At the suggestion of ‘The Man Who Was…’, a frequent commenter in these parts, I am going to start a new series of posts. Every couple of weeks, I will publish a post like this, without a specific topic. The comments of this post will be thrown open to you, the readers of this blog, to:
- Discuss things that you have been reading/listening to/watching recently
- Share interesting links
- Ask questions
- Put forward a position for more general discussion
- Tell us about yourself and your interests
- Publicize your blog, book, conference, etc.
- Draw our intention to worthy thinkers, charities, ministries, books, and events
- Post reviews
- Suggest topics for future posts
- Use as a bulletin board
It is up to you to make of these posts what you want. If they catch on, they will be an ongoing fixture here. Over to you!
I’m starting to read Ralph Waldo Emmerson’s English Traits. Since he distinguishes the Saxon from the Celtic, i’m going in with the thesis that this will factor into discussion of ‘white trash’ in the USA.
the video here http://www.theatlantic.com/personal/archive/2014/04/the-blue-period-an-origin-story/359968/ is what interested me in the Emmerson essay
Why have people blocked me for asking skeptical questions about their interests?
Position to discuss: 7 day creationism has been a gift to the conservative church because it refutes polygenesis and all the awful racism of that idea. As it wanes, and as other data on what is colloquially called “human biodiversity” becomes disemeinated, the church should think of a response. So far, biologos has not.
I’m a 45 year old husband and father. I’m interested in SF literature and figuring out how to put my kids into college, and wondering if social class relates to ‘christian vocation’. I play too much Star Wars the Old Republic. Stupid MMO. I’m interested in the topic of white privilege, and think its a useful heuristic but am bothered by how many times its used as a critical weapon.
My blog. Sigh. I have one (its on wordpress, so should be linked below) but I used to have way more fun before everything moved to facebook and then got too busy.
“Draw our intention to worthy thinkers, charities, ministries, books, and events” heh.
I have no suggestions for future posts.
Nothing Star Wars is stupid.
Except some parts of KOTOR
I will presume that, in making this statement, you have mentally encased the prequels in carbonite and fed them to the sarlacc.
Yes, except for Episode One – I very much enjoyed that one. I’m aware that, as of now, I’m the only person in the known universe who thinks that was a great movie.
Great stuff, p duggie. Thanks for the comment!
Join the club in the blocking experience. I’ve had that on a few occasions now. Where have you experienced it lately?
Regarding your discussion suggestion, what do you mean by ‘polygenesis’? Who is advocating for multiple origins? Are you thinking more in terms of the way that human biodiversity is mapped onto evolutionary lineages that diverge at various moments, with the implied suggestion that some of these lineages might be less ‘advanced’?
I have wondered for years how childbearing relates to marriage from a Christian perspective. (The answer isn’t as obvious as it seems.) Let me flesh that out a bit.
St. Paul tells us that marriage speaks of Christ and the Church. But the marriage of Christ and the Church doesn’t happen till Revelation 19. How can childbearing speak of that marriage, a marriage that happens at the consummation of all things? Will the Church bear children to Christ, in the Eschaton? That option doesn’t seem to make sense, but if not, I have trouble seeing how childbearing fits into the typology of marriage.
Fascinating question. It is important to start out with a warning not to try to rationalize or harmonize all imagery in the Bible. Such imagery usually relates to a particular facet of the reality that it describes and is not a comprehensive and coherent representation of that reality in our terms. That said, however, such imagery is coherent and can be harmonized as far as it goes and it usually goes much further than we choose to explore it. Let’s lay out a few more of the puzzle pieces:
1. God relates to his people both as Father and as Husband, a truth upon which more light is shed by the mystery of the Trinity. Further apparent contradictions should also recognize the way that the Trinity produces such things.
2. Similarly, Israel can be described as Bride, as Daughter, and as a Mother (to be).
3. In Scripture, there is a relationship between a sort of ‘adoptive’ familial status and marital status. Consequently, the bride or wife can be described as a ‘sister’ of her husband. Also, under certain circumstances, the bride can be spoken of as an adoptive or fictive ‘daughter’ (see the way that Boaz consistently addresses Ruth as ‘daughter’ in Ruth 3 in keeping with the generational gap between them, and Ezekiel 16, where God provides for the abandoned infant Israel until she reaches marriageable age, whereupon he marries her). Perhaps this is one reason why father-daughter relations are the one sexual relation that is not ruled out in Leviticus 18 and 20, even though we would expect it to be.
4. There are a number of different types of birth at play here. For instance, there is the ‘birth’ of creation, in which sense we are all God’s children. There is our birth as the children of Adam. There is the virgin birth of Christ. There is the resurrection, Christ’s birth from the dead. We should expect things to look a little weird.
5. Baptism is associated with new birth, which is founded upon the regeneration of Christ through the birth pangs of his death and his opening of the womb of the tomb in his resurrection.
6. The general resurrection might be seen as a birth event (although it might be ‘adoption’ into Christ’s birth event), simultaneous or following after the marriage supper of the Lamb (depending upon our reading of the timing of eschatological events—some might date the marriage supper to AD70, for instance).
