Open Mic Thread 27


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, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19,20,2122,23, 24, 25, 26.

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.
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132 Responses to Open Mic Thread 27

  1. Assume for the sake of argument–and only for the sake of argument–that the races are susceptible of being ranked.

    Question: Which race would occupy the bottom rung?

    In the interest of advancing the conversation, I’ll supply an answer to my own question.

    Answer: …well, it’s just obvious, isn’t it?

    • Wade, if you want to get a rise from people by trolling, you are probably best going elsewhere.

      • What I find interesting about my Gedankenexperiment is that it doesn’t actually assert anything–yet everyone who reads it has the EXACT SAME THOUGHT.

    • quinnjones2 says:

      ‘THE EXACT SAME THOUGHT’ ? So everyone thought of a sack-race, then? Oh me, oh my – sometimes life is stranger than fiction 🙂

      • Nice try, Christine–it’s a cute retort, I’ll grant.

        Btw, Christine–though I know you don’t approve of most (if not all) of what I say around here, you always reply to me in a kindly manner and I do appreciate it.

      • quinnjones2 says:

        Thank you, Wade. I think Alastair also replied to you in a kindly (and amusing) manner, when he said you win novelty points 🙂 Let’s smile together 🙂

      • Christine: Though I couldn’t help thinking Alastair’s reply was a case of “methinks thou dost protest too much”, it certainly was one of his kindlier responses to me.

        Ordinarily, Alastair doesn’t reply to my comments at all–nor do I begrudge him that in the least. But when he does condescend to respond, he almost invariably does so by expressing his disgust, execration, outrage, indignation, stern disapproval, etc. over what he terms my “trollish” miscreancy–and all I’m doing is affirming the historic doctrines of historic Christianity.

        Of course, the historic doctrines of historic Christianity have nothing at all to do with worldly doctrines of “inclusion”, “tolerance”, “diversity”, “philosemitism”, etc., nor do they have anything whatever to do with refraining from eating sausage in “eretz Israel”–and thank God they don’t!

        But for someone like Alastair, who comports himself as a theologically traditional Protestant, to evince such horror over the historic perspectives of historic Christianity–well, it’s a bit strange, to say the least.

      • quinnjones2 says:

        Hi Wade .You seem to like to call a spade a spade. So do I, on occasions. You seem to think that we’re all stupid and ignorant and that we need to be educated by you! I’ll speak for myself here: I’m neither stupid nor ignorant, but I also have a lot to learn. I learn a lot from others and not least from Alastair. I appreciate that you have a different point of view, but I’m sure you could make your points more courteously than you do.
        And no back-chat, please 🙂

      • Did you say “spade”, Christine? I was having THE EXACT SAME THOUGHT.

        Heh heh.

        (I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

        But you’re right–I should try harder to express my views in a courteous manner.

      • quinnjones2 says:

        I thought I’d better qualify ‘I’ll speak for myself ‘, a sentence I wrote in my previous post. I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to attempt to speak on behalf of anyone else. I think it goes without saying that I don’t think any of the commenters here are stupid or ignorant, but on second thoughts, I decided that letting it go without saying was not a good idea, so I’ve said it!
        I wish you well, Wade, but I’ll leave you with your thoughts now.

      • quinnjones2 says:

        Good stuff, Wade!I’m pleased to hear it.

  2. mnpetersen37 says:

    Do you eat blood sausage? Would you be willing to in eretz Israel? (Genesis 9:4, Acts 15:20–cf the argument in this book, that James’ concern in Acts 15, and in Galatians 2:11 was that Gentile Christians, not convert, but while in the land, keep the Mosaic and Noachide commands that apply to Gentiles in the land.)

    • No, I don’t. No, I wouldn’t. I’ve read the book in question, but would need to refresh my memory as it has been a while (Bockmuehl is also one of my favourite of the lecturers I ever had).

      The blood taboos in Scripture are one area where my thought is particularly uncertain. I have strong suspicions about why they are there, but no clear conclusions and lots of questions.

      • Alastair, I suspect that the feminist, liberal, “gay-friendly” Christianity which you espouse isn’t a sufficiently robust framework for making a determination as to whether or not to eat “blood sausage” in “eretz Israel”.

        But don’t listen to mnpetersen37, anyway–he’s a Judaizer.

      • As accusations go, you definitely win novelty points for this one, Wade. Lol! 🙂

      • whitefrozen says:

        The fuuuu did I just read…

      • Let me see, Alastair–you’re having a conversation with someone about whether or not you’re going to eat “blood sausage” in “eretz Israel”–as if the two of you are a couple of rabinnic kykes.

        In a context like that, characterizing me as a troll is surely a distinction without a difference.

      • Alastair, you imply that I’ve mischaracterized the nature of the Christianity which you espouse–sorry, I’m just going by what I’ve read here on your blog.

        Your current big blogging project is something with the title of “Pass the Salt Shaker” (how bout pass the barf bag?), which by your own account is exclusively preoccupied with the emerging and non-historic doctrine of “gender-inclusion”.

        As to homosexuality–it doesn’t appear to me that you’ve here said anything remotely critical of it, you only ever express “reservations” of the most hand-wringing sort. But when I myself ventured to say a few words critical of same, you didn’t waste a minute before denouncing me in thunderous terms.

        Most recently, I expressed the view that the only way to be be saved is by faith in Jesus’ blood and thus Jews who refuse and deny the salvific blood of Jesus stand in the same condemnation as all others who do so. You huffily announced your “disgust” with me and took “the unprecedented action” of closing comments on that thread.

        Now I find you here pondering the ostensible virtues (or lack thereof) of eating sausage in “eretz Israel”.

        Is this is what you call historic Christianity?

        I do hope your readers will take you up on your suggestion that they learn Latin, so that they can find out that historic Christianity has nothing whatever to do with contemporary doctrines of inclusion, tolerance or philosemitism.

      • whitefrozen says:

        You are a stupid person.

      • As to your insult, “whitefrozen”:

        This is rich coming from someone who never has anything substantive to say here, just clever little quips like “The fuuuu did I just read…” And to top it all off, you don’t even have the elementary courage to comment under your real name, but you hide behind a puerile moniker.

        Basic decency would suggest, sir, that if you’re going to insult me you at least ought to tell me your name.

      • whitefrozen says:

        I bet every other commentator in this thread knows my name.

      • I would be very surprised if you are not correct.

      • That may be, “whitefrozen”–but the relevant consideration is that I, whom you’ve insulted, do not.

        In any event–though I think my reply to your insult was rather modest, I’ve already repented of it. I’ve honestly no ill-will toward you and I don’t intend to speak ill of you from now on.

