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The Bible and Culture


When I was growing up I used to love to read both Marvel Comics and Mad Magazine. They were a source of no little enjoyment and fun. I remember a particular edition of Mad Magazine where they parodied the Odyssey and the Iliad. Alfred E. Newman went through a journey called ‘The Oddity and the Idiot’. You can imagine that Greek literary purists were not best pleased.

Well I am about to embark on something of an odyssey, and you may well think I am an idiot to do it— so naturally I am soliciting your prayers here and now. It may be true that “fools rush in where angels fear to tred”, but when you are a called person in the Wesleyan tradition, you do tend to see things from the perspective of John Wesley, who famously said “the world is my parish”.
On May 7th I leave for the land of OZ also known as Down Under, and Australia. I don’t arrive until May 9th, since I am crossing the international date line, and I must go thru Atlanta, Honolulu, Auckland NZ, and finally Sydney. I will be there until May 16th teaching and preaching at Morling College and at Macquarrie University. On May 16th I leave for Indonesia, where I will do a conference for ministers and laity on the canonical and extra canonical Gospels, and various recent claims about the Jesus tomb, the James ossuary, the Da Vinci Code, the Gospel of Judas etc. Unfortunately a prominent press in Indonesian has translated various of these sensationalistic books into Indonesian and it has caused no little stir. Being the fire chief’s grandson, I am called upon to go in and put out the fire. This part of the journey requires some extra prayers as you will no doubt be familiar with the tensions between Moslems and Christians there, leading to persecution and the occasional martyrdom.

On May 20th I move on to Singapore to preach and teach at the Aldersgate Methodist Annual Conference and I am there until May 25th. The good news is, they have a Starbucks near my hotel 🙂 From Singapore I go to Izmir in Turkey, via Istanbul. I will be lecturing at the Ephesos meeting once again (see the picture above taken by Mark Fairchild at the last Ephesos meeting in May 2007). I will have a little down time, and plan to go with Mark to visit Iznik, Turkey. Iznik is in fact the Turkish name for the city of Nicea, home of the famous council which produced the equally famous Nicean Creed. Iznik however is also the home of something else famous– namely Iznik tiles. If you know anything about artful and decorative tiles, you probably have heard of Blue Delft tiles. Well they in fact are the European equivalent (and imitation of) Iznik blue and white tiles.
On June 1, I move on to Moscow to be with my former student and friends the Tsutserovs, where I will be teaching NT Christology at Moscow Evangelical Seminary until June 9th. This will be followed by a flight to NY and then Raleigh N.C. where I will be picked up and taken to my own annual conference meeting in Greenville N.C. (home of real barbecue— WOO HOO!) where I will be teaching and preaching until June 13th, when finally I get to come home.
There are many combinations and permutations of travel and events involved in all this travel through the Orient and back West again and I would be very grateful if you all would pray for 1) safety and traveling mercies; 2) my health so I can accomplish what the Lord would have of me, I need to be able to sleep well in these various places; 3) most importantly that the Holy Spirit will use me to accomplish what is needed and what the Lord desires. I will certainly be blogging about this and bringing home pictures as well. But in the meantime— the Lord bless you and keep you and make his face to shine upon you. BW3