Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner...yeah right.

Here's Father Matthew, he's very good about expressing orthodox Christianity in simple direct ways.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Book Review: Fight Club

I finished Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk last week. talk about a break from seminary! This book, reportedly written on post-it notes, is fast, disjointed, and frenetic. Fight Club is a damning indictment of modern masculinity, i.e. neutered, materialistic, and tame. There is alot wrong with the thinking of this book, but the reader is left with the feeling he has just had a conversation with a slightly crazed prophet. I think of Fight Club as a parable of the modern (Gen X) man. A generation of males raised, for the most part, without fathers in a post-feminist society. Now, you can see how much is wrong with that statement right there, not every one lost their father and it was the feminist movement in many ways opened the doors for fathers to claim their caring role.

There is a recurring theme of abandonment also, the author is well aware of this issue and says so explicitly. Palahniuk makes the point that our fathers=God, "if our fathers abandoned us, what does that mean about God, in fact God may not even like us, which is better than being ignored! We are God's misbehaving children, getting attention for being bad." Well, I could really lay into that quote, but for now let is suffice that we need to hold on to our images of God, but lightly. Hold onto them, because we are image animals, that's how we think. Hold those images lightly, because we are also rational animals: It just makes sense that God is beyond our reasonings (see St. Paul for more on this).

The crux of the book lies in the wonderful twist that sets all the wild adventures and opinions in stark relief whereby one is forced to at least reconsider all that was said and done. The book is brutal, quick, and inspiring at times (made me want to get off my duff and get something done). Here is a scence from the movie, which is almost word for word, from the book. This is a very representative scene: violent, vulgar (F-bomb), gritty (in tone with the book, and scene framing and focus with the movie), and a call to action.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

From my learning journal for Ethics

Reflection and learnings on "The Passing of the Picture People."

This article is about the idea that there sre two ways of seeing the world. 1. The world is a picture. Something static that is to be interpreted and mastered. I think Alan Watts would call this picture, the artifact view of the world. 2. The second view is the drama view. This view sees the world as an unfolding drama, whereby the viewer actually identifies with the drama and participates, as opposed to the picture, where the view is a bystander. "A picture...represents persons and events witha finished image a story, a drama, everything is developmental." (Nogan, 16). The picture view seems to be a contribution of the Enlightenment, the rational understanding of things, the (absurd) idea of cold objectivity. The drama view is...a human one. "Stories," said Anthony DeMello, "are the shortest route to the truth."
I take issue that these views are people, like the title suggests. Are people their views? Maybe. I think, rather, that we ossilate between the two views incessantly. That said, I want to be a drama person, and I think I am but I notice that I always fall back to the picture mindset. I especially fall back to the picture in times of stress or worse yet in response to statements from a picture person. This happened to me very recently when a scientist friend of mine was grilling me on the historicity of Jesus, I couldn't help but adopt his mindset that framed the question (picture reference), and ended up sounding like a fundamentalist apologist! I am not a fundamentalist apologist! Even while i was answering him I realised that I was chaffing against my own answer, it didn't get to the nuance, the drama that I wanted.
My real question is: how can we more readily default to the drama view? I've noticed in the faculty at Sewanee, they tend to quickly broaden the question asked from the picture to the drama.
I listened to an interview recently with John Haught, a evolutionary science scholar. Being the 200 year anniversary of Darwin, this is fitting: he talked about the difference in picture and drama people in terms of the evolution debate. The creationists tend to see things as a picture, especially nature and scripture. In fact by definition these literalists are picture people. The evolutionists tend to be drama people, the world unfolding as a drama. And what does a drama need: conflict (adaptation), accident (natural selection), and time (lots and lots). Evolution is a drama, and I think that God is a drama too, maybe a dramatist, but certainly a drama.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Usually Christians mark a Saint's day with thier death day, well today is Dietrich Bonhoeffer's birthday. learn about him here and here. I think that Bonhoeffer's writing has the feeling of Paul's: a guy trying to figure this Christ thing out, while on the run. Practical and urgent Christianity with a deep deep conviction that most of us will never have to think about. It's what makes Bonhoeffer more compelling to read than Barth, Luther over Calvin. There is real life in the writing and it has authority, what can be more real than writing about moral theology while just finishing a being interogated by Nazi's? Bonhoeffer's witness makes me very impatient to get out of the classroom and get with people!

Sunday, February 1, 2009


We've been studying the prophets. These were not guys you would have liked to meet. For me, a prophet was/is against the grain. According to Heschel, one of our sources on the prophets, prophets share in God's pathos, in God's response to human activity. So I've been thinking about modern prophets. Here's Manu Chao, a Spanish artist who I've followed for years:

I wonder if this guy was prophet, warning: F-Bomb and other choices phrases