Twenty Thousand Days Beneath the Sun

By: C. Ivan Spencer

Editor’s Note: Dr. C. Ivan Spencer is Professor of History and Philosophy at The College at Southeastern and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also the author of the recently published book: ‘Tweetable Nietzsche‘.

Twenty Thousand Days Beneath the Sun

Lord, reveal to me the end of my life

and the number of my days.

Let me know how short-lived I am. (Ps 39.4 HCSB)

 

For in Your sight a thousand years are like yesterday that passes by,
like a few hours of the night. (Ps 90.4)

Teach us to number our days carefully

so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts. (Ps 90.12)

 

People don’t count off their days under the Sun, but their years. Ask anyone their age, and you’ll get years, not days. Birthday candles are easier this way. It’s an Egyptian thing. The year eludes us and misleads us as a psychological marker of age and time. Too long, too expansive to grasp. Scan the ocean with your eyes. Like the year, you lose scale and distance. The Psalmist asked God to reveal the number of his days, that basic unit of time we should still use to understand life’s passage. Today, (August 9, 2017) I mark 20,000 days of existence. (Don’t…add’m…up. It’s 54.8 years) 20K seems a small number. Any one of us might put 20K miles on a car soon, or spend that many dollars.

Ignorant of the year, people long measured time with the seasons, moons, and days. The Psalmist wrote in those times. The Hebrew word for year means a cycle of seasons. They didn’t have a ball drop in Jerusalem at a precise second. Only later did people learn that the moon did not sync well with solar movements of time. Lunar calendars wander around on the solar calendar. This can still be seen with the date of Easter, which always baffles people. Neither does the day sync up perfectly, thus the Leap Year. What, if any, matter does it make on the human psyche if we measure life in days, lunar months, or years? The day, an easily marked and reasonably smaller increment, helps people measure time in a psychologically pleasing manner. We do, after all, each have a circadian rhythm. Now with modern technical precision, we can measure time in nanoseconds, even femptoseconds (billionth and trillionth). Great for computers, but of little psychological significance. What is time anyway? Some say it’s illusory. Einstein proved (yes, proved) that time moves at different speeds in different places around the cosmos. It even moves differently for my cat on the floor because she is closer to the earth’s gravity. Knowledge of this is what makes our GPS devices work. But, what does a cat care about time…or anything but food? Humans live acutely aware of time and animals don’t. Like all of the abilities that set us apart from the furry kingdom, temporal awareness can make us miserable if we don’t see those powers from God’s perspective. He tells us to mark our days.

God surely knows every temporal stream. Geek that I tend to be, I calculated the formula for my age using the Psalms. If a thousand years equals a “God-day” then my 20K Earth days = 1.31 hrs. In other words, I’m only 1 hour and 20 minutes old on God’s “Psalm Time,” which I liken to his eternal viewpoint in my mediation on God.  So, what would one of my 20K days be in God’s “day?” No worry. I’ll do the math. It’s about .25 of a second. A whole day of our Earth time is a split second in God. Of course the Psalmist probably isn’t literal, but he very well may be given what Einstein learned about time. Places exist where time moves that differently to our Earth time. Einstein 3,000 years after the Psalmist gave us the math that the Psalmist had revealed to him by God. The Psalms call attention to everyone’s vapor-like life and that God knows all, operates in all, time streams.

I’ll probably not see another 20K days here on Earth. God numbers them, and unless he reveals our number like the Psalmist asked, we must wake up daily with the thought somewhere in our mind that this may be our last here on Earth. As Gandalf told Frodo, “All you have to do is decide what to do with the time given to you.” God tells us to be aware of our days. Number them. I’m at 20K today. I’ve numbered them carefully as he said. Where are you? What will you do with your days?

 

In Case You Missed It

At the Gospel Coalition, Rosaria Butterfield shared a reminder that we should love our neighbor enough to speak truth.

If this were 1999—the year that I was converted and walked away from the woman and lesbian community I loved—instead of 2016, Jen Hatmaker’s words about the holiness of LGBT relationships would have flooded into my world like a balm of Gilead. How amazing it would have been to have someone as radiant, knowledgeable, humble, kind, and funny as Jen saying out loud what my heart was shouting: Yes, I can have Jesus and my girlfriend. Yes, I can flourish both in my tenured academic discipline (queer theory and English literature and culture) and in my church. My emotional vertigo could find normal once again.

 

Maybe I wouldn’t need to lose everything to have Jesus. Maybe the gospel wouldn’t ruin me while I waited, waited, waited for the Lord to build me back up after he convicted me of my sin, and I suffered the consequences. Maybe it would go differently for me than it did for Paul, Daniel, David, and Jeremiah. Maybe Jesus could save me without afflicting me. Maybe the Lord would give to me respectable crosses (Matt. 16:24). Manageable thorns (2 Cor. 12:7).

 

Today, I hear Jen’s words—words meant to encourage, not discourage, to build up, not tear down, to defend the marginalized, not broker unearned power—and a thin trickle of sweat creeps down my back. If I were still in the thick of the battle over the indwelling sin of lesbian desire, Jen’s words would have put a millstone around my neck.

