Doug Talks Torah

Reflecting on all the ways Torah builds the world.

Murmuring the Psalms

psalms

It’s 1:30 in the morning, and I sit soaking in the old familiar Psalms. During the quiet of the night, ancient songs wash over me, renew me and gently lead me back to sleep. These same phrases have quieted my soul for decades. Little phrases linger in my mind, “Teach me your way O Lord, that I may walk in your truth”; “Give light to my eyes or I shall fall into the sleep of death”; and the simple “Bless the Lord O my soul.” In nights of distress, days of darkness and even moments of pure joy, these Psalms give articulation to my stammering heart. Continue reading

On Meeting

sharing

“On almost every occasion when I have met somebody, I have met somebody else.” – G.K. Chesterton

“All real living is meeting.” – Martin Buber

When my dad was just a boy, his father took him to the TN Valley Fair. They were sharing a bag of peanuts and walking. His dad walked up to a stranger and offered some peanuts. He grabbed a handful. In a few minutes, they were swapping stories, laughing and becoming friends. My dad told me that story again and again and again. Continue reading

Holy Fire

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“The Lord comes roaring out of Zion.” The shepherds weep. The mountains wither. It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Advent may be far more risky than we ever imagined. The coming of the Lord may cost us everything.

It is so easy to forget that He is a Consuming Fire. Continue reading

Advent Calendar

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We had a simple cardboard Advent calendar that marked the days until Christmas. Each day had a small flap that opened to reveal a little picture beneath the larger picture. This simple, inexpensive calendar opened a window to a world of wonders just beyond my grasp. Continue reading

Advent in the Midst of Christmas Rush

advent

We call the weeks prior to Christmas, “Advent.” We order this time for intentional watching and waiting on the coming of the Lord. And yet, during these same weeks we feel the pressure to buy, celebrate, and feast. How do we live into the call to watch and wait while juggling Christmas shopping, decorating, multiple parties, and the ongoing challenges of work and home? Continue reading

Moonflower

night-blooming_cereus

Moonflower

Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
bind them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart. Proverbs 3:3

Words unfold.
Like the night-blooming cereus, words
open to the patient listener. A treasure
unveiled in the dark night of waiting
and watching. Words like
love and faithful
fragrant the soul with sweetness:
a surprise of hope in the midnight hour.

Love pulses its mystery in giving
and receiving: the Father running
like a child to his prodigal grown old;
the squeals of delight
echoing from the boy and his pup;
sisters’ embrace through the howls
of hard rain coming down.

Faithful takes shape
in a world of pure gift:
water running, roaring, rushing
forward to cracked, parched ground;
last year’s apple tree split by lightning,
bursting with more fruit than ever before;
sunrise rippling across land and sea,
ending the endless night.

Love and Faithful bind me like
the Akedah. Isaac climbing to
his ending and beginning.
Following the bloodstains
to the place of skulls,
I am planted in the Savior’s grasp,
blooming briefly
with love’s light
in the dark of night.

Doug Floyd
11/3/15

Image of Night-blooming Cereus by Cristóbal Alvarado Minic (used by permission via Creative Commons).

Torah and Worldview

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Note: I may use this blog to think out loud about the relation of torah and worldview as part of a larger project called, “Discerning Culture: Wisdom and Worldview.” I welcome thoughts and challenges via email or comments.

How might we speak or think about torah and worldview? We might first ask, “What is worldview?” In James Sire’s classic text, “The Universe Next Door,” he suggests that a worldview might be understood as follows:

“A worldview is a commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart, that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true or entirely false) that we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic constitution of reality, and that provides the foundation on which we live and move and have our being.” [1]

Instead of beginning with philosophical propositions of Christian worldview, I’d like to peer at worldview via the periphery.  As Sire uses the language of story, David Naugle talks about narrative signs,

I suggest that a worldview is best understood as a semiotic phenomenon, especially as a system of narrative signs that establishes a powerful framework within which people think (reason), interpret (hermeneutics), and know (epistemology).[2]

These narrative signs surround us from birth. We are born into a world of language, story, song, jokes and more. The idea of worldview speaks to the compulsion of the mind to grasp our world as a whole. James Orr, one the early writers on worldview, suggested that Christian faith provides a standpoint to view the world as an ordered whole (see Naugle for a good summary of Orr’s thought).

Our worldview is shaped in the family, in the church, in the culture. In other words, it is shaped in the background, on the periphery. Michael Polanyi suggests that “we know more than we can say.” [3] From the moment of birth, we enter a field of knowing. Our view of the world, our standpoint begins being shaped long before we can speak.

With this brief overview in mind, we can begin to think of torah and worldview. Torah is God’s Word sounding forth in this world, his people and the surrounding cultures. It comes as judgment, deliverance, instruction and fundamentally as relationship. Torah is a set of commandments and instructions as well as a set of prescribed rules for worship and sacrifice. It is communicated in law but also in story and song. The Old Testament tells a grand story of a people that God’s calls to Himself and promises to bless all families of the earth through these people.

By reading and reflecting on the stories and songs and wisdom and even laws of the ancient Hebrews, we can find a way to consider worldview through a family, a culture, “a system of narrative signs.” By re-flecting upon these stories, we might be able to see hints of worldview in our own stories, our own family, and our own culture.  In our peripheral vision, we may also catch glimpses of patterns of thought that are enslaving, dehumanizing, anti-creational and more.

[1] Sire, James W. (2009-08-20). The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog (p. 20). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.
[2] David K. Naugle Jr.. Worldview: The History of a Concept (Kindle Locations 146-147). Kindle Edition.
[3] Michael Polanyi. The Tacit Dimension. London, Routledge. (University of Chicago Press).

Image by Dirk Knight (used by permission via Creative Commons).

Advent – To the Wonder

advent wonder

In some ways, the journey into Advent is a journey into wonder. It begins with the people living in great darkness and ends with the birth of Jesus, the Light of the World. As we look and long for his coming, we turn toward Him in our thoughts, meditations upon Scripture, and songs of the season. We sing, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” Continue reading

Advent – Into the Light

advent light

“I don’t know what to do!” cried Scrooge, laughing and crying in the same breath…I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a school-boy. I am as giddy as a drunken man.”

After Scrooge awakes from his night with the ghosts, he is overjoyed to be alive and greets the day with laughter and merry-making. He steps out of the dark and into the light. During Advent, we rehearse the hope of stepping out of the dark and into the light. We are reminded, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). Continue reading

Advent – Prepare the Way of the Lord

St_John_the_Baptist_Preaching_to_the_Masses_in_the_Wilderness_oil_on_oak_panel_by_Pieter_Brueghel_the_Younger copy

A voice cries out, “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord.”

Come all you saints and sinners, prepare your hearts for the coming of the Lord. Come you weak and weary. Find rest for your souls. Come you strong and full of vigor. Behold the source of your life. For the King approaches. Come you poor and rich alike. Offer your lives in worship. Come you hungry and full, behold the feast has been set before us. Come you joyful. Come you grieving. Put on the garment of praise for the Comforter stands among us with healing in his wings. Let us all come before the throne of mercy and grace, to watch and wait together for the Lord, the Savior, the Redeemer who brings salvation to His people and to His world. Continue reading

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