7. Christ is the Bridegroom, but he is also the Son, and the one born to Israel (cf. Revelation 12). This suggests that we might be dealing with two ‘generations’ here.
8. Despite the theme of new birth, the NT repeatedly speaks about adoption and sharing in Christ’s filial status.
9. Galatians speaks about the singular character of the ‘seed’, relating it to Christ.
10. The seed is the ‘Seed of the Woman’, not of the man and woman in common. Is this because the ‘husband’, Adam, is dead?
11. It seems to me that close reflection upon the law of the Levirate is absolutely key in unlocking a number of these puzzles.
I have my theories, but I will leave it to others to puzzle out the relationship between these things.
Enter your comment here…I’m about to finish Kaczor’s The Ethics of Abortion, probably one of the definitive philsophical defenses of the pro-life position. I have been thinking a lot about this because of my disability and ethics class, in which we have done some readings that have (badly) attempted to set up a liberal disability ethic which is consistent with abortion choice. I think this task is simply impossible and will lead inevitably to tensions within its own account of morality and personhood, so it’s nice to have a thorough (if predictable) piece of literature that handles most of the regular arguments.
Also, Doug Wilson made a fascinating case for the sons of God as angels in Genesis 6. I’m about to read James Jordan’s counter-reply, which should be good fun.
Finally, I’m planning on tackling either Beale’s A New Testament Biblical Theology or Paul and the Faithfulness of God sometime soon, if I can manage to resist the temptation to just re-read the entirety of the Dresden Files before book 15 comes out
I’ve read the various pieces that have been floating around on Genesis 6. I align more with Doug Wilson’s than with any of the others. I discussed this with p duggie and others on Twitter yesterday (p duggie can give you a good account of the alternative perspective).
The Beale and Wright books are both superb. Enjoy!
I’m a 30-year-old manager of software and design teams at a company in Kansas City. Recently engaged to be married. Attendee of an ACTS29 (read: Reformed-ish Baptist) church here. I love to read, and am currently in the middle of Alister McGrath’s Introduction to Christian Theology, a collection of Chekhov’s short stories, Book 6 of Harry Potter, and The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman. I’m a longtime reader of this blog, and always appreciate the clarity of thought and precision of articulation.
A few shotgun-blast thoughts I jotted down to keep my head from spinning earlier this week:
1. Transhumanism: To what degree does the Church embrace or reject portions of this? Vision to the blind, hearing to the deaf, speech to the mute, the lame walking–these things seem worthy of celebration. What about the reversal/halting of aging–effectively the suspension of natural death? Is it the place of man to deal with death, or is the place of God to deal with death on Calvary? If we oughtn’t touch this, how will the Church respond when it’s accused of monstrosity by refusing to participate in the use of technology to suspend death? What is the relationship of this sort of technology to the sort of technology we use to fight disease? What is the relationship with medical technology used to keep people alive that should be dead (hooked up to tubes and the like). Presumably death-defying technology will only be available to the elite at first, which offers some problems in itself. Who gets access? What’s the relationship to current models for the availability of health care? What if these problems are somehow erased?
“Uploading consciousness”–what is this? Is it death (as I think, in its attempts to unlink human being from physical existence) or eternal life (as the transhumanists think)?
What about bionic extensions to the human body: augmented reality built in to the eyes? Replacing functional extremities with technologically superior ones? Is it mutilation or evolution? Is it good if it aids (augmented reality) but wicked if it destroys (replacement of healthy limbs)? etc. I suspect the answers to all of this lie in understanding the extent to which these technologies destroy the humanity (as defined in Christ as THE human) of those who adopt them.This has all sparked an interest in checking out the writings of Jacques Ellul on Christianity and “technique”.
2. The church (at least the evangelical church) in the US stumbles all over itself in the conversation about homosexuality and same sex marriage. I have a feeling they’re going to be beyond lost in the upcoming discussions about polyamory, open marriages, fetish as a lifestyle, trans/queer issues, etc. Much richer, thoroughly-articulated theologies of the body, of sexuality, and of marriage are going to be needed for the Church to understand itself when these shifts come.
Thanks for the comment, Chad! Great to have you here.
Really good questions.
1. David Bentley Hart has some helpful thoughts on transhumanism in a brief essay in In the Aftermath, contrasting the vision of transhumanism with that of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. He sheds some light the different eschatologies, theologies, and anthropologies of the two positions. You can also read the piece here. Lots, lots more to be said there.
2. I quite agree, although I think that there will be slightly more resistance on some of those issues.
1. Thanks for the article. It’s inspired me to read JPII’s Theology of the Body.
2. Do you mean resistance outside the church? I don’t see much about the current stances on issues of sex, family, and gender shifting around too much in either traditional or progressive evangelical circles. I could see polyamory causing some of the borderline folks currently supporting SSM to balk, but unless there’s a strong belief that it violates the whole “no harm [to the innocent], no foul” ethos, it seems like it would be a follow-on wave of the same thinking and rhetoric that’s yielded SSM.
I think there’s more of an “ick” factor for the general public surrounding trans folks for some reason. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the deviation doesn’t deal so much in sexual attraction as it does in gender identity and expression.
