Jesus Before the Sanhedrin (Mk 14:53-65)

We had this year’s final M.A. seminar on Mark’s gospel yesterday. We considered an aspect of the story I don’t remember spending much time on before: the emotional reaction of the High Priest in verse 63, tearing his clothes and crying “blasphemy.” Is he suddenly outraged, or is it mere hyperbole and “theatre”? Continue reading

Low Tech Discoveries


Discovery. Simplicity. Both are fascinating. And when a single phenomenon comprises both, it makes me smile, no matter how mundane.

Hideki Watanabe has found a simple way to harness the apparently chaotic motion of warm-hot liquids to produce a pot in which the soup will stir itself. It’s just a matter of shaping the bottom and building channeling grooves into the sides.

The first thing you think is: how brilliant of him. The second thing you think is: how is it that no one has ever thought of this before? It isn’t as though building shapes into pots and pans is new technology. The ancient Greeks could have done this.

The next thing I think of is the way that some stuff that has been around forever is much less intuitive than this. Eating whipped cream set this off for me… What in the world made someone stir their milk around so madly for long enough to make whipped cream and then butter? Why would anyone who didn’t know something would happen do such a thing?

So here’s where I’m going with all this: How many simple things like whipped cream and self-stirring pots are there that we HAVEN’T yet stumbled on to?! When we meet our first alien civilisation, I think the biggest surprises won’t be about their advanced technology, but about the low technology. I think E.T. is likely to have had self-stirring pots since its ancestors emerged from the pods, but maybe we’ll also make its big green eyes pop out: “Whoa! You get THIS by beating cream!? Who knew!?”


“Promodoro” for iPhone

The Pomodoro technique helps me get work done when I’m stressed. You work in short bursts or blitzes, with even shorter breaks built in. The classic timings are 25 minutes of work, followed by 5 minutes of break. Repeat 4 times and take a longer break. It’s great for slogging through writing.

When I’m doing something especially distasteful, I shorten the spells, sometimes to as short as 10m work, 2m break! Even things I hate doing, I know I can bear for ten minutes. And once the first iteration is done, in my two minute breather, I tell myself … I can manage another ten minutes.

I’ve now found what I think is the ideal timer on the iPhone. It’s called Promodoro (note the extra r) and it’s simple and effective and flexible. It doesn’t cost very much either.


Good Technology, 2112

Asked to describe his wish for technology for the next 100 years, Joichi Ito (current director of MIT’s Media Lab) answered superbly:

One hundred years from now, the role of science and technology will be about becoming part of nature rather than trying to control it.

So much of science and technology has been about pursuing efficiency, scale and “exponential growth” at the expense of our environment and our resources. We have rewarded those who invent technologies that control our triumph over nature in some way. This is clearly not sustainable.

We must understand that we live in a complex system where everything is interrelated and interdependent and that everything we design impacts a larger system.

My dream is that 100 years from now, we will be learning from nature, integrating with nature and using science and technology to bring nature into our lives to make human beings and our artifacts not only zero impact but a positive impact to the natural system that we live in.

May it be so. From MIT’s Technology Review website based on the reply to Steelcase.

Smart IS Practical

Done right, theological education is about sharpening.

Or to change the metaphor, it’s about your footwork. It’s about your swing. It’s unnatural. It’s not always like praxis. We concentrate on these things now in order that they flow naturally, unconsciously, later.

Training evanglists in libraries and lectures full of just Christians is no odder than training doctors with books and lectures full of other healthy students.

If you want to be a rocket scientist, start by learning mathematics on planet Earth.

(Variations of the chop-sharpen quotation are often attributed to Abraham Lincoln, but Lincoln scholars have yet to find a source.)

Authors’ Habits


Skim-reading this blog post about writing made me smile. And some weeks, smiles are hard to come by.

It helps that I initially read the title simply as “Seven Habits of Successful Authors.” It’s encouraging to know that I have at least some of the qualifications.

(and no, this isn’t the same Rachel Gardner that graduated from London School of Theology and started Romance Academy.)


Max’s Festschrift


Published by Eerdmans in April 2012, a Festschrift of essays by colleagues, friends and former students in honour of Max Turner entitled: The Spirit and Christ in the New Testament and Christian Theology, edited by I. Howard Marshall, Volker Rabens and Cornelis Bennema.

From the back cover: This volume gathers writings about the Spirit and Christ by notable scholars including Richard Bauckham, D.A. Carson, James Dunn, and many others… the twenty essays included will be a welcome resource for scholars and ministers… [and it] is a fitting tribute to honoree Max Turner, whose outstanding scholarship has focused on pneumatology and Christology.

From the table of contents:

Continue reading

Welcome to your new job

When I started at LBC (now LST), no one had to put a note like this on my desk. This is just how I felt anyway. This is how it should be. Tell me companies can’t afford to be like this in today’s economic climate. Tell me that this has nothing to do with Apple’s current success.

(note originally posted on M’s Instagram page.)