12.10.2009

What do philosophy majors do?

This.
This is a paper for my metaphysics class. You probably won't want to read the whole thing. You might. It shouldn't be too confusing, except that my writing skills are not quite honed. I'm just putting it here for posterity's sake. We all know how often hard drives crash these days.

Enough. Here it is--

All is Flux: What Change Means for the Persistence of Personal Identity

Change, the becoming different of certain particulars, has posed no small problem in philosophy throughout time. It would seem that “to be” would mean to remain the same, thereby maintaining the same “being,” and persisting in identity. Quickly though, we are posed with a problem when an entity that possesses “being” is “becoming” something else by change of some property. We are left with a few different options to explain such a phenomenon. We can deny change all together; but this option seems counterintuitive, as this discussion would be irrelevant if change wasn't evident all around us. Or, we can affirm that change occurs and that because of this, nothing persists in its identity; but here again, by merely examining this problem over a long period of time, we affirm ability to conceive of, at least, our own existence as persisting mentally. We can explain away change in many different ways to show that the identity of anything with an essence, a mind, or a memory can persist. But, in this paper, I would like to go a step further than this mere explaining away, and explore the paradox of change in light of the Aristotelian notions of material, final, and efficient causation, and its potential to not only destroy persistence of personal identity, but instead, to allow a being to step into a fuller identity.
One of the primary “paradoxes of change” comes in a series of questions about the nature of “Locke's Socks.” In this paradox, socks, and not persons, are the subject, making the problem simpler, but nevertheless, providing a principle that can be abstracted. John Locke wonders about whether, when his sock develops a hole, it is the same sock if he patches it. He wonders further, if this process were to continue until all the material of the sock was entirely replaced, would the sock, lacking all of the original material, be the same sock? Does its identity persist despite lack of identical material substance? I think that in order to “answer” these questions we need to ask another question in response: Can anything be “itself” when it is not fulfilling its purpose? It seems clear that a sock is intimately tied to its purpose, and thus is more itself when it is patched. In Aristotelian terms, this purpose is a “final cause,” the end for which a thing was created. Thus, the sock's “being” is found in fulfillment of that purpose. This not to say that what it is made of, in Aristotelian terms, its “material cause” is unimportant, but to say that materials do, in all cases, deteriorate. This seems to be a reason to assert, to all material causes, the property of deterioration or change, leaving us unsurprised when deteriorating material properties take away the ability to fulfill a purpose.
Upon further reflection, it seems that change is a property that resides above and within the materials themselves, existing as a meta-property. And purpose, or final causation, is a property that we ascribe, by mere creation, to all things, a kind of teleological meta-property. The issue, and where the paradox seems to lie, is where these two meta-properties conflict, the point at which change or deterioration runs against an entity's ability to accomplish its final cause. A decision must be made about whether we consider the teleological property supersedes an entity's deterioration, in this case, a sock's deterioration.
When we attempt to apply what we have learned from the sock to our experience as human beings, we find that the problem becomes much more complicated. Besides a difference in final cause, the sock's situation is distinct from the human person's situation in that for the person there is a conscious volition, whereas the sock, and how its identity will persist, are the conscious choice of not the sock, but the wearer of the sock. It is here that the sock analogy diverges from the true subject of this paper, the persistence of personal identity.
Taking care to be thorough, and fair, we will present this paradox of identity with the human person as the subject of inquiry. Human persons, like socks, possess, at least, the two causes we have spoken of thus far, material and final. The socks, like the human persons, possess a third Aristotelian “cause,” the “efficient cause,” or creator, though this cause is less important when we discuss the sock because of the wide range of efficient causes for the wide range socks we might encounter in the world. It is also important to note that the despite this diversity of socks we find in the world, the final cause of a sock is much more widely agreed upon, making it easier to diagnose a view on how to weigh the teleological property and its intersection with its material meta-property of change in the sock's persistence of identity, though even that is, by no means, a simple task.
With these differences in mind, we will begin to work out a view of identity for human persons. We acknowledge that humans change, sometimes as a result of personal volition and action, sometimes as a result of material deterioration, or sometimes as a result of intervening outside causes. There are, unlike the socks, many ways that a person can change, many of them being immaterial or mental. But, like with the socks, personal material causes will naturally change, according to their meta-property of deterioration or change, which is as persistent as the materials themselves. And before considering other changes that may happen less naturally, or without conscious choice, we must decide on the teleological meta-property of human beings, because, like the socks, whether or not change conforms with a human person's final cause is a determining factor in how personal identity persists. And here there are a variety of highly debated options, but, as with all other material entities, I assert that there is a final cause to the human person, something that many would not do, and that even further, this final cause emanates from the efficient cause, or creator, the God of the Christian Bible, which is, again, one more large step in a direction many would not take. However, on Aristotle's view, the burden of proof is on those who would want to rid his system of final and efficient causes as they pertain to the human person. I will move forward asserting that these causes do not only exist, but highly inform personal identity and its persistence over time.
Thus far I have ascribed to the human person an efficient cause, the God of the Bible; a final cause, or teleological meta-property, found in the purposes of the efficient cause; a material cause, the stuff human persons are made of; and the meta-property of change or deterioration effecting material cause (which may or may not be all material, depending on one's view, but is a discussion outside the scope of this paper). When this point was reached in the analysis of the sock's identity, the teleological meta-property, that a sock would insulate a person's foot, and the meta-property of deterioration of material cause, which caused the sock to have holes, were pointed out as conflicting meta-properties. If the teleological meta-property is seen as most important, then the sock retains its identity, even when patched, and perhaps moves even closer to its original identity when the patch is applied. This patching can even be seen as a reversal of the material deterioration meta-property, a material reclamation property, acknowledging that the material is merely a means to a fulfillment of purpose. However, if the material deterioration meta-property is seen as preeminent, then when it is patched the sock loses its identity. It is also important to note that even without the patch, a sock with holes in it will have an identity devoid of purpose in the end since, even though it is the “same” sock because it has stayed true to it's meta-property of deterioration, it can no longer be the material between foot and shoe, so any clinging onto a strictly material deterioration meta-property as distinct from the teleological meta-property is a denial of persistence of purposeful identity. When we begin to apply this to the human person we see a similar dilemma, where do we place identity? Which of these meta-properties will win out?
For the Christian, it seems that the material cause is quite important. In scripture, an emphasis is placed on the body, mind, and soul—all components that “materially” (this word is used loosely) comprise a human person. It is important, however, to note that in the majority of cases, when scripture speaks to these material causes, it pairs them with efficient and final causes as well. In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Paul states, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” He speaks of the material cause, the body, as subject to the final and efficient causes, honoring God and His purposes with the material cause. Paul goes farther, in Romans 12:1-2, when he urges the people “to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Not only is the body subject to this teleological meta-property, but so too with the mind—both are subjugated to the will of God. The whole of scripture speaks to this truth. Man, who is separated from God, is deteriorating on a number of levels, his material cause is subject to the fall, to the meta-property of deterioration. This, for many, is a defining property, and thus, their identity “persists” by a natural deterioration meta-property.
For many, the deterioration of their human mind and soul is something they are not aware of (though most are quite aware of bodily deterioration), and in the search to find and assert a final and efficient causation, people create their own teleological meta-properties to cope with the meta-property of deterioration—as if that is something that can be done, man not having created himself. For the Christian, the problem of deterioration is no less of a problem, but the Christian person, acknowledging the deterioration, also acknowledges a higher meta-property, a teleological meta-property, rooted outside of himself in his final and efficient causes. He asserts the existence and importance of the material cause in one's identity as it conforms to a “renewal,” taking the meta-property of deterioration and flipping it on its head, allowing life and purpose-giving change, in the mind and soul, hoping for this same bodily renewal after death. On the Christian view, the final cause, God, and the efficient cause, his purposes, directly oppose the human material causes, which have fallen out of accord with the former two causes. Paul bemoans this fact in Romans 7:22-24 saying, “For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” The answer, for Paul, and other Christians is found in the person of Christ, who bridged this meta-property gap, and allowed us to say that “In [God, our Final Cause] we live, and move, and have our being.” It is because of Christ that a Christian may not only persist in identity only on the basis the property of deterioration, but, align his material cause with the pursuit of his final cause, often called sanctification, resulting in an even fuller identity.

