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Is that a blog in your eye of faith?

New online resource by Huffington Post will find intersection of scripture and current events

Text and context: It is hardly possible to take seminary courses anymore without hearing this phrase. Karl Barth is attributed with saying that Christians in the 20th century should hold the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.

Scripture and lived lives are always in dialogue, whether people want to admit it or not. This is what is likely meant by “a living faith.”

New technology may require an updating of Barth’s dictum, as people increasingly receive news online. The Huffington Post, since 2005 a home for online news and content aggregated blogs on current events, has announced one step in advancing accessible biblical interpretation of current topics.

In August, The Huffington Post will launch a weekly blog under the banner “ON Scripture.” The project is co-sponsored by The Odyssey Network (hence, the “ON” in “ON Scripture”), the nation’s largest multi-faith coalition dedicated to promoting tolerance, peace and social justice through the production and distribution of media.

Barbara Lundblad: photo provided by Union Theological Seminary

In August, The Huffington Post will launch a weekly blog under the banner “ON Scripture.”

The idea for ON Scripture was initially hatched in a conversation between Mary Brown, the directory of philanthropy for Odyssey Network and a pastor who has offered posts for Luther Seminary’s Working Preacher webpage, and Paul Raushenbush, senior religion editor for HuffPost Religion (The Huffington Post’s religion section, launched in February 2010). They agreed there would be sincere interest in a weekly blog devoted to helping readers see deeper relevance of Scripture in their daily lives.

“I had already started a special section on HuffPost Religion on Scripture when Mary Brown proposed providing weekly resources for pastors and laypeople based on the liturgical calendar,” Raushenbush explained. “There is already a surprising amount of interest on The Huffington Post in the continuing relevancy of Scripture for both our personal and collective lives. My hope is to serve this interest and also bring in new readers to The Huffington Post who might not already view us as a resource for religious and spiritual concerns.”

Brown will serve as the project editor for ON Scripture. The editorial board includes Barbara Lundblad, Union Theological Seminary, New York; Matt Skinner, Luther Seminary, St. Paul; Eric Barreto, Luther Seminary; Greg Carey, Lancaster Theological Seminary, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Stephanie Crowder, Belmont University, Nashville, Tennessee; Eric Shafer, Odyssey Networks, New York; Peter Wallace, Day1.org, Atlanta; and Jenee Woodard, TextWeek.com.

What’s a preacher to do?

Online resources already exist for pastors as they prepare sermons, those involved with ON Scripture acknowledge. “Sites like TextWeek, Working Preacher, and Good Preacher all do a good job of providing resources,” said Lundblad, preaching professor at Union and member at Advent Lutheran Church, New York. “But they tend to be prepared well ahead of time.” ON Scripture “will look at scripture texts and current events intimately.

Matt Skinner: photo provided by Matt Skinner

“The blogs will be serious interpretive pieces on lectionary texts, or at least one passage in depth, with an eye toward what is going on in the world that week.”

“There are plenty of sites for professional insiders with a high tolerance for jargon,” added Skinner, associate professor of New Testament at Luther. “The authors [of ON Scripture] will write for lay people so that they can be more deeply involved in the creative dialogue between text and context.

“While these blog offerings will deal with whatever events are current in the minds of readers, they are not looking for biblical prophesy fulfillment,” Skinner made clear. “They will concentrate more on issues about how the Bible offers hope in the midst of natural disasters or support in economic struggles.”

“We want to offer one place where people can regularly expect to find scripture meeting the newspaper,” Brown explained.

A new blog will go live every Wednesday. It will use one or all of the lectionary texts for that Sunday, and will include information about some news item from that week that relates in some way to the text. Articles will be about 1,000 words, edited each week by Brown.

The articles will be cross-posted on The Odyssey Networks’ website: www.odysseynetworks.org. The blogs there might be supplemented with still photographs or video content that further resources the blog’s content.

Although Brown and Skinner have blogged occasionally for HuffPost Religion before, primarily on the Bible generally, Lundblad said, “I haven’t blogged before, so they’re taking a chance on me.”

Her first blog will center on Jesus’ interaction with the Canaanite woman (Matthew 15:21-28). “Obviously, I don’t know exactly what ‘current event’ will present itself that week,” Lundblad said, “but undoubtedly there will be a story about how we talk to people who are different —perhaps immigrants or Muslims — that will come alive within this text.

“We are not just seeking to be relevant in these offerings,” she concluded. “We are seeking to be in a lively conversation around issues that affect people daily.”

To find ON Scripture offerings, go to the HuffPost Religion website: www.huffingtonpost.com/religion.

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