Sunday, August 31, 2008

Caputo on Jesus' crucifixion and theo-politics...

Although I have a few reservations about the following statement from a theological perspective, I think that the challenge posed is nevertheless quite important... curious to hear others' thoughts on this:

"The crucified body of Jesus proposes not that we keep theology out of politics, but that we think theology otherwise, by way of another paradigm, another theology, requiring us to think of God otherwise, as a power of powerlessness, as opposed to the theology of omnipotence that underlines sovereignty. The call that issues from the crucified body of Jesus solicits our response, for it is we who have mountains to move by our faith and we who have enemies to move by our love. It is we who have to make the weakness of God stronger than the power of the world."

(John D. Caputo, from "What Would Jesus Deconstruct?")

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

dumb and dumber...

In case you weren't fed up by all the stupidity in the American political system, here's a video clip to depress you even more... Chris Matthews interviewing some women who are "Clintons 4 McCain"... uhm... right. What's really sad is that this is not an isolated incident - I've actually had conversations with people like this before. I really worry sometimes that, no matter who is in the White House, our country is going to go down the tubes simply because of the ever increasing level of stupidity among the American public...

a new CD I'm really enjoying...

If you enjoy "alternative" (what a generic term that has become...) music that centers around the female vocalist/composer, then you owe it to yourself to check out the new release from My Brightest Diamond, called "A Thousand Shark's Teeth." Shara Worden, who is classically-trained, and records on Sufjan Stevens' Asthmatic Kitty label, has recorded some of the most beautiful, creative, and enjoyable songs I've heard this year. Sure, at times the compositions are a bit reminiscent of Bjork (which, IMO, isn't a bad thing!), but they remain unique and memorable enough to avoid any accusations of too overtly wearing their influences on their collective sleeve. Instead, fans of the aforementioned Icelandic pixie, Portishead, Delerium, Lisa Gerrard, and Denali will find this album to be a veritable wealth of lovely cascading melodies and softly drifting tones that evoke a wide range of emotions ultimately leaving the listener feeling peaceful, content, and ready for another listen.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Kevin Hart on prayer...

"To pray proves nothing about God's existence, yet the act presumes that one is attending to God... perhaps because a limit has been reached and all other possibilities have vanished or corroded. No one inaugurates a relationship with God: prayer is always a response, even though it can feel like a response to silence. This is important, for no one can petition a hypothesis or possibility. Some people posit God as absolutely real in the act of prayer. For most others, I suspect, prayer is accompanied by a hope that the very act makes sense, and that hope is itself an unspoken prayer."

Friday, August 15, 2008

Wow... (shakes head in disbelief)

Just saw a new commercial for the Discover Card... announcer says:

"We are a nation of consumers... and there's nothing wrong with that. There's so much cool stuff out there to buy..."

Ummm... I guess I really have to hand it to the writer(s) of the commercial -- they have definitely gotten past all the fluff and right to the point. But a part of me just feels really lousy... Want the truth about our culture? There it is. Great. And we've all been sucked in. Ugh.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

A discussion on the "Self" and gay marriage...

In case any of you are interested, I have interacted briefly with a discussion on The Other Journal over the last couple days. One of their bloggers has written an interesting post on the positive nature of gay relationships, and I've responded a couple times. I've enjoyed the discussion so far, perhaps you may as well. That is all.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Peperzak on modern philosophy...

"...the philosophy that still dominates our institutions and manners... combines the following convictions:

1. Reason, as interpreted in the modern logic and methodology of rationality, is the supreme and and sovereign judge of reflective speech or writing.

2. Reason needs experience.

3. The experience that counts in the search for truth is a kind of experience that is, or can be had, by all people who have the normal use of the human senses... Paradigmatic for this kind of experience are indubitable sensations and scientific observation.

One basic element of the concrete quest for truth is emphatically silenced in these principles: the element I have called faith or trust. Modern philosophy ignores the decisive role of its own faith in reason, in science, and in certain criteria for evidence and trustworthy experience...

...modern philosophy does not show much interest in the religious, moral, and aesthetic spirituality from which a well- or badly-oriented, enthusiastic, moody, lazy, overheated, deathly boring, or hopeful thinking emerges... such a neglect has dramatic consequences for the course of a human life. If the practice of philosophy is a way of life, it cannot ignore the sources from which it in fact draws its energy, its desires and hopes and interests, its perseverance in the search, and so on.

...some schools continue to believe that we should restrict ourselves to indubitable impressions. They prefer not to consider the conditions of those more interesting experiences without which it is impossible to talk about genuine beauty, moral virtues, authenticity, love, phenomenality, and being."

Adriaan Peperzak - The Quest For Meaning

Saturday, August 2, 2008

random thoughts on faith...

The one who steps out in faith must, in essence, be willing to forsake everything, including his or her very self, for the sake of the "True Other" in whom the faith is placed. Such willing is, in the final analysis, not possible for the one stepping out; the True Other - which is often called the "object" of the faith - must ultimately make it possible. So, faith is not truly and fully faith unless it is placed in a True Other that can and will bring about its own actuality within the life of the faithful. But what of the delusional person, who is convinced that they have found some True Other, but in fact believes in a falsehood - am I suggesting that they do not have faith? Precisely.

But, what then? How are we to judge genuine faith, when a delusion may apparently lead someone to forsake everything just as surely as the True Other of genuine faith? It is important to remember that there is no reason to assume that a delusional person has forsaken anything of value to them. In fact, for the delusional, it may very well be that the idea of forsaking is the very thing that provides the means by which the delusion of faith is sustained. In other words, the delusional only forsakes something in order to gain something greater; that is, the reinforcement of the delusion.

Unfortunately, this description also seems to apply to many who claim to be true believers. How are we to tell the difference between "false" and "true" faith? There is indeed no way to rationally or empirically verify faith, but neither is there any way to disprove faith. This obviously cuts both ways, for although faith is a personal step which may lead to a True Other, it may also be a step into nothingness or folly. Absurdity... that is Kierkegaard's term. And certainly any action that seems to offer no distinction between Truth and delusion seems quite absurd. But this is the risk of faith. The true person of faith does not forsake in order to gain; the true person of faith forsakes simply for the sake of the True Other. And that risk is very great indeed.

So when a person attempts to be faithful, they must be willing to bear the consequences, to "face the music," so to speak. In seeking to be faithful, one is opened not only to the possibility of ridicule, but also abandonment, forsaking, and the loss of everything - including his or her very self - not in the hope that they will get everything back, or have something better (like "eternal life with Jesus"), but simply because it is proper as an act of faith. If a person makes a decision in faith, that decision will always involve a forsaking. In fact, anyone who claims to be acting in faith but attempts to, at the same time, hold onto their own safety, or freedom, or rights, is not acting in faith at all.

Religious persons who claim to be acting in faith, but are also pursuing some sort of self-serving agenda, are not being faithful. Their faith is betrayed by their own agenda of self-protection... true faith has no self-protective agenda, nor does it attempt to “protect” God, who needs no protection. The mere fact that believers often feel the need to defend their faith, not against real spiritual attacks (by responding in a manner appropriate to faith), but against the banal hatred and slander of the unbeliever, or, even worse, genuine criticism, reveals the lack of faith among those who claim to be faithful.

Indeed, we are, each of us, a mixture of faith and faithlessness. To the extent we, as Christians, have abandoned our agendas for the sake of the Truth of Christ, we are faithful. To the extent that we still hold onto our own agendas, we are faithless. And our faithlessness can only be healed by God... and believing this is an act of faith as well.