The physical aspects of sexual attraction and activity are pretty behind-closed-door deals, even for straight couples. There’s a disparity here in what’s accepted for gay/lesbian v. straight couples in public, but there’s still a line that it is considered unacceptable for either to cross. We don’t really have many expectations that one holds back on physical expressions of gender in polite society. So while X may not be sure how he feels about the same sex couple at the bar, since sexual attraction and intimacy are pretty low key in public, X doesn’t have to think too much about it, at least not at a directly physical level. When the [somewhat clearly] transgendered person pulls up a stool, there’s a physical presence that X can’t ignore or abstract away. If X generally feels “off” about deviations from sexual and gender norms, the presence of same-sex couples allows him a retreat of, “What someone does behind closed doors is their business,” but the presence of trans persons does not allow that, as one does not express gender identity primarily behind closed doors.
Yes, I think that there will be more resistance outside of the Church. I don’t think that such things will be so readily normalized (though some will). I think that polyamory would face more resistance just on account of its complicated character, especially given the fear that children could fall through the cracks in such a situation.
And, yes, good point about the ‘ick factor’ associated with trans persons.
I think that it is also important to recognize that, while it is not usually presented this way, we would be naive to think that all of those ‘in favour’ of SSM are truly vocal supporters. Many just want a ‘live and let live’ society and personally disapprove of such relationships, but don’t want to stop them. Others see it as a necessary concession to a pluralistic democracy. Others don’t have the stomach for a fight they are doomed to lose. Others see it as an allowance for an exceptional situation, but don’t normalize same-sex relations. Others see it as reparations for society’s past and present mistreatment of LGBT persons. Still others regard it as a prudent means to address the needs of LGBT for civil rights for their unions, to prevent bullying, to deal with the historical problem of stigma and persecution, to slow the spread of STDs in the gay community, or to overcome social polarization, making LGBT persons participants in society’s core institution and shared project.
If you were to poll the number of people who would support same-sex marriage in a world where LGBT were not mistreated and where there was no drive for it, I suspect that there wouldn’t be anywhere near as much of an interest in it. Same-sex marriage is being advocated as a contingent good, rather than an absolute and universal right and good.
Every time someone mentions uploading consciousness, I think of that one Cowboy Bebop episode where a cult tried to be immortal by uploading their souls to the web. That was a good one.
Mostly I imagine “uploaded consciousnesses” producing a society of digital simulacra that spend a lot of time looking at cat videos… 🙂
You might also be interested in this piece on transhumanism by Michael Sacasas, one of the best writers on technology out there.
I’ve been quite busy away from the keyboard…
That linked post was pretty dead on with my thinking, Alastair: Transhumanism as a religion of technology with an “immanentized eschaton,” a deep contempt for embodiment, and an obvious opening for tacit coercion. The way Sacasas describes it, transhumanism becomes sort of the apotheosis of secular, technocratic western society.
“Got creature comforts and political stability but still put out by the howling void of unmeaning and a crippling fear of death? There’s an app for that.”
Of course, there have always been different options on the table for dealing with the nasty bits of life in a fallen world. At least if/when we hit major milestones with transhumanism, there will be more clarity on what we’re all hitching our wagons too–technology as an existential cure is a lot less subtle than technology as a palliative and so opens up a lot more Big Questions for the person on the street.
I would like to seek your opinion about an interesting idea proposed by Alexander Pruss, a Christian philosopher, where through the use of a Just-So Story, he argues that we can both believe that Genesis 1-3 can be taken as literally as might please any fundamentalist, and still believe in evolution and the Big Bang was responsible for the creation of the world and mankind.
The essence of his “Just-So Story” postulates that evolution and the big bang occured “postlapsarian”. To quote a segment of his original article,
You can read the rest here: http://prosblogion.ektopos.com/archives/2013/04/a-defense-of-ge.html
In a sense, this maybe sort of cheating, but I thought it was an intriguing possibility.
I have made some attempts to clean up Pruss\’s account, tighten the tale a little, add more detail to it, and place it within a broader theological context here:
Thanks for the comment, Dominic.
Wow, I had never heard that hypothetical argument for possibility before. I don’t find the argument persuasive on several fronts. I really don’t think that it works on its own terms, not least because Eden is described as a geographical location within our world, continuous with the post-Fall world. It seems to raise more questions than it answers: What about the sun, moon, and stars of Genesis 1? What about all of the animals of Genesis 1? etc. What about the biblical allusions to Genesis 1 as the creation of our universe?
Furthermore, it would do considerable violence to the biblical text, effectively cutting us off from Genesis 1. In order to protect a particular hermeneutical approach to the text we would be throwing the text itself under the bus. Such an ‘explanation’ would effectively ‘explain away’ the text, sapping it of most of its force. For the 99.999% of the readers that didn’t know the theory, their reading of the text would be radically misguided. This makes Scripture into a complex and opaque riddle, rather than revelation.
More troubling still, this would raise questions about how much we can trust God’s revelation more generally. What other hypothetical scenarios could we imagine behind the words of the text that would leave the text strictly true while evacuating it of revelatory force for the overwhelming majority of its readers? These are very important concerns.