12.03.2009

Excuses, excuses. and pardons.

I think that we don't make enough excuses for people.

Christ gave up his life to pardon all, including the ones nailing Him to the cross. He did this unconditionally, He did this though He didn't deserve it, He did this even though we didn't deserve it, He did it knowing full well that many would not accept or even acknowledge His sacrifice, He did all the work, not expecting us to do anything, He, alone paid the price for things that He didn't do.
He took blame, and excused us from it, he pardoned us from it.

Where, in our lives, do we make excuses for the life and death of Jesus not being the focus? Where do we not make excuses for other people, like we excuse ourselves? We have been taught, many of us, since we were young, that “[We] are Special.” Max Lucado wrote a book about it. We are convinced of it. And honestly, we are. God loves us so much that He sent His son to be our excuse, our pardon. We have been taught that we are special enough for that. We, thus, end up loving ourselves like that. Which, is by no means a bad thing. We make excuses for ourselves all day long. We pardon ourselves, attributing failure to a bad environment, or a slip of the tongue. But, when it comes to other people, we are quick to blame mistakes on intrinsic motivators. So, if I say something mean to someone, I make an excuse for myself, but if someone else says something mean to me, I don't allow them such an excuse, instead, I blame it on all the malice in their heart. In psychology, this phenomenon is called the attribution theory.

We get so caught up in receiving love or giving it to ourselves (in the form of excuses), that we fail to remember that the love we have received in the person of Christ, calls us to be the bearers of that love, giving as we have received. In the same way we have received pardon, we are to pardon others, whether they deserve it or not. This not to say that Christ died as an act of making all the bad things that we had done perfectly acceptable, but instead, that he died that his love might cover a multitude of sins, making us perfectly acceptable.

Perhaps this is what "loving others as we love ourselves" means. I love myself enough to give myself excuses. Loving others might mean excusing others in the same way I allow myself to be excused, forgiving as I have been forgiven.

11.23.2009

Katherine Lynn and Alexandra Jane

The moment of my arrival in St. Louis, Missouri cannot come fast enough. The two women who inhabit the title of this blog post may be the reasons why.

My life isn't full of many people who have known "Duration-Annie." Many people know "Little kid-Annie," "Westminster-Annie," "Sophomore-year Annie," "Homeschool-Annie," and "Taylor University-Annie," which are all, arguably, highly interesting and influential parts of "Duration-Annie," though, each "Section-Annie" loses some of its importance without experience of the other "Section-Annie's."

All this to say, the dear girls I am about to see over break know more than one "Section-Annie," and Miss Stipanovich knows just about all of them.

These are important people to have in our lives, I think. Personal history, like other history, is hard to make real to people without their having experienced it firsthand.

See you tomorrow my lovies.

11.21.2009

WHAT IS GOING ON?

I am currently writing a paper about the sociological effects of the evolution of communication technology, culminating with a discussion on online social networking (of which i am, currently, partaking in, as i write down my thoughts on this blog to help create a sense of interconnectedness of ideas and communal consciousness). So, I was doing some "research" on facebook a couple minutes ago (no really, it was research), and I was looking, sick to my stomach, at old high school friends' pages. Keep in mind that I went to a private Christian school.

I have come to two alternative, but not mutually exclusive, conclusions from today's research:

1) Something needs to change about the system in which these students were educated. Someone needs to give youth the understanding of a metanarrative that will allow for some meta-perspective to reduce rationalization of the silliness in which they are STILL engaging.

and/or

2) Something needs to change about the way communication technology is used. Because, and this is possible, the things written on their facebook walls may not really reflect the actual occurrences and perspectives in their life. However, what else are we to assume? We can, at least, feel certain that what is written and communicated via their facebook pages is an accurate reflection of the extent to which they use facebook and their views on what can and should be communicated via said medium. True to life or not, it is obvious that many believe that sex, drugs, alcohol, and their less than desirable effects are, at least, appropriate things to be joked about, if not abused in the most dehumanizing of ways. If, and this is what I really think, these things are true, then the former applies much more than the latter, as the latter is simply a way of speaking about what is really going on, and, in my opinion, a way to make it less real so as not to deal with it.


And, from these two things, I avow that this is a part of my mission in life: to help youth understand, clarify, gain perspective, and create coherent paradigms in which to understand and cope with the reality of life, as well as help provide a way to speak clearly and creatively about it, so as to help others do the same. Christian schools are doing nothing if they do not do this, Christian people are doing nothing if they are not doing this--sharing real life found in Christ and its relevance to dulled lives devoid of purpose and clarity, advancing the Kingdom of God, not the rules of religion. Rules are not a compelling way to live, but they are a way to categorize the things we do and don't to as a result of where life is most fully found. Rules? Yes. Rules first? No. Lots of tangential thoughts at the end of this paragraph? Yes. Do I mind? No. Have I finished my aforementioned paper yet? No. Will I stop writing now so that I can? Yes.

10.21.2009

hypocritical parenting.

So today (actually it wasn't today, but these sort of reflective stories are always better in the very near past), when I was working at the Jumping Bean, a father and his pre-pubescent son walked up. The boy was standing at an awkward distance from dad, obviously not the "hey dad lets go fishing and spend the weekend together" kind of relationship. His dad, curtly, and not lovingly, said, "you want anything?" (Perhaps his love language is gift giving, but he should pursue a few others, like, kind words, tone of voice, and overall demeanor towards his son).
The boy replied, coldly "Yeah, but you won't let me have it...I want a white chocolate mocha."
The dad said, "You can have anything without caffeine" (An appropriate, father-like answer. I wouldn't want my kids hooked on the stuff either).
The son glares.
The dad says, "I'll have a white chocolate mocha, please." (I'M PISSED at this point. Really, Dad, really? You're gonna drink a white chocolate mocha, the one drink your son wants?)
The child angrily grabs a jones soda.
They pay.
They leave.

Parents, I don't know how many of you read this, maybe I'm just typing this to myself to read someday, if I'm ever in that role. Never, FRICKIN, NEVER, tell your kid they can't have, say, or do something, as if it is wrong, and then do it yourself. Because, let's be honest, we don't want him getting hooked on caffeine (if one white chocolate mocha can do that to you), but we also don't want ADULTS hooked on caffeine either. It's not a necessary evil. It's not. Also, we don't want children hooked on television, highly processed foods, or high fructose corn syrup either, but they are because its convenient. No doubt that father takes his child to McDonald's because its more convenient for him sometimes, or lets him sit in front of the tv for hours on end so he doesn't have to play ball in the yard with him. That's not good either, but its sure easier. Just like its easy to deny kids something and exercise your own power, to feel like you have some, or like you are good dad. Get over yourself, dad of the boy who came into the jumping bean (today).

