Archive for September, 2009

Classes I’m taking

Posted in Randomness on September 27, 2009 by jaymallow

I thought I’d post my impressions and likes on the classes I’m taking in college.  So in decending order from most enjoyed to… well… tolerated here they are:

1. Classical Liturature:  Believe it or not I took this class for pure fun, and it has been.  I swear I’m the biggest Lit geek in the class.  Seriously my homework is reading the Illiad, Odyssey, Aenid, Hesiod, and more to come?  And class work consists of offering my insights and opinions?  Seriously twist my arm.  Although the “research paper” is coming up and that’ll be different from the writing I’m used to.

2. Intro to the Old Testament:  On one hand this class really isn’t teaching me anything new per se, but my professor Dr. Ward is making up for that.  Already I’ve posted my critique of the book we were required to do for the class.  Really what’s most interesting has been interacting with the faculty.  How neat is it that most are former pastors with a real pastor’s heart towards the students.  This for me has been unique in that perhaps more than other faculty members they’ve acknowled a maturity in me even in my writing ability.  Already I’ve been encouraged to take upper level classes next semester with the unspoken inference that if I’m exceptional in upper level, well lower level classes might not be needed…

3. Sociology:  This is the class that I’m learning the most in.  Mostly it’s been fascinating to put my own experiences in sociological terms. (especially Marine Corps Boot camp)  Also Prof. Vos is closest to me in age and keeps making analogies and cultural references that sadly only I get.

4. Christian Mind: Ok this is the first “required” course for everyone that comes to Covenent.  It’s somewhat tedious (for both the professors and students involved) but I’m running an A and at least the class is over in a month.

5. College Life:  I had to take this class (one hour course credit) because I havn’t been to school for a while.  It’s things like reading, studying and time management.  It’s just a doing the work kind of class.

6. Phys Ed: There is one course at every school that pretty much everyone hates.  That even the faculty members from other departments kind of roll their eyes at.  You would think that having two hours of PE already thanks to the USMC I wouldn’t be taking this course, but this is the first roadblock of institutional lack of common sense I’ve encountered. (personal lesson- every department thinks itself important)  It’s mostly easy work (I mean who doesn’t know how to download a PDF or Podcast?), and I’ve come to the peace that if I don’t get an A in this class it won’t kill me.  It’s just credit hours.

As far as social life/friends I really don’t have one on the campus.  As I told one of my professors last week, “I’m really not going to find a ‘clique’ that I fit in.”  But it’s only been a month and I know I’m someone that has to be warmed to, and warm to others.  Hopefully as classes progress and more familiarity grows more relationships will develop.  One positive in getting to know people has been work study.  I’m essentially a janitor in the gym and it’s been humbling, but I’ve been able to get to know some fellow students and vice versa.

So mid-terms are fast approaching and we’ll see if my academic prowess continues…


A Father’s reaction

Posted in Randomness on September 17, 2009 by jaymallow,189941#remaining-content

I saw this while surfing and couldn’t help but be affected.  Catching a foul ball is the Holy Grail of any attendee of a ballpark.  The odds are so scarce that to actually have done it (and in this case the guy did it barehanded) is priceless.  But what has captured the heart of the internet world is this father’s action after catching that which was priceless, he hands it to his daughter who promptly throws it away.  It is the moment of “Oh NOOOO!!!”  and the restructuring of values that happens in that split second that make all the difference.  What’s seen in this scene is a father’s love for his child.  She ultimately is the most important thing to him, this seemingly “priceless” experience pales in comparison to holding the true treasure he has close. (you note that he continues to hold her tight even after the moment has past) I couldn’t help but think and tear up that God deals with us in the same way.  He gives precious and irreplaceable gifts and like a toddler we throw them away.  And what is His reaction?  Partial dismay but overwhelming love.  Because we to Him are more than the “baseballs” He hands us.  We are His precious thing.  He knows our frame and perspective that we don’t always know what’s priceless, but He’s quick to remind us that we are…

Walton’s book

Posted in School on September 15, 2009 by jaymallow

I decided to post my essay both for whomever and so I can direct fellow students if they’re interested. (also publishing is a good guard against being plagiarized)

The Lost World of Genesis 1

John H. Walton’s book The Lost World of Genesis One provides many new and thought provoking ideas to the modern interpretation of the account of creation. Well written and researched Walton’s theories bear further scrutiny, however the extent that Walton takes His arguments causes, perhaps unneeded, controversy and confusion. That Walton, at times, also makes statements that seem to conflict with the ardency of His assertions only heightens the need for careful examination.

