Thursday, March 29, 2007

Friday, March 23, 2007

[REV] Little Mosque on the Prairie

I heard about this show on CBC radio one day, the interview was hilarious. So I've been wanting to catch a few episodes. Holy Mackeral it is a great show! Little Mosque on the Prairie is one of the best sitcoms I've seen in a long time. Not only is the show a brilliant expose on ridiculous Moslem stereotypes it occasionally makes a wonderful and playful jab at Christianity. Personally I think humour is one of the best entrance points for ecumenism, we take ourselves far too seriously too often. The other wonderful aspect is the absolute diversity of the Moslem community. It reminds me all too much of about every local church I've ever been a part of. I highly recommend it.

Monday, March 19, 2007

[THO] Moltmann and the Resurrection of Christ

I'm just about to write my Christology paper on Resurrection in Moltmann's Theology of Hope. Not just the book of that title, but that is what I would label his whole theology. Moltmann read Bloch's The Principles of Hope and realized that the category of hope had been lost to Christianity. In fact we were discussing in Liberation Theology class today how the early church practiced hope, yet we tend to practice systems of belief (dogma). Moltmann's response was his groundbreaking book The Theology of Hope, which is a profound read that I've worked with the last two semesters (last semester as a critique for the evangelical vision of grace). This time I did a survey of Moltmann's major works (Crucified God, Coming of God, Church in the Power of the Spirit, The Way of Jesus Christ, etc.) as well as some of his applications of the Theology of Hope (In the End...the Beginning, Future of Creation, etc.) Honestly I think I overdid it, but it isn't that easy to stop once you get started. I found that Moltmann is consistant all through this theology, at least in terms of the Resurrection. He brilliantly exposes why this foolishness about the Platonic Immortality of the Soul is a blight on modern Christianity and how the remedy is Resurrection faith. And Moltmann masterfully exposes the whole understanding of Resurrection in the langauge of promise, that is enough to give me goosepimples! But the best is his understanding of Resurrection as the inbreaking of the future into history in a way that re-makes history! This is such a profound insight that almost every text I looked at tried to unpack this idea. Just as Volf [Correction: it was Geiko Muller-Fahrenholz not Volf] says the theology of the Resurrection is the hinge on which the Theology of Hope turns, this understanding of the Resurrection builds the anticipation of Kingdom Inbreaking in the believer and becomes the imperative for our lived faith in this world. It is just so good.

Well I better get writing.

Friday, March 16, 2007

[LIF] Küng Foo

I went to hear Hans Küng last night. It was a bilingual event, which apparently means something other than parallel translation, doh! But thankfully Hans made some comments about his French in French and continued almost exclusively in English. I still have a long way to go this summer to pass the French competancy. I was struggling with only getting the smallest bits of the spoken French, so frustrating. Küng was very interesting, it was basically his life's work in brief. I think if I were Roman Catholic I would have appreciated it more, he talked about the issues post-Vatican II of only instituting 'yes' men bishops and of refusing to deal with the law of celibacy. I didn't see a lot of recognizable clergy though, so I suspect Hans is a Catholic Theologian for the lay person who longs for semper reformation in the Catholic Church.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

[THO] Ceci n'est pas une pipe

Working hard on my papers I decided my light break reading would be Michel Foucault's little book "This is Not a Pipe". I barely broke the second chapter and I am struck by how well he describes the power of the aphorism. We go to such great lengths to reconcile discrepancies in our minds, we don't let them hang out in their paradoxical way and work their magic on us. We instantly say, of course this is not a pipe! It is a picture of a pipe, then we are done and can walk away undisturbed. Unfortunately we've completely missed the point and robbed the aphorism of its real meaning. I think this is why we can create such comfortable messages from the word of Jesus.

Jesus spoke often in aphorisms. Disconnected word pictures designed to shake us up and reveal the Kingdom. But when Jesus tells us the mustard seed grows into the biggest tree we don't cry out "bullshit!" we accept it and somehow construe that in Jesus day they must have desired these plants. But the reality is mustard is a weed. It spreads easy and grows into a shrub. But we don't like that kind of disconnect. It makes us uncomfortable (probably as uncomfortable as my use of the BS phrase made some of you).

