December 28, 2016

Fall Reading

     Melissa gave me a new book for Christmas, Truckers (Bromeliad Trilogy Book 1) by Terry Pratchett.  John/Lisa also gave me Out of Africa, by Karen Blixen, nom de plume Isak Dinesen . I'm excited to read through some non-academic writing.
     I've been buried in various books and articles for the semester.  My reading for school included many tomes.  One of my favorite was the masterful volume, The Voyage and Shipwreck of St. Paul by James Smith.  There were many others, such as St. Paul the Traveler and Roman Citizen, by William M. Ramsay. Backgrounds of Early Christianity by Everett Ferguson. Paul: A Guide for the Perplexed by Timothy G. Gombis.  Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World by Lionel Casson. Reading the Bible with Heart and Mind by Tremper Longman
     Included in my reading for school was a slew of reading for a theoretical thesis proposal, Image, Identity, and the Forming of the Augustinian Soul by Matthew Drever, Perception, Sensibility, and Moral Motivation in Augustine, by . Sarah Catherine Byers, a host of material from James K. A. Smith, including Desiring the Kingdom, and Imagining the Kingdom.  A few books on how to write, such as, The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods by A.G. Sertillanges. and Stylish Academic Writing by Helen Sword.  There were others, though they escape me now.

November 5, 2016

Google Home

I added a Google Home to our house.  It will be interesting to move into the realm of 'oral only' & 'cloud connected' computing.  There is of course, the Alexa option, but I am a big fan of Google music and the android ecosphere, so the Google home seemed like a logical option.  Hopefully it won't cause too much havoc, calling in the robots to run amuck.

September 29, 2016

North Portland Bible College

I've had the opportunity to become the registrar (among other responsibilities) at a very small Bible College in Portland.  The Aptly named North Portland Bible College.  I started as July began, and have been working there part time, and also working on my schooling at Western Seminary.  So, I've been staying fairly busy.  Also, Melissa has decided to try out some online schooling, working towards her Bachelors in Education from Grand Canyon University.  So between all of that education, we should end up pretty learn-ed.

NPBC has been a joy to work at so far, and the college is a testament to God's work in Portland.  Even the buildings,as seen in the photo, were once derelict condemned drug houses that were bought, renovated, and re-purposed.  Repurposed with a higher purpose, Higher Education.

Idaho in Summer

This summer, we headed east... to Idaho.  After being in Washington/Oregon for a rainy spring, the summer finally arrived in the Pacific Rainforest, and to celebrate, we went to the beach a fair bit.  But one time, we went to the beach at McCall, Idaho.  It was a long drive, but we had a great time visiting friends, family, and enjoying the woods and the waters.

