Open Mic Thread 30


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, 27, 28, 29.

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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42 Responses to Open Mic Thread 30

  1. I participate in the discussion of whether we can call God ‘she’ here. Some of you might be interested.

  2. Paul Baxter says:

    In praise of modern cuisine. A very thoughtful look at food history.

    • That is a superb piece. My girlfriend sent it to me last week. Thinking surrounding food has been on my mind a bit lately (this is another piece that has sparked some interesting conversations).

    • The Man Who Was . . . says:

      While this is a real phenomenon, I’m not convinced that it is terribly widespread. There are obviously enough people into ‘food purity’ to make up a viable market (for example, the organic section of your grocery store, or vegan restaurants), but most people, including most lefties, don’t really care about any of this.

  3. Some of you may not be aware of the fact that I am no longer using Delicious for my links, but that I am still tweeting links at Alastair’s Links.

  4. The Man Who Was . . . says:

    My friend/acquaintance Jack Donovan has some thought on the recent Mad Max movie here (article) and here (podcast). The podcast is really great.

    • Interesting. I watched and enjoyed the film, but wasn’t persuaded by all of the claims that it was a feminist movie. It is definitely more complicated than that.

      • Cal says:

        Neither was I (for what it’s worth), though I found the review to be ridiculous and a contrived manospheric belch of snark. Furiosa is not becoming a man, nor are the women in the desert indistinguishable from haggard sailors. And the run into the desert has nothing to do with female governing instincts being incompetent. It’s not worth interacting with anymore than this.

        But I did think Max, as the consummate wanderer and outsider, was able to point out something interesting: salvation does not come by escape, but by redemption. The fact they reclaim the Citadel is a big win for the concept of power and government, considering most positive endings in apocalypse films involve survivors fleeing into the horizon.

        In fact, what this film opens up is possibility of new creation. Instead of living according to necessity (which Immortan Joe summarizes in the neo-Viking religion and his hypocritical imperative to “not become addicted to water”), Max ends up opening the hope of renewal. The question “Who Broke the World?” finds an answer in the possibility of a new world, a world where abundance (represented in water and seeds) is the “grain of the universe”.

        Mad Max is probably one of the most biblical movies I’ve seen in theaters in quite awhile. Tom Hardy signed up for 4 more movies, here’s to hoping their equally satisfying!


      • The Man Who Was . . . says:

        Haggard sailor. Really, who am I gonna believe, you or my lyin’ eyes?

      • The Man Who Was . . . says:

        After having finally seen the movie, the all female motorcycle gang definitely looked like a bunch of haggard sailors.

      • The Man Who Was . . . says:

        I do think the movie at least attempted to be a feminist film. Some problems though:

        1. Women are, in general, averse to sleeping with warlords? Really? I could see maybe one or two wanting to escape from under the thumb of an older patriarch, especially if there is some younger man on the scene. But all of them?
        1a. The movie loaded the dice here a bit by making Immortan Joe diseased and particularly physically repulsive. Would being a healthier and more attractive warlord have made it all ok?
        2. Women prefer to fend for themselves out in the wilderness, rather than exchange access to their bodies for material comfort? Really?
        3. Some of the women disparage the war boys as “cannon fodder,” but being one of the war boys is actually really cool; you do get a lot out of it. You get to dress cool, listen to cool music, drive cool cars really fast, and do exciting things. What alternative to that exactly is offered?
        4.The movie tried to use shorthand signals for who we are supposed to cheer for (warlords bad, proto-feminists good), but I’m not sure it actually achieved that. Neither side was particularly sympathetic. The chases were cool, but I wasn’t terribly involved emotionally with either side.
        5. The action sequences and the design were very well done, but plot, motivation and character were extremely thin.

  5. William Fehringer says:

    If you like martial arts, or renegade cops, or 80’s movies in general, you might like Kung Fury.

  6. quinnjones2 says:

    Look at those Bobby dazzlers! (Men’s Fashion Ads From The 70’s/ Alastairs Links) The only ones I can remember are the flares/ ‘Lionel Blairs’ -and woe betide anyone who wore those after they went out of fashion 🙂

  7. The Man Who Was . . . says:

    Lines are being drawn. David Neff and Tony Campolo have come out in favour of “full inclusion” for gays and lesbians in the church. Who’s next, Philip Yancey? Shane Claiborne? And where’s Jim Wallis in all this?

    I’ve made extensive comments here before about how the politics of the Evangelical left were essentially materialist/utilitarian. I don’t see anything there I would want to take back.

    BTW, there are a lot of writers and academics at Evangelical colleges who very much want to take this step, but can’t because of their fear of losing a job. The Evangelical academic world used to be a fairly cushy little niche. Not any more.

