This latest video is of Fiona playing with her inflatable ball. It is amusing; at least it was for her.
I have not included any meaningless rantings lately, so the time is upon us. I was assigned to read the book, Shaped By the Word: The Power of Scripture in Spiritual Formation, by M. Robert Mulholland, Jr., for an upcoming class. First of all, I seem to have a bias against books that are "spiritual formation" books. They tend to leave a bad taste in my mouth. I need to state this up front lest you think I am a mere objective observer. Anyway, needless to say, I found the book odd. The author's thesis is that one needs to read Scripture 'formationally' instead of 'informationally' and allow God to shape our understanding of the text. You must "allow the [Scripture] passage to open to you its deepest dimensions, its multiple layers of meaning (p. 56)."
Firstly, I am not sure one can distinguish information from formation. I understand Mulholland's point that we can read Scripture simply for information without allowing ourselves to be transformed. But, this dicotomy cannot be pressed too far. In fact, when one encounters Scripture, one must begin with information (as Mulholland puts it). The importance of authorial intent is paramount; what did the original author intend to communicate? Unfortunately, Mulholland only dedicates less than two pages to this point. One cannot proceed to transformation (which I agree that this must be reached) until one establishes what God intended to say to the original audience. If we jump directly to 'formational' reading, we inevitably become lost in a sea of ambiguity and potentially land in a reader-response approach to Scripture. I hear enough of "what this passage means to me" already. Personally, I am far too warped a person to trust myself to "what this passage means to me." But perhaps this is a too conservative approach...
Lastly, I am beginning to appreciate the communal aspect of sanctification. I think often this gets missed by spiritual formationists. The typical approach is that spiritual formation is something that God does in me and then I turn and make the world better. Oh yeah, and it takes place in the church. But study your Bible at home. By yourself. In a closet. Pray there. It's personal. I am overstating my case, to be sure, but Scripture never portrays spiritual formation as something accomplished by myself. It is inherently communal and done in the midst of brothers and sisters in Christ, as is the act of reading and interpreting Scripture. Ha! How's that for a pastoral plug! I have ranted and raved far too long. Good bye!