Sidenote, I find this to be much akin to situations in which: parents cuss and tell their kids not to, parents get drunk and tell their kids not to, parents tell their kids to not lie and then divorce their spouse. Stop it parents. Stop saying one thing and doing another. Kids get confused. And angry. If I were that little boy, I would be angry, and I wouldn't understand. And the answer "because I said so," or, "because I'm your father" would not work. Its a cop out, just like the addictions you DO allow to tv, high fructose corn syrup, and highly processed foods.

10.20.2009

Planning Ahead.

The night before the big midterm in metaphysics i ponder a few questions I have:

Concerning identity of material entities, why wouldn't we assert a hierarchy of properties?
Why can't we affirm that all (but God), is flux, and necessarily so, in that it is part of its essence to change, and therefore does not make it less itself, but a fulfillment of its natural process?
If so, could change be at the top of the property list/a meta property?
If so, then do the paradoxes of the Ship of Theus and Locke's Socks dissolve in that any change is natural/essential/a part of the possibility inherent in the sock/ship?
If so, can we more readily define ourselves and people by using the term "being as becoming"?

Shall I develop a teleological metaphysic for my senior paper?

Yes. I shall.

9.30.2009

Judging Glasses



These are my judging glasses...I used them when I judge Airband.
(special thanks to my roommate, Mary Horton)

I should probably draw out a nice parallel about life, and when I get judgmental...but I'll spare you. Suffice it to say, these glasses rock my face off...just like Airband tryouts.

8.07.2009

It's A Grind Coffeehouse..

That's where I am right now.

Nate just left.
Who is Nate, you might ask?

Well, Nate is the middle aged man who leaned over to me and said, "Did you see him?"

To whom I replied, "No, Who?"

"Nick Nolte...the father from the Hulk. Have you seen the Hulk?"

"No, I haven't," I reply.

"Well He's the father from the Hulk. I see stars all the time. Matter of fact, there are a few rap stars that live right over there (points toward the carwash. I wanted to say Hi to him. But, I figured he probably didn't want to be bothered. I wish the internet was working, I want to find a picture of him and make sure. I think his name is Nick Nolte. I'm so bad with names."

"Yeah, I'm so bad with names too. I probably wouldn't have recognized him, even if I had seen him, I'm not good with faces either. Terrible memory," I say.

"So what do you do?" He asks.

"I'm a student."

"Well, enjoy it while you can. Hey, here's my card. I work in renewable energy. Maybe you'll need it sometime."

(I desperately try to think of a time when I might need to utilize the card he is giving me. Can't find one.)

"Thanks," I say.

(About 5 minutes pass, I go ask about the internet. I sit down. We discuss how if we had the internet, we could find a picture of Nick Nolte, and confirm suspicions. 5 more minutes pass.)

He leans over again, and says, "I don't mean to bother you. I know you are trying to work. But, I just wanted to say that you should...Do you go to church?"

"Yes," I answer, "I go to Rock Harbor, in Costa Mesa."

"Oh, I knew it. I can tell. Well, you should come to visit Saddleback, or watch us on the web, that's where I go. You might see me on stage. I'm on the worship team. I just wanted to ask, you know? I always want to make sure people are getting fed."

"Thanks," I say. "That's great. I really am glad you asked me. Good to know people are doing that."

"I wanted to ask him, Nick Nolte. I wanted to give him my business card. I wanted to invite him to church. I missed my chance. I should have."

(I think to myself, Nick Nolte probably cares as much about your business as I do. But, yeah, it would've been sweet to invite him to church.)

"Don't worry, I'm sure he'll come back in, especially since he seemed to remain inconspicuous the whole time he was here."

"Well, I'm here enough. I'm about to go leave for my third coffee meeting today. I don't need anymore coffee. I don't like the coffee here. It's too, (makes some funny face to say its too bitter, or something"

I nod my head in agreement.

"What's your name, by the way?"

"Annie, yours?"

"Nate. Annie, I might forget your name. But I won't forget your face. I have a photographic thing going on in my head. But I might forget your name."

"Yeah, I'll probably forget your name too. I'm terrible with names."
(I may have said "I'm terrible with names about 4 times throughout the course of the unabridged conversation.)

"Nice to meet you Nate. Enjoy your third coffee for the day. Hope it's better than the one your just had."

"Yeah, and visit Saddleback sometime. I never think its a mistake that we get invited to church. I never turn down an invitation anymore. The Lord will use something that was said. You might not know it then. But the Lord will use it. You may never know, but He will."

"So true. Thanks Nate. Have a great day, good talking to you."

---------------------------------

I'm not one to just strike up conversations about church in a coffeeshop. I probably should. But, his methods were interesting, and intriguing to me. He engaged me with a tool of culture. He asked me about someone relevant in pop culture. Then he asked me about me, who I am, what I do. Then he asked me about church. It wasn't awkward. Unfortunately, celebrities don't matter to me, so I couldn't get excited with him about that...and I don't "do" anything, per say, except read books and write papers as a student. But, that method would be pretty effective with a majority of people. Evangelism isn't really a strength of mine...but today I was encouraged by Nate, who has found an effective way to engage people in conversation, to make sure they are being fed.

Perhaps the encouragement itself, outside of any church invitations, is what the Lord wanted to teach me through this interaction. I doubt I'll be going to Saddleback soon, especially since I leave in 2 weeks...which is hardly enough time at my own church here, Rock Harbor, currently engaged in a series about Spiritual gifts.

Mmm. Good. At least something good came out of the fact that the Mission Viejo Library doesn't open until 1pm. But seriously, counting the 13 minutes left until that glorious place opens. Love it.

7.25.2009

And the roadtrip finds us in Denver.

It is possible that a lot of city people don't believe in God because of light pollution.

All I'm sayin' is, Colorado stars are incredible. I could have driven all night long just looking at them. Daddy was tired, however, so here I am, at Grandma and Grandpa's house, unable to fall into a peaceful slumber.

But really, I intend to do some statistical analyses. There is no doubt in my mind that those who can see the stars have an increased opportunity to see the power of God as manifested in nature. In fact, Colorado atheists sadden me more than the rest (ok, not really, but COME ON. Its incredible.)

Dang.

7.11.2009

Anna Nalick

must have had the benefit of lungs better than mine. And she should stop mocking those of us who can't simply heed her advice due to a bodily predisposition to not breathe.

6.17.2009

Recently,

On the Swallow Robin Lobby stairs (my permanent hang out for the last 5 days), a website was discovered.

I'll let you check it out for yourself; there is absolutely NO way to describe its ridiculousness, adequately.
http://www.lobsterlib.com/index.html
Primarily, you should click on the tab that says "what you can do." And, take heed.


I want to laugh hard at this. And trust me, I did. As did Josiah, Jorjette, Ben, Travis, and Katie. In fact, we bought 60 stickers for a dollar that say "Being boiled hurts." You gotta raise awareness, ya know?