      • Another clever little quip.

      • mnpetersen37 says:

        Thank you very much for the apology. It makes me think highly if you. 🙂

      • mnpetersen37 says:

        Which posted in the wrong place. :p

    • @mnpetersen37:

      Regarding your fretfulness over the prospect of eating sausage in “eretz Israel”–do you not know that Jesus pronounced all foods clean?

      Jews who persist in abstaining from sausage in “eretz Israel” are steeped in darkness and ignorance and do greatly err–and no amount of abstinence from sausage or bacon in the Holy Land will prevent the eternity of terror that will grip the souls of Christ-denying, self-righteous Jews in the moment that they die.

      Why would we want to honor the worthless superstitions of ignorant Christ-denying Jewry?

      • mnpetersen37 says:

        Because the Apostles explicitly told Gentiles to “abstain from pollutions of idols, and fornication, and things strangled, and blood.”

      • mnpetersen37:

        True or false?

        Does the New Testament say or does it not say that Jesus pronounced all foods clean?

      • And He said to them, “Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.) And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man.…

      • mnpetersen37 says:

        And yet, somehow, even after that, the Apostles, with one voice, explicitly told Gentiles to “abstain from pollutions of idols, and fornication, and things strangled, and blood.”

        There isn’t a simple answer to this. But accusing the united Apostles of being “steeped in darkness and ignorance and…greatly erring” is hardly helpful.

      • Thus He declared all foods clean.

      • You aren’t really engaging with the question here. Posting a counter proof-text doesn’t solve anything.

      • Okay, Alastair, in all sincerity–and while I realize you don’t have the time to engage me at any great length–could you perhaps make a brief suggestion as to why you think I’m wrong in supposing that “Jesus declared all foods clean” means that the question of whether or not to eat a particular food in the Holy Land isn’t a live concern?

        My own view of the matter–prior to any subsequent refutation–would be that the scriptural pronouncement that Jesus declared all foods clean trumps any ruling of the Jerusalem council that would contradict that pronouncement.

        I can’t help but think–with all due respect, and I’m trying to speak temperately here–that, in your heart of hearts, you know that abstaining from eating a given food in the holy land is a meaningless gesture.

        Could you perhaps point me to a teaching of Luther or Calvin or another classic theologian (please–no twentieth or twenty-first century theology) to the effect that we ought to be concerned about abstaining from eating pork in the holy land?

      • You have ridiculed and insulted mnpetersen37 and me quite a lot on this subject so far. However, your comments here suggest that you have rather missed what is at issue and perhaps could have benefited from listening more carefully.

        Neither of us are arguing for abstaining from eating pork in the holy land. Nor does Jesus’ statement really settle the debate here.

        In Genesis 9, all flesh is declared to be clean to eat to Noah and his sons. However, although all flesh is clean, blood is forbidden. A natural implication of this is that flesh with blood is also forbidden. The Gentiles were seen to come under the Noahic covenant, so this applied to this. The same thing can be seen in Leviticus: the blood taboo applies to Gentiles and to Jews alike.

        When we come to Acts, we see that God has declared all flesh to be clean. What we do not see, however, is a declaration that all blood is clean. The Levitical dietary requirements may no longer be in effect in the Church, but there isn’t a clear removal of the Noahic dietary requirements.

        In Acts 15, when James declares the decision of the council, his mentioning blood as something not to be eaten is significant. It suggests that he is arguing that the Gentiles only need to recognize the Noahic dietary requirements. The question then is whether this is a permanent thing—a reiteration of the Noahic norm—or only an accommodation to weaker consciences, especially within a Jewish Christian context (as many would argue the abstinence from food sacrificed to idols might be).

        My mind is not made up on these questions. I abstain from blood, but am not absolutely persuaded one way or another on the status of the blood taboos for Christians today.

      • mnpetersen37 says:

        No one said anything about pork. There is no question anywhere in Scripture that Gentiles, even God-fearing Gentiles can eat pork. The question is specifically about blood, which Leviticus 17:10f forbids not only for Jews, but also for Gentiles in the Land, and which prohibition the Apostles reiterated (though, perhaps without reference to the land). The prohibition is also found in Genesis 9, and there it is also perhaps specific to the land (translating eretz as “land” not “earth”). Yes, we need to hear other verses that seem to say the opposite. But neither sort of verse does away with the other. It’s because verses seem to take both sides that’s there’s a question at all.

        More specifically, we need to recognize that the Apostles were aware that all foods were clean, and yet nevertheless, still instructed Gentiles to refrain from blood. In doing this, they were not rebelling against Jesus, but judged rightly, and with Jesus’ authority.

        One consideration is that neither in Genesis, not in Leviticus, nor in Acts is blood forbidden because it is *unclean*. Clean and unclean were established to put a difference between Jew and Gentile, but the prohibition of blood was for all, Jew or Gentile. And blood is not described as “unclean”, but as life, and forbidden because it is the life. It’s simply a different issue. Indeed, to me, unless there is further argument, it seems like a red-herring to say that Christ declared all foods clean. Who said anything about cleanliness? Not Genesis 9, not Leviticus

      • Well said. And you make an important distinction here that I failed to make in my comment: blood is taboo, but not unclean. In the OT, for instance, blood is used as a ritual purgative in the very holiest of places, in a way that the flesh of a pig, to take one example, could never be.

      • Okay–Alastair and mnpetersen37, I thank you both for your replies. I acknowledge that I misspoke when I interjected “pork” into the conversation.

        You’re right, Alastair, that I’ve spoken in a ridiculing vein on this matter–and no doubt that was unwise of me. What prompted my speaking in that vein was my amazement at the spectacle of two Christian gentiles taking seriously the issue of abstaining from blood.

        Now it may be that my amazement was entirely misplaced. The scriptural conundrum to which you each have pointed in your replies has certainly demonstrated that the issue is complex–at least as a kind of scriptural puzzle.

        Given the fact that the two of you seem convinced that this is–to whatever extent–a serious concern, than surely that concern is reflected in the classic theological tradition. Again, may I ask: Could either one of you helpfully point me to a comment of Augustine or Luther or Calvin or another classic theologian on this matter?

        Also–may I be permitted to ask in a more direct manner: Do either one of you believe that abstaining from blood contributes in any way to salvation, or–conversely–that failing to abstain from blood detracts from same?

