday language. By linking scholarship with simplicity, I hope to give the reader the best of both worlds.
A NARRATIVE-STYLE BOOK
Q: You also describe Hebrews: Ancient Encouragement for Believers Today as a "narrative-style" commentary. Tell us about that.
EWF: That refers to the fact that Hebrews: Ancient Encouragement for Believers Today is written as flowing narrative, although it discusses each verse of Hebrews in detail. It does this in 48 chapters, each covering a portion of the Scripture text. Each chapter begins with a very short section called "Why & Wherefore," which relates that section to the big picture. That is followed by "Unpacking the Text," which goes into detail, but in narrative style, with subheads to make it read more like a typical book.
Q: I see that Hebrews: Ancient Encouragement for Believers Today already endorsed by a considerable variety of notable scholars and church leaders, even before its release. Isn't that a bit unusual?
EWF: What is somewhat uncommon in the case of Hebrews: Ancient Encouragement for Believers Today is the theological and international diversity of the endorsements. Hebrews: Ancient Encouragement for Believers Today contains a number of quite controversial passages, about which Christian "tribes" traditionally disagree. I am very pleased, therefore, that this book is recommended by knowledgeable reviewers across the spectrum.
For example, the quotes on the back cover of Hebrews: Ancient Encouragement for Believers Today come from Methodist, Calvinist, Church of Christ, Baptist, mainline Protestant, Pentecostal and Emergent church scholars. The full text of these seven endorsements, plus 29 others, fills the first six pages of the book. You can read the endorsements online already, with photos, biographical comments and (where applicable) website links of the reviewers, by clicking here.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Lawyer-theologian Edward William Fudge is one of the Christian writers I greatly admire not only for his wisdom-packed writing but also for his humility and his genuine love for people. Although associated with the (Stone-Campbell) Church of Christ, he has steered clear of the sectarian bent of many in his denomination and has served Christians in other church groups. His website, www.EdwardFudge.com, is a rich resource for Christians seeking answers to various religious issues.
He has done another great service to Christianity with a soon to be released 262-page commentary entitled Hebrews: Ancient Encouragement for Believers Today (Abilene, TX: Leafwood Publishers, 2009 -- $ 19.95) -- a work which will surely bless those who read it, especially in these desperate, confused times. For more details, go to his website. (A Q & A guide will be placed in the next post.)
Three of his books have a special place in my library:
1. The Great Rescue: The Story of God's Amazing Grace. Orange, CA: New Leaf Books, 2002. Consisting of 18 short chapters of simple yet powerful prose, it retells the Biblical narrative from Genesis to Revelation. My favorite section of the book is chapters 13-16 where he lucidly expounds on grace and faith and on how these work in the life of the church.
2. Beyond the Sacred Page: A Testimony to the Guidance of God in the Life of One Man. Houston, TX: Providential Press, 1995 (now revised, enlarged and republished as The Sound of His Voice). This is a touching autobiographical account which weaves both family and church history (especially that of the ultra-conservative wing of the Church of Christ in which Edward grew up) to come up with a tapestry that beautifully depicts a life that progressed from rule-keeping to Grace-consciousness, sectarianism to ecumenism, and setbacks to success. Edward's life of faith is partly expressed in these lines:
God answered my earlier requests for his guidance but he also gave me something far greater -- the experiential knowledge of God himself as the living, personal God who sees us, hears us, and who sometimes answers our prayers in immediate and dramatic ways. (88)
3. Two Views of Hell: A Biblical and Theological Dialogue. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000. With Covenant Theological Seminary professor Robert A. Peterson as co-author, Edward passionately advances the "Conditionalist" view as against Peterson's "Traditionalist" position on a hot issue in the Evangelical world -- the nature of eternal punishment-- arguing, among others, that the doctrine of the soul as essentially immortal is a product of Greek philosophy and not of proper Biblical exegesis and that the biblical doctrine of "eternal punishment" does not actually mean "eternal torture" but a divine judgment which is of limited duration commensurate to the degree of one's wickedness and which ends with the wicked ceasing to exist (i.e., eternal separation).
Some of his works can be downloaded for free from www.freedomsring.org.
