Thursday, September 23, 2010

The August 8s :: Blogs

The August 8s :: Blogs - The most thought-provoking and world-opening blog posts I've stumbled on in the month of August

1) "Corpus Mysticum: How the Eucharistic Image Informs My Eating" (Lisa Carlson, the River Beneath / May 20, 2010)
It appears to me that what was so miraculous about Jesus eating practices was not that everyone got fed, but that everyone ate together. Because in this eating together, people became more aware that Christianity is about relational wholeness, which makes us all Christ’s Body and members of one another: “The knitting together would be the beginning of the recapitulation of all systems in Christ… It is clear that Paul sees the concrete working out of real presence in a community of people who are open and who identify not with the few, the like-believers, but with all- with Christ himself in the whole body.”
Our tradition, in its very beingness, is revolutionary. It is a tradition deeply rooted in the ways that Jesus subverted and transformed the complex structural issues of society that served to separate the elite and the non-elite, rich from the poor, the clean from the unclean. He did this not by talking about how the rules should be changed, but by simply living (and in this- modeling) a different way in the face of the ruling cultural narrative.
. . . Gustavo Gutierrez speaks to this when he says: “Jesus’ table fellowship with tax collectors and sinners vividly expresses his solidarity with the victims of established powers. Eating is a symbol of fellowship. Jesus got into trouble for eating with social outcasts because for the Jews, meal is also a symbol of fellowship with God. This is why Jesus used the meal as a picture of the Kingdom.” This is precisely what makes Christ’s way of eating revolutionary- it is because he is with them, and all are invited
2) "Defining justice (AKA: How not to do theology Fox news style)" and "More on Justice: Rawls and Mill" (Melissa D. Browning, Imagining Justice / August 16 & 19, 2010)

These tandem posts clarify my understanding of justice. I hope you also find them helpful.
Two excerpts (one from each post, of course):
1) So law and morality have never been the same thing, just like theological justice and legal justice are not the same thing. It may seem like a small nuance, but it is an important concept to understand if we want to talk about justice from a theo-ethical perspective. The distinction helps us to conceptualize what we mean when we say something is “right” or something is “wrong.” Separating legal obligations from moral obligations, also helps us get at what we “ought” to do as moral people.
For instance, when we talk about a subject such as immigration, we usually begin with either plea for a legal obligation or a moral obligation, yet we often don’t name the space from which we’re speaking. The two are collapsed into one another and when this happens, there is very little space for dialogue. Its like doing theology Fox news style.
2) Both Mill’s utilitarianism and Rawl’s understanding of “justice as fairness” can bring us two steps closer to imagining justice. If utilitarianism served only to restrain us, reminding us that we cannot steal happiness as the expense of others, it would be revolutionary for our society. And if “justice as fairness” could really teach us to imagine our lives as a little less secure, then perhaps we could imagine spaces where security for all could be abundant.
3) "Choice Blindness" (Jonah Lehrer, The Frontal Cortex / August 16, 2010)
The problem with our sensory world – this “blooming, buzzing confusion” of sights, sounds and smells – is that we put so much faith in it. We believe that the world we experience the world as it is, and that our sensations are an accurate summary of reality.
But that’s a convenient illusion. In fact, it is the one illusion that makes every other perceptual illusion possible. Although we’re convinced that we’re living in an Ingres canvas – full of exquisite detail and verisimilitude – we actually inhabit a post-impressionist painting, rife with empty spaces and abstraction. It’s a world so full of ambiguities that it requires constant interpretation.
4) David Fitch's Series of Posts on Mission and GLBTQ Relations (Reclaiming the Mission / March through September 2010)

My friend Darin pointed me to this ongoing conversation. I'm still mulling over what to make of it, but, in the word's of another friend, I think it represents a "minimum starting point" for understanding GLBTQ questions within the context of missional discipleship.