  8. The Man Who Was . . . says:

    The days of this sort of thing may be over soon:

    I can’t recall who it was, but one of the “progressive Christian” columnists on the Patheos site complained that in her Episcopalian church, she worships with another guy who is a big wheel in the evangelical media complex. But because he’s willing to identify as an “evangelical” he gets a big audience, while she writes as a “progressive” and gets a small audience. As she points out, this is a bit of a scam–and I’d add, the people being scammed are not just those “progressive” Christians too honest to package themselves as “evangelical”, but also the evangelical readers who are getting not real evangelical reading, but words from those who are in fact socially and worship-wise mainline Christians, in a sense PRETENDING to be evangelicals.

    What’s actually going to happen I think is that it is these “I am not an evangelical but I play one on the pages of CT” in the evangelical media complex will gradually align themselves with their Sunday worship, leaving the Sunday evangelicals (the ones who actually worship in an evangelical church) to realize that for years they’d been ventriloquized by non-evangelicals.

    More here.

  9. The Man Who Was . . . says:

    I’ve been listening to lots of different Great Courses lectures on the Ancient Greeks in preparation for my upcoming trip to Greece. All I can say is: wow, people in other cultures can think differently! And I thought I was knowledgable and sympathetic to non-modern cultures.

    One of the problems people in the modern West have is our utter parochialism, especially among those people who think of themselves as the most openminded. I mean, how could anybody not think like a WEIRDo?

    • The Man Who Was . . . says:

      I heartily recommend the lectures of Elizabeth Vandiver and Jeremy McInerney on Ancient Greece at the Great Courses.

  10. The Man Who Was . . . says:

    I have also been listening to Timothy Luke Johnson’s lectures on St. Paul. Mostly pretty good, though I am not sure I agree with him that Pauline Christianity is a primarily experiential religion, based more on Paul’s own personal encounter with Christ than on, say, scripture. I found his emphasis on how Paul is more concerned about the good of the community than the individual interesting.

    Of course, there was the obligatory bit at the end about how we can’t take Paul’s views on women and homosexuality seriously in this day and age.

    Any thoughts on TLJ’s work? He’s quite conservative on the authorship question.

  11. whitefrozen says:

    This post from Mike Bird on Pauline scholarship may be of interest:

    Anyone have any particular insights into the ‘radical perspective on Paul’? I’d have to play a bit of catch-up myself since I have been reading other things lately.

    • I read Mark Nanos on Romans back in the day. It was delightfully disorienting. I would have to revisit it, but I found its thesis very thought-provoking, even though I didn’t find it entirely persuasive.

      • whitefrozen says:

        I just got an essay of his and it seems interesting. If I had to tentatively guess, it seems that the idea here is less how the two peoples, Jew and Gentile, become one family, and more how they can kind of be seperate-but-equal. But I’ll have to do a bit more reading.

      • mnpetersen37 says:

        Jewish scholar Jon Levenson does not like it, I believe he objects in this interview (though I don’t have enough time to re-watch it). He also claims that Christianity nowhere shows forth its Jewish begottenness so clearly as in its supersessionism.

        Jenson is also somewhat chary, and accuses it of Nestorianism (anyway, I believe this is what he’s talking about, I just heard of RPP now, but I’ve read a few of the arguments). If Jesus is in fact the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob, and the Jews reject Him, (one of which is simple Christian orthodoxy, the other of which is simple historic truth), rejection of Him is problematic: Just as there is no salvation aside from Israel’s God, so since He is Jesus, there is no salvation aside from Jesus. And (I think it was Jenson who mentioned this) other Jewish messianic movements–Jenson mentions Rabbi Akhiba’s call that all Jews follow Bar Kokhba–were similarly exclusive. Jenson’s own suggestion is to claim that the Word which became Flesh was the Torah, the Word written in letters of fire before the foundation of the world, so that though Jews, though in one sense rejecting Jesus, in another way, cling to Him.

        For my own part (and I’m not well versed in the debates, so this is just a thought or an opinion, not a judgment), Jesus says “No man comes [present tense] to the Father but by me” which, ironically, perhaps opens up a place for Jews.

        Rosenzweig notes that, at least on our usual reading of it, this is simply false. Jews come to the Father all the time, even without Jesus. Even if we can’t quite accept his critique as true *now*, it seems, we have to accept it as a true *then*, before the Ascension. When, the next day, a Jew arose and recited the Shemah, or he studied Torah, or etc. he came to the Father, without going through Jesus. And yet, Jesus claims that they only did so even then through Him. And if then, than likewise always before–this was prior to the Ascension. This means that it is perhaps possible that Jews now come to the Father as they have always, by Jesus.