UNESCO recently estimated that of the 6000+ languages of the world 2500 are on the verge of extinction. In the Philippines, four of our 175 languages have been declared dead.¹ The Organization's Director-General Koichiro Matsuura noted well why all should be concerned about the extinction of languages:
“The death of a language leads to the disappearance of many forms of intangible cultural heritage, especially the invaluable heritage of traditions and oral expressions of the community that spoke it – from poems and legends to proverbs and jokes. The loss of languages is also detrimental to humanity’s grasp of biodiversity, as they transmit much knowledge about the nature and the universe.” ²
Why the rapid language attrition rate? Katharine Whittermore in her essay, "Endangered Languages," notes three major reasons: television (broadcasting industry privileges language of the majority), increased literacy ("As more native people receive formal education, schools cannot print textbooks in every language"), and hegemony (cultural imperialism).
For those of us who wish to help preserve and enrich our respective languages, we can perhaps learn from the "Navajo way" as described by Whittemore:
The Navajo have been particularly skillful at keeping their language alive. In order to get their Anglicized kids to see that Navajo is worthy knowing, tribe educators work on giving it cachet. Administrators bring hip, Navajo-speaking artists and musicians to school regularly, to drive home the notion that 'speaking Navajo is cool,' as Whaley [linguistics and classics professor at Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH] says.³
¹ Data from www.ethnologue.com.
² Lifted from portal.unesco.org.
³ in Paul Eschholz, Alfred Rosa, & Virginia Clark, eds., Language Awareness: Readings for College Writers, 8th ed. (New York: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2000), 350.
Friday, March 20, 2009
The 2nd International Conference on Filipino as a Global Language will be held on 15-18 January 2010 in San Diego State University, CA, with the theme, "Transformation Through Empowerment in Filipino Language and Culture."
In an invitation sent out to various academic institutions in the Philippines, the organizers state the goal and aims of the confab as follows:
The goal of the conference is to provide a venue for the exchange of ideas among teachers, researchers, program
administrators, writers, and other agencies involved in the promotion and nurturing of the Filipino language and culture for the purpose of:
1. describing/sharing existing state‐of‐the‐art programs,
2. identifying program needs as well as available resources,
3. sharing ideas, research results, resources, assessment tools, and practices on teaching,
program administration, and language promotion,
4. fostering cooperation and collaboration in doing research,
5. raising consciousness on the importance of the national language to minimize regionalism, and
6. advocating for the establishment and development of Filipino language programs globally.
Deadline of submission of proposals and abstracts on 15 June 2009. Details of the conference @ http://www.larc.sdsu.edu/ctflc
Monday, March 16, 2009
As with a historical name, it is useful... to distinguish between the available referent (our imaginative construct of God) and the real referent. The real referent for "God" is never accessible to us or in any way open to our observation or experience.... God is a symbol -- an imaginative construct -- that enables men to view the world and themselves in such a way as to make action and morality ultimately (metaphysically) meaningful. [85, 109]
♥ Kaufman, Gordon D. God the Problem. Cambridge, MASS: Harvard University Press, 1972.
Some churches in Baguio City promote what they term as "Holy Yoga" as a means to draw potential converts -- an advertisement gimmick which could definitely send the likes of Morris Cerullo (The Seven Greatest Signs of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ), Douglas Groothuis (Unmasking the New Age), Peter Jones (The Gnostic Empire Strikes Back) and Salem Kirban (Satan's Angels Exposed) hollering: "Shades of New Ageism!"
If you want to try this, make sure your meditation area is a perfect simulation of the Arizonian wilderness, with its tumble-weeds and all.
Now, how about "Holy Kung Fu," "Holy Tai Chi," and "Holy Tae Bo"? :)
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Yam stood for manliness, and he who could feed his family on yams from one harvest to another was a very great man indeed.... Yam, the king of crops, was a very exacting king. For three or four moons it demanded hard work and constant attention from cock-crow till the chickens went back to roost.
The former owner of my copy of the novel (got it from a Booksale outlet) scribbled the following marginal note across the above quote: "I Yam What I Yam."
With this in mind, one can understand how terrible it would be for an Ibo man to lose an entire crop of yams to the angry forces of nature, as dramatized in the following excerpt from the same novel:
Okonkwo planted what was left of his seed-yams when the rains finally returned. He had one consoloation. The yams he had sown before the drought were his own, the harvest of the previous year. He still had the eight hundred from Nwakibie and the four hundred from his father's friend. So he would make a fresh start.
[This paragraph is a good example of imagery - sms]But the year had gone mad. Rain fell as it had never fallen before. For days and nights together it poured down in violent torrents, and washed away the yam heaps. Trees were uprooted and deep gorges appeared everywhere. Then the rain became less violent. But it went from day to day without a pause. The spell of sunshine which always came in the middle of the wet season did not appear. The yams put on luxuriant green leaves, but every farmer knew that without sunshine the tubers would not grow.