July 17, 2016

The Quotable Augustine, Vol. 4: Augustine's The Trinity

Here is an excerpt from Augustine's treatise the Trinity that I profoundly enjoyed.  It was made much more enjoyable after working through several books of analogies, which Augustine fire-hoses in the following excerpt:
But it must needs be, that, when by reading or hearing of them we believe in any corporeal things which we have not seen, the mind frames for itself something under bodily features and forms, just as it may occur to our thoughts; which either is not true, or even if it be true, which can most rarely happen, yet this is of no benefit to us to believe in by faith, but it is useful for some other purpose, which is intimated by means of it. For who is there that reads or hears what the Apostle Paul has written, or what has been written of him, that does not imagine to himself the countenance both of the apostle himself, and of all those whose names are there mentioned? And whereas, among such a multitude of men to whom these books are known, each imagines in a different way those bodily features and forms, it is assuredly uncertain which it is that imagines them more nearly and more like the reality. Nor, indeed, is our faith busied therein with the bodily countenance of those men; but only that by the grace of God they so lived and so acted as that Scripture witnesses: this it is which it is both useful to believe, and which must not be despaired of, and must be sought. For even the countenance of our Lord Himself in the flesh is variously fancied by the diversity of countless imaginations, which yet was one, whatever it was. Nor in our faith which we have of our Lord Jesus Christ, is that wholesome which the mind imagines for itself, perhaps far other than the reality, but that which we think of man according to his kind: for we have a notion of human nature implanted in us, as it were by rule, according to which we know forthwith, that whatever such thing we see is a man or the form of a man. 
Our conception is framed according to this notion, when we believe that God was made man for us, as an example of humility, and to show the love of God towards us. For this it is which it is good for us to believe, and to retain firmly and unshakenly in our heart, that the humility by which God was born of a woman, and was led to death through contumelies so great by mortal men, is the chiefest remedy by which the swelling of our pride may be cured, and the profound mystery by which the bond of sin may be loosed. So also, because we know what omnipotence is, we believe concerning the omnipotent God in the power of His miracles and of His resurrection, and we frame conceptions respecting actions of this kind, according to the species and genera of things that are either ingrafted in us by nature, or gathered by experience, that our faith may not be feigned. For neither do we know the countenance of the Virgin Mary; from whom, untouched by a husband, nor tainted in the birth itself, He was wonderfully born. Neither have we seen what were the lineaments of the body of Lazarus; nor yet Bethany; nor the sepulchre, and that stone which He commanded to be removed when He raised Him from the dead; nor the new tomb cut out in the rock, whence He Himself arose; nor the Mount of Olives, from whence He ascended into heaven. And, in short, whoever of us have not seen these things, know not whether they are as we conceive them to be, nay judge them more probably not to be so. For when the aspect either of a place, or a man, or of any other body, which we happened to imagine before we saw it, turns out to be the same when it occurs to our sight as it was when it occurred to our mind, we are moved with no little wonder. So scarcely and hardly ever does it happen.  
 And yet we believe those things most steadfastly, because we imagine them according to a special and general notion, of which we are certain. For we believe our Lord Jesus Christ to be born of a virgin who was called Mary. But what a virgin is, or what it is to be born, and what is a proper name, we do not believe, but certainly know. And whether that was the countenance of Mary which occurred to the mind in speaking of those things or recollecting them, we neither know at all, nor believe. It is allowable, then, in this case to say without violation of the faith, perhaps she had such or such a countenance, perhaps she had not: but no one could say without violation of the Christian faith, that perhaps Christ was born of a virgin. 
Wherefore, since we desire to understand the eternity, and equality, and unity of the Trinity, as much as is permitted us, but ought to believe before we understand; and since we must watch carefully, that our faith be not feigned; since we must have the fruition of the same Trinity, that we may live blessedly; but if we have believed anything false of it, our hope would be worthless, and our charity not pure: how then can we love, by believing, that Trinity which we do not know? Is it according to the special or general notion, according to which we love the Apostle Paul? In whose case, even if he was not of that countenance which occurs to us when we think of him (and this we do not know at all), yet we know what a man is. For not to go far away, this we are; and it is manifest he, too, was this, and that his soul joined to his body lived after the manner of mortals. Therefore we believe this of him, which we find in ourselves, according to the species or genus under which all human nature alike is comprised.  
What then do we know, whether specially or generally, of that most excellent Trinity, as if there were many such trinities, some of which we had learned by experience, so that we may believe that Trinity, too, to have been such as they, through the rule of similitude, impressed upon us, whether a special or a general notion; and thus love also that thing which we believe and do not yet know, from the parity of the thing which we do know? But this certainly is not so. 

Augustine's The Trinity, Book XIII 4.7-5.8.

The Quotable Augustine, Vol. 3: Augustine and Reason

Been reading a fair bit of philosophical theology of late, and one of the more interesting figures in the historical arena of that area is St. Augustine.  Augustine differentiates strongly between the material and immaterial.  And here is a snippet of Augustine's approach to how God interacts with our reason:
Reason: Thou art moved to good effect. For the Reason which is talking with thee promises so to demonstrate God to thy mind, as the sun demonstrates himself to the eyes. For the senses of the soul are as it were the eyes of the mind; but all the certainties of the sciences are like those things which are brought to light by the sun, that they may be seen, the earth, for instance, and the things upon it: while God is Himself the Illuminator. Now I, Reason, am that in the mind, which the act of looking is in the eyes. For to have eyes is not the same as to look; nor again to look the same as to see. Therefore the soul has need of three distinct things: to have eyes, such as it can use to good advantage, to look, and to see. 
Augustine's Soliloquies Book I.12