I am often asked why people just don't get Jesus' message. We try to break it into simple moralisms or truisms. We want it to all match reality in a "reasonable" way. In doing so we rob the gospel of its power, a power to reorient us and break us out of the patterns of thinking that frankly no longer function for our good. The gospel is powerful if we are willing to let it linger untamed in our midst. Like any untame beast it will tear us apart, ripping away all that ultimately holds us back. We will stuff it into a cage, we always do, but the longer we can hold the tension, the longer we can allow the fangs of scripture to tear away our false ideas, the more transformative it will be. If someone told you God was safe, don't buy it. God is as dangerous as his Word, and the Kingdom of God advances with violence!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

[THO] Boehme's Panentheism

In preparing my paper on Jacob Boehme I have run into the pantheism/panentheism debate. Pantheism is pretty easy to understand, it is the idea that God is the sum of all that is. But panentheism is often confused with the heterodox pantheism even though nothing could be further from the truth.

For Boehme there is a wisdom (word) present in all things which has two functions. First it is the suffucing of nature with the divine giving the potential for salvation to all of creation, this he gets at using hermetic philosophy. But more importantly for Boehme, and others who take panentheism seriously, creation itself is able to convey understanding about God and life. Creation becomes a book of God. These ideas also come out in a panentheistic reading of the New Testament.

Boehme lived in the time when the Medieval Synthesis was crumbling. We were moving from a geocentric view of creation to a heliocentric view. And everything needed to be rethought. From a 21st century perspective many of Boehme's ideas seem quite profound and orthodox, but in his time cages were being rattled.

Friday, March 09, 2007

[THO] Jacob Boehme Redux

I can't imagine a more complicated time to be writing about than turn of the 17th century Upper Lusatia. Religiously you have the enforced Lutheranism (house by house baby!), duplicitious Crypto-Calvinists and Phillipists, wandering Anabaptists, entrenched Catholics, artillery inventing Hussites, hopeful Humanists and enough Silisian mystics to fill a large bathtub! Politically it is even more of a mess, the Turks at Europes doors, the inability of the Protestants to get along with each other, let alone the Catholic. This is the time of rising German nation states and the decline of the Holy Roman Empire. It is also a time of apocalyptic expectation, what Luther had done for the Gospel, science would soon do for philosophy, or so they though (Weeks, Boehme, 48). Now throw into this mix a self-taught cobbler mystic who felt compelled to put his thoughts to paper. At least I have no shortage of things to write about for this paper - the hard part is trying to tame this unruly beast!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

[THO] The Problem with Personal Salvation

I wrote a paper last year which uses Moltmann's theology as a critique of the Evangelical vision of grace. I did really well on it and the professor, Ken Melchin, agreed to help me work on it some more in hopes of finding it a home in a scholarly journal of some sort. I just finished reading it and it was really encouraging. If I were to nutshell my argument I would say that Evangelicals consistantly have an orientation towards personal salvation that blinds them to constructive participation in the world. The hard part is that this insight of personal salvation is important and worth protecting. But when our focus on personal salvation becomes an escapist philosophy then we miss the incarnational insight of Christ's life. I tackle some of the issues that flow out of this like the breakdown of medieval synthesis and the prevalence of apocalyptic decline narratives in the article, I think it will be a worthwhile read if I can find it a home.

Friday, March 02, 2007

[THO] Jacob Boehme

I'm really enjoying Andrew Weeks book Boehme. He does a great job of surveying the theology of this influential mystic. The more I get a handle on Boehme's ideas the more of his influence I can see in philosophy and theology. Not bad for a cobbler with no formal theological education. Perhaps that is exactly why he dared integrate theosophy, alchemy and mysticism into his ecstatic influenced theologizings. Boehme took chances with mixed results. After reading the Confessions of Jacob Boehme I was struck by just how devotional his text was, not at all what I expected after reading snippets of the Aurora. Especially towards the end Boehme called the Christian to integrity and piety, lest they bring upon themselves condemnation (wrath is one of the two experiences of God, love is the other). At the same time this text offers some interesting views of God (borrowing from his three principles of God) including a denial of creation from nothing (Boehme discards this idea as foolish) and a careful tread along the edge of pantheism. I appreciated the trip along that edge though as this is the insight that mystics often bring us back to - God is closer than you think!

I've almost compiled enough data, I'm just reading a few great articles Kenny's buddy pointed me to regarding 16th Century German socio-economic situations. Sometime this weekend I'll sketch out my paper and identify the missing holes in my research. I haven't decided if I will read a substantial portion of Aurora or not. At this point I have a pretty good sense of Boehme's theology, confusing though it is. And I am missing more mundane information like the name of his wife? Ah the joys of preparing papers.