Thursday, July 3, 2014

Kierkegaard on God's omnipotence...

"Only omnipotence can withdraw itself at the same time it gives itself away, and this relationship is the very independence of the receiver. God's omnipotence is therefore his goodness. For goodness is to give away completely, but in such a way that by omnipotently taking oneself back one makes the recipient independent.

All finite power makes [a being] dependent; only omnipotence can make [a being] independent, can form from nothing something that has its continuity in itself through the continuous withdrawing of omnipotence. Omnipotence is not ensconced in a relationship to another, for there is no other to which it is comparable--no, it can give without giving up the least of its power, that is, it can make [a being] independent. It is incomprehensible that omnipotence is able not only to create the most impressive of all things--the whole visible world--but is able to create the most frail of all things--a being independent of that very omnipotence.

Omnipotence, which can handle the world so toughly and with such a heavy hand, can also make itself so light that what it has brought into existence receives independence. Only a wretched and worldly conception of the dialectic of power holds that it is greater and greater in proportion to its ability to compel and to make dependent. No, Socrates had a sounder understanding; he knew that the art of power lies precisely in making another free. But in the relationship between individuals this can never be done, even though it needs to be emphasized again and again that this is the highest; only omnipotence can truly succeed in this.

Therefore if a human being had the slightest independent existence over against God (with regard to materia), then God could not make him free. Creation out of nothing is once again the Omnipotent One's expression for being able to make [a being] independent. He to whom I owe absolutely everything, although he still absolutely controls everything, has in fact made me independent. If in creating man God himself lost a little of his power, then precisely what he could not do would be to make a human being independent."

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Disturbing new study...

Something to be aware of, and perhaps some of you might want to get involved with trying to fix this:

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Great quote from Marilynne Robinson...

Taken from:

"Well, what is a Christian, after all? Can we say that most of us are defined by the belief that Jesus Christ made the most gracious gift of his life and death for our redemption? Then what does he deserve from us? He said we are to love our enemies, to turn the other cheek. Granted, these are difficult teachings. But does our most gracious Lord deserve to have his name associated with concealed weapons and stand-your-ground laws, things that fly in the face of his teaching and example? Does he say anywhere that we exist primarily to drive an economy and flourish in it? He says precisely the opposite. Surely we all know this. I suspect that the association of Christianity with positions that would not survive a glance at the Gospels or the Epistles is opportunistic, and that if the actual Christians raised these questions those whose real commitments are to money and hostility and potential violence would drop the pretense and walk away."

Convicting and profound words, in my opinion.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Bit More Clarity on Hegel (Courtesy of Stephen Houlgate)...

(quotes taken from Houlgate's Book, 'An Introduction to Hegel')

Hegel thinks that thought and reality are going to grow together in ever increasing clarity. Houlgate notes that some might think this to be presumptuous: "How can thought be certain that it is able to bridge the gap between itself and being and disclose the true nature of what there is?" (p. 45)  But, he continues, for Hegel this is a bad question, because it assumes that there is a gap between thought and being in the first place, and not, instead, that the gap is between thought and itself — in other words, the problem is not that thought and being are separate, but rather that thought has not, in its incomplete stages, understood the unity between itself and being.

But does this not amount to the same thing said in a different way? Not necessarily. In the first instance, what is and what we think about that reality are disconnected from each other by a structural deficiency that is ultimately unbridgeable by either reality or thought. In the second (Hegelian) instance, reality and thought are primordially and ontologically connected — indeed, united — but there is a disconnect within thought itself which does not allow thought to recognize this unity, since it has been too quick to assume that the categories by which thought functions (i.e., our logical principles) must be the absolutely correct way of understanding the world, which leads to the resulting blindness that is incorrectly perceived as a disconnect between thought and that world.

But, likewise, this means that if Hegel is going to be consistent, he will not — and indeed Houlgate thinks he does not — make any absolute claim about the fundamental unity of thought and reality at the start of his logic either. For to do so would be to start with an unnecessary presupposition that cannot be justified. Thus, because "we can presuppose no conceivable distinction between thought and being at the beginning of the Logic, the categories set out in the Logic must be ontological. At the same time they cannot provide a description of any Absolute, reality or being that is presupposed as the distinct, given object of philosophical enquiry." (p. 45)

What, then, do we make of Hegel's statements that the end of the system is the beginning, and vice versa? Are we simply to take Hegel at his word that the discovery of 'Absolute Being' is something that he did not conceive of prior to reaching the end of his system, and that it is merely coincidental that the fact of Absolute Being as the end of the system means that such unity and conceptual truth is also the beginning of the system? It seems too convenient... at least that's my impression.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Struggle With God...

“Surely God as the Wholly Other cannot be grasped, and especially not in the scandalous tangibility of such a struggle, unless God has become incarnated in the divine giving of Godself to be struggled with. While the threat of annihilation is not reciprocal, one sees a God who, by taking in some enigmatic way the form of a man, actually partakes to a degree in this human mutuality. The possibility of the struggle relies, not upon the sublimation of flesh into spirit, but upon God allowing Godself to be struggled with—indeed, God's giving of Godself in the struggle.”

Simon Podmore (in "Kierkegaard and the Self Before God")

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The mystery of selfhood...

"The closer you come to the other one's mystery, and the more the other one reveals of that mystery, the more clearly you come to see that there are even vaster regions and depths of the other's interior being which remain unknown and in large measure unknowable. You come to realize that just as there are great stretches of your own interior being which you have never shared with anyone, much of which you could not find the medium for sharing even if you wanted to, just so it is true of every other human being."

- Arnold B. Come

Friday, May 31, 2013

Wells on re-thinking 'service'...

Haven't had much motivation to post lately, mainly because I don't feel like I have much of interest to say.  So, I'll post a link to a very interesting essay by Samuel Wells:

Although I think Wells may be creating a false dichotomy between mortality and isolation in some sense, I do think that this is a challenging essay and worth reading, as it describes what is probably one of the most important issues of our time that Christians must consider; that is, what it really means to love others (and God).  Is love primarily about solving problems, or is it primarily about being present with others?  And if the answer is the latter, then what might that mean for the way we ought to conceive of God?

I do think eternity matters; indeed, it is necessary if our faith is to avoid being reduced to Feuerbachian or Freudian caricatures.  Extreme immanentist versions of Christianity are ultimately hopeless.  But eternity only really matters if love is present.  Otherwise, as the author points out, eternity would be hell.  And love involves a kind of presence-with-others that, at least speaking for myself, is something still very difficult to put into practice.  My hope is that I will, with God's grace, continue to become a person who loves others the way God loves us all.