It is also considerably more far-fetched than many theories that would take the creation account as inspired Scripture and accept the theory of evolution and the Big Bang. Such accounts wouldn’t necessarily avoid taking the text itself ‘literally’ (in the proper sense of that term) and entirely true as such.
Actually, I’ve answered all these objections in my own “polishing” of Pruss’s account, I will post the link here again: http://rationalityofaith.wordpress.com/2013/05/03/how-we-can-both-accept-creationism-read-genesis-1-3-literally-and-accept-the-big-bang-theory-and-evolution/
First, as for “Eden described as a geographical location within our world, continuous with the post-Fall world.” I argued :
As for the sun, moon, stars and animals, etc, basically I postulated the following narrative:
I hope that you will link my polished account of Pruss original theory because it does place the story in a theological context and it tries to frame it in a manner consistent with the Genesis witness to the events.
My polished account does actually explicitly deal with this objection too:
First of all, I don’t believe that the Just-So Story you have provided holds up on its own terms.
Second, I think that you mistake the meaning of the Garden. The Garden isn’t some magical location. Rather, it was the divine sanctuary, ordered according to the pattern of heaven, the place where God walked in the midst of men and enjoyed fellowship with them. The angels are the new guardians of the sanctuary, who drive Adam away. However, there is no reason to believe that God hung around in the Garden, or that there is some miraculous Tree of Life somewhere, any more than there is reason to believe that, if we were to find the Ark of the Covenant, it would function in the same way as it did in the Indiana Jones movie.
Third, your quotation doesn’t answer my objection. My point is that one of the criteria of the truthfulness of the Scriptures is that it is revelatory. Your theory merely accounts for its strict factuality, but fails on this far more important count.
Then there is the question of why such a proof of hypothetical possibility is needed in the first place. Wouldn’t it be more sensible to say that, given how far-fetched the scenario is, it would make more sense to form a hypothesis that calls into question one or more of the premises upon which this hypothesis is built. We could, for instance, challenge the assumption that Genesis is to be read as a prosaic historical account whose primary referentiality is entirely concrete and non-figurative. Alternatively, we could challenge the assumption that modern science has these questions right.
Precisely, so I don’t see why it is so important for interpretation of Genesis to account for a Garden of Eden which is “a geographical location within our world, continuous with the post-Fall world” when you precisely don’t believe that there is such a Tree of Life somewhere “within our world, continuous with the post-Fall world”.
My theory “merely accounts for its strict factuality” because that’s precisely what it’s supposed to do and nothing more. It isn’t meant to tease out all the other theological implications of the Genesis narrative but merely reconcile it those theological and revelatory aspects with the factual aspect of evolution. In fact, I addressed this question here:
Thus, the important theological aspects of the Genesis account is what you can find in any standard theological textbook, creation, Fall, alteration to human nature and the cosmos, banishment from paradise, etc, and it is these which are of relevance to the Christian faith, life and practice. My account is not meant to speak of those, since those can be read directly off from the text of the Scriptures, but is meant to preserve those aspects in the light of the scientific accounts of the big bang, evolution, etc. Basically, what is what you call “revelatory” is all those theological stuff about the Creation, Fall, etc, which can be read off directly from the text without any scientific theoreticising. Thus, there is no need to worry that “For the 99.999% of the readers that didn’t know the theory, their reading of the text would be radically misguided.” because my theory is not essential to those core theological revelatory concerns which can simply be read directly off.
But what I am trying to do with my theory is merely to reconcile those revelatory aspects with the science of evolution and big bang and to demonstrate how we can both have those “revelatory” aspects as well as still hold to evolution and the big bang…
You don’t seem to be taking such verses as Genesis 2:10-14 and 4:16 into account.
And I stand by my contention that your hypothetical scenario undermines the revelatory character of the text. The rest of the Scripture speaks of Genesis 1 as the creation of our universe, which is the natural reading of the text that is as near to universal as makes no difference. Also, Genesis 2 speaks of the creation of humanity primarily in terms of bodies, not souls. It is one thing to explain how the text could be consistent with the reality it describes; it is quite another to render the text of little revelatory significance in so doing (or to make it exceedingly misleading).
I guess this is a sort of metaphysical concern rather than strictly interpretative or scientific.
The question seems to be then what constitutes the identity through time of a material object to count as the “same” object pre and post-fall.
Now, I think I read somewhere among your many posts that you lean towards a sort of Aristotelian realism, however, I think my account has no actual problems upon a sort of nominalist-occasionalist account of divine providence and creation. According to divine “occasionalism”, the entire universe and every phenomena in the world is “directly” upheld by God who virtually continuously “re-creates” and wills every event and everything into existence moment by moment. Thus, to say that we continue to exist through time is simply to say that God continuously “creates” or directly wills us into existence anew at every moment of time through that period. What constitutes our “identity” through time is not the existence of some “substratum” or thing under the phenomena which persists through time but merely that our moment by moment existence resembles our past in the relevant aspects.
Thus, what constitutes the continuity and identity between the pre and post Fall world is not some understanding substance or whatever but merely that the pre and post Fall world resemble each other in the relevant aspects, of course with the necessary modification to human nature and the cosmos which the Fall would bring.
