Easy money

The stock market is far from stable. The price of everything from pasta to petrol has Italian consumers griping. Good thing someone could win 88.2 million euros (before taxes, of course) by playing SuperEnalotto, the state lottery.

But is it really a good thing?

As a headline put it: Only the State is laughing. In 2008, SuperEnalotto has created €723 million of revenue for lo Stato Italiano. That’s money that could have been used to purchase the aforementioned pasta and petrol. Looking on the bright side, at least a part, maybe even all, of that money is used for cultural events and upkeep of monuments. Someone should get to cleaning the calcium deposits off all the Roman fountains.

Let’s shift the focus a little. Should a Christian play the lottery? Unsurprisingly, there is no clear Biblical answer for that. I find John MacArthur’s brief response to that question more than satisfactory.  He says:

…I do not believe the Bible legitimizes gambling (including the Lottery) as a means of stewardship…It plays into the hands of the people who need to learn how to work productively and not hope against hope…The Bible advocates gaining money by inheritance, by hard work, and by wise investment, but it never advocates getting rich by gambling or fast money.

Guess I’d better get back to working hard then…

Update: Tonight’s draw (an hour after I wrote this post) didn’t make a multimillionaire of anyone, so the jackpot’s up to 90.1 million…

Final Update: On Thursday 23rd October some (un)lucky soul in Catania, a town in Sicily, won €100,756,197.30.  Wishing them all the best…

Reading out loud

How long does it take to read out aloud the Catholic Bible from Genesis to Revelation if you read 24 hours a day? Roughly 139 hours, allowing for musical interludes.  RAI, Italy’s state broadcaster, has just wrapped up the longest live television broadcast ever. It started on the 5th of October with the Pope reading Genesis 1, and ended on the 11th. The New Testament was started on Friday morning, just to give an idea of how long it took to get through the Old Testament and the Apocrypha.

I had some misgivings, but was won over when I first watched the transmission. The mood was solemn and reverential,  which contributed to concentrating on the Word. The music was mostly in Latin, though I happened to be watching at a point when an American choir did an up-beat Gospel song. IMHO, that was a little incongruous with everything else. In the end, I ended up listening to Proverbs, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Matthew, the whole of Mark, Luke, Hebrews, James, all of 1,2,3 John, 1&2 Peter, Jude, Revelation.

The readers were a diverse lot. Ordinary people, priests, cardinals, local celebrities and the odd politician. They came from Italy, Syria, Honduras, the US, Romania; I missed the Kenyan reader(s).  There were adherents from the Catholic, Jewish and Eastern Orthodox faiths. Someone read in Braille, someone used sign language, someone came in a wheelchair.

Thinking about it, this probably wouldn’t have happened elsewhere in secular Western Europe or even in the US. It probably wouldn’t have happened in the developing world either, because of the logistics involved.  Another thing that I found a little ironic is that the Catholic Church was once vehemently opposed to people reading the Bible in their own language; now the Pope is exhorting the Catholic faithful to read their Bibles, and to do it often. God does work in mysterious ways…

There’s washing, and there’s washing

A couple of days ago, I was listening to a sermon on the first part of John 13—Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. Recently, I’d been wondering if there was more to the foot-washing than well, foot-washing. Was I in for a pleasant surprise or for a wonderful truth? (Answer: both) And I also wondered why I hadn’t got it sooner…

The preacher drew attention to the exchange between Jesus and Peter:

6He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him,  “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” 9Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.”

It must be the effect of having read this story for years, but I never noticed Jesus’ rather strange responses in verses 7 and 8: What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand and If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.  They both seem a little over the top, humanly speaking. What won’t Peter understand? Jesus explains pretty clearly in the verses that follow why He did what He did . As for the second statement, well, that is a little harsh for foot-washing…

Jesus wasn’t only talking of their appendages. He was talking of their souls. Less than 24 hours later, he would die on the cross so that they, and all who would later believe in Him, would be washed from their sins.

As I listened to this, I thought, Any 16-year-old reading this as a lit text would have got that connection. I couldn’t believe I’d gone through life without understanding that the foot-washing wasn’t an end in itself but that it pointed to something far greater.

The apostle Paul used the washing imagery  in Ephesians 5:26, 1 Corinthians 6:11 and Titus 3:5. The author of Hebrews also  uses it in Hebrews 10:22. The apostle John revisited it in the book of Revelation in chapter 7 verse 14 and in chapter 22 verse 14.

May God the Father continue to show wonderful things from His Word!

My MBTI type is…

ISTJ. Introverted Sensing Thinking Judging.

Let me start from the beginning… The last episode of The Boundless Show spurred me (and a bunch of listeners, I’m sure) to take the Myers-Briggs personality test. I’ve taken a few other tests before, and as host Lisa A. described the indicators, I quickly figured out where I lay in 3/ 4 of them; only the second letter had me stumped.

It appears I’m in royal company– Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth are ISTJs. And that I could very well choose to be an accountant or a lawyer.

Always good to know, I suppose…

Addendum: You may find the Prayers for Myers-Briggs Types chuckle-inducing. I did!

Navel-gazing. God-gazing.

There are a lot of thoughts wandering around in my mind. Many are on renewable energy, because that’s what I spend most of my waking hours working on.  There are other thoughts, of course, but I feel I cannot truthfully share them without casting a slur (real or perceived) on people I know. Perhaps one day they’ll come across this blog, and then I’ll have a lot more to think about.

So why don’t you just talk it over with someone instead of blogging?

Isn’t that what blogs are for? To rant and rave about all the minutiae in one’s life? No, really, I don’t feel I can talk to the people close to me for the reason above. In addition, I fear they may just not get it. I do know one person who gets it; we had a conversation on a related issue this past summer. It was reassuring to know I’m not the only one. However, the fact that he’s a man presents not a few problems from a Biblical perspective. And that he’s a married man—I shan’t go any further.

You’re not into anything funny are you?

The fact that I can openly mention the above conversation should dispel any such notions. I don’t think the thoughts and desires I have are inherently sinful. A little like eating— eating is a wonderful idea, invented by God Himself. However, eating inappropriate amounts of food, or using food as something more than fuel is sinful. How I go about acting on those thoughts — which I haven’t done, since I’ve been ruminating for months— is the sticky issue.

So why, if you can’t mention what’s bothering you , did you bother with this post at all?

[Waving hands wildly] I feel like I’m bursting!

Isn’t that what self-control is all about?

[Pause] Ummmm, yes. [Longer pause] [Mumbling] I guess I shall have to just continue praying about it.

[More resolutely] If these desires are from God, as I believe they are, He’s the only one who can help me. I should spend more time thinking on Him than on them. Only then will I know how and when to fulfill them in all purity.