I mean come on, really?

Interestingly, though, the inanity of this group caused me to wonder if there are any causes that I am needlessly passionate about. If I spend a large part of my time selling any stickers to people, only for them to buy them as a joke put them in ridiculous places in order to make fun of me and the dumb things I am purporting. Ok. I'll confess. I'm a little passionate about eradicating the word "dinner" from our sunday lunchtime vernacular. And, there are some other silly ideas I am persistent about.

Phrases like, "being boiled hurts," serve only to stultify the name of animal rights (interestingly there a few good arguments...though none that I think would justify a lobster liberation movement). I think that we, as Christians, should be wary of doing the same thing to ourselves and beliefs by throwing around trite phrases and appliqued shirts that say "chosen" as they can easily become fodder for ridicule and an excuse to stop short of deeper meaning.

All that to say, since the nice people in the lobster lib program haven't given me anything deeper to cling on to, i will continue to mock the movement. And yes, those stickers will soon grace a few binders and exposed surfaces so that i can constantly be reminded of the insanity of devotion to poorly ascertained, supported, and marketed opinions.

Hey guys, make sure to F.R.O.G. this weekend (Fully Rely On God, that is)

that was ironic.

6.06.2009

I don't get internet right now...

so i'm sorry your birthday movie was late, gracie.

Here is it my love. video

love you.

5.20.2009

Conversations on Race

Recently, I was a part of a group project for the culmination of this semester's Conversations on Race class. This video was that project. It was powerful and, I think, VERY important to hear these perspectives. There is A LOT more video, but this project could only be ten minutes, and therefore, its 10:31. :)

Thank you to all of you who participated. I appreciated your kind spirits and willingness to be interviewed, and I would love to continue this conversation. Unfortunately, I lost 1.5 interviews throughout this process (Rhona Murungi and half of Rukshan Fernando's interview), but luckily, they are things that can be said again.

I hope to make another video using these interviews, but to include more talk time, and pull out a few more key themes.

video

5.15.2009

P.S. {I love} T.S.

Yeah, its true. Don't you just wish he was around right now? I do.

As I sit here, unable to go to sleep (though my body has desired sleep ALL day), a stanza from T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" keeps going through my mind:


And indeed there will be time
To wonder, "Do I dare?" and "Do I dare?"
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair--
(They will say: "How his hair is growing thin!")
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin--
(They will say: "But how his arms and legs are thin!")
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which in a minute will reverse


The character that Eliot paints here is almost one who has OCD. You just want to laugh. You just want to scream. You just want to say, "MAKE A DECISION." Stop being so careful. Stop being so worrisome. Stop "measuring out your life with coffee spoons."

And it is here, essentially, I have such a hard time in the Christian community, either because I am guilty myself, or because I am often painfully aware of this indecision. This inability to act.

We spend so much time deciding if it is "God's Will" that instead of really desiring to please Him, we desire not to offend Him. Well, we already offend Him, most days, in fact, so it should come as no surprise that we will likely do it again. And, I think, it is equally as offensive to Him (i suppose I cannot be sure of this equality) for us to sit around waiting for Him to drop anvils on our heads to tell us what to do, where to go, who to marry, what to eat, what church to go to, and so on.

Its as if we believe that serving would be WRONG, if we were not "called" to that church, or that person, or at that time. There is no doubt in my mind that God moves, that God speaks, that God directs. I think though, that Christians often waste time waiting for miraculous signs. As if His Word isn't miraculous enough. He told us what is good, what is true, what is beautiful.

Can we not have faith enough to know that those are still applicable, and if the Lord wants our time, energy, and lives to go elsewhere, He will surely show us that.

This reminds me of something I REALLY appreciated coming from the mouth of Shane Claiborne during social justice week. This will surely not be a direct quote, but, when referencing people who are waiting for God to "do something," he responded as God who was pleading in His reply, saying, "I did do something, I made you."

how true.

I am also reminded of something Dorothy Sayers said in Mind of the Maker, i think. I forget where, and this is possibly a mistaken citation. But I remember that when referencing Miracles, she was of the moving opinion that God doesn't need to use miracles. He doesn't need to "supernaturally intervene." Everything around us is supernatural. We are supernatural beings (as well as natural beings, i suppose), and His Word is supernatural. Even if He never spoke into people's lives audibly today, we could still know how to live as followers of His Son. What a blessing that He does.

But, I believe the Christian church errs in demanding this of God. And, often, I find it comical when He speaks something to reiterate something He has said over and over before. Perhaps miracles are a sign that we seldom believe by faith in what he has already said. Again, not to say we don't need that many times. We must not assume that we will always understand correctly. But we MUST assume that when we don't, the Spirit of the Lord in us will convict us of this.

We can't be perfect. So, a fear of imperfection is a ridiculous one. Thus instead of striving NOT to be imperfect, let us strive to be perfect. Doing good, and knowing that when we fail, God will lovingly, and granted often painfully, redirect us.


I grow old...I grow old...
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.

5.12.2009

the annes

i promise this is not becoming a vlog. video

5.11.2009

Ode to Steph Snyder

(as written in winter of '08)
I want bangs. bad.


like, the kind that people look at and reconsider the front of their hair and forehead, and turn to their best friend and say, "hey do you think I should get bangs like so-and-so?


that kind.


or, the kind that make you look like you have some strange sort of confidence. the kind of confidence that says "yeah, I read poetry and comic books, and I'm not afraid to show it...with my bangs."


that kind.


or, the kind that after people see your bangs, they go back to the table they had previously been occupying, only to write down their feelings about the sweet bangs they just witnessed.


that kind.

5.05.2009

CRAVE.

a backrub.
a blended naked juice from starbucks.
a day alone.
a long walk.
my gold flip flops to be fixed.
more time with the anne warners, carly rowlands, sam hobbses, rachel beehs, diana duncans, and kristin goekes of the world.
summer.
CRAM.
new musica.
my ex-ability to edit video.
drive to stop biting my nails.
a leisurely book read.
fall semester.
my forthcoming apartment off campus.
ball jars as drinking cups.
rollerblades.
a topic to blog about.

5.01.2009

When you can't really get close to your family...

[and when you can't sleep]
Find close ups of your family.

I can't wait to see these people really close up, though.


















Family narcissism.
it undoubtedly exists.

My mind. Unveiled.

(at the end of the day)
The world needs some good aestheticians...
this is not my calling...

or perhaps it is a calling for all of us...
or should be, at least.
to know what it means to create, as creations of the creator, whose creativity we reflect.

imago dei?
that was mentioned in my contemporary issues class today.


ooh ooh. This just make me think of something that God cannot be that we can--

a creator and a creation, simulataneously...or can He? If He is eternally begotten of Himself?

Interesting.
I mean, I guess Jesus was a carpenter. Thats creating.
He was also created, er, begotten...eternally.

created. begotten. not the same. Comparable? probably.

I like thinking of things God cannot be. (the list is shorter than things that He actually is)
:)
It makes people unconfortable to know that God cannot contradict himself.
i wonder why?

A product of the western mind? God is entirely outside logic?
eh i don't think so. i mean, He created it.

Hah. Senior year in Graham's worldview class..hot topic--
Can God make a squircle?

A what?
You know, a square circle.

No.