But you have to admit that these concerns are of a philosophical metaphysical nature and somewhat far off from the question of the question of the “revelatory” nature of the Bible…
Opps, that should be “Thus, what constitutes the continuity and identity between the pre and post Fall world is not some underlying substance”, not “understanding”…
First, I don’t admit that these concerns are of mere philosophical and metaphysical significance. Many biblical truths can be compromised by such a metaphysical position.
Second, you speak about Adam and Eve’s souls being placed within ‘ape-like creatures’. However, Genesis 2 speaks of the creation of humanity in terms of the creation of vivified bodies, not of mere ‘souls’. The problem here should be obvious. If we were to follow your hypothesis, this wouldn’t just be a matter of continuous re-creation—the Scripture speaks in terms of holding in being, not continuous recreation—but would be a sharply discontinuous reality.
At this point, I don’t think that we are going to get any further here, so you are welcome to have the final word. Let me once again register my extremely strong disagreement to such a hypothesis and repeat my contention that it empties several details of the text of their significance and contradicts several others. Ultimately such hypothesizing strikes me as akin to a surgeon who considers an operation a success because he removed the cancer, even though he killed the patient in the process.
I guess introductions are the order of the day. Alastair and a few of you have known me for some time, but I’m sure many of you don’t. I’m in my mid forties. I live in North Carolina with my wife and three boys. I’ve had a number of different careers to this point, but now am about to start nursing school to try to stabilize the whole work/financial thing. Since college I have been in presbyterian churches of varying flavors. And I read as widely and frequently as I am able. I’ll mention a couple of things I’ve read recently.
Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow is a very well written summary of his professional life’s work. Much of it deals with the persistent sorts of biases which attend human thinking. I appreciated the very scientific approach he took to the questions he was asking.
Just this past week I’ve been reading The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down, by Anne Fadiman. It is about the culture clash between Hmong refugee/immigrants in a California community and the American health care system. Really fascinating stuff, particularly about Hmong history and culture. The title of the book is the literal translation of the Hmong term for epilepsy. The book centers on the story of a young girl born with severe epilepsy and her parents attempts to care for her while navigating what is for them a very foreign culture. Very instructive for people in the health care field.
My wife and I have been watching House of Cards (the American version). I’ve been fascinated by the sheer volume of lying portrayed in the show. Often dramatic shows and films will feature one big dramatic lie, but it is rare to see characters who just lie all the time, and do it in a natural and believable way.
Thanks for the introduction, Paul!
I have never watched House of Cards. Perhaps I should do so at some point. Would you recommend it?
After some thought, I’ll say that I do recommend it. I’ve been thinking over the past couple of days about what makes it different from some other recent dramatic shows (Breaking Bad and Mad Men in particular). One thing that stands out is that the show is a bit heavier. There’s very little by way of comic relief. There are very few, if any, truly admirable characters. Has a very strong Macbeth theme to it. Mostly, though, I’ve been thinking about what the show has to say about lying and truth telling, and about why it is unusual for modern tv or film to feature lying so prominently.
I think one issue is that if fictional characters lie frequently, it is difficult for the viewer to establish what’s going on. While some sense of doubt can be interesting for a viewer, constant doubting is disturbing to the point of frustration. House of Cards deals with this through the unusual device of having the central character, played by Kevin Spacey, speak his true thoughts directly to the camera. This keeps the viewer fully oriented, at least as far as the thought process of the main character.
You’ll have to take my word that despite the griminess and heaviness the show is still quite entertaining.
Thanks, Paul. I’ll have to check it out at some point.
Alastair, have you read or looked at Tom Schreiner’s The King In His Beauty? It’s a Reformed Baptist biblical theology, which is something pretty hard to find. It’s also shorter than Beale’s and might, I suspect, align ever so slightly more with my own convictions. I’m trying to decide between them.
I think I’m going to read Alasdair McIntyre’s Dependent, Rational Animals first though. It actually looks to be a book incorporating disability studies that I won’t find hopelessly morabund and metaphysically/morally incoherent.
I haven’t read Schreiner. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts if you do read it.
From the cursory skimming I’ve done,it’s more of a chronological biblical theology whereas Beale’s is more thematic. Schreiner goes through the whole Bible with certain theological themes in mind; Beale has certain motifs he’s working with (the priest-king and eschatology ones come to mind) and shows how those themes unfold across the Scriptures. i see advantages to both approaches, so I’ll probably have to read both. I’ve read Schreiner’s Magnifying God in Christ, which is a nice summary of his larger New Testament Theology. It’s fairly dry and not terribly revolutionary, but still has some great stuff. His chapters on the holy Spirit and Salvation History are especially worth glancing at, from what I remember.
I might have to take a look at some point.
This is top of my reading list, as soon as I can scrape together the money to buy it!
Wow, that book looks amazing. I can’t find it in any accessible format, sadly.
Leithart has some comments on it here and here.
Oh, Leithart also mentions it here too, challenging the inconsistency of pro-choice feminists.
