Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Seek Wisdom - A Parable

A week ago, I was debating with my (non-christian) friend as to whether or not we should say the Pledge of Allegiance. I invoked the poet Wendell Berry's line, that we should "love the flag and hate the government," as evidence that it might be good to pledge allegiance to the flag. Nick asked what Wendell Berry had to do with any of it and why should we listen to him? I said we should listen to him because he is wise. Nick remained unconvinced.

It later occurred to me that "wisdom" might not be something universally meaningful or valued among all people everywhere at all times. There's something intrinsically "Christian" about wisdom that escapes the mind of the run-of-the-mill modern secularist and it's as if it's not naturally an ethical/epistemological category - and perhaps its not.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Zizek and Christian Atheism

Via fb: Alastair, linking to this article, comments helpfully (as usual) on why Zizek is interesting:
For some minds the appeal of Zizek's brand of atheism to theologians lies in the fact that it flatters them that their work has a broader significance than is generally acknowledged and that even atheism must adopt a sort of theological approach. To my mind, much of the appeal lies in the fact that, no matter how mistaken he might be on many points in his reading, Zizek recognizes something of the particularity of the Christian faith, most particularly the strong atheistic moment that exists within the Christian faith itself.

It is no accident that the first Christians were widely regarded as 'atheists'. Christianity involved an uncovering and overturning of the foundation of the ancient world and an exposing and a ridiculing of the pantheon. Christians know, probably better than any, what the critique of religion ought to look like. Christians have been subverting the idea of the divine for two millennia. We are radicals who want to drive this subversion of the idea of divine down to the very roots of society, our understanding of the world and our humanity.

This is why, despite my significant disagreements with them, I feel a distinct affinity to the projects of thinkers like Feuerbach, Nietzsche and Zizek, and their forms of atheism. They retain the radical atheism of Christianity, and seek to expose the myth of the divine completely, to think without flinching of the radical consequences of being human in a world in which the gods do not exist.

This is also why I lack respect for the work of the 'New Atheists'. Theirs is a lazy and conservative atheistic dogmatism, unprepared to drive their critique of the myth of the divine through into a more searching and troubling uncovering of the roots of society and humanity itself. They are unwilling to examine the degree to which the Christian legacy infects the entire Western project, our concepts of the world, culture, society and humanity.

The sort of atheism that Christians have historically been committed to is one that is deeply discomforting and unsettling, and one that leaves the thinker himself deeply exposed and vulnerable. I have a genuine respect for any atheists who have the courage to continue in the tradition of thought. [source]

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Additional Miscellany

Wikipedia, while noting the southern vibe, also describes ETID as "mathcore" - which I get - which brings us back to wonder how they could escape anyone's interest.

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The "Evidence and Bedazzlement" chapter here is good times.

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A friend and I are planning on biking down to St. Augustine some time this Summer.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Evening

Been listening to a lot of Every Time I Die lately. Truly one of the most interesting bands in hardcore, IMHO - not to mention one of the last truly hardcore bands out there. If I had to sum them up I'd go with "lyrically-driven nihil-rock with southern tendencies." It wouldn't be insane for some Wheaton-esque type to put to writing a thematic analysis of the band's discography. How anyone could be disinterested in the pervasive biblical-religious allusions enmeshed in sarcasm, vulgarity, and unabashed paganism is beyond me.

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P.S. I graduated a couple weeks ago. I've finally achieved two whole degrees outside my field of work, recently receiving a Master of Arts in Theological Studies. A two-year degree in four-years - can't complain.

Seriously, though, I went to a weird Reformed seminary, and I'm thankful for every bit of it. Never did I expect to be somewhere where classes occasionally begun with devotionals from Meredith Kline and Karl Barth, with as much N.T. Wright favorably blockquoted as Ridderbos and Calvin and Turretin and Witsius. Even James Jordan and Peter Leithart would get an occasional shoutout from time to time. Other pleasant surprises entailed a paedocommunionist professor or two, and a nearly unanimous support for weekly communion among the professors I studied under. Being in seminary also changes your perspective a little bit on the controversies that have plagued theological blogdom for the past 8 years or so, professors and even students having a much more tempered understanding of topics such as the Federal Vision and the NPP than the children that run amuck in the trite little worlds of internet polemics. There's not the same sort of tendencies toward faction among the grown-ups there.

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Reading the Civitate kicked my butt. I'm still recovering from the two-week cram before graduation. It made me hate reading a little bit.

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I've only got one week of teaching left for the year and then starts summer vacation - for most people. What with Cathleen having started her residency a few weeks ago, we're now paying for her to spend three months working for free. To compensate for the lack of summer income, I'm going to be working for a couple months at a day camp for some younger children. So we'll see just how relaxing my "break" is.

It's been a crazy year, career-wise. I've taken on a ton more responsibility and I've learned a lot. Also, I've been working for the district a bit the past month or so, helping put together the new curriculum for 7th grade next year.

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Finally, I've been thinking frequently about the utter vulnerability of our planet, and all us inhabitants on said Earth. There are giant rocks and galaxies flying through our universe, any one of which could render us annihilated at any second. And with that I bid you, good night...