Obituary of Wallace Ruben Miller

Some time ago I took the DNA analysis test offered by Ancestry.com. It didn’t yield too much in the way of surprises, but it did give me a new found respect for people who record and document vital records. For example, I enjoyed seeing immigration documents for my most famous relative, Fernando Botero.

So, when a cousin of mine shared this document with me, I was very thankful. I thought I might share it here, so that anyone related to Mr. Wallace Ruben Miller of Culbertson, Montana—my great-grandfather—might be able to access this obituary. His son, my grandfather, Duane Wallace Miller, is noted here, as is my great-grandmother, Gudrun Nelson.

20160701_193043

Of Knights Templar, Venice, Constantinople, and Crusades

Some time ago I was approached about writing some entries for the newly released War and Religion: an encyclopedia of faith and conflict (ABC-CLIO, 2017). And I’m glad to share that it has now been published in three volumes.

My own humble contributions were (in alphabetical order) on the Fourth Crusade, the Knights Templar, the Sixth Crusade, and the Venetian Crusade. That last one was quite successful and does not get the attention it deserves, in my opinion.

Feel free to sample my own entries above and please do consider asking your institution’s library to acquire this valuable resource.

wp-1491440873740.jpg

A tidy list of all my publications…

A while back I realized I really didn’t know how much I had published or where. So I decided to keep a file with that information. And even then, I miss out on stuff from time to time.

I was just updating it tonight and thought I should share it on academia.edu. So I did that (here). But then I thought, why not post it at my blog too. So if you want to download the PDF with all my publications ever, here it is: 2017 03 Miller Publications.

Review of ‘A Canticle for Liebowitz’

A Canticle for LiebowitzA Canticle for Liebowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am continuing with my trek through all the end-of-the-world type books I can find. And this is one of the most famous.

There is not a single main character throughout the whole book. Rather, it follows the history of a Roman Catholic monastic order (think monks living together for worship and scholarship). The order was founded by an engineer turned monk after a great nuclear cataclysm that killed most of humanity. Learning and books had become despised and dangerous, so Saint Leibowitz founded his community to gather and safeguard the few books that had not been destroyed after the cataclysm. His hope was that once humanity had recovered from its state of barbarity the preserved books would then be of use again.

One might compare it to Asimov’s Foundation, except that here the community is explicitly religious and it is formed after civilization has been eradicated. It is a pleasure to see how, with many twists and turns, the vision of St Leibowitz comes to fruition–sort of.

Strengths: there is a lot of philosophy and ethical reasoning in the book. I like philosophy. I like religion. I find both topics interesting, so I enjoyed the fact that the author focused on these topics more deeply than other books in the sub-genre, like The Dog Stars or Earth Abides.

Note to readers: If you know anything about Roman Catholicism before the second Vatican Council (1962-5) it will help. The form of Roman Catholicism envisioned by Walter M. Miller Jr. was very clearly the continuation of the Church before the major changes introduced at Vatican II.

As noted, the overarching narrative continues for centuries in the book. I found it satisfying and surprising. My main complaint is that I didn’t realize we’d be jumping centuries down the road every now and then. But once I got used to it, it was fine. Some of the secondary characters felt a little flat to me.

View all my reviews

The Quest for Truth: A Sermon on John 9

wp-1490568857548.jpg
Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Port Isabel, Texas

I don’t often post sermons here, as I don’t preach sermons very often. But this morning I had the pleasure of preaching at St Andrew’s in the beautiful little city of Port Isabel.

Thought I would share the sermon, and here it is.

This sermon is for the Fourth Sunday of Lent (year cycle A), and the passages are 1 Samuel 16:1–13 and John 9:1–41. Those are the passages for Samuel finding and anointing David and Jesus healing the man born blind.

New book alert: Identity Crisis

The folks of the Lausanne Movement recently have let us know about what appears to be a valuable, new book: Identity Crisis: Religious Registration in the Middle East (Gilead Books, 2016) by Jonathan Andrews (likely a pseudonym, I’m guessing).

The books addresses an important issue I noted on multiple occasions in Living among the Breakage, especially in my chapter on liberation theology in the texts of ex-Muslim Christians (Chapter 5).

I have not yet read the book, but I did read the Lausanne synopsis which looks promising. Here is a section from that synopsis:

It is often claimed that Islam is a religion of peace. What is meant by ‘peace’? Armed conflict can be stopped by one party surrendering unconditionally to the other. This brings ‘peace’ in the sense of an end to conflict, although the victors are able to impose whatever conditions they choose on the vanquished. It does not guarantee peace in the sense of stable, harmonious, and respectful community relations.

In Egypt, inter-communal strife is often followed by a ‘reconciliation meeting’. In situations involving Christians and Muslims, what typically happens is that Muslims seek draconian terms that marginalise and disadvantage the Christians, irrespective of the rights and wrongs of the situation. In such cases, criminal behaviour is overlooked, even exonerated. Religious registration is at the root of such practices, creating a context in which those who think of themselves as the majority feel that they are entitled to exploit others. The system undermines the rule of law.

This is indeed accurate and happens not only in Egypt but also in Israel-Palestine, and probably elsewhere too. The difficulty is that the system of organizing Muslims under Muslim rule into dhimmis is as old as Islam itself.

Anyway, I’m always happy to hear about new research about the challenges facing ex-Muslim Christians and the issue of religious registration is one of the main ones.

Read the whole Lausanne synopsis HERE.