  1. "Women in Ministry and the Gay/Lesbian Question: The Post-Evangelical Terrain as I See It" (March 3, 2010)
  2. "A NEW KIND OF INCLUSIVITY: Before I Talk about Women in Ministry and GLBT Relations" (March 12, 2010)
  3. "'On Being Missional' with the Gay/Lesbian Peoples Among Us" (April 12, 2010)
  4. "'Being Missional' and the GLBTQ #2: Mission and the Nature of Desire" (April 28, 2010)
  5. "The Mission and GLBTQ Relations: Three Commitments of a 'Welcoming and Mutually Transforming' Missional    Community #1" (July 22, 2010)
  6. "Why Pre-Labeling a Church Community's Stance on Same-Sex Relations Is a Bad Idea: Mission and GLBTQ Relations #2" (July 28, 2010)
  7. "The Witness of Transforming Sexually Redemptive Community: Mission and GLBTQ Relations #3" (August 12, 2010)
  8. "The Welcoming and Mutually Transforming Community Among the LGBTQ: An Example and Some Questions" (August 30, 2010)
  9. "Me Vs. Craig Carter on Same Sex Relations: How My Position Differs from the Traditional Evangelical Approach" (September 2, 2010)

5) "A Material Semiotics?" (Adam Miller, the church and postmodern culture: conversation / August 5, 2010)
If we recognize the material character of signs but not the semiological character of matter, then we’ll remain stuck within a “representational” notion of signs. That is to say, we’ll end up thinking that the “gap” between me, the sign, and the recipient is an epistemological gap.
This, I think, is not the way to go.
. . . Enter the qualification of matter by semiotics. It’s my claim that not only are signs material, but that matter is itself semiotic. (Or, perhaps more modestly, that semiotic relationships are not different in kind from any other kind of material relationship.)
This is to say that, when we speak and use signs, we are not engaging in a practice that is foreign to the materials of which speak. Signs are not a way of “overlaying” material reality with a “representational” system that will hopefully more or less “fit” the way things actually are.
Rather, signs are just another variation on the way that all material things - that is, all real things – interact with and relate to one another.
6) "The Diversity We Seek: The Danger of Manufactured Pre-Determined Diversity" (Reclaiming the Mission / July 13, 2010)
My friend said Waukegan is more diverse than Hyde Parke. What she meant when was that Waukegan is a place which is more “not us.” We are middle class suburban (majority) white people with the comforts of education, stable families, homes and jobs. Waukegan is more on the “margins,” people who are struggling for all those things. When I said Hyde Park is more diverse, I was referring to the makeup internal to that community, and its broad differences within one community. When my friend said Waukegan was more diverse, she was saying Waukegan was more “other” than us: diversity as a function of a relation external to us.
As we plant communities what are the opportunities and pitfalls of each? Which diversity should we seek to plant in? Diversity a.) or Diversity b.)? What different things should we consider in terms of God’s redemptive purposes in each? Which diversity should we seek as the most appropriate context for a church like ours to seek to inhabit?
7) "The 'Righteous Rich' in the Old Testament" (Christopher J. H. Wright, The Other Journal / August 5, 2010)

Wright analyses the connections between wealth and righteousness in the Old Testament.
In other words, in most discussions of wealth and poverty, the rich are the bad guys. And in scholarly discussions about poverty in the Bible, that is also frequently the case. 
. . . Righteous and rich are words not often found in each other’s company. Perhaps it is to the familiar rhetoric of Amos that we owe the dominance of the reverse word association, wicked and rich.
. . . Yet clearly the Old Testament has a lot more to say on the subject than we can glean from the prophetic monochrome of Amos. It does not assert thatall wealth must have been gained through wickedness. To paraphrase Shakespeare: some are born rich, some achieve riches, and others have riches thrust upon them. And, as the Old Testament would doubtlessly say, some are blessed by God with riches within the framework of covenant obedience.
8) "Micro Review: On the Heights of Despair" (Adam Miller, the church and postmodern culture: conversation / July 12, 2010)

This review of E. M. Cioran's On the Heights of Despair makes me want to read the book. That's what a good review should do, right?
Cioran is a kind of 20th century, Romanian Nietzsche who "denounced systematic thought and abstract speculation in favor of indulgence in personal reflection and passionate lyricism." 
"I've invented nothing," he said, "I've simply been the secretary of my sensations."
It will come as no surprise that On the Heights of Despair is not light reading and that, at first approach, it provides little obvious sustenance for those of us practicing fidelity to the good news. Nonetheless, the book is short and worth some effort because it addresses some crucial aspects of the path that often get little attention from the pulpit: if you are serious about God, then you must be prepared to have your idols - those perpetually iterated simulacra of your ego - smashed. That is, if you are serious about God, then you must be prepared to live without the comfort and commiseration of your gods.

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