The main point Walton presents is that the creation account of Genesis 1 is mainly functional in the ontological meaning of “create” for those the book was first written to. Namely, that when Genesis states that God “created” (Hebrew word bārā in the text), the original readers would have interpreted that to mean that God caused to have purpose and meaning out of that which was previously chaos. To back up this theory Walton points to other ancient creation accounts that depict the “gods” as reordering the cosmos in creation not creating ex nihilo (out of nothing). From this insight Walton returns to the Biblical text and notes the similarities between these ancient accounts and the Biblical record. That for most of the six days of creation God was ordering and naming. Walton’s primary intent seems to be to both present the creation account as compatible with modern science and challenge “concordists” who treat the creation account as a science textbook.

Out of this perspective Walton presents the creation account as also being a “tabernacle” story where God orders the universe into the first tabernacle. Walton then applies this method of looking at Genesis towards the issues of evolution, Intelligent Design, and scientific education in public schools.

The Lost World of Genesis One does present an intriguing way to think about the creation account. Also, given the Pentateuch’s repetition of tabernacle imagery with the campsite of Israel, and the tabernacle itself, there may be something to the order of creation being indicative of the tabernacle. As well, Walton in the last chapters interacts well with the issue of Evolution and how believers in Christ can dialogue and think about that subject. However, it is the extent to which Walton takes his ontological premise that raises questions. Many of Walton’s assertions do not leave room for any interpretation of a material act in concert with the functional acts of creation. At times it seems that where Walton would do better to say that the creative acts of Genesis 1 were mainly functional, what comes across is that these acts were merely functional. This continual insistence that the original readers would have seen only a functional message in creation is confusing given the fact that Walton himself asserts that, “Would they have believed that their gods also manufactured the material? Absolutely, for nothing can be thought of to stand apart from the gods.” Even in His word survey of the Hebrew word bārā Walton admits that sometimes this word is used for material creation.

This brings up a crucial criticism of Walton’s presupposition, namely that He does not address the concept of communicable language in His application of ancient creation accounts to the Biblical text. The revelation that ancient accounts communicate creative acts as reordering material makes perfect sense when put in the context of humans attempting to conceptualize through their own language, and through the way they experience “creation”. No human can create ex nihilo, but always takes raw materials and orders it to a “use”. The question is, did the original readers recognize these creation accounts as being directly correlative to their own expressions of creative endeavor or as pointing to a greater concept toward which they could not directly relate? Given Walton’s statement that a material aspect of creation would have been presumed by the original readers the latter option seems more likely. This concept should have at least been addressed in Walton’s argument, but it appears that Walton simply took the ancient’s use of language at face value. This “face value” approach towards matter and function both denigrates the intelligence of the original recipients and, at times, places Walton on slippery exegetical footing. Most notable is chapter five where Walton interprets Genesis 1:1-5 backwards from verse five. Walton even goes so far as to suggest that when God said “Let there be light” God didn’t materially create light, He simply ordered it to serve His purpose. That there are questions raised in this interpretation regarding the flow of the passage, not to mention verse one seeming to indicate that light did not exist until God called it into being, are obvious.

Even more disconcerting in Walton’s adamancy of a “functional” creation account in Genesis is that ultimately a question arises, by what authority did God create? Is God the God of the universe simply because He has the power to reorder existing matter or that He created that matter? While Walton does say that He believes God did ultimately materially create everything, many of His arguments do not carry the weight of that conviction. More confusing as well, is Walton’s recognition that the New Testament indicates an acknowledgement of a material aspect of creation. Walton even quotes Paul as Paul references creation and Jesus’ role in it in Col. 1: 16-17, “For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers of rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” That Paul would connect Jesus to creation in a material manner is insightful and brings another question to Walton’s line of reasoning. Paul was a Pharisee trained by some of the foremost scholars of His day. If, as Walton asserts, the correct interpretation of Genesis ignores a material aspect, why would Paul speak of Christ’s role in creation as being materially effectual?

Another glaring omission in Walton’s arguments is His disregard for the material intent of the creator in the process of creation. Walton intimates that “creation” does not ultimately occur until functionality is realized. To borrow an analogy of his, a chair doesn’t become a chair until it is used as a chair. Only in functioning as a chair is a chair a chair according to Walton’s reasoning. Again Walton’s narrow ontological reasoning asserts itself in ignoring a creative, material, purposive intent on the part of the creator.

A vital part of the creative process is creative intent. To again use the “chair” analogy, a carpenter builds a chair with the intent that it be used as a chair. If then the chair is used as a footstool or desk, it does not immediately become a footstool or desk because that is not its intended use. In so ardently arguing for a merely functional interpretation Walton interposes a punctiliar paradigm on an organic, materialistic process. At what point does “creation” happen? Does it occur at conception in the mind of the creator? Does creation happen in material construction or does creation finally occur when what is created is utilized functionally? From a common sense perspective the answer is yes to all these questions. Even more pertinent to Walton’s argument, would those who originally read Genesis have been concerned with “when” creation happened either functionally or materially? Walton in one sense gets it right in saying that the question to an Eastern mind is inconsequential. More important in the Eastern perspective is the purposive intent and the effectual result. Is it not far more likely that the original readers of Genesis would have viewed the account in a non-punctiliar, organic, materially purposive and functional manner, rather than a merely functional one?