"YES! He can, He's God, He can do anything"
No.
Not that which is logically impossible, since He gave the world Its order, and IS its order,
He can't not be Himself.

What a silly thing to conceive of.

But He does take unexpected, albeit not illogical, forms, i.e. a man, who creates.

Oh. back to square one. Creating.

My mind likes these circles. Not squircles.
Or maybe my mind does like squircles--things that are impossible to think about.

Eternity, for instance.
But thats not logically impossible, just Annie's mind impossible.

Thats why we create sometimes, i think, to suspend reality and enter into things that are logically possible, yet not quite possible to concieve of linearly.

Conceiving of eternity linearly. Thats a funny, impossible, thought.
Concieving of eternity at all? minimally possible, by analogy, abstraction. I think.

What if all of creation is eternally being created in the mind of God and then experienced by us? heresy?
Possibly. Maybe not. Maybe we can't know, logically.
Fun to think about.


Its not fun to think about getting up tomorrow though, in five hours.



What an odd trip into my mind. Sometimes i think I'm crazy.

maybe i am.
that's fun.

4.27.2009

Feinberg vs. MacKinnon

As Feinberg and MacKinnon duke it out over whether or not the government can regulate pornography, Feinberg takes cheap shots and ends up looking like a schoolboy. And the feminist(MacKinnon) wins again. Here's the paper I wrote on Olson front porch this weekend. Mmm. Life is just better on porches.


"Pornography" (Feinberg) vs. "The Real Harm of Pornography" (MacKinnon)
Feinberg begins by pointing to a casual link that many make between rape and pornographic materials. He agrees that rape prevention is a legitimate use of criminal law and restriction of freedom. However, he is unconvinced that there is a strong enough causal connection between said act and said cause to warrant use of governmental restriction of liberty. He points to Kent Greenwalt who claims that “criminal law cannot concern itself with every communication that my fortuitously lead to the commission of a crime.” He elaborates on this by making distinctions between communication for its own sake and communication that advocates or encourages acts that violate previously established criminal law. By using this standard to deem only a very few things worthy of restriction, he concludes that “the relation between pornographers and rapists is nowhere near that direct and manipulative” and therefore not one that necessitate the abridgment of violent pornography which he calls “valuable free expression analogous to scholarly feminist articles.”
The editors of this book decided that they wouldn't put any violent porn directly after Feinberg's essay, but they did, ironically, place a “scholarly feminist article,” which, to me, seems like a much wiser decision. Whereas Feinberg works from within his system to prove the legitimacy of pornography, the subsequent essay, “The Real Harm of Pornography,” by Catherine A MacKinnon, attempts to point out the limitations of dealing with an issue that has pervaded the system so much that it cannot be separated from it. She compares pornography to segregation and lynching in that all three institutionalize the inferiority of one group to another; it is the “essence of a sexist social order, its quintessential social act.” These social acts create a social order in which the harm, inherent in the acts, becomes invisible.
MacKinnon begins to critique first amendment theory by pointing its tendency to be interpreted with a black and white distinction between public and private spheres. The problem with this, she says, is that “not only the public but also the private is a 'sphere of social power' of sexism. On paper and in life, pornography is thrust upon unwilling women in their homes.” The harm in this lies in the fact that liberal political philosophy is hesitant to make pornography illegal because of the desire to make speech as free as possible, this idea fails to recognize that this free speech for some, silences the voices, and thus, the speech of those who pornography targets—women. She bemoans the fact that this is not a harm that is easily demonstrated because it is not the kind that first amendment logic comprehends. “The idea is that words or pictures can only be harmful only if they produce harm in a form that is considered an action. Words work in the province of attitudes, actions in the realm of behavior.” Our country has decided that when words are equivalent to acts, they should be treated as acts, if the consequences matter enough. However, she quotes Heisenberg, saying that “the law of causality...can only be defined for isolated systems.” Unfortunately, social systems cannot be so easily isolated from the system in which they exist, but this does not mean that harm does not exist. It does mean that the harm cannot be perceived as distinct from society's organization itself, and therefore, is invisible—“its effects are not cognizable as harm.” It is not a one-on-one sort of harm, linear in its causality, but rather it is a system of harm that affects a group—women—and members of that group specifically. Therefore, if we attempt to deal with pornography in this system of linear causality then we are refusing to deal with “the true nature of this specific kind of harm.”
Though I have no desire to align myself with most feminist positions, this one is much different. I appreciate MacKinnon's analysis of the democratic system. Whereas Feinberg works entirely within his system and comes to logical conclusions within it, MacKinnon attacks the logic and assumptions of the entire system. Good move. A meta analysis is often needed. I guess we usually just work from within our own systems, failing to see their faults, and thus come to valid but unsound conclusions.
I also thought that MacKinnon's approach was an even handed one. Not only did she not take cheap shots at people like Feinberg, but she also attempted to utilize aspects of his system. It has been my previous experience that many feminist articles wish to elevate “interconnectedness” and “relationships” above rights, however, she speaks to people like Feinberg in their own “language,” using the idea of “rights”—but redefining it, broadening it to include rights that are ignored because of the way our system has been inundated with isms—sexism, racism, classism—whose harm is invisible because they cannot be wholly isolated from the system itself. Her approach seems, to me, to be the very antithesis of Feinberg's. Whereas she is working to make his system better, he is working to defame her approach altogether. He grants that there is not “sufficient grounds for criminalizing materials” such as pornography and feminist articles. How kind of him—how asinine of him—to make any kind of comparison between animalistic materials that grossly suppress free speech of women and scholarly materials that are the direct expressions of women. It almost seems that he not only wants women to be subjected to the harmful effects of pornography on life, relationships, and the psyche, but also to be subjected to not being allowed to talk unless instructing children, teaching cooking classes, or calling to get the vacuum repaired. But, really, I'm not a feminist. MacKinnon just opened my eyes a little bit to see serious issues in this way of thinking (the feingbergesque) that exists in men and women alike.

4.25.2009

Some Feminists i DO admire.

Well, i've never been a fan of feminists, experientially. The whole stereotype, along with the various characters that fit the stereotype to a tee, averted my eyes from the movement for a while. And, while I'm still opposed to many things, and rest, happily, as a complimentarian (though I hate the label), my eyes have been opened as of late to a few things that are, i think, important words from my feminist sisters.

Celia Wolf-Devine. I love what she does in an essay called "Abortion and the Feminine Voice." Its so clever and well, logical. Since, in general, feminists favor an "ethic of care" that elevates relationships, interconnectedness, and, yes, our responsibility to care for others, adherents tend to take this to its "logical" conclusion: an unqualified right to an abortion. Celia, as a feminist, sees things a little differently (and thus was a part of the initial prying open of my eyes to anything that looked in the least bit like a woman in business slacks wrote it...all in jest, all in jest :).

"If masculine thought is naturally hierarchical and oriented towards power and control, then the interests of the fetus (who has no power) would naturally be suppressed in favor of the interests of the mother. But to the extent that feminist social thought is egalitarian, the question must be raised of why the mother's interests should prevail over the child...The woman is supposed to have the sole authority over the child, but what of her interconnectedness with the child and with others? Both she and the child already exist within a network of relationships...Quite simply, abortion is a failure to care for one living being who exists in a particularly intimate relationship to oneself...But clearly those who defend unrestricted access to abortion in terms of such things as the woman's right to privacy or her right to control her body are speaking in the language of an ethics of justice rather than an ethics of care."

