09 January 2009

Adaptation and Co-optation in the blogosphere

I have been invited to join another blog, and have accepted. As a result this blog will become even more defunct then it is now. Sorry to my one follower, although I encourage you to check out theophiliacs.com.

22 October 2008

Well, It's Been Awhile

April to October...silence--why break it now? Haven't I given up on the prospects of faithfully maintaining a blog? Shouldn't the blog police put me out of my procastinating misery?

I don't have the answers to life's most persistent questions. But I have been thinking about Art lately. Specifically, I've been thinking about the connections between Asthetics and Religion. One commonality between the two aparently disparate subjects is the presence of Tension (by the way, a habit I've picked up in the long months since my last post is to capitalize those key and important Concepts).

In art as well as hermeneutics there is a fundamental tension between the artist's/author's intent/emotional expression and the audience's reception. In the philosophy of art this tension is expressed in the writings of Veron and Tolstoy. Veron tells us that the only meaning art can have is found in the personality of the artist. Art is the expression of the artist's emotion. Art must be viewed in the context of the author to have meaning. Tolstoy modifies this theory to say that in addition to expressing the emotions of the artist, Art, in order to meet the definition, must also connect with the audience. Tolstoy places much more emphasis on the role of the audience in the interpretation of art.
The same debate rages in the field of Biblical Hermeneutics. Much of evangelical hermeneutics these days is based on the idea that the author's intent is the thing to be grasped and understood as a basis for "making the interpretive journey" accross the cultural chasm which lies between the original Biblical authors and contemporary readers. It's logical, it's comforting, it makes sense. The only problem is that Jesus and His disciples did not interpret scripture that way, nor did the Church Fathers. Their hermeneuitic is far more subjective? prophetic? The historio-critical (for that is what I will call it) Hermeneuitc emerged slowly from the Enlightenment and especially from 19th century scholarship. So is the normative example of Biblical hermeneutics Jesus, or is it some stogidy German university professor (19th century), or some Fuller Seminary Ph.D. (21st century)?

To further "complexify" the issue, consider that the same debate can be had in Constitutional hermeneutics. Should the Constitution be interpreted according to the intent and context of the the Framers (a la Sculia), or should it interpreted based on the needs and context of contemporary America.
Apparently (maybe obviously), the Tension between Author/Audience is one implicit in any interpretative venture. Well, it seemed profound when I thought it, but now that I write it down I feel like a bonehead. More on this later (here's the beauty of ambiguous authoral intent: did I mean more on the connections between Art and Religion, more on the Tensions of Hermeneutics, or more on me being a bonehead?).

Anyway, I present to you one of my new favorite artists: Giorgio Morandi (he was kind of in to still lifes).

01 April 2008

The Return: Commemorated by a List of Books

I've broken continuity. Returning from Boston (sweet merciful crap, I love that place), I had a internet free Spring Break, and returning to school, I had a spare time free week of work. Now, I return, with a list of books that should be purchased and immediately sent to me, as well as a link to a short article about one of my very favorite books of all time: Erasmus' The Praise of Folly, and a link to an article about John Steinbeck that hurt my feelings (but don't worry because I have two).

Books I want to read:

Nothing to be Frightened Of

Julian Barnes

    Ruminations on death

Sputnik Caledonia
Andrew Crumey

    Strange dystopian literature

This Secret Garden: Oxford Revisited

Justin Cartwright

    Pure intellectual nostalgia

Three Studies for a Crucifixion

Francis Bacon


Don't know what its about, but what a wonderful title.


Drinking for England

Fergus Linnane


Famous British drunks



Matthew Francis


Poems based on the 14th century Travels of Sir John Mandeville

05 March 2008

Jesus, the Syrophoenician woman, and a reversal of violence

No, I did not come up with the totally sweet title of this post, it is in fact, the title of a very interesting article/post from Theology for the Masses.

David Kuo on Anne Rice

Talk about transformations: Anne Rice goes from vampire sex and and vampire gore to a Catholic whose contribution to literature, like many Catholic authors (i.e. G.K. Chesterton, Graham Greene, et al.), seems to be a little deeper and more profound than your run-of-the-mill "Christian" author.

Now take David Kuo, former White house lackey, former committed fundamentalist Christian who has been transformed to a deeper, more profound, more moderate Christian thinker and writer.

The convergence of those transformations is that David Kuo has written an excellent review of Anne Rice's new book, the second in her Christ the Lord series, and I think you should read it (them).

04 March 2008

Book Thieves, the Truth Project, and Bulletproof Logic

Here's a short article about people stealing books from independent bookstores in Seattle. Included is what the author calls the New York Times bestsellers list of stolen books—the books most commonly stolen and resold to other used bookstores—really gave me some ideas, but, (un)fortunately, my ethical and moral shock collar has reined me in.