June 25, 2016

Summer Reading

I've been slightly firehosed with reading so far this year.  For my summer school reading, I've read a rather heady Philosophy for Understanding Theology, by Diogenes Allen and Eric Springfield.  Christian Philosophy: A Systematic and Narrative Introduction by Craig G. Bartholomew and Michael W. Gohen.   An enthusiastically postmodern Philosophy and Theology by John D. Caputo.  An Invitation to Analytic Christian Theology by Thomas H. McCall.  Does the Center Hold? An Introduction to Western Philosophy by Donald Palmer.   Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism?: Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church by James K. A. Smith.
A bunch of reading, but next i'm going to dive into The Existence of God by Richard Swinburne next.  And then into a few texts in relation to St. Augustine and philosophy.  With some additional reading in empirical theology in The Problem of Perception and the Experience of God: Toward an Empirical Theology by Sameer Yadav,

I've also read a bit of the Science of Discworld, a 1999 book by Terry Pratchett and popular science writers Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen.

June 5, 2016

Spring Reading

This Spring has been full of reading for school and otherwise.
For one seminar, I read the following books: The Holy Trinity by Robert Letham, Two views of the doctrine of the Trinity edited by Jason Sexton, Rediscovering the Triune God: the Trinity in Contemporary Theology by Stanley Grenz, The Trinity by St Augustine of Hippo, Paul and the Trinity by Wesley Hill, The Deep Things of God, by Fred Sanders, The Christian Doctrine of God, One Being Three Persons by T.F. Torrance, and
On God and Christ: The Five Theological Orations and Two Letters to Cledonius by St. Gregory of Nazianzus.  For another class I read Jesus the Jewish Theologian by Brad H. Young, and  Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewishness of Jesus Can Transform Your Faith by Ann Spangler, et al.  I also picked up a few other books to read to complement the above reading on some papers. etc: The Bible: Breathed from God by Robert L. Saucy, Beyond the Obvious: Discover the Deeper Meaning of Scripture by James Deyoung, et al. and Illumination and Interpretation: The Holy Spirits Role in Hermeneutics by M.X. Seaman.

April 13, 2016

Trinitarian Doctrine of Illumination

Recently, I was looking to formulate a doctrine of Trinitarian illumination, and did not run into a plethora of contemporary resources.  I thought I would share an excerpt of what I formulated, and the references.  Though the formulation can still use further definition, and a hefty amount of polish.
     Illumination is the act where God allows for the comprehension/understanding of God, God's will, or God's works.  M.X. Seaman helpfully bifurcates the doctrine of illumination into two sub categories: Initial and Progressive.[1]  He terms the fusion of the two as transformative illumination.  He defines it as such, “transformative illumination is that process whereby the Holy Spirit’s initial illumination enables his ministry of progressive illumination such that his work of transformation results in the life of the believer.”[2]  
      In establishing a Trinitarian doctrine of illumination, it is necessary to appreciate the distinctions in the involvement of the different persons in the work of illuminating.  The Father’s role in illumination is as the One who gives, drawing people to His Son. [3]  The Father also allows for the blinding of mind.[4]  The Son’s role in illumination is as the instrument to creation; the light. [5]  The Son also is the nexus between the Father and the Spirit’s illuminating work.[6]  The role of the Holy Spirit in illumination is of the agent that grants the understanding.[7]  Similar to the previously noted Trinitarian doctrine of inspiration, [8] the involvement of Trinitarian members in illumination may overlap and simultaneously feature distinctions.[9]

February 25, 2016

Pacific Northwest Coffee Adventures - Extracto Coffee

Continuing my Pacific Northwest coffee adventure, I stopped by Extracto Coffee Roasters.  The front of the store is rather unassuming, with a single sidewalk board to announce the shop.  A comfy place, bedecked with laptop users, an immaculate espresso bar, featuring lovely decor, and piles of burlap sacks full of un-roasted coffee beans lining the back of the shop.  The ambient sounds of what I think was Sigur Ros was filling the air.  They have dairy products also.
This afternoon, I felt like a chocolate beverage, so I opted for a mocha, getting an Americano for Melissa.  The chocolate in the mocha was quite understated, with an almost whisky like consistency.  If I was to idealize what a whisky mocha would be, this would have fit the bill.  Not sure that is what I am generally looking for in a chocolaty beverage, but it was exquisite, none the less.  Will be making a return trip to Extracto, but most likely for a con panna espresso!