      • Caned Crusader says:

        The issue isn’t one of salvation, but of right Christian practice. No one here has raised the question of whether if a Christian ate meat with blood in it, whether that Christian would be damned. The question is, “ought anyone–Christian or not–eat such food?” I don’t have the time to dig through my Luther set and I don’t have enough of Calvin beyond the Institutes to know if he said anything. But just because the issue doesn’t come up often doesn’t mean it’s not something we should be diligent over once Scriptural questions have been raised. I’m inclined to go with Alastair and say that the Noachic covenant forbids the eating of blood on the grounds that “the life is in the blood”; one is therefore consuming what one ought not consume. I’ve never had to deal with this particular issue before, though, so perhaps I’m incorrect. Last thing, Wade: you’re not the Apostle Paul. I’ve not run into you around here before, but I’ve certainly come to know Alastair, and his conservative Protestant credentials are as good as you want. Keep in mind that a soft answer turns away wrath; it sounds like you’ve antagonized Alastair before, so from that vantage point he seems to be showing you a kindness and not booting you straight out of here as I would.

      • In hindsight, I realize that my last paragraph was probably not well put.

        What I was trying to get at is: Just what is it that the two of you think is important about this issue? What is it that might conceivably happen if we, on the one hand, abstain from blood or, on the other, fail so to do?

      • Regarding the historic treatment of the command, many Christian societies have had no problem with things such as blood sausages, for instance, with no objections from the Church. However, Tertullian and other early Church sources present the command as something expected of Christians by the Church in their day.

        As for what might ‘happen’, that probably isn’t the best question to ask. What might happen is that we might displease and dishonour God by our behaviour. We might cause offence to a weak conscience. Through our practice of indifference to the will of God where it is not immediately clear to us we might wound our own consciences and become less attentive to God’s will as declared in Scripture. Through our failure to take seriously passages that raise difficult questions for us or which haven’t been attended to by the Christian cultures within which we are or were raised we might give weight to the claims of those who claim that we pick and choose when it comes to God’s word and leave them feeling more justified in their practice.

      • Caned Crusader says:

        Well, i can’t say for anyone else, but I’d like to think “what would happen” would be rather obvious: we’d be violating a biblical command that applies to us, and sinning unintentionally. Even if such a sind doesn’t result in eternal punishment, there’s still no harm in doing a little study to see whether or not eating things with blood is in fact sinful. Calvin, as it turns out, believes it is adiaphoron, but says that the Jerusalem Council prohibited on the grounds that it was widely considered immoral even in Gentile nations of the time. If that is the case, then perhaps the prohibition doesn’t apply to us today. And I don’t think anyone is overy tormented about this issue; this is, after all, a thread where miscellaneous topics someone has been mulling over recently are encouraged to be discussed.

      • mnpetersen37 says:

        I’m not sure we can know why a command is given, or what it is connected to, till we have obeyed it for at least several hundred years. That may sound silly, but practices and words need time to resonate as we silently keep and hear them, not knowing why. In listening we stretch toward meaning, but we do not yet have meaning. This command, as all Scripture, needs listened to. And we, as a people cannot articulate it’s significance till after the words and practices have resonated for many generations.

      • Thank you, Caned Crusader, for your reply. I re-stated the concern of my last paragraph just as you posted your own response to same. What I’m trying to get at is: Let’s suppose we fail to abstain from blood–what’s the harm? Let’s suppose we do abstain from blood–what is gained thereby? I’ll readily confess that this is the first time in my life that I have ever come across Christians of any stripe who are concerning themselves with abstaining from blood.

        Re: Augustine, Luther, Calvin, etc. I’m not so much concerned with whether this issue has come up often or not, as I am with whether or not it has come up at all–ever. Surely someone with the impeccable Protestant credentials that you claim for Alastair wouldn’t trouble himself to abstain from blood if he didn’t have warrant so to do from a classic theologian. I’m just curious as to where to find said warrant.

        It goes without saying, Caned Crusader, that I’m not the Apostle Paul–and neither are you, and neither is Alastair.

        It’s no accident that you haven’t encountered me more often, as I only comment here intermittently. What you must understand about me is that I don’t subscribe to contemporary doctrines of “inclusion”, “tolerance”, “diversity”, “anti-racism”, “gay-friendliness”, “philosemitism”, et al. In refusing to subscribe to said doctrines, I believe I am in accord with the historic tradition of historical Christian theology and faith–though I am certainly out of all step with late twentieth and early twenty-first century academic theology. I believe that adherence to these new-fangled, contemporary doctrines–which are deliverances of secularism, not Christianity–has wrecked Christendom.

      • Abstaining from blood isn’t just some inconvenience that I would just shrug off if I knew of no theologian who believed that we should take the blood taboo seriously today. There are plenty of professing Christian contexts today where no one believes that the biblical teachings against homosexual relations are to be taken seriously. If no respected theologian of a person’s acquaintance believes that the Bible’s teachings in this area are relevant today, does that excuse him in ignoring them? Should we just take confidence from numbers here? Surely, as Protestants, Scripture is the final word and one which can stand strongly against the tendency of the tradition on occasions.

        Blood abstinence was practised by Tertullian and other Christians of his day, even outside of Israel. It has also historically been widely practised in some quarters of the Christian East, in Irish Christianity, in Coptic Christianity, etc. Pope Gregory III is an example of a pope issuing a prohibition of consuming blood. James Jordan is an example of a Protestant theologian who believes that this applies to the Church today.

      • mnpetersen37:

        I must admit that I find your last comment–about silent adherence to a commandment through historical time–to be beautifully expressed and I’m sympathetic to its spirit.

        What I’m having a hard time with is the simple fact that–as I’ve said–this is the first time in my life that I have come across Christians who are concerning themselves with abstinence from blood.

        It would help me greatly to cope with the “alien” quality of this notion if you or anyone else could point me to support for this notion in classic theology.

      • Caned Crusader says:

        I’m not sure precisely what the harm would be. To be honest, i’ve never considered the question before; I’ve never had to choose whether not to abstain from blood. But even if I can’t know precisely what harm I’d be doing to myself, if it is true that the NT still prohibits the consumption of blood then I should follow the Apostolic commandment regardless of whether i understand it; perhaps with more study, I will. I would venture to say that most people are with you on the positions you claim for historic Christianity. But you came here assuming the absolute worst motives of everyone in the discussion–and you haven’t yet apologized for your lack of courtesy. I’m not going to digress and explain the value of good manners. Rational disagreement and disputation is welcome here; i can attest to that. Unnecessary aggression, lack of charity and proof-texting won’t endear you to those who frequent this blog, though.

      • And, btw–since asking more than one question at a time tends to engender a focus upon one query to the detriment of another–please allow me to restrict my questioning to the one question I consider to be most important at the present juncture: What is the warrant in the tradition of classic theology for the notion that we ought to be concerned about abstaining from blood?