Also, my place of employment is offering me a chance to participate in Focus on the Family's Truth Project, and I'm wondering whether I should or not. I am deeply suspicious of Focus on the Family, but it does seem very interesting. It's a 12 week course hoping to give you a Christian worldview. Of course, cynics might at this point begin to pander the word "brainwash," but, we all know J. Dobson would never do anything like that. I think I am going to do it, but I have a feeling that at least on some points my Christian worldview is different from others. Dobson, Dr. Del Tackitt, Ravi Zacharias, and others would probably conclude (something about some ridiculous non-contradiction "law") that it is an impossibility to have two different Christian worldviews. I imagine (notice my intentionally non-committal language here) that their argument, whether they would admit or not, could be expressed like this:

1. I am a Christian.

2. I have a worldview.

3. My worldview lines up with the Bible.

4. If something lines up with the Bible it is Christian.

5. Therefore, my worldview is the Christian worldview.

6. If others have a worldview fundamentally different than mine, it is not the Christian worldview (A does not equal B, and so forth).

Foolproof logic, no doubt, but that doesn't make all the premises true, and in this case I think its premises #3 ff. that I have a problem with. I would restate the argument thusly:

3. My worldview lines up with my interpretation of the Bible (or is it that my Bible interpretation lines up with my worldview: a real chicken before the egg conundrum that may lie at the heart of the Christian cultural war)

4. There are hundreds if not thousands of ways to interpret the Bible, mine being one of them (superior to some, inferior to many)

5. If something lines up with one of an unknown number of possible Christian interpretations of the Bible then it is Christian (the question on which this point in contigent is what constitutes a possible Christian interpretation? Is it that you vote anti-abortion and anti-gay, and read that in to every scripture?)

6. Therefore, my worldview, along with an unknown number of others, is a Christian worldview contingent upon it lining up with one of those possible Christian interpretations of the Bible.

Now, logicians, how would I express that mathematically?

01 March 2008

Greg, Shane and Chuck

You need to read about this debate that Chuck Colson, Shane Claiborne, and Greg Boyd had. Wow. Take that Richard Land.

28 February 2008

Cartoons and Richard Land

Wittenburg Door is the world's first and oldest Christian satire magazine, and it is run by Trinity Foundation, which along with being a thriving homeless ministry, is also a tele-evangelist watchdog group. Hey, someones gotta do it. Along with hundreds of genius articles they have a cartoon series: Lifestyles of the Rich and Religious. They're freaking awesome!! Here's one about Kenneth Copeland; well, worth reading.

Also, here's a link to an interview with Richard Land, one the big head honcho guys at the Southern Baptist Convention telling us that its not that he's against taking care of the poor necessarily, its just that hating gay people is clearly more important (whoops, sorry, that's not what he said...just what he meant). He did say that he doesn't believe that young evangelical voters will vote for a president that isn't pro-life. On that one thing, Mr. Land and I agree. What we don't agree on is the definition of pro-life. By what he writes and speaks about, Mr. Land does not seem like he is pro-life; he is definitely anti-abortion, but if he were pro-life wouldn't he care more about the poor, about AIDs, and about torture, and not just about gay marriage and abortion? Nah, pro-life doesn't mean that you're actually for all life does it? Maybe we should change the title to pro-politically-expedient-non-gay-non-poor-non-Muslim-life. But, what the hell, at least he's not preaching against dancing and playing cards.

27 February 2008

Larry Norman (1947-2008)

Larry Norman, probably the first, possibly the best Christian rocker died on February 24, after a long series of health problems. Before DC Talk, before Petra, before Steve Taylor (one of the few who could give Larry a run for title of "best Christian rocker"), before Rich Mullins and Kieth Green, there was Larry Norman. He was a legend.

Here is an article about him on open source theology.

Here is an article about him from the Canadian Press.

Here is his official website, chronicling his last words.


Goodbye, Farewell

26 February 2008

Beowulf and Godsylla

Sometimes one comes across an item of such exquisite nerdiosity, that the only emotion one can feel is awe mixed with jealously for not having thought of it oneself. Here is such an item gleaned from the pages of one of the internet's most original publications: The Speculative Grammarian.

Here it is: Beowulf and Godsylla

Of course, Eduard Sievers would be turning in his grave, because as fine as this little poem is, it does not follow the dictates of Germanic Alliterative Verse! Travesty!

Also, here is a very interesting article about J.S. Bach, if you're interested.

At land, at sea, at home, abroad; I smoke my pipe, and worship God. -J.S. Bach