One of these days I will find a way to truly appreciate continental philosophy. I am analytically inclined and find a lot of continental/poststructuralist work to be unreadable above everything else. I’m not sure that analytic philosophy is any less jargon-prone, but for some reason I can stand it more.
I’m a 23-yr old university student in Music Cognition (it’s the study of music via experimental psychology, from neuroscience to purely behavioural methods — it’s really cool =]). I stumbled on this blog from an Andrew Wilson link over to an intensely long post you wrote (Rob Bell/Don Draper/Ad-Man); I soon realized that this was par for the course. And though I didn’t like their length at first, it has been a good challenge reading and thinking through some of your posts. I have no blog/anything to promote lol.
One thing I’d love to read more of, is Protestant interaction with Roman Catholicism. I’ve seen a good friend convert (almost entirely) on the basis of Rome’s authority and historical groundedness. For my part, I think the 16th century debates that divided the Reformers from their contemporary Catholics are still relevant, and insurmountable, despite how magnificent the institution may look. But I’m looking for more resources (books/talks/and if it must be so…blog posts) on this topic. My local waters of the Church is a place where people don’t know/or acknowledge that they’re Protestants (they’re ‘Baptists’, or ‘Pentecostals’ etc…). I want to be involved in changing that, and seeing ‘Joe Church-member’ in our churches appreciate why we worship the way we do. And also, to not turn a blind eye to the centuries of rich pre-Reformation tradition that is ours. [On that note, I enjoyed the recent posts (here & on Mere-O) over Lent b/c they approximate what I’m talking about here, though incidentally].
You seem like a guy who likes thinking through a wide range of topics, so here’s a topic that I have a hunch will be interesting for decades to come: the origin of music, and our current scientific understanding of evolution. It’s a very queer phenomenon, music is. And whether/not it’s an evolutionary adaptation is something even in-house profs don’t agree on. So the more we understand of its origin, the more it can potentially refine scientific consensus on human origins. Here’s a pretty interesting read from one of the stalwarts in the field. It’s probs entirely distal to your scholarly interests, but it’s an interesting read that’s not jargon-loaded or anything. Lemme know what you think, if you read it. (Link: http://www.chialvo.net/Curso/UNR2010/Modulo%201%20Musica%20Y%20Neurociencia/Publicaciones/Huron.pdf). No sweat if it doesn’t appeal to you, just thought I’d add my flavour.
Thanks for your thoughtful and irenic posts, and I guess the prolixity isn’t that big a deal anymore =P. God bless!
Thanks for the comment, Peter! It is great to hear from and about you.
I will confess to knowing virtually nothing whatsoever about music cognition, although it sounds like a truly fascinating subject. I really enjoyed reading Oliver Sacks’ Musicophilia a few years ago, which I suspect touches on certain aspects of your field.
Recapturing the Protestant tradition is definitely something that I am impassioned about. The work of such groups as The Calvinist International really excites me. We have a rich history that really is woefully neglected in many quarters. I haven’t done a great deal of mature engagement with Roman Catholicism (I grow up in a Roman Catholic country and attended a Christian Brothers school, but haven’t theologized much in dialogue with Catholics). However, I could direct you to some worthwhile sources, if you are interested.
The piece that you link is definitely an interesting and stimulating read, although I don’t have that many thoughts on it. My main element of surprise was due to the fact that he didn’t really explore two things:
1. The connection between music and memory. Music—especially rhythm—can enhance our memory of non-musical things such as language, especially important for social transmission of information, which is much easier to remember and reproduce if we have music or rhythm to accompany it.
2. The connection between music and body coordination, both individual and social. Music can provide a template for initiating consecutive and coordinated action, bringing together disorganized parts into a whole. This isn’t just true of group work (which he mentions), but even for the individual, which is one reason why music therapy can be important for people with Parkinsons. Music is also intimately associated with ritual for this reason, it seems to me.
Wow, really good thoughts here! First off, Musicophilia is a sweet book. Its pretty anecdote-heavy and conveys little research knowledge, but it certainly whets the appetite for Music Cog! For the things Huron didn’t cover in that linked paper, I can only guess at his reasons. On your first point, I don’t know much research that has addressed both topics. Hazarding a guess, the memory literature is probably located in the densest parts of cognition research such that it would take sustained effort to try to unite both fields under even one research paradigm. That may’ve happened somewhere—I just don’t know about it…yet lol.
But on the second point, yessir the connection is immense. There’s a researcher (who we [Canada] poached from you [the UK]) who has done some work showing which brain regions are critical for beat-based processing and she used Parkinson’s patients in those experiments. Beat perception (and production) we now know require the basal ganglia. (LINK: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19027895) And music–or more accurately rhythm–has a privileged r/ship with those areas when it comes to entrainment. (Cool sidenote: we’re just about the only members of the animal kingdom that can entrain to an external beat. Some vocal-mimic birds can do it poorly. So there’s a hypothesis that vocal mimicry is a precondition of entrainment: enter evolutionary speculation here =P). Ultimately, I think this line of work–and thought–is going to get very nitty-gritty and specialized before it sees the light of day again as a piece of common knowledge that we can all use in reflection and appreciating the world. Entirely agree that music’s association with ritual benefits from this. Like I said, good thoughts =]
Lastly, and most importantly, yes yes yes. Please direct me to those worthwhile sources for me to cut my teeth on. I’ll keep praying for the church militant in whatever institutional bodies they may be found. I just wanna see healthy Protestant churches thriving in this century with a sense of where we’ve come from, why we remain as we are, and of course, where we’re headed!