      • It is also important to recognize here that the fact most Christians don’t uphold principled blood abstinence has little to do with careful conclusions reached after grappling with the biblical evidence, but with 1) obliviousness that this might even be an issue (a camp in which you seem to have been); 2) the assumption that, since no one seems to be making an issue of this in the current context, it must be OK. It should be observed that such an approach is not unrelated to that which most progressives take in lightly dismissing anything that doesn’t conform to our modern cultural norms as purely a matter of ancient context. This is one of a number of reasons why I am concerned to take such a question very seriously.

      • Caned Crusader says:

        I believe Alastair already cited Tertullian (who is quite early) saying that abstinence from blood was a requirement for all Christians. I’d have to do further research and see how many of the church fathers commented on these verses to have a better idea; as I said upthread, Calvin didn’t believe this particular command was timeless. Ultimately, though, that is not the most relevant question for us (at least presuming Protestantism). The most relevant question is what Scripture, rightly interpreted, has to say on the matter.

      • To both Alastair and mnpetersen37: I’ve behaved rudely and discourteously to the two of you–both in this thread and the other–and I’d like sincerely to apologize to each of you. Please forgive my misbegotten intemperance. Each of you has treated me with far more consideration than I deserved. I hope you’ll grant me a second chance to attempt a more constructive engagement with the two of you.

      • Thanks, Wade. I appreciate this.

      • “Blood abstinence was practised by Tertullian and other Christians of his day, even outside of Israel. It has also historically been widely practised in some quarters of the Christian East, in Irish Christianity, in Coptic Christianity, etc. Pope Gregory III is an example of a pope issuing a prohibition of consuming blood. James Jordan is an example of a Protestant theologian who believes that this applies to the Church today.”

        Alastair, I appreciate you going to the trouble to give me this round-up of sorts.

        Now, Tertullian also was a proponent of the charismatic movement of his age, was he not? I’m under the distinct impression, however, that you don’t feel that that lends warrant to the charismatic movement of our own time. Similarly, I’d be disinclined to practice blood-abstinence on Tertullian grounds alone. Perhaps you could say more about why you find Tertullian compelling in this case and not in the other.

        As for the Christian East, Irish Christianity, Coptic Christianity, papal praxis, etc. I live in the American South, and while I certainly don’t begrudge those traditions in their respective homelands, I’m afraid I really can’t be compelled by those traditions in my own homeland.

        As for Mr. Jordan–again, my question has to do with classic theology.

      • These weren’t mere localized traditions, but practices founded upon interpretation of the biblical text. There are plenty of other things that are being reduced to the level of cultural traditions in the same way, which I am pretty sure that you would join me in upholding as scriptural (e.g. biblical sexual ethics as it relates to fornication).

        The significance of Tertullian is that he doesn’t just refer to his own belief, but to a belief apparently widely taken for granted by Christians of his day and context.

      • It is also important to take seriously the possibility that the turning away from blood abstinence in certain quarters had to do with the Church’s poisonous reactive antagonisms with Judaism and other such movements that upheld dietary restrictions.

      • Caned Crusader says:

        Wade, I’m sure you realize that Augustine was North Africa, Luther from what is now Germany, and Calvin from France. They did not reside where you currently live, but you’ve indicated that you’d take them seriously as sources on this matter. Why, then, are you not willing to do the same for other regional Christian traditions? And older theologians, while often very helpful consultants on things like this, are not alwasy right nor do they address everything we might want them to. For all i now, Augustine never talked about this issue because blood abstinence was widespread when he wrote. What matters ultimately is the Scriptural witness; contemporary theologians are precisely as capable of interpreting Scripture as “classic” theologians (and this is coming from someone who’s not a huge fan of most of the contemporaries.).

      • Caned Crusader: To answer your question concerning why I take, say, Augustine seriously whereas I really can’t take, say, Coptic Christianity seriously (as a norm for praxis for myself, that is). Augustine, et al. are theologians, philosophers, men of reason. Thus, their thought has a prospect (I emphasize the word “prospect”) of being persuasive across cultures. Irish Christianity, Coptic Christianity, etc. are “cultures” themselves. They may or may not be informed by reason to a greater or a lesser extent, but their rational content is not as immediately clear as it is in the case of theologians and their texts.

      • Also, mnpetersen37, I’d like to reiterate that I find the following comment of yours to be a beautiful sentiment, beautifully expressed:

        “I’m not sure we can know why a command is given, or what it is connected to, till we have obeyed it for at least several hundred years. That may sound silly, but practices and words need time to resonate as we silently keep and hear them, not knowing why. In listening we stretch toward meaning, but we do not yet have meaning. This command, as all Scripture, needs listened to. And we, as a people cannot articulate it’s significance till after the words and practices have resonated for many generations.”

        Though I’m not prepared to grant its persuasive force in the specific context of blood-abstinence, your comment articulates a more general notion that I believe to be the essence of human life on this earth.

        In fact, every comment that has been directed to me in this exchange by you, Alastair, and Caned Crusader has challenged my perspective and I’ve both enjoyed and benefited very much from the overall discussion. I wish I could respond to every point that each of you has made and there’s much more that I’d like to say in behalf of my own view–but, frankly, I’m just a bit worn out now.

  3. whitefrozen says:

    I’m late to the party, but the X Files is a great show.

    • Wow, you really are. But, yes, it is.

      • The Man Who Was . . . says:

        I like the Mythology box sets. The monster of the week thing gets kinda old, even when well done.

      • whitefrozen says:

        That’s what were predicting – that it will get old. I know nothing about the series tho so right now its quite enjoyable.I hope they do some story arcs or something, though.

      • The Man Who Was . . . says:

        Well, keep on watching the MOTW episodes as long as you enjoy them. But the Mythology sets are out there if boredom sets in. There are also lists of mythology episodes online, if you are watching through Netflix or whatever.

  4. quinnjones2 says:

    🙂 I’m just ‘favouriting’ so that I’ll get email links!
    Sleep well.

  5. quinnjones2 says:

    I just received a letter inviting me to a school reunion.
    The school motto is: ‘Servire est regnare’. The school is in Coventry, and the Coventry motto is: ‘Camera Principis’
    On the theme of mottos, the motto at Dynevor Grammar School for Boys in Swansea was (maybe still is): ‘Nihil sine labore’
    The Girls’ Grammar School, LLwyn-y-Bryn ( School on the hill 🙂 ) was :’The journey of high honour lies not in smooth ways’ (I still have my school-blazer badge)
    Servus 🙂

  6. whitefrozen says:

    Every once in a while I like to read Medal of Honor citations – if you ever want your mind blown, take a minute and go thru some of those.

