Theological Community, EcoTheology, The Church, The World, The Blogosphere

Why are we here (at the University) ? – The Boston Globe

September 21, 2007 By: Theoblogical Category: Uncategorized

Via James K.A. Smith in this post on his blog

In a shift of historic importance, America’s colleges and universities have largely abandoned the idea that life’s most important question is an appropriate subject for the classroom. In doing so, they have betrayed their students by depriving them of the chance to explore it in an organized way, before they are caught up in their careers and preoccupied with the urgent business of living itself. This abandonment has also helped create a society in which deeper questions of values are left in the hands of those motivated by religious conviction – a disturbing and dangerous development.

The following was particularly interesting and , for me,  one of those “head shakers”. The characterization of “any one church” assumes an automatic limitation on what “any one church” could possibly explore by virtue of their being one of those narrow, limiting, “doctrinaire” churches.  Like there’s nothing else available. 

The question of life’s meaning is a worry of the spirit. Our colleges and universities need to reclaim their authority to speak to the subject, in a conversation broader than any church alone can conduct. The beneficiaries, in the end, will be both their students and the culture they will inherit.

Why are we here? – The Boston Globe

From James K.A. Smith’s response

While I think his diagnosis of the commodification of knowledge in University, Inc. is right on the money; and while I’m all for a more robust role for the humanities in a university education; and while I’m downright enthusiastic about a university education that actually grapples with “the big questions” about what it means to be human and what it looks like to live “the good life”—the fact is Kronman’s lament points out the need for so much more than he proposes. What’s needed is for the university to recover an understanding of education as formation.

But Kronman’s liberalism won’t let him imagine that. In order for education to be formative—in order for education to actually mold and shape students into certain kinds of people who are primed to live out a vision of the good life—such education needs to be shaped by a story, grounded by a tradition, and oriented toward a particular vision of the Good. But that would entail a violation of cherished liberal principles of the modern university—the stories it tells itself about its alleged neutrality, its supposed tolerant largesse, and its respect for human autonomy and self-determination. This is why he demonizes a “religious” education as the worst possible threat. So Kronman really just imagines a liberal, modern bastardization of a formative education: a syllabus that “raises the big questions,” but then leaves the sophomore in the place of lord and master, free to make her own decisions about the good life. (In this respect, his pedagogical memory is selective: the rich tradition of education that he points toward was not just unabashedly formative. It was, at times, positively dogmatic!)

Comment Magazine – “‘A dangerous and disturbing development'” by Symposiums

I’m right there with JKA on this one.

Not to mention an assumption (on the part of this “well-rounded” , diverse fare of “big question” prodding secular educators)  of awareness of just what those “big questions” are. And also an assumption that “those motivated by religious conviction” can’t help but produce a stunted and distorted formation. 

Gore’s "Reason" and the "Pure Event"

July 21, 2007 By: Theoblogical Category: Uncategorized

My previous post has me thinking a bit about Gore’s latest book,  and how ,  thus far,  about 1/3 of the way through,  he trumpets the “Attack on Reason” as if “reason” had some “pure” location or is somehow exempt from subjectivity.  The book is interesting in its discussion of how the media and propaganda masquerade as “common sense” or enable groups to associate their desires with a “matching” schema for reason (“matching schema” is my term,  not one that Gore suggested,  but this is what I get from the reading as I reflect on the “power of reason”.

I bought the book back in late May,  but have not been particularly drawn to its arguments,  because of this inherent assumption that “reason” has some commonly agreed upon  attributes and theology¹ (the ¹ representing the underlying “theology” of ideologies that claim to be secular or non-religious.)

Gore’s approach,  along with Dan’s post which I linked to in the post below,  provide us with an interesting juxtaposition.  This might give me some extra motivation to continue on with Gore’s analysis. Frankly,  I bought it with more of an interest in Gore’s take on the Bush administration than for his theology¹.

(Additional thought: One of the commenter’s in Dan’s post mentions Peter Rollins How NOT To Speak of God as a relevant discussion to this topic.  I see that they have it at Border’s ,  so I ‘ll probably be visiting across town today to pick that one up and get back into some theological book reading.  )

Longing for a Pure Event at Theoblogical

Longing for a Pure Event

July 21, 2007 By: Theoblogical Category: Uncategorized

 Excellent stuff on the recognition of truth and revelation

…..we cannot respond by arguing that any sort of irrefutable sign, or pure event, has occurred. If the advent and the resurrection of the Son of God was open to manipulation and interpretation even during Jesus’ lifetime then we cannot claim revelation as the sort of universally binding pure event for which so many are longing.

…Critical realism reminds us that both those who claim total objectivity and those who claim total subjectivity tend to crucify others.

It seems like that , for me,  the “pure event” I am waiting for; looking for;  longing for,  is the community where call, revelation, discernment,  and embodiment as an alternative community that strives for a life that confronts the sins of capitalism, individualism, and violence. To do this,  we can’t just “talk about it”.  Indeed,  we don’t even do that , or do much of it at all.  The Church of the Saviour has long held up the stance of the alcoholics anonymous: the recognition that there are “forces” that we can only resist as a community dependent upon radical support.  In the church,  we have no “sponsors” of any kind,  except in the movements that most consider “going deeper” or “specialized” efforts that effect that whole as little subcultures,  but have no real significant place in the expectations of the whole body.


On Journeying with those in Exile: Longing for a Pure Event

George Weigel and Just War at Theoblogical

May 26, 2007 By: Theoblogical Category: Uncategorized

Darn it!  My mail notification for comments is not working again!  (update: well,  yeah it did work. What happened was that my Outlook at work checks two of my home mail accounts and removes them from the server,  so my home Outlook didn’t store it. I see the notification in my Outllook account at work under that folder into which I automatically put all the mail from that account)  I happened to notice my RSS comments feed had a new entry today (actually yesterday), and I discovered a comment from Eric on my George Wiegel/Just War post that Cavanaugh’s blog piece on God’s politics had put on my radar.  I had several responses to what Eric commented.  Of course , as always,  everyone is welcome to chime in as well.  It’s a very interesting and challenging discussion as to where that proper “balance” or “approach” to the state is with regards to the church,  and how the “just war” discussion fits into all that. 

Link to George Weigel and Just War at Theoblogical

NPR Podcast: Christopher Hitchens on Religion

May 12, 2007 By: Theoblogical Category: Uncategorized

 An absolutely charged up podcast from NPR features Christopher Hitchens ,  along with guests Stephan Munsey and Bill Leonard (my Church History II prof way back in 1979).  I can see the qualities that James K.A. Smith finds attractive in listening to Hitchens.  I may yet decide to get the audio book of God is Not Great (I can get it with my membership).  But go and listen to this.  Great stuff. 

JKA Smith’s last post bemoans how Hitchens “must need some cash” based on the people he’s chosen to appear with since the publicity for this book began. (see  Fors Clavigera: Hitchens’ Decline )

“I do think [the book] gives a short shrift to the dissenting Christians.” Bill Leonard

Christopher Hitchens, Contributing Editor at Vanity Fair and author of the book, “god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.”

Stephan Munsey, Senior Pastor of the Family Christian Center, which has 10,000 members and author of “Unleashing Your God-Given Dreams.”

Bill Leonard, Professor of Church History and Dean of the Divinity School at Wake Forest University in North Carolina.

Source: On Point : Christopher Hitchens on Religion – Christopher Hitchens on Religion