Thanks for the doing this open mic thing. I’ve enjoyed it!
Thanks for this fascinating follow-up comment, Peter!
I will e-mail you some sources that I would recommend, or that I have seen others recommending.
I am thinking about reading John Stott’s book The Cross of Christ. Are there any other worthy, perhaps worthier, books focused on the meaning of the cross?
Are there any similar works that focus on the resurrection that you would recommend? There is N.T. Wright’s The Resurrection of the Son of God, as well as his short book on Easter. Rowan Williams has a book entitled Resurrection.
And then there is Alan E. Lewis’ Between Cross and Resurrection.
I am not interested in books that focus on the historicity of the resurrection.
I would recommend both Stott’s The Cross of Christ and Wright’s Resurrection of the Son of God. If you haven’t yet read Jesus and the Victory of God, I would highly recommend reading that first, not least because it provides an illuminating perspective upon the cross. On the cross, I also remember enjoying Tom Smail’s Once For All and Emil Brunner’s The Mediator.
I am a father of three, live in the Pacific Northwest. I am an engineer by profession. I very much appreciate this web site!
My recent scripture wanderings have me considering a small handful of similar stories.
They share a number of common elements and I’m struggling to connect them and articulate their function.
Note the peculiar shared details between these Genesis 38 and Judges 14 stories:
* Genesis 38 and Judges 14 both occur as our protagonist (Judah and Samson) goes up to a feast with pagan inhabitants of the land.
-Judah is associating with the Adullamite Hiram at a sheep-shearing festival
-Samson is associating with 30 philistine companions at a wedding feast
*Both stories occur on the road to Timnah ( from the word for appointed )
-Judah goes up to Timnah
-Samson goes down to Timnah
*Both Judah and Samson turn aside from the way and sully themselves.
*The contaminating member both become pictures of Israel within the nations.
-The dead lion carcass (the word here is cognate with gentiles) houses a congregation of bees (see reference 1 below for symbolic referents).
-The gentile Tamar housing the seed that continues the line of Judah in the midst of the dead and unfaithful brothers Er and Onan.
* Tamar is offered her husband’s younger son, Samson is offered his wive’s younger sister
* Tamar is given to multiple husbands, Samson’s wife is given to another man
* Tamar is threatened to be burned, Samson’s wife is burned
* Each story contains a mystery related to that which contaminated,
-Judah does not know who the zonah/whore was
– Samson’s 30 friends do not know the answer to the riddle
* Samson’t wife and Tamar reveal the answer to the riddle
* the revelation of the mystery leads to an exchange of goods:
– Samson’s wife’s confession yields the promised 30 changes of clothes for the party guest
– Tamar’s confession yields the promised, signet, bracelet and staff to Judah
I suspect that there are a number of further stories that share the conventions outlined above (Robert Alter’s ‘type-scene’)
Though my argument is not developed here (or anywhere!), I suspect Jonah and Daniel 5 are two.
I suspect that the Timnah type-scene sketched above has a function. An instantiation of this Timnah type-scene occurs when Israel is miraculously maintained as an island in the midst of the dead nations. I believe it functions just as the common details between Genesis 32, Exodus33, and the temptation narrative (Matt 4 and Luke 4). These stories are placed immediately before the people of God are to cross over and take the land. If so, is there an instantiation of this type-scene in the gospels or New Testament?
Thanks for the comment and introducing yourself, Scott. Great to have you here!
Thanks also for your stimulating biblical theological comments. I posted on the Genesis 38 story some time ago, but haven’t really revisited it properly since then. I might have to go back and take another look. There are definitely a lot of things going on there that are worth exploring!
Very interesting development:
A thought I’ve recently had: what is perhaps the most abusive institution (in the sense of where the most people are abused) in all of Western society?* I would say it is the public school system (I believe they call it the state school system in Britain). They are hives of abuse, mainly from other children, but also, on occasion, from the teachers. Yet, none of the people who are so concerned about how the patriarchal family allegedly tends toward abuse raise a peep about the appallingly abusive conditions in publicly funded schools. Apparently they seem to think that putting a bunch of teenagers in a confined space and essentially letting them run the show is a good idea. In fact, these critics are often rabidly opposed to homeschooling! The children must be
indoctrinatededucated, and parents need free babysitting so they can leave and go to work, so what can we really do about all this?
This article inspired by Paul Graham’s classic article on publically funded schools.
*Actual prison is much more abusive in terms of the severity of abuse visited on its inhabitants, but fewer people enter that system. There may be other institutions that are similar in the intensity of abuse, but again fewer people enter them.
Public school teachers are in much the same position as prison wardens. Wardens’ main concern is to keep the prisoners on the premises. They also need to keep them fed, and as far as possible prevent them from killing one another. Beyond that, they want to have as little to do with the prisoners as possible, so they leave them to create whatever social organization they want. From what I’ve read, the society that the prisoners create is warped, savage, and pervasive, and it is no fun to be at the bottom of it.
