Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Is the "Eye of a Needle" a door in a wall?

"24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a arich man to enter into the kingdom of God." (Matt. 19:24)

I was once taught that Jesus wasn't referring to a literal needle, but rather to a small door in a wall. A camel could get through the door, but it would have to shed its cargo, get on its knees, and crawl through. (Can camels crawl?) It's a compelling narrative, but it seems to be a hoax. I have found no reputable source showing that such a door existed in Jesus's day, and many sources state that there was no such door.

While there are many interpretations of the scripture, I believe it is hyperbole. Christ sometimes exaggerates to prove a point, such as "And if thy right eye aoffend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee." (Matt. 5:29)

In the case of the camel and the eye of the needle, it's going to be very difficult for rich people to follow Jesus, because we love our stuff/comfort/leisure (most Americans are rich by the standards in Christ's day). This interpretation is supported by the subsequent verses:

"25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? 26 aBut Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are bpossible" (Matt. 19: 25-26)

It is impossible for us to be saved on our own. We sin. In the context of Matt. 19:26, we covet other things more that God. Only through the grace of Christ are we saved. Through repentence we learn to shed our things (and our pride), as necessary, until we are what God wants us to be.

Book Review: Ender in Exile

Orson Scott Card's new book, Ender in Exile, was an entertaining read. He said it was probably his best book in the series, but of course, he was wrong, because his best book was Ender's Game.

The story picks up near the end of Ender's Game, before Ender heads off to colonize another world. The story is in Card's easy-to-read conversational style (he calls it "American Plain Style", and apparently it's an actual literary style; but being an engineer, I wouldn't know), and the characters are faithful to the other books in the series. I enjoyed the quick tempo of the book, but I wish it was just a little slower. I wish the book had been a little richer, with more challenges for the characters. For example, Ender's conflict with the starship captain could have gotten far more interesting than it did. I felt like the climax of the book was about 80 pages too early, and then Card told a second story at the end. They were both entertaining, but they didn't flow together very well, and both of them could have been fleshed out into separate books.

So while I enjoyed the book, and recommend it to anyone who enjoys Card's stuff (it's closer in tone to Ender's Game than Xenocide), it wasn't his Opus. This book made me want to go back and read the rest of the series.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Movie Review: Ghost Town

Mari and I went to see Ghost Town yesterday, on the recommenation of D&J (I think).

We liked it. The plot = Ghost + Sixth Sense + Ghost Dad + (insert ghost movie here). The characters were enjoyable, especially Dr. Pincus-played by Ricky Gervais. He's a snarky dentist who finds out he can talk to dead people. One thing leads to another and... the end.
The script is very well-written and very funny. They drop two F-bombs, which are probably why the movie is PG-13. The movie is generally funny, but also has sappy sweet moments that are not overdone.
It's not in theatres everywhere anymore, so if it isn't in theatres near you, pick it up when it comes out on DVD. You'll have fun.