  7. BamBam says:

    Some months back, in an earlier OT, I asked how to go about understanding feminism. I came across ‘Feminism: A Very Short Introduction’, and it was a great little read. More about British feminism, and more about its history than its theory, but I kinda preferred that. It helped me place suffragism in a richer context (and made this piece by Helen Andrews a more vivid read, as it came while the book was fresh in mind). I followed this up with Chimamanda’s short ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ –a better addition to the Nigerian conversation than the global one, IMO. Her account of how power has accrued to men since time immemorial (the un-relinquished & compounding benefits of sexual dimorphism) seems vulnerable to the charge Alastair levelled in this comment thread: that men’s power comes largely from their more agentic modes of social action. [Btw, Alastair, what influenced your thought on that point? Books? Lectures? Brilliance? It all seems intuitively right to me, but I’d like to interrogate it at least a little bit]. Chimamanda’s feminism wears the garb of equality feminism but seemed more about carving larger social spaces for women, than parity in top-shelf professions. It’s a very effective popularizer, this talk/short Kindle book. Maybe that’s just what’s in the realm of the possible for Nigerian life (your humble spades, if the cute interactions atop this thread be entertained) I’m gna try to plan for meatier/actual works of feminist theory soon. (Is ‘seminal’ still a no-no? =P) Anyway, enough on that point.

    Are there any Canadians who frequent this blog? I accidentally came across a short little 1998 book/sustained rant titled ‘Who killed Canadian history?”. It hit me square in the face with its descriptions of the problem. (The answers, btw, are 1) provincial ctrl of education that baldly teaches regionalism, 2) multiculturalism advanced under the banner of political correctness, and 3) abdication of the professional historians who only wrote niche histories of various marginalized groups, overcorrecting for ‘Great Man’ historiography). One of the consequences of sharing a border with the behemoth is that July 4, 1776 comes to mind a halfsecond quicker than July 1, 1867. Anyway, it’s given me a new resolve to read more books on & abt Cdn history. And I guess history in general. Next up is Conrad Black’s book, b/c controversialists are fun.

    • I often develop my thought from and in conversation with highly eclectic sources, synthesizing these into something rather different and often quite contrary to the positions from which it first arose. However, as a popular presentation of something close to my position, Roy Baumeister is pretty good.

    • The Man Who Was . . . says:

      I am Canadian.

      Canadian history is quite boring unless you can place it in a worldwide context. It tends not to have a lot of charismatic figures, but often works well as an illustration of how various worldwide trends work themselves out. For example, it is quite interesting how Canada has been both a reaction against and an aping of the great experiment to the south. Exactly how do you distinguish an (English) Canadian from an American anyway?

      • The Man Who Was . . . says:

        I think the only two figures anybody remembers from Canadian history are that drunken and corrupt Scotsman, our first PM, good old Sir John A., and the prophet and madman of Manitoba, Louis Riel. I guess there were a couple Frenchmen who founded Quebec. Maybe Wolfe and Montcalm. It isn’t God’s plenty.

        Really the whole country was a sort of ridiculous contraption with the sole purpose of keeping the Americans out.

      • The Man Who Was . . . says:

        A big cultural fault line in Canadian history has been between the Anglophile Tory, pseudo-aristocratic pretensions of some and the pro-American, democratic, classical liberal tendencies of others. Of course, lately those differences have dissolved.

      • William Fehringer says:

        At a party once, someone who worked for the Canadian government brought a book for the host’s children called “The ABC’s of Canada.” I (an American) and a friend (Australian) were hysterical as we leafed through it, guessing what the next letter would feature. For example, “M” was for Mountie and “Z” was for Zamboni.

        Sometimes it seems like my Canadian friends are rushing to confirm the stereotypical jokes we make down here about our fine neighbors to the North.

        One other thing… when GWB was running for reelection, all the progressives I knew started declaring that if he won, they would move to Canada. Then when Barack Obama was elected, Canada had a more conservative government, and all the conservatives started saying, “That’s it. We’re moving to Canada.”

      • The Man Who Was . . . says:

        Canada is the perfect country to examine if you want to have a discussion around the question: What is a nation?

      • BamBam says:

        I actually find Cdn history interesting. The winding tale of how we reached today’s status quo has gotta be good. How did the French lose their grip? How did English Canada proliferate so well? Why are the Atlantic provinces so different? I also don’t know if Canada was an aping of USA. No Manifest Destiny, no protracted struggle with Europe; if anything we seem like a more pedestrian approach to New World nation-making. But I agree that keeping the Yanks out figured heavily in its first decades (and obviously the century before Confederation).

        I’m reading this book right now, whose argument is that the Liberal ‘Laurentian’ consensus that has more/less reigned in Canada since John A, is being swept away by the changing Conservative-leaning immigrant demographics. (In pop’n, Canada adds a new Toronto each decade, and these are very South Asian millions [among other grps]). Canada may be the world’s first example of post-nationalism. I think it’s going to be tough to negotiate, and our traditional poles of English & French will never be dis-established. But if her denizens continue to look less Anglo-Saxon, Canada will be first to bat at defining a nation outside of ethnic markers/prehistoric belonging to the land. (Being smaller than USA, I imagine it’ll happen quicker here. Also, more early European immigrants chose USA over Canada b/c 1) cold, 2) more of their kin were already there).

        Ever so often I look in on the debates in England/Europe about immigration, and I think the ‘our land’ sentiment is quite justifiable in some small sense despite how inappropriately some groups wield it. Canada’s reality & self-understanding is such that only First Nations can call it ‘our land’. ‘Nativism’ either looks different here, or lacks major self-awareness. Canadians 2 generations from now will still be bound together by the shared experience of Cdn winters, Tim Hortons, and the influence of US pop culture (& the Cdn stereotypes, I’m sure lol). But I think we’ll be a heterogeneous ethnic mixture, and have many fitful pivots back to more Eurocentric times whenever one group seems to be trying to stamp the country with their image. Anyway all these halfbaked thoughts make me want a firmer grounding in what has happened before. Guess I should count myself lucky that the topic doesn’t bore me lol.

        (Btw William, your conservative friends may not actually want to move here b/c of the ruling party. One’s local riding still determines more about their life, than the fed gov’t. And here in Ontario, it is stubbornly liberal. A billion dollar gas plant scandal wasn’t enough to unseat our Lib premier. O Canada 🙂 )

      • The Man Who Was . . . says:

        As I said, it is quite interesting how Canada has been both a reaction against and an aping of the great experiment to the south.

        It’s the vacillation between the two that’s interesting.

