Open Mic Thread 10


The open mic thread is where you have the floor and can raise or discuss issues of your choice. There is no such thing as off-topic here. The comments of this thread are free for you to:

  • Discuss things that you have been reading/listening to/watching recently
  • Share interesting links
  • Share stimulating discussions in comment threads
  • 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
  • Etc.

Over to you!

Earlier open mic threads: 123456, 7, 8, 9.

As I am taking a break from regular blogging, I won’t be commenting here. However, I will be reading any thoughts left below.

About Alastair Roberts

Alastair Roberts (PhD, Durham University) writes in the areas of biblical theology and ethics, but frequently trespasses beyond these bounds. He participates in the weekly Mere Fidelity podcast, blogs at Alastair’s Adversaria, and tweets at @zugzwanged.
This entry was posted in Open Mic, Public Service Announcement. Bookmark the permalink.

55 Responses to Open Mic Thread 10

  1. whitefrozen says:

    A blog post of mine that has some good discussion in the comments:

    Things Ive been thinking about and reading about:

    1. Laws of nature – do they exist, what are they, etc

    2. Theory acceptance in the sciences. Pragmatic, realist, both, neither?

    3. Kantian and Fichtean ethics being where most modern ethics come from.

  2. The Man Who Was . . . says:

    I thought this was a very good blog post.

  3. The Man Who Was . . . says:

    Doug Wilson is always repeating the mantra that economic liberalism is just envy. (The latest edition is here.) In this, he’s following a long line of libertarian moralism, where malign motives are attributed to their economically liberal opponents.

    But after reading this article by Bruce Charlton, I think that is totally wrong, about as wrong as saying the libertarians or fusionist conservatives are all motivated by greed. Of course, people have mixed motives, but economic liberals have genuine moral concerns about inequality. They may or may not be wrong about how economics works, but they do not necessarily have base motivations.

    • The Man Who Was . . . says:

      Doug Wilson link actually here

    • Agreed. Economic liberals are generally people of good will. Bruce’s piece also reminds me of some of the points that Haidt makes. A few things that I would like to explore more:

      1. The relationship between egalitarianism and homeostatic social order. It seems to me that development of social power and the structures that go with it is fairly dependent upon a drive for dominance. Egalitarianism dampens this force, but the most purely egalitarian societies would tend to be retarded in their growth.

      2. What exactly is ‘equality’? People tend to focus upon wealth and resources, but this seems to me to be secondary. I suspect that equality should be considered in a more personal, rather than economic manner, as something akin to the regard that society has for you. This will be expressed in the distribution of resources, but it is expressed in much more.

      3. We talk about egalitarianism as if it were an absolute value. However, it seems to be an in-group value: we want those in our group to be equal, but are far less concerned about ensuring the equality of other groups with ours. The universalization of egalitarianism would seem to demand the advent of the post-political ‘society’, as no particular group could claim our especial loyalties. Due to human nature, I doubt the post-political is possible. Also, contrary to what many think, I don’t believe that Christianity universalizes the ‘neighbour’. It extends our scope of moral concern to the whole human race, but there are definitely concentric circles of concern, which move outward from our most immediate group—Christ and the household of faith.

      4. Recognizing the in-group/out-group dynamics going on, we should also recognize axes of human activity and concern. Those who are more attuned to the outer direction of the vertical axis of the self and society—to use Rosenstock-Huessy’s taxonomy—our relationship with others, will emphasize dominance values. Those who are more attuned to the inner direction of this axis, our relation to ourselves and our own, will emphasize egalitarian values. Both groups can be forgetful of the great importance of the other axis and the interdependence of the two movements that they represent. Neither axis can be done away with without collapse of the social order.

      5. The gender dimension of this is also interesting. Men seem to be particularly attuned to the outer direction of the axis on various levels, but women are more particular attuned to the inner direction. This isn’t just in the well-studied area of differences between the genders’ moral inclinations, but is also hard-wired in the very form of our bodies. Women and their bodies have a unique relation with the internal axis of society, symbolizing and establishing the most intimate bonds of society. Men’s bodies, by contrast, are more externally oriented, with clearer division between self and other.

      Grist for the mill.

  4. Some of you might be interested in my comment beneath this post on WEIRD sexuality and in my comments on the relationship between arguments for same-sex marriage and arguments for women exercising oversight in churches here.

  5. Alex says:

    How do we pray through the Psalms when they’re so specific to ancient Israel? is it legit for me to take a passage from a man being attacked or people trying to secure their land and pray it with my stresses in mind? Thanks in advance.

    • The psalms are primarily songs of the king, representing the nation as a whole, both vicariously and incorporatively. When we sing the psalms, we should sing them first and foremost as Christ’s songs. We participate in his worship.

      The psalms may not perfectly correspond to our personal situations. However, as those in Christ, they are our songs too. We are members of the Messiah’s people, assaulted by the world, the flesh, and the devil. Singing the psalms is a way of learning to find ourselves in Christ, as we notice ways in which his sufferings are being worked out in us, his people.

      • Alex says:


      • Kevin says:

        Alastair – Can you suggest some things to read that have been particularly helpful to you regarding the Psalms? I am involved in church music in the United States and believe that a recovery of singing/reading/praying the Psalms in corporate worship here would do much to help God’s people experience a fuller expression of true worship. I think the nearly complete loss of this practice in many churches has actually caused great harm to the Body. I’d love to hear more of your thoughts regarding our musical worship when time allows. Thanks!

      • James Jordan has done a lot of work in this area (there is some stuff in this catalogue). Some of it is very helpful.

      • Kevin says:

        Thank you! The Lord bless you during your hiatus and cause you to bear much fruit during this season. Your writing and podcasts have been a great encouragement to my wife and me over the last few months. We are thankful for your faithfulness and the humble and charitable spirit evident in all your engagements. May the Lord continue to uphold you. We look forward to your return in October!

  6. Alex says:

    How do we know that we’re not Pharisees? When I read the Bible, I fear Jesus would spend his time calling me out for being self-righteous. I can’t get a sense of what the Pharisees were really like. Do you have any guidance for good overviews of who they were?

  7. The Man Who Was . . . says:

    Bruce Charlton has another great post, this time on women priests.

    • He makes an important point, one that I have also made in the past: much of the debate over women priests arises from the fact that most Protestants don’t have a meaningful theology of priesthood in the first place.

  8. The Man Who Was . . . says:

    Feminists tend to be more masculine in some physical, as well as psychological traits. See here. The accompanying commentary at that link is funny and well written, but may be on the harsher, more profane side for many of those here. A link straight to the study is here.

  9. The Man Who Was . . . says:

    I’ve been reading Otto’s The Idea of the Holy. Initial thoughts: he jumbles the holy, the awful/sublime, the mysterious, and the religious all together. Or at least I have no idea how he distinguishes them. There is only so much of this “the holy is like the sublime, only qualitatively different, beyond the sublime” stuff I can take. So, it is R.O., so it is.

    I also wonder if his exclusion of the holy or the sacred from the realm of the moral is not an artifact of thinking in a modern way, where the “moral” is restricted to harm and fairness. Wouldn’t a pre-modern person instinctively find a violation of the sacred to be a kind of immorality, though not in a way that a modern would recognize.

    No doubt this book is a lot better than a lot of reductionistic books on religion, which reduce things like the holy, religion etc. to their secular functions. But it doesn’t seem to really help us understand what holiness, religion etc. are.

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