That year the harvest was said, like a funeral, and many farmers wept as they dug up the miserable and rotting yams. One man tied his cloth to a tree branch and hanged himself.
Okonkwo remembered that tragic year with a cold shiver throughout the rest of his life. It always surprised him when he thought of it later that he did not sink under the load of despair. He knew that he was a fierce fighter, but that year had been enough to break the heart of a lion.
'Since I survived that year,' he always said, 'I shall survive anything,' He put it down to his inflexible will.
His father, Unoka, who was then an ailing man, had said to him during that terrible harvest month. 'Do not despair. I know you will not despair. You have a manly and a proud heart. A proud heart can survivie a general failure because a failure does not prick its pride. It is more difficult and more bitter when a man fails alone.'
Such resilience in a man like Okonkwo all the more invites sympathy for this tragic hero.
- Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart (New York: Anchor Books, 1994), 24-25, 33.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
I recently found a 2008 Christmas issue of a tabloid  in our office with one of its headlines jubilantly proclaiming:
253 kids get Christmas gift:
The lead article quotes the officiant-priest as saying, "This is historical. It's the first time that happened in Agoo. You are now real Christians."
The whole article reflects the commercialization of some religious symbols, rites or ordinances. I wonder how much John the Baptizer charged Jesus for a "baptismal service"? I wonder too whether other baptizers in the ancient church needed a formal ordination before they were qualified to administer the rite?
But that is how it is with those operating within the discourse of sanctification. Baptismal, burial and other rites serve as income-generating activities as well as authority-reinforcing mechanisms. Ascribed with salvific or sacramental value, baptism often becomes an area of contestation: who is divinely authorized to administer it, who are its "proper subjects," what purpose should it serve, which procedure is correct, what clothes and utensils to use, and where it should be done.
Well, as some old folks in my hometown were wont to chuck, "What can we did [sic], Bacwaden has the key!"
This calls to mind another baptismal rite that happened over a hundred years ago in the same town (Agoo, La Union) which was recorded by the German scholar Otto Adolfo Scheerer in his work, "On Baguio's Past: Chapters from Local History and Tradition," as follows (to provide the context, we'll start quoting from his account on the baptism of the six Ibaloy chiefs in Tondo, Manila):
Notice of this decree was received by the Provincial in Agoo at a time when there were present a great number of Ibaloys to whom he had it duly explained and commented. His publication of the Governor General's favorable resolution in the very mountain homes of the Igorots resulted in a number of lists being drawn up of those villagers who offered to become Christians and faithful subjects of the king. The receipt of these lists in Manila so elated the Governor General that he personally headed a solemn religious ceremony in the suitably decorated parish-church of Tondo at which the six Ibaloy headmen received the holy baptismal water, and in which the most distinguished citizens of Manila were their godfathers. With the presence of the Governor General, the Ayuntamiento [city councilors], the high dignitaries of the Church and the prominent citizens at the head of the general public, the church was filled to the utmost, and the ceremony closed with a most pious act of the like of which hardly any precedent was on record: the Governor General filled with sublime rejoicing, rose from his chair and, approaching the newly baptized Ibaloys, who had been dressed in Spanish fashion, kissed the hand of each, leaving the numerous assemblage greatly edified with his action.
While this happened in Manila, a similar act, tho upon a reduced scale, took place on the day of San Matias Apostol [February 24] in the town of Agoo where the Provincial was entertaining great numbers of Igorots who kept coming down from their mountains and were handing in lists of fellow-villages of theirs willing to embrace the Christian faith and to become servants of the king of Spain. On the day mentioned, nine adult Igorots, three men and six women, who had already been instructed in the doctrine and had insistently asked to be baptized, were conducted to the church in procession. Guided by the foremost headmen of Agoo as their godfathers, to whom a casual visitor, Don Pedro Vivanco of Manila, had associated himself, they went, with numerous following, thru triumphal arches and with the accompaniment of the ringing of bells, the beating of drums, and the crackling of exploding fire-works, to the portal of the church where the assembled priests received them in state. The Provincial himself led the hymns and performed the ritual of baptism whereupon a solemn Te-deum concluded the act. After the church function the principalia, that is, the present and past parish-magistrates and council-men of Agoo, with their customary hospitality, sumptiously feasted the newly baptized mountaineers and their followers, all of whom pronounced themselves deeply impressed with the religious rites of the Christians. During the following days many more tribesmen came down from the mountains, there being one day when as many as five hundred of them arrived. It seemed -- says the Provincial in his account -- a special providence of God that there should arrive in Agoo on that very day those same six Ibaloy headmen who had been christened in the church at Tondo, and who, having been made to enter Agoo on horseback, clad in Spanish fashion and each bearing the staff symbolizing the official dignity conferred upon them by the Governor General, now related the generous treatment they had experienced in Manila, dispelling thus all doubts and misgivings from the mind of their kinsmen who listened to them with open mouth and staring eyes. 