I mean, rock it Celia. (nice name, by the way) It is interesting to see how the feminist movement has defined itself, and I wish to do more research on the matter. These things she points out seem blatantly inconsistent, and yet she is the minority amidst a growing population of people who wish to deny systems based on rights, while still claiming the rights they want. Contradictions? Yup.

Alright, another feminist rockstar--Catherine A MacKinnon. The topic she wishes to address? Porn. And address it she does in her essay "The Real Harm of Pornography." You could say that this piece is a bit more of what one might expect from a "typical feminist," but I also think that if i didn't defend something "typically feminist" in this blog post then I would really just be ripping on feminists by using their own kind against them, and thus, i defend...or allow her to defend for herself, which she certainly can do (and she doesn't need a man's help..gosh darnit...again, only joking.)

"The fact that pornography, in a feminist view, furthers the idea of the sexual inferiority of women, a political idea, does not make pornography a political idea. That one can express the idea a practice expresses does not make that practice an idea. Pornography is not an idea any more than segregation or lynching are ideas, although both institutionalize the idea of one group to another...Pornography is the essence of a sexist social order, its quintessential social act..."

"The law of the First Amendment comprehends that freedom of expression, in the abstract, is a system but fails to comprehend that sexism (and racism), in the concrete, are also systems. As a result, it cannot grasp that the speech of some silences the speech of others in a way that is not simply a matter of competition for airtime. That pornography chills women's expression is difficult to demonstrate empirically because silence is not eloquent (if i may interject...WHAT A BRILLIANT SENTENCE)."

"Social systems are not isolated systems...If pornography is systemic, it may not be isolable from the system in which it exists. This does not mean that no harm exists. It does mean that because the harm is so pervasive, it cannot be sufficiently isolated to be perceived as existing according to this model of causality...The dominant view is that pornography must cause harm just as car accidents cause harm, or its effects are not cognizable as harm. The trouble with this individuated, atomistic, linear conception of injury is that the way pornography targets and defines women for abuse and discrimination does not work like this. It does hurt individuals, just not as individuals in a one-at-a-time sense, but as members of the group women..To reassert atomistic linear causality...is to refuse to respond to the true nature of this specific kind of harm."

I think that perhaps I why I liked these essays so much is that it is my own tendency to seek out faults in systems, or general systemic response (call me a critic), and both of these women do an excellent job of critiquing the illogical conclusions that have, repeatedly, been drawn within different frameworks--be they feminist, or democratic. Thanks guys, i mean, ladies (please pardon my use of a word that is, quite obviously, a result of a masculine system).

:)

4.06.2009

Legislating Morality: Comparing Islam and Christianity

[FYI, this is only the last couple pages of a ten page paper, in which I establish the fact that I am aware of the diversity of views within both the Muslim and Christian community, and therefore do not presume to speak for the whole of each religion]

[also FYI, I loved writing this paper, a lot. 18 hours, a lot]

Political philosopher Sayyed Qutb is one of the most famous Muslim intellectuals to emerge from his faith and is very well known for his views on the role of Islam in politics. In his book Islam and Universal Peace, he calls Islam "the religion of unity in this great universe." Coupled with this religion of unity he presents an equally "unified ideology to confront life and its problems, an ideology that will solidify our strength against our foreign and domestic enemies." Sayyed saw peace as the ultimate, unifying goal coming first to the individual conscience, then in the home, then in society, and finally resulting in world peace. One might call "peace" his faith's ultimate moral principle. The way to achieve peace, according to Sayyed, is by adhering to the legislation set forth by the Islamic state which proceeds directly from God who is the "Supreme Legislator." It is in the application of God's law that the Muslim community achieves justice, and Sayyed contends that "Islam is a complete system. One cannot enforce a part of Islamic law and neglect another for then it would not be Islam." It would seem, then, according to Sayyed Qutb, that Islam and the law cannot be separated. An example of this indivisibility can be seen in Pakistan's Blasphemy Laws which say that "whoever willfully defiles, damages or desecrates a copy of the Holy Quran or of an extract therefrom or uses it in any derogatory manner or for any unlawful purpose shall be punishable for imprisonment for life." Upon the adoption of secular or dual legal systems in Islamic countries, the very things, spirituality and the law, that Sayyed said should not be separated have been pulled apart.
This fusing of law and religion rings a bell in the mind of all who have opened the pages of the Bible's Old Testament. This inseparability takes its most memorable form in the daily workings of the Israelites, whose whole lives were directed by laws said to proceed directly from the mouth of God. The Israelites were God's "chosen people," and though they often forgot, they were obligated to perform certain rites and practices to honor the God who went before them. The Christian should remember that the Israelite tradition is his ancestry, with the concurrent realization that this is no longer the way God requires man to live. It is absolutely imperative in the development of a Christian's political philosophy that he discovers the nature and origin of this change from a religion united with the law to a religion seen as a separate entity from the law. The change can be seen to occur around the same time Jews began to interact with a man named Jesus. This man came to the Jews and then to the Gentiles, proclaiming that he had come to fulfill the law. In Matthew 5:17, he proclaims, "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill." How is it that a law can be fulfilled? He fulfilled "the law and the prophets", synonymous with the Scriptures, by bringing them the meaning and the motivation that they were waiting for. Jesus seemingly called his followers to an even higher law: the law of love. When asked by the Pharisees, "'Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?' Jesus replied, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind...The second is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets." This law of love was even more difficult to practice than various acts because it implied a distinct attitude of love within one's heart coupled with the action. Whereas in the Jewish community law was a series of practices that centered mainly on the concept of justice and on doing what was right, Jesus came and revamped this sort of legalistic motivation by creating a space for the deference of justice in order that love, often seen in the form of grace, might triumph. This is seen in the culminating act of his life—his unjust death on the cross—that through his death and resurrection he might bring life to those who would come to believe in him and accept this gift of love.
And so Christians live, live in accordance with Jesus' revolutionary words, "You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles." Christians live in response to his death and resurrection which were the ultimate example of this transformation. This transformation from law to love does not abolish law, but it most certainly does not use the law to achieve its ultimate purpose—a change in human hearts. After all, can the law legislate the motivation of love in all of one's actions? Perhaps this is why when asked about tax laws, Jesus tells the people to "render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." The law desires specific actions, but God desires a change in the heart of man that is then manifested in his actions.
This Christian attitude toward Caesar, or governmental power in general, lies in sharp contrast to the Muslim attitude toward “Caesar.” In the Muslim faith, "Caesar" legislates morality using the Koran as the ultimate rule of law in the same way that in the Jewish tradition the Torah, gives man a rule of law. The origin of this huge gap between Christian political philosophy and Islamic political philosophy can ultimately be seen in the person of Jesus Christ. "In Christianity, the word of God (logos) becomes Christ; in Islam it becomes the Koran." Islam and Christianity both have a wide range of views on how involved the legal system should be in this process of incorporating ethics into daily living, but when the specific doctrines of the two religions are taken at face value, the law plays a distinctly less important role in the life of a Christian. How could it ever appropriately legislate the human heart, where true transformation must occur in response to the grace it has been given. The logical next question then is, "Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?" To which Paul responds, "By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?...For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace." In essence, in order for Christians to fully "legislate morality," they would need to be God, or at the very least an omniscient being, capable of knowing every thought and motivation of man. Since this is quite impossible, God remains the judge, and man is subject to His law first. In the same way, Muslims are subject to God's law first, but God's law is seen in the form of sharia law as laid out in the Koran. The "legislation of morality" matters to a greater extent in the life of a Muslim, a person much more interested in peace and unity achieved through justice which is most often, realized through governmental enactment of this sharia law.

