Wednesday, March 25, 2009

decisions, decisions...

The PhD journey has become more complicated... prayers appreciated. Thanks!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

a quick bit of Christian metal nostalgia...

If you've been following my blog for a while, you've probably noticed that I enjoy a wide variety of music... I used to be a big fan of Christian metal back in the late 80's/early 90's, and one of my favorite bands from that time period was the progressive-thrash band Believer. They were one of the only Christian metal bands who got any respect from the secular music scene, due to their impressive musical skill, and the fact that they didn't spend all their time on stage preaching - they actually played their music!

Well, to my surprise, I found out a while back that they were working on a new CD. It's been 15 long years since their last album, and a long hiatus like that always makes me nervous. A lot can change, band members develop new ideas and musical approaches, and sometimes - well, more often than not - the music loses a lot in the process.

Anyway, the new CD, "Gabriel", came out this week, and I have to say, I'm pleasantly surprised and relieved. While it doesn't capture the full energy or ingenuity of their old sound - which was, to be clear, exceptional for thrash metal - it's still a pretty good album. It's fresh and creative, and aside from a couple tracks that just aren't very good (IMO), it's better than a lot of the metal music coming out these days.

Of course, fans of "nu-metal" or more melodic music will probably hate it, and hardcore "death metal" fans will find it not heavy enough, but for those who still appreciate a technically proficient thrash metal album with a lot of unexpected twists, check out "Gabriel" by Believer. It's good to have you back, guys.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

read this article...

Check it out. Then tell me what impact you think this study might have... I have a couple of theories, but I'm saving them for later! ;-)

here's the actual link if you want/need it for some reason:

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Mooney on "Paradox and the Suspension of Meaning"

"How can wisdom be folly, strength be powerlessness, hope be insanity? These clashing juxtapositions alert us to the possibility that wisdom, strength, hope and love acquire a new level of meaning when used in the elaboration of faith. But what new meaning? And why delivered as paradox?

One possibility is that faithful love and strength meet a higher standard than worldly love and strength -- the love being so unlike worldly self-love that it appears to the uninitiated as neglect or hatred of self; the strength being so unlike worldly self-aggrandizement that it appears to the uninitiated as powerlessness; the hope, so extravagant, that it appears insane.

Put another way, the concepts of faith apply to a dimension of thought and experience other than, or perhaps richer than, the strictly conventional, worldly, or ordinary. It follows that expanding the meaning of a concept like love from a familiar to a not-just-worldly context will be achieved only at the price of some apparent distortion.

Paradox expands the conceptual and moral space we ordinarily reserve for a term, say love, by stretching that space to include what seems to be its opposite..."

(from Edward Mooney's "Knights of Faith and Resignation")

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

new survey on religion in America...

This is sad at a very real level, and yet not particularly surprising at another.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

tentative thoughts on transcendence and theology...

The mystery of theism is a development within the essence of each person; a development which - guided by God, I believe - is both evolutionarily and spiritually beneficial. This development cannot be traced through empirical or rational inquiry; in fact, it is beyond the capacity of the human species to effectively trace even the contours of the search for that which lies beyond the phenomenal world. We can only respond to the desire for the divine, and speculate on the source of that desire.

Many theories may be posited to explain the search, but in the end it is simply a desire - a desire for transcendence that cannot be systematized or rationalized - one that is not only within every person but also beyond every person. It is both a human and a conscious trait, and humans are the only beings (as far as we know) who are aware of this conscious trait within themselves.

Everyone desires transcendence, whether they recognize it or not. Even the most committed materialist cannot escape the desire for transcendence. It is within every attempt to move beyond our limitations, within each surge of imagination, underneath every action that we claim is "new" or "progressive."

It is certainly not proper to call Christianity a fundamental philosophical notion. First, one must hold to theism, or Christianity becomes an exercise in folly. But, if theism is tenable in any fashion, then Christianity becomes a vaible form of theism for consideration.

In spite of the culturally relative aspect of religious development, one must decide to commit to a particular religious (or non-religious) faith at some point in one's life, if only because there is no way to avoid some commitment, given the freedom of will inherent within each person.

Of course, there is another side to this: God is drawing all those who will turn to God, and Christians believe that this is done through the person and work of Jesus Christ, who is God incarnate. However, this is the language of faith, the language of the committed, and as such, even if the work of God in Christ does precede all else, we can only speak of it subsequently to our religious development, therefore we can only view it as second - not secondary! - to the desire for transcendence.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Zizek on the liberal academic world...

This made me chuckle...

"In 1994, when a new wave of emigration to the United States was in the making, Fidel Castro warned the USA that if they did not stop encouraging Cubans to emigrate, Cuba would no longer prevent them from doing so -- and the Cuban authorities actually carried out this threat a couple of days later, embarrassing the United States with thousands of unwanted newcomers...

[W]ould not the same gesture also throw our radical academics into a panic? Here the old '68 motto "Soyons realistes, demandons l'impossible!" acquires a new cynical-sinister meaning which, perhaps, reveals its truth: "Let's be realistic: we, the academic Left, want to appear critical, while fully enjoying the privileges the system offers us. So let's bombard the system with impossible demands: we all know that such demands won't be met, so we can be sure that nothing will actually change, and we'll maintain our privileged status quo!"

If you accuse a big corporation of particular financial crimes, you expose yourself to risks that can go even as far as murder attempts; if you ask that same corporation to finance a research project on the link between global capitalism and the emergence of hybrid postcolonial identities, you stand a good chance of getting hundreds of thousands of dollars."

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Just found out...

I have been accepted to Claremont Graduate University for their PhD program in Theology! For those of you playing along at home, that's one yes, one no, and three to go! :-) Yeah!