  8. quinnjones2 says:

    I’ve had peace in my heart as I have followed the unfolding of your recent comments on this page.
    I’m not a theologian but I love the Lord and I love the Scriptures. I’ve been reflecting on the ways the Lord guides me and others known to me who are also not theologians.
    There are wonderful moments when someone quotes words from the Scriptures which are timely, encouraging, strengthening, corrective, or a combination of all of these. Often such words also come to me following prayer and I turn to the Scriptures again…and again.
    There are also jarring moments when I say something which has an unexpectedly negative ( from my point of view) response from one or more people. Something is not right somewhere – but what is it? When I say ‘negative’ I suppose I mean the opposite of what some people fashionably describe as ‘affirming’. For example:
    -an angry rejection of what I have said
    -a frown, a ‘hmm’ … but no comment
    – someone abruptly changing the subject, as though I hadn’t said what I said.
    The other side of this coin is that I sometimes respond (inwardly at least) to things said by others in the three ways I have mentioned above.
    My first ‘port of call’ is to search my own heart. Sometimes this takes a long time and I have been told by some friends that I put up with too much for too long and that I’m ‘a glutton for punishment’.
    Then there are times when I speak out and am told that I’m being ‘awkward’.
    I haven’t found a ‘one-size-fits-all’ formula for ‘responding well’ in the many engagements I have with many people. I pray as I go and I learn as I go… and sometimes I’m a slow learner.
    One thing I find helpful at all times is this:
    ‘ But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.’ ( Galations 5: 21,22)
    Then I pray for whichever of these seems to be sadly lacking in me and/or in others.
    I have just re-read what I’ve written here and have thought of many ways in which people have responded well to me, and especially when I’ve done nothing to ‘deserve’ such kind treatment. One instance is a conversation my son-in-law and I were having about ‘getting on’ with Moslem people we know. I commented that the Moslem faith came into being after the Christian faith: ‘About 600 BC, wasn’t it?’ My son-in-law smiled and said, ‘I think you mean AD.’ 🙂
    Thank you all again. I learn a lot from you. And I quite enjoy having my L-plates on, really!

  9. quinnjones2 says:

    And my L-plates are in good shape! I’ve just read BamBam’s interesting post and I paused for thought when I read this:
    ‘Maybe that’s in the realm of the possible for Nigerian life (your humble spades, if the cute interactions atop this thread be entertained)’.
    So I wondered about the connection between feminism and spades, and Nigeria and spades, did a Google search, and found an article entitled “Is it racist to ‘call a spade a spade’?” Underneath is a picture of playing cards with a full suit of spades. Underneath that are words:
    ‘What happens when a perfectly innocuous phrase takes on a more sinister meaning over time?’
    Until a few minutes ago, I was unaware of the ‘more sinister meaning’, but I’m aware of it now, and as from now, I will endeavour to say ‘telling it as it is’ instead.
    I really enjoyed reading your post, BamBam, and also the link you gave to Alastair’s comments on feminism!

    • Christine, my bad conscience impels me to let you know that BamBam’s allusion to “spade”, Nigeria, and the “interactions atop this thread” are a reference to my own shenanigans up there–about which, the less said the better. Rest assured, you are blameless in the affair and I really don’t think there’s anything on earth the matter with using the venerable expression “to call a spade a spade”–despite the reservations of those who are, shall we say, “hypersensitive”.

      My interactions with you and others on this thread have impressed upon me that there is something to be learned from everyone here. Due to the inherent limitations of my nature, I don’t think I could ever hope to emulate your sweet, gentle and good spirit–but it is an example to me all the same.

      • quinnjones2 says:

        Thank you, Wade. It’s kind of you to say that. As for your ‘shenanigans’, had it not been for that and for BamBam’s light reference to it, I would still have been in ignorance about the alternative meaning of ‘spade’! By the way, my Irish grandmother sometimes told me to stop my ‘shenanigans’ when I was a girl, so you can glean from that that I wasn’t exactly angelic 🙂

      • BamBam says:

        Just to pipe in, I agree with Wade that there’s nothing wrong with the phrase in itself. Polysemy is a fact of life, and part of the fun of language anyway. When I first heard it, I was being sneakily mocked by white kids in high school–and it took me a while to catch on. So I’m primed to catch the veiled allusion and bring it out in the open, when I think it may not be the original innocuous meaning. But I still use the phrase when it applies. Blessings to you both 🙂

      • quinnjones2 says:

        🙂 Blessings to you, too.

  10. mnpetersen37 says:

    But surely if you believed that, you wouldn’t fly in an airplane.

    This one is actually pretty good. Airplanes are black magic. “Ok, get in this box, we’ll burn some stuff, say some magic words, have some people dressed up funny do some special actions, and then, without going through any of the locations in between, you’ll be in a different location.”

    Specifically, they pervert the connection of a person to location; the connection between travel and moving through locations; and the relation between locations and travel, and time; and since part of the end of birds is to make flight wonderful (as evidenced by the repeated dreams of flight–dreams airplanes cheat, as Tolkien noted), while planes make flight ordinary, they pervert the nature of birds. And, they change the chemistry of the atmosphere, and so pervert the end of CO2.

    (Mostly tongue in cheek. But I don’t like most planes. They can be fantastic, but often they are not. Though, they’re a systemic problem, not a problem for specific individuals.)

    • quinnjones2 says:

      🙂 I enjoy flying, but I prefer not to because I get claustrophobic. I like walking around and trains and boats are my favourites.
      When I read this ‘…they pervert the connection of a person to location…’ I thought of young children, and I wonder if this could also apply to car/train travel when children sometimes fall asleep in one place and wake up in another, and then typically ask, ‘Are we nearly there?’

      • mnpetersen37 says:


        While I think it’s largely symptomatic, and usually systemic, rather than personal, I think there is something deeply problematic with the way we travel. We are meant to have a connection to our land and our skies, living in and with natural rhythms of seasons, of locations, of weathers. And locations are meant to be very closely connected to peoples. St. Francis rightly calls the earth our mother. This is true not only because we spring from the earth, but because we feed from her breast, we share a bodily life with her, she embodies the memories of our peoples, and silently teaches us the imperatives our people hear. There is a natural connection between the land and older generations, particularly the mother–we are to respond to and respect both in very similar ways–because she “sustains and governs us”. It is no accident that God called his people to a holy land. The Christian gospel (and indeed God’s gift of the Land of Israel to the Jews) undercuts the close connection between a people and a land–for instance, we no longer thank the gods of the land or the land itself, for our crops, but the God of the living and the dead for giving us the land. And Christians are called to live like Abraham and Israel in Egypt: A stranger always looking for a better city to come. (Yes, to come to here, but yet, to come.) But we in the West have embraced a false gospel that claims to provide material prosperity to all, to heal the division of tongues around Capital, and to place Capital between people and people, and between individuals and land.

