Sam Harrelson





Sumer and the Modern Paradigm

Modern artists discovered Sumerian art between the world wars, at a time when British and American archaeological missions were working in southern Iraq. But archaeologists like Leonard Woolley, head of the mission in Ur were less fascinated by their finds. They considered Mesopotamian art inferior to Egyptian and to Graeco-Roman art and thought Mesopotamian iconography was an expression of a violent culture. Sacrificed bodies found at the Royal Tombs of Ur were the proof that the Bible was right about the Mesopotamian barbarism.

Source: – ANE TODAY – 201802 – Sumer and the Modern Paradigm


Baptist Fields

“Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase ‘each other’
doesn’t make any sense. The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.”

Rumi

The painful truth the Illumination Project uncovered in their long discernment process is how silent our churches are when it comes to what is life and death for real people in our pews. The “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach of most of our churches toward LGBTQ Christians leaves them in the shadows, if not in the dark. If we want CBF to be a bright light on the spiritual equality of all Christians, that light must begin to shine more brightly from our CBF congregations. CBF would not have to parse its hiring policy so carefully if our churches did the hard but liberating work of the gospel where Baptists know it matters most.

Source: Illuminations: Spiritual Equality of All Christians – EthicsDaily.com


Thinking Baptists: CBF’s Illumination Project Recap

Merianna and I released a new episode of our rebooted Thinking Baptists podcast last night reflecting on our own personal feelings about the CBF’s Illumination Project as well as our own viewpoints regarding church policies at the institutional and local levels…

The Rev. Merianna Neely Harrelson and The Rev. Sam Harrelson break down this week’s release of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s Illumination Project report from their own perspectives.

Source: Thinking Baptists: CBF’s Illumination Project Recap


“What is the spirit saying here?”

Good reflection by Julia Pennington-Russell here on the CBF’s Illumination Project work as well as moralism, legalism, and theopolitics regardless of denomination:

And many, maybe most, CBF churches are so anxious about jeopardizing a fragile harmony that they avoid even the mildest conversation about human sexuality, even as their LGBTQ brothers and sisters suffer outside the gate. What is the Spirit saying here?

Source: Illuminations: The Healing Space between “Good” and “Bad” | CBFblog


CBF’s New Hiring and Personnel Statement

Here are results from the 18-month long Illumination Project that the CBF launched to address its controversial anti-LGBTQ hiring policy back in 2016.

Thomas and I did an episode of Thinking Religion last night to share some thoughts if you’d like to know where I stand.

To reflect the practice of most of its congregations, the procedure states: “Among other qualifying factors, CBF will employ persons for leadership positions in ministry who exhibit the ideals set forth in our hiring policy, have gifts appropriate to the particular position and who practice a traditional Christian sexual ethic of celibacy in singleness or faithfulness in marriage between a woman and a man.” For other positions on the CBF staff in Decatur, applicants will be considered who meet the qualities set forth in the new hiring policy, including Christians who identify as LGBT.

Source: CBF Governing Board receives Illumination Project recommendation, adopts Christ-centered hiring policy | CBFblog


James C. Scott’s New Book

James C. Scott is one of the scholars I always enjoy reading. I was introduced to his work Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts while in a (wonderful) seminary class on the Parables. The insightful connection that our beloved professor made between Jesus’ acts and words in his performance of the parables with the essence of what Scott described as “public” and “hidden” transcripts still resonates with me today anytime I read the Gospels.

I’m excited to read this work as well. Although it seems to have a similar topic as many scholarly takes on the how’s and why’s civilizations collapse, (anyone else notice how both academic works, as well as the entertainment world, is fascinated by dystopias and doom-and-gloom in this Age of Trump?) one of my ongoing fascinations and points of interests is the rise of civilization in Mesopotamia as well as the later “Sea Peoples” of Egyptian history. It looks like both of these topics make an appearance in Scott’s new work:

What if the origin of farming wasn’t a moment of liberation but of entrapment? Scott offers an alternative to the conventional narrative that is altogether more fascinating, not least in the way it omits any self-congratulation about human achievement. His account of the deep past doesn’t purport to be definitive, but it is surely more accurate than the one we’re used to, and it implicitly exposes the flaws in contemporary political ideas that ultimately rest on a narrative of human progress and on the ideal of the city/nation-state.

Source: Steven Mithen reviews ‘Against the Grain’ by James C. Scott · LRB 30 November 2017


Do We Really Want Our Government Run Like a Business? | Sojourners

In the Easter sermon at my own church, the priest commented that Jesus was killed by the 1 percent, in the form of an empire that exploited its citizenry for the sake of profit and growth. While this sentiment might not be surprising where I live in liberal Northern California, it’s also present throughout the Bible. President Trump, whose own religious beliefs remain puzzling, vague, and nearly impossible to parse even among theologians and religion journalists, has repeatedly pushed policies that are the opposite of many of Christ’s messages even in his short time in office.

Source: Do We Really Want Our Government Run Like a Business? | Sojourners


The Day the Music Died

We’re all suffering from something and we should all be able to admit that without feeling the need to keep on performing for people. It’s a serious deficiency of our American culture that we elevate fake stoicism.

But gosh, I do love some Tom Petty music. Sad read but maybe it’ll help at least one person seek some help:

ON THE DAY HE DIED HE WAS INFORMED HIS HIP HAD GRADUATED TO A FULL ON BREAK AND IT IS OUR FEELING THAT THE PAIN WAS SIMPLY UNBEARABLE AND WAS THE CAUSE FOR HIS OVER USE OF MEDICATION.

Source: The Official Website of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers


Unnecessary nobility

When Adam dalf and Eve span,

Who was thanne a gentilman?

John Ball


Finding your column ain’t easy

“Symeon selected a three-metre-high column in the Syrian desert near Antioch, and there he stood day in, day out, eventually attracting such a crowd that the noise caused him to build his column higher, bringing him closer to God and 16 metres off the ground. Symeon managed to live like this for 30 years, and many other monks began to follow his example so that a whole stylite movement developed which was still going strong in the 11th century CE.”

via Byzantine Monasticism – Ancient.eu