Happy Easter, and to my friends who are celebrating: “He is risen; he is risen, indeed!”
Welcome to another edition of Digestable, the short, weekly email where I share information, ideas, and what’s new with me. This edition was delivered to subscribers on April 4th, 2021.
This week’s Digestable has a strong Easter theme, but nothing about the bunny. I can’t get my head wrapped around the Easter bunny?!?
- From Baggar Vance to the Apostle Paul. I enjoy and follow the writing of accomplished author, Steven Pressfield. He wrote the story behind the movie, “The Legend of Baggar Vance” starring Matt Damon & Will Smith. He wrote, “Gates of Fire,” the historical fiction about the Spartans and the battle at Thermopylae (which is taught at the U.S. Military Academy). He wrote the inspirational nonfiction book, “Do the Work: Overcome Resistance and Get Out of Your Own Way“, where he teaches creatives how to combat what he calls, “The Resistance”. He wrote, “The Lion’s Gate,” a nonfiction work on one of the most remarkable stories in history: Israel’s Six-Day War.
While preparing to officiate his niece’s wedding, Steven was struck by the powerful prose and profound truths in a number of popular wedding prayers. Passages such as, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal.” He was later surprised to learn that each of the stand-out phrases were written by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthians. In his new historical fiction, “A Man at Arms,” Steven’s deep historical knowledge and storytelling gift come together in a story about the messenger tasked with delivering Paul’s letter to the early Christians in Corinth and the Roman soldier who was tasked with stopping this letter, as, “the content of this letter could bring down the empire.” You can read the genesis story of this new novel on Stephen’s blog here.
- The Resurrection of the Son of God – by N.T. Wright. N.T Wright is the Senior Research Fellow at the University of Oxford. Here’s what the late Antony Flew, the “world’s most notorious atheist,” had to say about N.T. Wright: “the claim that there is a self-revelation of God in human history in the person of Jesus Christ . . . is defended by one of today’s premier New Testament scholars, Bishop N.T Wright. In my view, Wright’s responses to my previous critiques of divine self-revelation . . . comprise the most powerful case for Christianity that I have ever seen.“
This 848 page beast is N.T. Wright’s look at the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus. In the midst of our technological marvels, we are tempted to think of our ancestors from 2,000 years ago as intellectually inferior. But the claim that a man rose from the dead – not even just a “ghost”, but a bodily resurrection – was as ridiculous to believe 2,000 years ago as it is today. Yet, many living at that time met torturous deaths for refusing to back down from this bizarre claim. This book provides an educated look at the how this claim would have been received and interpreted through the lens of a Jew, Greek, or Roman, 2,000 years ago, and what sort of evidence that there is, or isn’t, for it.
- There is
NoA God – by Antony Flew. Speaking of this notorious atheist, did you know he was a member of the Oxford Socratic Club, that was presided over by C.S. Lewis? Their motto, like Socrates, was to “follow the argument wherever it leads.” For Antony Flew, the argument led him to abandon atheism and late in his life pronounce himself a “Deist.” Specifically, a belief in the Aristotelian God. This book is his explanation of that intellectual journey, and describes how modern advancements in physics played a role in his conclusion that there must be a “Divine Mind” who created the universe. Fun rabbit hole: advancements in physics have led to a growing number of notable figures, like Elon Musk and Neil deGrasse Tyson, to speculate that our universe is created by a superior mind . . . but in a computer simulation.
Antony denied converting to Christianity, but had this to say in There is a God: “I think that the Christian religion is the one religion that most clearly deserves to be honored and respected whether or not its claim to be a divine revelation is true. There is nothing like the combination of a charismatic figure like Jesus and a first-class intellectual like St. Paul. Virtually all argument about the content of the religion was produced by the Apostle Paul, who had a brilliant philosophical mind and could both speak and write in all the relevant languages. If you’re wanting Omnipotence to set up a religion, this is the one to beat.“
- Quotes I’m Pondering: The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians: “if Christ has not been raised [from the dead], then our preaching is vain [useless, amounting to nothing], and your faith is also vain [imaginary, unfounded, devoid of value and benefit—not based on truth] . . . and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless and powerless [mere delusion]; . . . then we are of all people most miserable and to be pitied.” – 1 Corinthians 15:14-19 (Amplified Version)
Paired with: “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, then I have become only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. “ – 1 Corinthians 13:1 (Amplified Version)
If you follow the links in this newsletter and read the sources you will encounter some of the most eloquent tongues of men and angels in history. You’ll find the most brilliant human ideas and arguments for, or against, a belief in God, a resurrection, or an afterlife. But if we are not learning to love our neighbors to a greater degree, we are, like the Whyte Ave street preachers, only adding to the noise.
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Should you come across anything noteworthy this week please send it my way!
P.S. Please forgive my irreverence, but I find this Easter tweet too funny.
The REAL origin story of The Last Supper: