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Reflections on Job, Part 7 – What to Do with Elihu?

The Wrath of Elihu, by William Blake

One of the greatest mysteries in a book filled with mysteries is what to make of Elihu. He seems to appear out of nowhere, and after his speeches conclude, there is no further reference to him in the book. It’s almost as if someone from the street stumbled onto the stage of a musical, decided to sing a few songs, and then leave!

What are we to make of Elihu? Should we look at his four speeches as fundamentally different in tone and content from the friends? Does he add any new insight to the book? Does he get the reader a little closer to the truth about Job’s predicament? Continue reading

The Meaning of Beauty and the Ugliness of Pornography

What is “beauty”? What makes a piece or art or music or a landscape beautiful? Certainly we are dealing with something pleasing to the senses, something visually and/or audibly pleasing to us. And what pleases us is something more than the object’s utilitarian value. I have a beautiful desk set, given to me as a gift. It is a fantastic piece of equipment, a great place to work – but then, an ugly desk is also capable of being a sufficient place to do work. So the beauty of my desk must involve more than the use it serves. Its beauty is something I appreciate in and of itself. Continue reading

Reflections on Job, Part 6: What Job Wants

Job’s Despair, by William Blake

Throughout the course of Job’s speeches, both in his dialogues with the three friends and in his final monologue, there is one thing that Job repeatedly says he desires: an audience with God. Job believes that God is punishing him unjustly. Given his commitment to the Principle of Retribution as the mechanism of God’s providence, that’s the only conclusion an “upright and blameless man” like Job could draw. While his confidence that the Principle of Retribution is the comprehensive explanation of God’s governance does begin to waver in his later speeches, Job’s desire to bring his case beforte God does not.

Here’s a selection of these requests for redress with God.

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Reflections on Job, Part 5: Job’s Breakthrough

In my previous post I discussed what one commentator calls the “Triangle of Tension” in the Book of Job. Given the principle of retribution (the law of sowing and reaping), these three points cannot co-exist: God’s justice, Job’s righteousness, and Job’s suffering. If the wicked always suffer and the righteous always prosper, then either Job must not be righteous, or God must not be just. Job’s friends deny Job’s righteousness, and Job denies God’s justice.

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Why I Love Barbershop: Reason 5 – It Has Made Me a Better Person

Tonight several thousand people will jam into the Axis Theater is Las Vegas to watch ten quartets compete in the finals of the international quartet contest. It is a thrilling event to witness, and unbelievably exciting to be a part of. Some friends and I will stay up late tonight to watch the live webcast. I can’t wait!

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Why I Love Barbershop Music: Reason 4 – Competition

Today is the international chorus contest at the Barbershop Harmony Society‘s convention in Las Vegas. Hundreds of men from around the world are about to step foot on stage and deliver in roughly eight minutes the results of hundreds of hours of rehearsal and preparation. And tomorrow night is the finals of the quartet contest, in which a new international quartet champion will be crowned. All of this brings me to the fourth reason I love barbershop – competition.

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Why I Love Barbershop Music: Reason 3 – Friendships

I am a proud member of the Barbershop Harmony Society which is hosting its international convention this week in Vegas. Since I can’t be there to enjoy the fun, I’m listing the reasons I love this hobby. Monday I talked about how beautiful the music is. Yesterday, I reflected on how fun performing is. And today, I want to talk about friendships.

But first a little backstory.

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Why I Love Barbershop Music: Reason 2 – Performing Is Rewarding

This week I am celebrating the joys of being a barbershop singer while the¬†Barbershop Harmony Society¬†is holding its annual international convention in Las Vegas. Yesterday I focused on how beautiful barbershop harmony is. Today’s topic is how much fun performing is.

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Why I Love Barbershop Music: Reason 1 – It Is Beautiful

This week is the international convention of the Barbershop Harmony Society. Many of you have probably never heard a barbershop quartet before, much less that there is an international organization devoted to this musical style. But there are thousands of people all over the world who are members of this organization, and every year the Society has a convention the week of July 4th. The convention offers classes, workshops, and several contests (including a quartet contest and a chorus contest). It is a great week for those who enjoy this hobby!

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Reflections on Job, Part 4: The “Triangle of Tension”

To understand the ebb and flow of Job’s exchanges with his friends, we must first understand the assumption that they all share. Compare these two statements, first regarding Job- Continue reading