3.30.2009

Next Semester.



See this girl? 

She is going to live with me next year. 
what an answer to prayer.

3.17.2009

Pride.



I hate medicine. I hate the way that most medicines deal with the effects, the symptoms, instead of the cause.  All painkillers do is make me painfully aware that i'm dulling the pain instead of dealing with a very real problem.

However, after a bout with migraines for a week, i decided medicine was my only option (or sleeping my life away, which had happened already that week).  The lovely woman at the health center prescribed me some meds (4 to be exact) to deal with the cause, allergies, and increased sinus pressure.

and then it hit me.

I never effectively deal with my allergies because I don't want to be dependent on medication, and now I must take medication to get at the cause of another problem, my migraines. SO, i will take medicine when they are a cause of something else, but not when they aren't causing anything?  Silly.

Allergies are caused by something, and in turn have caused something even worse. I assume that there is not an infinite regress of causes, meaning that if i learn how to truly be heathy, to rearrange my body chemistry so that these issues are not a problem, then I will eliminate said migraines by eliminating said cause.

Perfect.

One problem. that takes serious focus on sleep, water, diet, exercise, knowledge of my body's predispositions for vitamin deficiencies. Oh man.  I'm not ready for that. I want to be, idealistically. But, thats just not going to happen.

Therefore, I will take medicine. And I will hate it, but I will love that I'm living comfortably numb with not a migraine in site.

ugh.

2.24.2009

This post is for Andrew Smith and all those who once agreed with him...

So, there was this one conversation, this one time.

It was about the word dinner, as applied to sunday. Some people, not saying who, think that on Sunday, the word dinner magically changes to represent the meal directly after church, which is, on all other days, called LUNCH.

I think this is silly. And I had, and still have, a good argument as to why it is a ridiculous use of language, but I thought that maybe I would provide a little anecdotal evidence for those who remain unconvinced:

This past Sunday I went to lunch at the house of a couple in our church.  I went with two friends, and this couple really wanted us to meet their kids who, just like us, are college students.  We were all very excited, especially the nice woman who had created a masterpiece of a meal.  But, in a strange turn of events, she gets a phone call from her son, saying that unfortunately when she said "Sunday dinner," they took it to mean what it literally means--the evening meal.  Perhaps if she had said Sunday lunch things would have worked out.  So, the kids never showed, and we got to enjoy even more food than we anticipated.  I had a little convo with her about her use of the word "dinner" and "supper" on sundays, we went over the history of it, and the age group that generally uses it.  I understand all of this. However, pragmatically, if the older, midwestern generation wants to communicate with the younger generation with greater clarity--Dinner is an evening meal, Lunch happens around noon, and Supper is only to be used interchangeably with Dinner. 

End of story.

2.12.2009

A Comparison of Responses

Apparently, as humans, we have a tendency to overreact, overcorrect, and overrespond. Perhaps this explains huge paradigm shifts throughout history, and most recently the shift from Modernism to Postmodernism (not to oversimplify it or anything :)).  This train of thought started today in my my Contemporary Issues class as we dialogued about moral relativism.  

Dr. Smith told a story about sitting under two professors while in grad school, a couple of overt moral relativists.  One was an African American woman, the other was a Jewish feminist.  He, at certain times, would engage in conversation with these women, asking questions and prodding at the root of their convictions.  Once he expressed to one of the women that he was surprised by her moral relativity.  She was equally surprised at his surprise, and asked, "And why does this surprise you?"  He answered by telling her that he would assume there were definitely somethings that she would see as moral absolutes, rape, for instance.  She replied, "Well, if that is true, then why isn't rape within marriage illegal?"  To which he replied, "Well, if it isn't, I think it should be."  At this point his professor got uncomfortable with the direction of the conversation and said, "I'd love to talk to you about this sometime later."

After telling this story, he started talking about the history of relativism as a response to absolutism.  He said that it was his personal opinion (and one with which I tend to agree) that much of how these women got to this place of moral relativity is due to the misuse of absolutism in history.  After all, both of these women are part of a culture or race that have been, historically, overrun with prejudice and hate towards their people groups.  The disgusting institution of slavery and the holocaust run rampant with justifications on the basis of "moral absolutes."  And though there is such an obvious correlation between absolutist principle and gross misconduct, to insist that that there is a causation is to fall prey to a fallacy.  As I am reminded by my Intro to Psych professor, "Correlation does not imply causation."  

And this is true.

Moral relativism is not a valid conclusion following from the simultaneous existence of absolute principles and gross misconduct.  And though it seems and probably is natural to rebel against principles that in any way partook in social structures that served to demean, dehumanize, and destroy people based on race, that does not mean that we do away with principle altogether. What is does mean is that we stop misinterpreting principles that are, in fact, worth something and we rid ourselves altogether of those which serve no good purpose at all.

And now let me make my comparison.

In the same way that relativism is an invalid conclusion because its "causes" are really not causes at all, but correlations, so too with emergentism and those things that have "caused" it.  Some of the most obvious result of the emergent movement include a rejection of doctrine and an exodus from traditional church bodies.  It is my aim to use the above example to draw a sharp comparison between the overreaction of those offended by various absolutist principles and those (primarily within the emergent movement) who have also, seemingly, overreacted to the offense of "failed" doctrine and stagnant church bodies.

There is no doubt in my mind that the emergent movement is calling good things into question.  Why is the church not more concerned with social justice? With engaging culture? With using the arts, and thus our creative natures, to engage in acts of worship?  These, as I have mentioned much before, are valuable critiques, not to be ignored.  However, it does not follow that doctrine or the church structure itself are to blame for these things. Just because churches follow tradition and endorese very specifict doctrines within their bodies, we cannot thus imply that their lack of social conciousness or altruism is a result of the dogma they claim to adhere to.  

It is possible to ignore those things you don't want to deal with the implications of within your doctrine.  It is possible to ignore the mission of the Church.

It is possible misinterpret doctrine. It is possible to misinterpret "Church".

It is possible to have incorrect doctrinal statements.  It is possible to have incorrect views of what Church is intended to be.

Do we blame the doctrine?  Do we blame Church?

When we find absolutist principles that we don't concur with, we don't give up ethical systems all together.  We enact reform.  We change it.  We don't leave ethical studies, we engage them all the more to flesh out what exactly is right.

In the same way,
When we find doctrine that we don't agree with, when we find churches that seem dead.  When we find a part of our mission as believers that is absent from the every day lives of those who claim to follow Jesus Christ, we don't give up on doctrine. We don't give up on church. We don't give up on people.  What an overreaction that would be, and is.

I suppose my charge is to the emergents (and the relativists alike), don't overreact. 

Stay.
Help.
Enact change from within.
Don't allow those who would misuse truth to triumph. 
Don't reject truth.
Reclaim truth.

To me this seems the most loving thing to do.  
Let's make this the "love movement" ok?


2.10.2009

on the stretch between the library and olson.