This "Hollywood-like spectacular pomp and pious solemnity," as William Henry Scott had described it,  seem so nice until we realize that these are all part of the Spanish discourse of sanctification which is tied to the Iberians' exalted notion of themselves as the sole legitimate purveyor of "pure" culture, and harbinger of truth and salvation.
With this discourse, the Spaniards justified their fivefold oppression of the Ibaloy Igorots -- exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, cultural imperialism, and violence.  These abusive and punitive practices could be seen in the Spanish imposition of military rule, taxation, forced labor and conscription, trade restrictions, incarceration, "scorched-earth policy," hamletting, and exploitation of the natives' gold and copper-rich mountains.
With this discourse, the Spaniards penetrated tribal culture in Benguet and succeeded in creating a hegemonic relationship with the Ibaloys whose leaders at that time were somehow complicit in the establishment of this power relationship. The natives' sense of awe was a portal of the Spaniards to the natives' heart. The baptismal rites in Tondo and Agoo were calculated to awe the Igorots. And awed were they indeed as the latter part of the above excerpt shows.
What is evident from these ceremonies of sanctification is the bestowal of authority and identity by a dominant and dominating culture over the dominated as signified by the sanctifying emblems of cloth and staff. The acceptance of the Igorot chiefs of these symbols of authority, and the continued acceptance of their own people of that conferred authority clearly make them complicit in their subjugation by a foreign power.
More than a century after, the same discourse, though redesigned and modernized, still operates among Catholics and non-Catholics. And many submit to it, sheep-like, within the corrals fenced by theologues.
1 Jun Elias, "253 kids get Christmas gift: free baptism," The Star: Northern Luzon (25-31 December 2008): 4.
2 In William Henry Scott, ed., German Travelers on the Cordillera: 1860-1890 (Manila: Filipiniana Book Guild, 1975), 179-180.
3 The Discovery of the Igorots, rev. ed. (Quezon City: New Day Publishers, 1982), 114.
4 These are what Iris Marion Young would refer to as the "five faces oppression." See Hilde Lindemann Nelson, Damaged Identities, Narrative Repair (New York: Cornell University Press, 2001), 108-112.
The beads being sold in this stall may not really be sabsabali (different, unique) as there are other shops offering the same wares, but the name surely is.
Another politically and grammatically incorrect tickler from my mail. Try discourse analysis on this... :)
Dito sa Pinas, kung ano man ang gusto mong sabihin ay kailangang sabibhin sa English, para manatili kang cool, tulad na lang ng sulat na napulot daw sa isang bar sa Malate at ngayon ay pinagpapasapasahan sa Internet. [Rough translation: In the Philippines, you must say everything in English if you want to be hip, as illustrated by this letter which is said to have been found at a bar in Malate and is now being circulated in the Internet. - sms]
I am not surprise or wander why Dennis leave you.
What reason you can think about but you're very fat body. I thought before that Dennis only use me to his toy but sooner and later I'm realize that he really can't not beared or stomached to be with you anymore because at first, Dennis say he could not stand you're habit of making pakialam all his walks (lakad) and always calling to their house what he go home or this or that and then he say he get ashame to met iether in school or in his family and them asking you to exercise you're very very, very fat body but you hate it thoughth your the most preetiest girls he knows about what do you think you are "Beautiful Girl" of Jose Marie Chan even you are beautiful face to your think) you do not have the right to called me whatsoever or else different name one time or the other for the real purposed to insults my personality because I'm never call you names iether in the front of Dennis or in the backs of Dennis, but if you start already to calling me different names, I don't have any other choice but to call you other different name like you are a PIG, FAT OBESSED, OVERWIGHT, AND UGLY SHAPE girl. Shame to you're body that is to a BUDING. You can't not blame Dennis for exchanging you to me because I am the more sexier than you when you look to us in the mirror. I"m repeat again that you are like Ike Lozada when she is a girl.
FROM: THE SEXIEST GIRL IF D.M.
P.S. You say that I'm the bad breathe but who is Dennis want to kissed. Me or you? Your or me? And the final is me.