Given these sizeable concerns however, Walton does effectively engage the evolution/creation debate in the final four chapters. He calls Christians to both a God glorifying perspective in seeing God involved in all natural processes, and seeing these processes as being a part of His purpose. Walton also clearly defines the role of science as being in the physical realm and delineates where the proponents of “science” stray into the metaphysical

Walton also prescribes a perfectly plausible educational model while imploring both sides of the controversy to refrain from attempting to legislate their beliefs. On the whole, The Lost World of Genesis One is not a book to be taken lightly. John H. Walton does bring up valid exegetical questions and calls into question those who would read the Genesis account in a way it was not meant to be read. However, as emphatically as He makes His argument Walton does not succeed in creating a compelling argument for His interpretation of Genesis one. What Walton has done is bring up an avenue of exegetical study that bears further investigation and perhaps Walton more than anyone should further investigate.

Life Cont…

Posted in Randomness on September 12, 2009 by jaymallow

Continuing on in the saga of my life here at school.  First off God has been gracious to guide me to a room to rent.  It’s hard to believe that I only have to pay $600 for rent for the next three months but there you have it.  I’m getting to know my husemates and it’s actually a good setup since they are older and out of school. 

Then there’s work study.  It’s been very humbling to engage in pretty much “make work” for my first two days.  Thankfully it’s just a means of making some money and if I get the opportunity to persue other employment I cad drop the work study if I care to.  Still it’s been a challenge to take orders and experience a bit of ribbing for being a “freshman” when in capability and experience I far exceed my “senior” supervisors.  It’s been an opportunity to give up my pride.  Also on that thought I’m finding how much pride I’ve taken in my experience and how much I’ve expected to be treated differently because of my age.  It’s just one of those reality smacking things to find out that no one really cares.  So I work harder to prove myself in this arena and rely less on what’s gone on before. 

Thankfully my grades so far have been excellent.  That’s been encouraging since a part of my attending school was to see if I actually could write.  So far that gifting is being affirmed.  So we’ll continue to press on and see how life unfolds up here on the mountain.

The beginning of my life among the “Twitterpated”

Posted in Randomness on September 5, 2009 by jaymallow

Ok so I thought I’d actually write and update what’s been happening so far and relate my impressions of school and my life so far. It’s been just two weeks at school and over a month since I left my life in California. On both accounts it feels as if it’s been a lot longer. I’ve been amazed at the uniqueness of the college I’m attending. There is definitely a palpable difference in both the class environment and just the campus atmosphere due to the “reformed” perspective of the school. I couldn’t help but think in my first days, “These people are my people.” In both theology and lifestyle the campus is very reminiscent of Sovereign Grace. One of the things that is incredible is how much they integrate faith and learning. Form the invocation to each class starting with prayer, to my first Intro to Old Testament class the professor starting class out reading from The Chronicles of Narnia. There have been so many neat little things in each class to confirm my decision to not “waste my time” and come to this school. Also I look forward to introducing both the school to the richness of Sovereign Grace and vice versa. ( I think it’s funny that most people I know simply don’t know this school exists)

As far as the transition to college life there is of course the dual issues of both the actual work and integrating into the campus. On the work aspect I’ve been pleasantly surprised that it hasn’t been all that difficult. Perhaps partly because I both don’t have the social pressures and don’t feel the need to experience the “social” aspect of college and as well an earnestness born out of having to manage time and complete tasks in order to survive that I’m finding the “work load” far from overwhelming. In relating to my fellow classmates however there is a disconnect. From now on I’m redefining the term “Twitterpated” to refer to those under the age of twenty five that cannot hold more than a 140 character conversation. It has been revealing to see how really short their attention span is. If you’re trying to tell a story it’d better be a short one. Of course they’re learning in class to overcome this but still it’s a gap that I’m trying to overcome in my relating to others. As I thought I actually relate more to my professors than my fellow classmates.

Ironically it’s my life off campus that’s been the greatest source of stress. I’ve still not found a “permanent” living situation and I’ve had “delays” in getting the finances to be able to seriously pursue longer term living. But I do have a couple of options. Also I’ve applied to Starbucks and I’m praying that I’ll get a call back interview this week.

So it’s still a week to week exercise of faith. I’m loving my classes and in faith that God has given me a great opportunity to learn and grow in uniquely challenging ways. It’s definitely a “so far so good” kind of thing right now but it’s been good so far.