        (See here; though, Tse is slightly wrong, a god need not be able to respond: Baal, rather famously, wasn’t, as Elijah demonstrated, only the God of the Living and the Dead can. Rather a god is one in whom we trust, and whose commands we obey. With that change, I think Harvey’s response doesn’t address the fundamental issue, and perhaps even contains an acknowledgment that he’s working for the overthrow of a false god.)

        Cars, and most of the rest of our means of transportation, contribute to this trampling of land. For instance, obliterate distances–the distant mountains are nearby–and likewise destroy the difficult good of slowing moving through a land, attentive to its contours and rhythms and beauties, as one distance after another slowly moves from there, to here to there again. And they necessitate the creation of ugly scabs that radically interrupt the land–akin to, but far worse than, the bridge in Prince Caspian. Interstate Highways–I believe these are roughly equivalent to your Motorways, though far more prevalent–are particularly egregious, since a car on them is unable to stop, and is moving too quickly to really “take in” anything, and they create a very deep divide in the world on the two sides–neither people nor wildlife can cross them.

        In all this they contribute to, and facilitate the severance between us and our land–our severance from our mother earth. Rather than joining with her in praise of God (as in The Song of the Three Youths), and rather than praising God through her–as in Francis’ hymn–we make her a commodity.

        Of course, this does not mean that we can simply dissociate ourselves from this sort of practice–to do so we would have to leave the world–nor that there are not licit pleasures in it, nor etc. These are systemic critiques, and would need to be addressed gradually and across multiple generations, during which we live in the world as it is. Nor does it mean that people can’t honestly disagree with me, and participate in what I’ve described with a wholly free conscience. They can.

        That’s probably (er…not so probably) far too long a response. Hopefully, at least, the beginning and end are clear, and the rest can be passed over without too much loss.

      • quinnjones2 says:

        Hi Matt,
        I enjoyed reading what you wrote about our relationship with ‘mother earth’, and about some ways in which this is changed by the infrastructure. This is outside my area of expertise – I can just say, personally, that I like being able to open the door of my house and step out onto the ground (paving slabs, actually!) and into the fresh air. I don’t like opening the door of a first floor (or higher) hotel room and stepping out into a windowless air-conditioned corridor… but I can still breathe!
        Re: flying, I think Budziszewski is saying that no part of our natural teleology is undermined when we fly. Our movements are restricted, but then our movements are also restricted, though to a lesser extent, when we use other means of transport. I don’t know where jet-lag fits into this.

  11. As someone who, with the partial exception of a World Cup, is largely ambivalent about or irritated by our national football—Americans, read ‘soccer’—obsession, I found myself in the unusual position of providing an apologetic for it today. I would be interested to hear people’s thoughts on this conversation (substitute whatever sport tends to dominate male conversation in your culture).

    • quinnjones2 says:

      ‘People want to know you care about them enough to want to make an effort for conversation’s sake’ Yes, that’s true. I knitted a Villa mascot for a fan in the family, and a Welsh rugby mascot for a rugby fan. I’m also teased by a friend at church when Wales loses – it’s a talking-point :-). It can also help if school-teachers are au fait with ‘the latest’ about players and teams, as also with other sports. I noticed that a number of women also contributed to the tsunami of tweets on #villagate.

    • BamBam says:

      Agreed. To add to your comments about phatic speech, it also cuts across class divides very smoothly. I’ve noted in my military reservist settings, how easily university postgrads as well as high school dropouts can have a rousing debate about the merits of rebuilding the (pathologically bad) Toronto Maple Leafs; officers and non-commissioneds too. The most persuasive is simply the most committed/knowledgeable fan (and it’s easy but entertaining listening for everyone else). Few things could unite so many, even when they disagree. Montreal Habs fans are, generally, terrible people, but we trade barbs and laugh about it. The first time I felt like I belonged at my mess was when I took on a loud Habs fan on behalf of the many less accomplished teams he was ragging on. There is literally no other topic I would engage him on, hardhead that he is. But it was fun, and I made friends w/o coarse jesting. Hypermasculine interactions & laddish jokes can & often do find a home in these settings, but they’re not a constituent part of it. (Also who doesn’t love a good saga of woe ending in ultimate victory? Longest running championship drought in the NHL, but we endure, hoping against hope =P)

      • I suspect that people would look a lot more kindly upon bonding over sports if they gave thought to the sorts of things that might take its place if we were without it.

      • quinnjones2 says:

        ‘Montreal Habs fans are, generally, terrible people, but we trade barbs and laugh about it’. The Habs sound a bit like Millwall fans ( UK). As a mere woman ( 😉 ), I don’t join in with the ‘barbs and laughs’ but I find it amusing – I am, inevitably, in it though not of it! When I visited my daughter in Nottingham a few years ago, the train was packed with Millwall fans. Nottingham station was teeming with police officers and, when I enquired of an officer ( tongue in cheek) about the large police presence, he joked, ‘We’ve come to arrest you!’ There’s a lot of scope for bonhomie in the context of conversations about football – and other sports, but especially football, it seems.

      • The ‘banter’ is much of the fun! Playful rivalries and light-hearted ribbing are very powerful means of bonding for many men. I certainly know that I engage in these things rather a lot with the guys who are closest to me.

      • quinnjones2 says:

        🙂 I’m now being followed by ‘ @AboutFootball’, presumably because I RT’d your post – I can’t wait to tell ‘the girls’ about this!

      • The Man Who Was . . . says:

        the partial exception of a World Cup

        Beating up on true foreigners always makes things more interesting. It takes a lot more to get worked up about the guys from Liverpool trouncing the guys from Chelsea.

      • Although most of the guys at Liverpool and Chelsea are foreigners! Part of the appeal of the World Cup is that the teams have more than a merely nominal geographical identity.

      • mnpetersen37 says:

        Are you also only interested in World Cup Cricket?

      • No, I’m actually not especially interested in World Cup Cricket, although I do follow it. One day cricket is not a form of the game that I get excited about. The gold standard remains Test cricket, with its five day matches. The highlight for me as a cricket fan is the Ashes, in which England plays Australia. This comes around every couple of years or so. It is played over the period of a couple of months, with (typically) five five day matches.