I thought to myself...

though story-telling, enticing rhetoric, and flashy points are often good tools for engaging people in the word.  It often masks the truth of what we are trying to relay, as if we need those tools to up the excitement factor of the actual content of our message.  

"It is the dogma that is the drama--not beautiful phrases, nor comforting sentiments, nor vague aspiration to loving-kindness and uplift, nor the promise of something nice after death--but the terrifying assertion that the same God who made the world, lived in the world and passed through the grave and gate of death.  Show that to the heathen, and they may not believe it; but at least they may realize that here is something that a man might be glad to believe." --Dorothy Sayers, Letters to a Diminished Church

Maybe I thought about this because Fergus MacDonald gave a great talk tonight about engaging scripture in a postmodern context.  He did it mostly in a monotone voice and he definitely wasn't there to entertain. But i was drawn in. I was drawn in by truth, not by rhetoric.  By scripture not by anecdotes. And by exposition, not entertainment.

Thanks Fergus.

2.06.2009

Kluck, round two.

Well, chapel today was a lot of repackaging of what was heard last night.  Again, we were graced with his observations and reasons for loving the church.

The Church is important. Very important (so important, in fact, that I've capitalized it). And now we are aware that Mr. Kluck believes this.  He loves expositional sermons. He loves structure. He loves worship. He loves authority. He loves the gospel. I don't dispute this. I love these things too.

BUT, if expositional sermons always focus on what was done for us on the cross and not at all on the implications of that as Christians who are called to act, to respond, then we have missed a huge part of the Gospel. (He was very ready to shrug off our duties as people to people outside the Church).  If structures are not serving the correct purpose or have lost the meaning and value they were intended to posses, then they need reform and reevaluation, truth is to be valued far above authority and structure (luckily, they are usually manifested in those contexts)--God's inspired Word, the Truth, is our highest authority. If we are missing any part of that, it is our duty to root that out and reclaim it.  The Gospel is the very foundation of who we are, how we think, and what we do, therefore it is to be protected above all else.  This means that distortions of the Gospel, most specifically within the emergent church must be subjected to rigorous scrutiny.  

While that is being done, in part, by Mr. Kluck, there is another aspect of protecting the Gospel that he, among many others (often including myself), have failed to do.  Knowing that we are depraved, acknowledging that we're prone to error, wouldn't it be prudent to utilize the critique (whether appropriately conducted or not) of the emergent church, to do a little self reflection and analysis--to recognize the parts of the Gospel that as fallen people we have forgotten to remember?  Perhaps a little humility from both sides?  There is no doubt in my mind that much of the action and stance (or intentional lack thereof) of what has become the increasingly loathed or loved emergent church is some good (or distorted good) pursued in the wrong way, and in the wrong context. I just think it would serve the purpose of unity and truth to find those similarities and work to flesh out where we have both gone wrong, because no doubt there is incorrect orthodoxy and orthopraxy on both sides.


Rebellion.

Tonight I attended a special seminar that Taylor offered by a guy named Ted Kluck.  He is one of the Co-Authors of "Why We're Not Emergent: By Two Guys That Should Be".  I attended, expecting something phenomenal, and I was sorely disappointed.  I wasn't dissatisfied with everything, but his knowledge seemed to be somewhat lacking for someone who wrote a book on the subject. I was disturbed all the more by his statement that "after writing the book he was done with the emergent church."

There are a vast array of reasons I was less than excited by his presentation, but the biggest one has to do with a very evident contradiction in his critique of the emergent church and the way he goes about reacting to it.  One of the 9 or 10 things he heralded as "observations" (which were, in most cases, true enough) was that the emergent Church has a distinctly rebellious undertone, that this rebellious ethic is sexy (which is by the way, such a sexy word to use to use when critiquing this movement because of the obvious unrest the word causes in the mind of conservative evangelicals).  

He laid the claim that the members of the emergent church are generally those who are rebelling against problems in churches and the structures of organized religion (valid, in many cases).  He did mention (briefly) that much of what they are rebelling against is a deficiency that can be seen in the way we (as evangelical churches) do or do not engage in culture. However, he did not spend much time on that really, and focused for the most part on the distinctives of the emergent church: savvy marketing (which does not seem to be bad to me, unless it is an end in itself), "saving the world" arrogance, seeker friendly megaplexes, heavy-handed left sided theology (as if the only good Christians are right wingers), etc.

All this to say, besides presenting what seemed to a quintessential example of a "straw man" argument against the emergent church, he also fell prey (in this presentation) to the very thing he was speaking against.  With all the talk of rebelling against something being such a bad idea, he sure did his fair share.  It seems logically inconsistent for him to be so heavily anti-rebellion, when, in fact, he is doing the same thing.  Instead of responding to logical inconsistencies, postmodern relative mindsets, and widespread theological misconstruction, he seemed to slam the Emergent church at its weakest points, without giving much thought to the strengths in the things that motivated the emergent church to act (whether they did that correctly or not).

 Just like the emergent church would have done a much greater service to the cause of Christ if they had responded and reclaimed the things they saw as problematic in the church instead of rebelled, so to could Mr. Kluck have done a greater service to the cause of unity in the body if he had responded to the things he saw, reclaiming those ideas of peace and reconciliation (which are fundamental to scripture) instead of rebelled.  I am not saying that he should have said that the Emergent church is "ok," but at least given value where value is due. Perhaps by bringing up the very valuable critique that the Emergent church has put forward, and responding to their methods for dealing with that critique.

I am not emergent either, but I do think that the emergent church has emerged (if you will), with some hugely important ideas that the evangelical church has left behind, but often have wrenched them out of context.  There are many truths that they have brought back into the light that, if put in the correct context (of the historical doctrine, dogma, and theology) could be that much more powerful in extending our hand to those who are sick, hungry, thirsty, shirtless, and searching.  

And side note: He was very much Mr. Reformed, and thats fine, however, we must remember that in order to be a "reformed" evangelical, a reformation had to happen (reform and rebellion seem to be similar things, one with a less unfortunate linguistic implications than the other, but both include recognizing a problem and working against it).  Interestingly enough, there were many things that the reformers got wrong that we have been working towards fixing today. But that requires conversation and intelligent critique, not rebellion against a whole cause, but instead responses to specific ideas within a cause. Often that's MANY responses, and sometimes only a few. Either way, we must be willing to enter into conversation about this. We must be willing to see even the beauty in retrieving the often lost ideas of peace and social justice, while still maintaining that we must be adamant about placing them in the correct context--the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

A funny side note: I typed this whole thing, spelling "emergent" as "emmergent".  Perhaps I am now tipping my hand, showing you my lack of book knowledge on this subject. However, I, as most, can observe, and this was one facet of my observation this evening.

A clarifying side note: I am not rebelling against Mr. Kluck, merely critiquing the points that I thought could use some help. I do think that he is doing a valuable thing in reacting, i just don't think he is doing it in the correct manner/that tonight he did it in the correct manner.

We'll see him again in chapel tomorrow. Topic: valuing church authority. Right on. But i value truth more, i think. Sometimes, historically, churches, and church authority have gotten it wrong. Thank goodness there were people to call us out on it. Thank goodness the emergent church is calling us out. And thank goodness we don't have to eat up their methods or agree 100% with one side. Thank goodness its not an either/or.