        On the other hand, Levenson traces the reading of St. Paul back to Rosenzweig who, as a Torah observant Jew, acknowledged that the God of the living and the dead had given a real task to the Christians, yet nevertheless, remained a Jew, despite Christianity. (And that means the reading goes back to Rosenstock-Huessy–though, I haven’t read their correspondence.) However, as Levenson notes, Rosenzweig never relativized Torah and Christ. For Rosenzweig (this is my reading of him, not mediated by Levenson), Christians are deceived, and yet, we are instructing the nations in a (somewhat idolatrous) worship of the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob, and thus preparing the nations for the eventual coming of the Messiah; so that when he comes, we will see our deception, and all the nations of the earth shall join with the Jews in praising LORD.

        I suppose these two sorts of readings of the other faith are probably the best both can hope for, as doctrine: One that remains exclusively, and non-apologetically, Christian, or Jewish, recognizing on the one hand, the preeminence of Christ over Torah, or on the other, of Torah over the false messiah, Jesus of Nazareth; and yet, somehow, finds a place for the other in the Divine plan.

        More practically, we need to remember how easily it is for Christian NT readings to be anti-Jewish, even when not explicitly so. The Pharisees are still viewed as the founders of Judaism today (Levinas is praised as a Pharisee in one of his books–if that doesn’t induce vertigo, nothing does!), and it is often hard not to read NT sayings in an anti-Jewish manner. (Whether that’s because of our history, or because of the nature of NT claims is a different question.) Jonathan Klawans, for instance, finds most readings of the cleansing of the temple anti-Jewish. (Who was Jesus judging? Did he just happen to come in on the wrong day? If not, then is it not all the leaders of the people, that is the Tannaim, who wrote the Mishna? So if they are so *obviously* wrong, it is all Judaism–or at least all non-Karaite Judaism–that is so wrong.) And perhaps we should question our own readings along those lines: “Am I saying something anti-Jewish, without realizing it, and if so, does that fact reveal a misreading of the text?”

        Finally, I suppose we could try to learn to read Scripture from Jews. Not because we are all really saying the same thing, but because we are not, and thus we owe them the hospitality of listening–especially because of our historic failures of hospitality toward Jews.

  12. quinnjones2 says:

    I have just read the post ‘Why toleration is not enough’ – Mere Orthodoxy / Christianity, Politics and Culture via Alastair’s Links, and I found myself nodding throughout, and especially as I read the final paragraph:

    ‘The implication here is obvious, if not altogether comforting: if moral conservatives and free-speech liberals are to find success, even if that just means being left alone, they will have to do the more laborious, painstaking work of making the case that the lives and practices they hold dear have real positive value, to convince our morally skeptical neighbours that a life lived in obedience to some great good ( or even God!) is one worth living, that hearing and engaging claims that challenge , even hurt, your sense of yourself, is of very real benefit. I confess that I have no confidence that success can be found in such an enterprise, but it really is our only option.’

    I couldn’t agree more. Being disobedient is so enjoyable for some people that they have no wish to give it up. It does not follow that we need to give up on them, abysmal though our success may be in our attempts to convince them that there is a better way.

    I have remembered an incident in a secondary school, where ‘laying down the law’ was a greater factor than attempting to convince, but I think that it does, to some extent, illustrate the point. I was covering a Year 8 lesson ( age 12-13, mixed ability, boys and girls).The children were not seated at individual desks but around a large oblong table. In burst a boy who started running around the desk behind the seated pupils. Children started squealing, shouting and running their hands through their hair – the boy had a large roll of sellotape and was sticking the pupils together by their hair. By the time I caught up with him he was already on his second lap. He didn’t take kindly to my attempts to spoil his fun and he put up strong resistance to me. I resorted to a ‘Top Corridor’ sanction, gave a pupil an out-of-lesson card and asked her to inform a senior teacher. The miscreant was soon escorted from the room.

    Most of our lesson time was lost because we were trying to remove the sellotape as carefully as possible. Pupils were also eager to make ‘witness statements’, which I agreed to, and some loved describing how the boy had ‘legged it all round us…’

    The miscreant was suspended from school for two days. We discovered that he had taken the sellotape from an art room and left a trail of it on doors and staircases en route to the classroom. Suspension was no punishment for him – he loved having two days off school. It was also no disgrace for him. On the contrary, he got a lot of kudos from it – there was a strong counter-culture in the school and many thought that he was ‘a proper lad’. He had no intention of giving up his lifestyle!

    I think the same delight in disobedience, applies in other contexts, as do counter-culture and kudos. I wish that persuasion could be more effective more often. Children were told about a better way in school assemblies, but these words often fell on deaf ears. I wish that even ‘laying down the law’ could be more effective, but this can have limited value, as in the instance I described above. But limited value is better than nothing, and I think we need to ‘soldier on’ and be thankful for small mercies – such as a school being spared the antics of a mischief-maker for two days!

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