  12. Sheila says:

    I was going to share this with the man in my life, who doesn’t connect with American men over football, basketball, or baseball–and also never cared for soccer in Europe unless he was playing in the game–and then I realized that his response would likely be, “It’s not just sports I’m not interested in. It’s phatic communication generally.” (And he would probably say it emphatically.)

    • Lol! He has a similar personality to mine, I think! 🙂

      I was discussing this earlier with Rebecca, wondering whether there was a female equivalent. We soon came to the realization that, for women, celebrity gossip can play a similar role in fuelling phatic conversation as football and sport more generally does for men. While football and sport really lend themselves to masculine dynamics of conversation, celebrity gossip provides a medium in which women can establish a more feminine dynamic of conversation. It allows women to bond through shared interest and shared moral judgment, whether condemnation or approbation. It also allows women to explore sensitive relational and personal concerns at a safer distance from the more immediate contexts of their own lives and those of their friends and family.

      As with the male focus upon football, the female focus upon celebrity gossip has profoundly unhelpful and unhealthy aspects to it, along with similar tendencies towards idolatry. On the other hand, however, once its primary purpose has been understood, I think that it is possible to take a more sympathetic perspective upon it than we might otherwise do. The obsession with celebrity culture may often be less about celebrity culture in and of itself than about the deep love of connecting to other women through it. This desire to connect isn’t a bad thing, although we could do with thinking of other and better media for both sexes to accomplish such bonding.

      • Sheila says:

        Oh, my….If anyone tried to discuss celebrity gossip with me, there would be no conversation, I’m afraid. I wouldn’t know what to say beyond, “Oh, so who is that you’re talking about? I’m afraid I’m not up on TV, movies, royalty, singers, or pretty much anyone the past few years….” I guess I could then take on the listener/prompter role and just let them talk. But wait–it just occurred to me–I can say that my cousin, who plays guitar for Kenny Chesney, was on The Tonight Show recently. Not that I saw The Tonight Show, or that I’ve ever heard one of Kenny Chesney’s songs. But I saw it on my cousin’s wife’s Facebook page.

        And with that, and the fact that Mary Travers of Peter, Paul, and Mary fame, was the step-granddaughter of my grandparents’ nextdoor neighbors, I should now get back to the paper I’m supposed to be writing.

      • Sheila says:

        I’m not sure this will show up in the right place, but I have to add to my earlier comment….My trying to talk about celebrity gossip would quickly become apophatic communication. 🙂

      • quinnjones2 says:

        I’m not much up on TV, movies, singers, either, Sheila…but I’ve got a hunch that the Duchess of Cambridge may give birth to a baby girl 🙂

  13. quinnjones2 says:

    Hi Alastair,
    I’ve just read, via Andrew Wilson’s link, your long comment which was posted by Scott McKnight on his ‘Jesus Creed’ site under the heading ‘Males and their Friends (Alastair Roberts)’.
    I have one question ( though I won’t be surprised if I think of more questions later!) about this statement in your post:
    ‘…friendships that are likely to be about emotional connection and support may be normal for women, but are much less so for men.’
    Do you think that there is a correlation between this and gender difference in suicide and attempted suicide rates?

  14. The Man Who Was . . . says:

    Judging from Richard Beck’s review, Rachel Held Evans seems to be trapped in a lot of modernist thought forms. Honestly, I can’t help but notice just how many liberal Christians are always banging on about doubt. Now, I feel for these people, trapped in an eternal in-between, and I don’t think that you should try to force yourself to have more certainty than you do, and I think that conservative churches (filled with a lot people who have never felt much doubt) have often dealt very poorly with these people, but the indubitable fact, it seems to me, is that liberal religion really just means less religious religion.

    This goes to the link between socially liberal views and secularism (or at least less religious religion). Belief in God (or the gods) is, I think, epistemologically based on our perception of purposes in the world. Once that perception goes, both a belief in natural law and belief in God tend to go too.

    • The Man Who Was . . . says:

      Beck’s reference to the politicization of the church is a red herring. The real reason people are leaving/have left the church is the simplest: they don’t have as strong a belief in God as their ancestors did. There is simply no earthly reason why liberal Christians can’t go and form their own churches. And even when they do have their own churches, they can’t seem to keep young people from leaving either.

      • And, in my experience, the people who complain about politicization and the culture wars are often really bothered about the side that the Church is taking, not the fact that it is being political.

      • quinnjones2 says:

        Alastair has just posted a thought similar to one I just had! I was thinking that the complaints seem to hinge on what people are actually looking for in church, and whether they are more Christ-centred than ‘church-centred’, or vice versa. I find it difficult to understand the problem of doubt. I thought that all Christians received the gift of faith and that, although there can be doubts about certain passages in the Scriptures, and various practices in church and so on, faith in God remained. I’d better stop here before I get carried away!

  15. The Man Who Was . . . says:

    May I ask the question: what exactly was the theological contribution of Karl Barth? What ideas did he contribute to the theological discussion?

    By this, I don’t mean his historical significance as someone who stood up to theological liberalism. Or was he was mainly known for his convincing arguments against liberalism?

  16. mnpetersen37 says:

    Scattered comments:

    It’s extremely odd to me to see Rosenstock-Huessy called a neo-Hegelian (though I have). Rosenstock-Huessy and Rosenzweig write from a very similar perspective (Rosenstock-Huessy quotes Rosenzweig on nearly every page, and the influence in the opposite direction is equally large), and the first two thirds of the Star of Redemption were devoted overturning Hegel. (If only for his stunning exegesis of the Shemah and of the Song of Songs, you should read Rosenzweig.)

    One difference would be that for Rosenzweig and Rosenstock-Huessy (like for Marx), any change in history–or any Eternal Present in the Fire of Torah–is material, not ideal. However, like for some modern French philosophers (Cretien, Nancy, Levinas) as well as in this paper, language is subordinate to particular utterances; and the linguistic exchange is a material process, moving our bodies, and building meaning and symbolism only through real physical, material, sounds which must be listened to, materially, not just heard, symbolically.
    “It seems to me that there are really enormous implications for a society that accepts that employers owe their workers nothing more than a paycheck.” (Here)

    This is Rosenstock-Huessy’s criticism of Capitalism. (From a stunning passage in Out of Revolution that repeatedly, and point blank, calls Capitalism murder, and capitalists murders. Cristaudo quotes a snippet from it, but the whole passage is excellent.) In the older system, the manor owner ruler owed education, and community, and liturgy, and all the other things involved in a full life, to the people who lived on his manor. Capitalism operates by murdering this older form of life (and all others) through the power of low cost–the manor owner who provides education cannot compete with the capitalist who need not pay for education.

    Are you familiar with Jean-Louis Chretien? I find him extremely helpful.

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