In outline, it was the same at the schools I went to. The most important thing was to stay on the premises. While there, the authorities fed you, prevented overt violence, and made some effort to teach you something. But beyond that they didn’t want to have too much to do with the kids. Like prison wardens, the teachers mostly left us to ourselves. And, like prisoners, the culture we created was barbaric.
In my first year of high school, the entire year was in a block of the school that had no teachers around for ten minutes between classes, with students carefully positioned to warn of any approach. Definitely the brutal and anarchic situation of the inmates running the prison. One of my friends attempted suicide and ended up as a drug addict on the streets after his experiences of bullying in our school. A number of others were broken by it. It shaped me more than almost any other period of time in my life. If this is the ‘socialization’ that home-schooled children lack, lucky them!
It is worth remembering that what the family is to conservatives, the school and the university is to progressives. This is the way that we create the next generation.
This blog post from Dreher seems relevant.
I saw that earlier: terrible advice!
What the Dreher link shows is that rhetoric of love and inclusiveness is just as useful for telling people to put up, shut up, and take the abuse as the rhetoric of authority and submission.
A very good recent article, and a reminder that just because we have rejected liberal notions of what constitutes abuse and unjust treatment, those things still do really exist:
Now that you realize that gender roles are not inherently iniquitous, you can finally start thinking about the proper relationship between the sexes. Just because you notice that women are being treated differently than men in some context, you can no longer automatically conclude that the women are being treated unfairly, as you would have done when you were a liberal. On the other hand, it is [still] possible that the women are being treated unfairly.
We can’t just circle the wagons.
Good stuff. Thanks for the link.
You might be interested in reading up on this movement:
The original manifesto is here:
Kingsnorth’s book Real England is here:
I am a contributor to the just released Dark Mountain Issue 5.
Thanks for the links!
Some of you might be interested in the debate around these recent posts on same-sex marriage by Vicky Beeching. I’ve left lengthy comments beneath each.
Oh, and I have also left a comment beneath this interesting post on patience and deliberation by Steve Holmes.
The Hauerwas bit about marriage being a mutually enhancing agreement was interesting – R.R. Reno made a similar point in First Things a while back. Defining marriage in terms of mutual flourishing is an interesting thing.
Pingback: Open Mic Thread 2 | Alastair's Adversaria
Pingback: Open Mic Thread 3 | Alastair's Adversaria
Pingback: Open Mic Thread 4 | Alastair's Adversaria
Pingback: Open Mic Thread 5 | Alastair's Adversaria
Pingback: Open Mic Thread 6 | Alastair's Adversaria
Pingback: Open Mic Thread 7 | Alastair's Adversaria
Pingback: Open Mic Thread 8 | Alastair's Adversaria
Pingback: Open Mic Thread 9 | Alastair's Adversaria
Pingback: Open Mic Thread 10 | Alastair's Adversaria
Pingback: Open Mic Thread 11 | Alastair's Adversaria
Pingback: Open Mic Thread 12 | Alastair's Adversaria
Pingback: Open Mic Thread 13 | Alastair's Adversaria
Pingback: Open Mic Thread 14 | Alastair's Adversaria
Pingback: Open Mic Thread 19 | Alastair's Adversaria
Pingback: Open Mic Thread 20 | Alastair's Adversaria
Pingback: Open Mic Thread 21 | Alastair's Adversaria
Pingback: Open Mic Thread 22 | Alastair's Adversaria
Pingback: Open Mic Thread 23 | Alastair's Adversaria
Pingback: Open Mic Thread 24 | Alastair's Adversaria
Pingback: Open Mic Thread 25 | Alastair's Adversaria
Pingback: Open Mic Thread 26 | Alastair's Adversaria
Pingback: Open Mic Thread 27 | Alastair's Adversaria
Pingback: Open Mic Thread 28 | Alastair's Adversaria
Pingback: Open Mic Thread 29 | Alastair's Adversaria
Pingback: Open Mic Thread 30 | Alastair's Adversaria
Pingback: Open Mic Thread 31 | Alastair's Adversaria
Pingback: Open Mic Thread 32 | Alastair's Adversaria
Pingback: Open Mic Thread 33 | Alastair's Adversaria
Pingback: Open Mic Thread 34 | Alastair's Adversaria
Pingback: Open Mic Thread | Alastair's Adversaria
Pingback: Open Mic Thread 36 | Alastair's Adversaria
Pingback: Open Mic Thread 37 | Alastair's Adversaria
Pingback: Open Mic Thread 38 | Alastair's Adversaria
Pingback: Open Mic Thread 39 | Alastair's Adversaria
Pingback: Open Mic Thread 40 | Alastair's Adversaria
Pingback: Open Mic Thread 41 | Alastair's Adversaria
Pingback: Open Mic Thread 42 | Alastair's Adversaria
Pingback: Open Mic Thread 43 | Alastair's Adversaria
Pingback: Open Mic Thread 44 | Alastair's Adversaria
Pingback: Open Mic Thread 45 | Alastair's Adversaria