Not a white Christmas, but a fun one!

It seems that much of the northern hemisphere has been enjoying a white Christmas, even in places where this is rare like my home in southern England, and like a part of Texas where the last white Christmas was in 1926! Here in Italy the weather looked to be heading that way less than a week before the big day, with thick snow and daytime temperatures below freezing. Here are Lorenza and I on the Sunday before Christmas in the snow outside her cousins’ house, in a beautiful hilltop location on the edge of the Chianti and overlooking the city of Florence. My car only just made it through the ice and snow.

Lorenza and Peter in snow

But by two days later the weather had completely changed. All the snow had gone, and the temperatures started to feel almost summery – so much so that on Wednesday we decided to visit the beach, at Viareggio, and I even put my feet briefly in the sea.

Peter paddling at Viareggio

With the thaw and the rain came floods, and by Christmas Day the motorway to the beach was inundated and closed. Yesterday, with the weather still mild but briefly bright, we went back to Lorenza’s cousins, and were able to make the tour they had promised us of the hidden jewels of the Chianti – beautiful little hilltop towns and villages set in amazing countryside, enjoyed with a glass of the local Chianti Classico. The only snow in sight was on a distant Appennine peak.

So, as we heard a children’s choir singing yesterday in a Chianti village square, the Italians, or at least the Tuscans, are still only “dreaming of a white Christmas”.

But Lorenza and I have had enough adventures in less than a month here that I think I could write a book about them. Or maybe a series of blog posts – so watch this space!

A New Take on 1 Timothy 2:12

I love the way that blogger Bill Heroman is prepared to think outside the box, and by doing so comes up with interpretations of Bible passages which just may be correct, even though they are quite different from the generally accepted ones. He is not a scholar of biblical languages, but he still manages to come up with exegesis which makes sense. I have previously linked to Bill’s posts here, here, here and here.

Bill has now thrown his hat into the ring on the controversial passage in 1 Timothy 2 which is often understood as banning women from having authority or teaching in the church. In Bill’s two posts (so far – part 1, part 2, and I suspect more to follow) he puts forward a new suggestion, based on the singular nouns “woman” and “man” in verse 12, that what Paul wants to ban here is one-to-one discipling of men on their own by women on their own.

Many churches today very sensibly ban mixed gender one-to-one ministry, because of sexual temptations and the danger of false accusations. Bill suggests that the apostle Paul was imposing just the same ban. He summarises this as

The male/female intimacy of a one-on-one discipling relationship may be all Paul is really afraid of.

In that case it is not clear why he didn’t also ban men teaching women one-to-one – perhaps because there weren’t enough women able to teach other women?

Does this suggestion make sense? It certainly explains the otherwise rather odd singular in this verse. It seems to make sense of the following reference to Eve leading Adam astray, which was in a one-to-one situation. But I’m not sure how the last part of verse 12, “she must be quiet” (TNIV), fits into the picture.

Bill’s suggestion certainly deserves further consideration. So read it on his blog, and comment there.

Off to Italy for Christmas

With this post I have reached a milestone of 800 posts on this blog (the numbers in the URL are not a good guide). And I am marking it by going for Italy tomorrow morning. My beautiful bride and I will spend a month there, in her home town which is near Florence. I look forward to meeting more of her relatives and friends, and enjoying Italian hospitality over Christmas and the New Year.

We are going by car, and ferry across the English Channel. This takes two full days, about 900 miles of driving including crossing the Alps – at least u,nderneath them, through the St Gotthard tunnel in Switzerland. We are glad no snow is forecast for this weekend, and hoping the first weekend in January will also be clear.

We are taking my laptop and expect to have good Internet access. So you may not notice any slowdown in my blogging, from its already very slow rate of the last few months. I wonder if I will ever make it to 1000 posts? We will see.