February 20, 2016

Pacific Northwest Coffee Adventures - Water Ave

Another adventure is Coffeedom landed me at Water Ave Coffee.  Located in the industrial zone of Portland, there is a large commercial complex where shops and business have perched.  Water Ave Coffee is one of these business.  This shop serves espresso.  They do not serve Con Pana.    The store also features a fair amount of the retro-industrial 'East German' furniture.

I've noted two major trends in the shops featuring espresso of the greater Portland area.  One trend would be to not stock dairy or accoutrements for your espresso.  My assumption is that there is maintained an axiom that true purveyors of espresso would never befoul espresso with something as profane as whip creme.
My second observation is I believe coupled with the first.  That is, if a store doesn't serve anything except espresso (and/or espresso with water), the probability that there will be industrial furniture in tow rises exponentially.

I suppose it's a natural progression to have coffee shops that only serve espresso and water, and are clinically uncomfortable.   However, these seem to miss the warmth and heart that I've enjoyed

February 19, 2016

Pacific Northwest Coffee Adventures - River Maiden

Traversing through the greater Portland Area, one of my favorite coffeeshops has turned out to be the River Maiden Artisan Coffee.  Serving excellent coffee, and featuring a decent atmosphere to do coffeeship things, such as chatting, reading, and computing.  They serve up wonderfully extracted and presented Stumptown Coffee Roasters, have a beautiful enthusiasm for their local Vancouver.
I've done a fair bit of reading so far at the River Maiden, and appreciate the comfortable environment, which is distinctly lacking in retro-industrial unfinished furniture.  They also showcase art on their walls, as well.  In fact, in some ways, River Maiden reminds me of one of my favorite coffeeshops of all time, the long defunct Crooked House in Salem, Oregon.  Thanks for the great coffee and excellent atmosphere.

February 17, 2016

Pacific Northwest Coffee Adventures - Ristretto Roasters

On of my favorite stops so far on my tour de force of the espresso/coffee shops of the greater Portland is Ristretto Roasters.  Their coffee was excellent, a pure and hearty espresso, and Con Pana!
In character with the Portland vibe, of industry Retro-fab East Germanesque, the chair and stools seemed to have been soviet re-issues.  Alas, there is something wrong with Portland.   But other than the furniture, the coffee and shop at Ristretto Roasters is not the problem.
Look forward to visiting Ristretto again!

Fallout 4

Computer games have come along way in the last 20 years.  Since watching friends play the first and second Fallout, computer graphics have had and influx of technical innovation that is astounding.
Fallout 4 is the latest offering of the gritty Fallout universe.  The Fallout world is an alternate universe based upon a divergent outcome from the 1950s.  It is retro-dystopian atomic powered rampage.
From the Bethesda Softworks Studio, which gave us such blockbusters/timesinks as Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, Elder Scrolls: Morrowind, Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, Fallout 3, and Fallout 3: New Vegas.  This game is much in the same first/third person RPG that the previous games have given us.  With more polish and continued depth and story development.
The game was excellent, and as Skyrim, has the possibility to sink as much time as you want to surrender to it.  I was lucky enough to only surrender a few weeks of playtime, though they were quite enjoyable.

February 15, 2016

Pacific Northwest Coffee Adventures - Coava Coffee

After arriving in the Pacific Northwest, I've had the opportunity to appraise the coffee landscape.  While I've had windows of opportunity to glimpse some sublime coffee practitioners, being in Portland also for some excellent opportunity to survey the greater Portland landscape, hipsters and all.
Coava Coffee was on the list of must visits.  The Espresso was excellent.  They are espresso only, so if you want some con pana on that doppio, you are out of luck.  The shop itself was some sort of industrial retro-cycle.  A pattern of metal stools with no pads seems to have pervaded with the hipsters.  Overall, excellent espresso, and not much else.