Friday, July 09, 2010

Jeff gave me a Kindle yesterday. I moved Keller's Acts notes, in PDF, over to it and I may try to reference those notes in Tuesday's Bible study. The print is very small and I can't adjust it. I had sent the PDF document to last night and it hasn't come back. I don't think it will.1 I bought a $2 Gk./Eng. Interlinear TR NT just for reference. I don't know which Bible to get. The ESVSB would be a logical choice because nobody would ever carry that monster around. The Kindle is significantly lighter. But the ESVSB is valuable for its charts, maps and other images and these don't port well over to the Kindle's display. It's a work in progress. I don't know what my fall Bible studies will be yet so I don't know which translation I'll be using. I sampled the ICSBNT and wasn't satisfied. The Josephus book that Jim wants to use this fall is available only in print. I don't expect that to change. The recommended book for next week's class at St. Elizabeth's is print-only as well. Since registering my Kindle with Amazon, the usual bombardment of suggestions have been tailored for my new device.

A recent publication that I didn't pre-order or buy yet is Spencer's Mere Churchianity. I sampled it last night and it is well-written and well-edited. But I'm not sure I can relate. Or want to try. The introductory chapter, if you haven't read it, describes a church youth group's rowdy trip to Dairy Queen. The DQ counter girl wrote a letter to Spencer, the youth pastor, complaining about the group's poor Christian witness and he confesses that, at the time, he dismissed her criticism as unworthy of consideration because she knew nothing of the Truth. So he was guilty of some arrogance that unbelievers can't even be a little bit right about anything. No broken clock allowance for them. Is this a widespread mentality? I'd be surprised.

But eventually he saw himself - which I admit is the hardest thing to do - and decided to work towards being the sort of Christian that Christ would recognize.

Why are Christians so bad in public?

At the annual conferences for religious educators fifteen years ago in D.C., I typically kept to myself, but one evening my DRE caught up to me and invited me to dinner with her cadre. It was already late and the popular Italian restaurant was packed. By the time we got a table, the staff had already seen their busiest night of the year. Our large group was served the main course well after 10 o'clock and some women refused their plates and declined to pay their tab! "It's too late to eat now!" I reached my hotel room after midnight and told Jeff all about it over the phone. The next night I went back to the quiet, simple Vietnamese place for a delicate, healthy, and quick dinner alone with a book. I always ate there.

A group of us went out for dessert at a nearby diner one Monday evening at 8. I ate a late lunch / early dinner at home around 4 and picked something from the diner's online dessert menu. Two of the ladies in our party hadn't had dinner yet, so they ordered salad and an entree. Just before 9, we put in our dessert order. The diner cleared of customers but no one in our party knew - or even seemed to care - when closing time was. Kick out paying patrons?!

Inconveniently, the online menu was inaccurate: the item I wanted, a slice of blueberry pie, was not available. "Just give me a slice of apple pie, then." No, there's no pie, none at all. I got cheesecake like everyone else and brought it home to Jeff. I also ordered a mocholata, made with Godiva chocolate, Kahlua and hot cocoa, a fine substitute for someone like me who doesn't drink coffee. Instead, I was served an expresso cup which the staff called, "Macchiato." I refused the coffee and repeated my request for hot chocolate. I tried to be casual about the mix-up, avoiding exasperation or frustration but my companions pitied me out loud: "Poor Teresa! First, no pie and now the drink is wrong."

We talked about the weather: the snow in late Feb. that had cancelled somebody's flight, keeping her from the women's retreat. Not everyone remembered how bad the snow was, but I remember very well late Feb. They talked about the flooding rain, having their homes inspected by FEMA and receiving their compensation checks. I mentioned this unfortunate story and someone suggested callously that the homeowner did it themselves.

A new person joined us at 10 o'clock and was encouraged to order something, giving the entire party a second wind. The ladies had been teasing the waiter throughout the evening and so he prudently avoided our table. They got his attention but not before priming the new person to ask for a slice of pie. My certainty that they were unaware of the innuendo didn't preserve me from getting uncomfortable. Would they treat a waitress this way? Just as the waiter walked over to take the "pie" order, I dropped $20 on the table and slipped out. I would have rather made sure the waiter was well-tipped but I imagine most of my twenty covered someone's dinner. The next morning, I led Bible study at their church and I knew that none of them planned to be there.

Now, I can make all kinds of excuses, the top one being that these housewives don't get out much. But, over the past ten years with this particular group, I've become aware of the attempt - and Spencer mentions this in the introductory chapter of his book - to make the Christian life appear attractive, deliberately exploiting people's natural inclinations towards envy (Rom. 11:14). The ends don't justify the means. Why isn't this denounced as manipulation? Even Keller's notes from last week's Bible study had said it's never loving to allow another person to sin.

1 After adding my gmail account to my Kindle settings at Amazon and putting "Convert" in the email subject, I got back an .azw file of my .pdf rather quickly and moved it over the USB. Now I can adjust the font size but the document needs to index still. cf. Amazon Help: Option to Convert PDF Files to Kindle Format

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