 

Earlier this week Dr. Bruce Ashford and Josh Wester shared: “Mr. Trump and Secretary Clinton: An Evangelical Assessment.” Dr. Ashford writes:

Electing a president is a decision of great consequence. Every four years, the American people face the task of determining our nation’s leader. The process is always difficult. But this year that difficulty is compounded by the fact that the nominees of both major political parties are historically unpopular.

 

As a result, many citizens are being forced to ask more fundamental questions. And conservative evangelicals are no exception. Most of us have deep reservations about Mr. Trump and Secretary Clinton.

 

During this election cycle, significant controversies have surrounded both candidates and their respective campaigns. Indeed, Bruce has briefly critiqued both Sec. Clinton (here and here) and Mr. Trump (here and here). But as November 8th draws near, a question we often encounter in conversation, in the classroom, and in public venues is: how does one evaluate a presidential candidate?

 

In this article, we provide an assessment of both major party nominees. After considering each candidate in view of four criteria, we offer our conclusions for consideration. Our assessment is an evangelical evaluation (not the evangelical evaluation); our hope is that, even if a reader disagrees with aspects of our analysis or our conclusion, the article will still be a beneficial contribution to the broader exercise of evaluating political candidates or platforms from an evangelical point of view.

 

Jonathan Petersen at Bible Gateway interviewed College at Southeastern Professor Dr. C. Ivan Spencer about his new book, Tweetable Nietzsche: His Essential Ideas Revealed and Explained.

Though he died in 1900, Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophical sway on modern thinking persists, inspiring numerous movements that weave the tapestries of contemporary culture: existentialism, theology, nihilistic culture, Nazism, 20th century film and art, atheism, ethical egoism, deconstruction, the hermeneutics of suspicion, and the postmodern age. His stark prophecy that “God is dead, and we killed him” thrives in this accelerating secular age where postmodernists lionize him as a prophetic voice of a new era.

 

Bible Gateway interviewed Dr. C. Ivan Spencer (@scizen) about his book, Tweetable Nietzsche: His Essential Ideas Revealed and Explained (Zondervan, 2016).

 

Edgar Aponte posted right here at Between the Times on Monday sharing his thoughts on the U.S. Election from the perspective of a foreign-born Southern Baptist. If you missed it earlier this week, be sure to check it out.

I was born and raised in a developing country with a fairly stable presidential democracy. I got involved in politics at the age of 15, and in partisan politics when I was 18. Many of my political and policy positions are different today from those I held 20 years ago. As a non-Christian and then as a Christian, I supported and voted for candidates who I felt did not fully represent the kind of character and policies I wanted to champion.

 

Jonathan Howe shared a post at Dr. Thom Rainer’s blog on five social media practices to avoid, and how to guard against them. Jonathan writes:

In days of yore, we followed current events through newspapers, radio, and television. In our current digital landscape, those industries look to social media for the latest information—and so do we. Social media is ubiquitous in our culture. We use it; our employers use it; our parents use it; our kids use it.

 

Over the past year, I’ve written a great deal about how you and your church can use social media most effectively. I’ve also shared insight into the common mistakes that are made. Today, I turn to practices to avoid altogether as well as helpful ways to keep from falling into their traps.

 

While these may seem to be general in nature, the application of these guidelines for pastors and church leaders can make a difference in how effectively you shepherd and minister to those under your care. The simple act of adjusting how you engage others online can dramatically alter your ministry effectiveness.

Tweetable Nietzsche: His Essential Ideas Revealed And Explained

http://www.zondervan.com/the-tweetable-nietzsche

Image Source: Zondervan

Dr. Ivan Spencer has new work coming out, Tweetable Nietzsche.

Friedrich Nietzsche radically confronted Western culture, morality, and social mores, until his death in 1900. Occupying a first-rank position as a thinker, his thought later inspired numerous movements that weave the tapestries of contemporary culture: existentialism, theology, nihilistic culture, Nazism, twentieth century film and art, atheism, ethical egoism, deconstruction, the hermeneutics of suspicion, and the postmodern age.

Nietzsche’s incalculable sway on our culture persists to this day. Even his acerbic criticism of Christianity has affected the religion. But many people remain unaware of the pervasive attitudes Nietzsche disseminated, attitudes they echo. His stark prophecy that “God is dead, and we killed him” thrives in this accelerating secular age where postmodernists lionized him as a prophetic voice of a new era.

Tweetable Nietzsche introduces and analyzes the worldview of Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche’s tweets, 140 characters or less, provide readers a distilled essence of every major aspect of his worldview. Each tweet illustrates some aspect of his worldview contributing toward a full-orbed understanding of Nietzsche’s thought.

Dr. Spencer is Professor of History and Philosophy at The College at Southeastern. He teaches the History of Ideas, Philosophy, and History. Dr Spencer was the creator of the school’s History of Ideas curriculum and has cultivated the study of the greatest thinkers from the past to the present.