Archive for the ‘Theology’ Category

There is indubitably an intimate interaction with the texts of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures for works of theological significance. But in this age of profound historical-critical exegesis (cf. critical-realist readings), one might find it increasingly difficult to find HC readings and spiritual readings of scripture commensurable. While this issue is one that has intrigued me for some time, it was recently reinvigorated and given a new framework in a conversation with a friend (C. Schmitz).  

The question I am (presently) concerned with is the following: in writing a work of theological value, using the scriptures of the Judeo-Christian religion(s), must one find her/himself reading from either an HC or spiritual (e.g., allegorical, tropological, anagogical) locus? Thoughts?


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I grew up in the Church. There were many times when I had the haunting feeling that we were only filling chairs for the theatrical events that would ensue for the three visitors who had not yet “accepted Christ into their lives”. I am positive that I recognized the impoverished nature of those circumstances, but, in a way, I had not experienced or learned that there was another way. I thought, perhaps this is what the church is supposed to be. I recently finished James K. A. Smiths pop-theology book — I think it’s fair to call it that — Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism: Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church, and in the section on Lyotard, Smith had this fantastic quote:

When I travel to France, I hope to be made to feel welcome. However, I don’t expect my French hosts to become Americans in order to make me feel at home. I don’t expect them to start speaking English, ordering pizza, talking about the New York Yankees, and so on. Indeed, if I wanted that, I would have just stayed home! Instead, what I’m hoping for is to be welcomed into their unique French culture; that’s why I’ve come to France in the first place. And I know that this will take some work on my part. I’m expecting things to be different; indeed I’m looking for this difference. So also, I think, with hospitable worship: seekers are looking for something our culture can’t provide. Many don’t want a religious version of what they can already get at the mall.

In the last year, I started attending a church in the Anglican Communion and, while there are several hundred essays/posts/etc., that could be written on the things going on within the communion, I must say, I have quickly learned the profound depth in the language and practice of the liturgical tradition. I think the church has much to offer to the world — in thought, word, deed, etc. — but will she have her unique voice, and a coherency to her message, a cogency to her thought? I think she/we can, but I think that as a whole we need to consider what that language is, and how we can practice it, rather than leaving our uniqueness behind for contemporary (or relevant) interests.

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Slavoj Zizek has written in several places — but here I am specifically referring to Revolution at the gates: a selection of writings from February to October 1917 — that,

“On today’s market, we find a whole series of products deprived of their malignant property: coffee without caffeine, cream without fat, beer without alcohol. . . .  Virtual Reality simply generalizes this procedure of offering a product deprived of its substance: it provides reality itself deprived of its substance, of the hard resistant kernel of the Real — just as decaffeinated coffee smells and tastes like the real coffee without being real coffee, Virtual Reality is experienced as reality without being so.”

Coffee without caffeine, cream without fat, beer without alcohol, war without death (at least on our side, as Zizek claims); but what about the theological (specifically Christian) question: what is Christianity’s (to use Zizek’s language) chocolate laxative today? We could say: Christianity without Christ, Christianity without faith, etc., etc. The problem that I am confronting here is one in which the problem of the chocolate laxative is complicated (obviously so!) in relation to communities of persons. . . So, the question I am asking myself is this: what is the hard resistant kernel of the Real in Christianity? And, subsequently, in Christianity, what is experienced as reality without being so?

[added later]

But Christ, faith, these are not malignant properties, rather substances as such. Or can one consider the skandalon a “malignant” property?

Just a few things I have been thinking about this morning …

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Whether in the academy, the church, or the world, one must continue their education in order to maintain an ever increasing competency in their field of study, or vocation. There are many, however, for whom (for various reasons) there is not enough time to attend a university, graduate program, etc. Since I am taking a semester off between an undergraduate and a masters, I am wanting to continue to research in several fields of study that I was unable to take courses in during my bachelors: about two years ago I came across the gold-mine that is itunesU. There are a significant number of universities from around the world (e.g., UC-Berkeley, Duke, Emory, Harvard, Yale, Fuller, Oxford, Cambridge, Tubingen, etc.) offering courses in almost any subject that one could desire: politics, philosophy, theology, languages, literature, economics, ecology, mathematics, physics, etc.

Anyway, if you aren’t taking any courses this semester (or if you are and want to look into other courses, or just eavesdrop in on what classes are like at other academic institutions), I would suggest you check it out, take notes, and read along. Keep on keeping on and continue your education!

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