The ABC's of Theology, an ongoing blog series from the folks at Homebrewed Christianity. (previously) [more inside]
A small but significant number of theologians, psychologists, and other conservative Christians are beginning to develop moral arguments that it’s possible to affirm same-sex relationships not in spite of orthodox theology, but within it. In books, academic journals, magazines, blog posts, speeches, conferences, and campus clubs, they are steadily building a case that there is a place in the traditional evangelical church for sexually active gay people in committed, monogamous relationships. They argue that the Bible, read properly, doesn't condemn such relationships at all—and neither should committed Christians.
Can the evangelical church embrace gay couples? Here Matthew Vines speaks to each of the 'clobber' passages used to attack homosexuality in engaging detail and describes his vision for the role of gay Christians in the church. (1:07:18) [more inside]
In the academic sphere, at least, the "Conflict Thesis" of a historical war between science and theology has been long since overturned. It is very odd that so many of my fellow atheists cling so desperately to a long-dead position that was only ever upheld by amateur Nineteenth Century polemicists and not the careful research of recent, objective, peer-reviewed historians. This is strange behavior for people who like to label themselves "rationalists".
-- The Dark Age Myth: An Atheist Reviews “God’s Philosophers”
Only two works of Nonnus
of Panopolis (fl. AD 400), arguably the last great poet of the Homeric tradition, survive complete. The first is his Dionysiaca
, ostensibly an account of the adventures of Dionysus but embracing everything that touches chaos and fire and sound, "the longest surviving poem from classical antiquity and one of the most entertaining, outrageous and vivid epics ever conceived west of the Ganges."
The second is the Metabole kata Ioannou [PDF]
. It's a paraphrase of the Gospel of John into the idiom of Homer.
"From symbols and notions to literary and religious allusions, this chart
contains [W.H.] Auden's view of the world (and of worlds beyond), at least as he envisioned it in the 1940s." [more inside]
For those tired of watered-down, light-beer theology...Check out the Homebrewed Christianity Podcast
, started by process-theologians Trip Fuller and Chad Crawford. Today's podcast interviews Old-Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann
. The highlight is the lightning round finale (starts at ~61 min) where Walter gives rapid thoughts on such topics such as religious pluralism, ecological crises, immigration, homosexuality, economics, empire, and his favorite Bible story for his grandchildren. Also this week, a conversation with Barry Taylor
(ACDC Sound Engineer, Episcopal Priest, and philosopher).
"the most embarrassing verse in the Bible" - C.S. Lewis
"this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled" - 2000 years of arguments over the central verse in all prophecy. The meaning of Christianity, and hence much of our culture, hangs on the disputed meaning of a single word, "genea" or "generation." [more inside]
is, generally speaking, the study of the end of the world, but when most people in the US hear the term, they generally think of Christian eschatology
Specifically, they tend to think of the barrels of ink
and that one movie (previously)
which have been devoted to the subject over the past couple of decades. Neither seems to have contributed to a wider understanding of the actual theology involved. [more inside]
John Milbank and Katherine Pickstock are interviewed about Radical Orthodoxy [more inside]
Noted religious thinker Karen Armstrong
and noted atheist thinker Richard Dawkins
face off - sorta kinda - in the WSJ: We commissioned Karen Armstrong and Richard Dawkins to respond independently to the question "Where does evolution leave God?" Neither knew what the other would say. Here are the results.
Caritas in Veritate
), Benedict XVI's third encyclical, hit the presses last week and made it into Obama's hands
on Friday. Part of a large body of Catholic social thinking
, Benedict called for a United Nations "with teeth"
(maybe it could happen
) and a focus on authentic human development
, grounded on a focus on the whole person and an economics governed by love. [more inside]
passed away early on the morning of June 1st. He described himself as a cosmologist and "geologian," an Earth scholar
. He was an advocate of deep ecology
, and believed passionately in the power of the New Cosmology
and the Great Story
believed that "Our future destiny
rests even more decisively on our capacity for intimacy in our human-Earth relations."
Open to Revisions.
"Some religious entrepreneurs have adopted an 'open source' model, where rituals and doctrines can be rewritten as easily as computer code."
The Temple Gallery in London has more than 200 items of Eastern Orthodox religious art, principally icons, on its website, both from the current exhibit
as well as older pieces
. Icons have been a part of Orthodox Christianity for centuries and they are loaded with meaning. The theology is elaborated upon in this essay on the history, principles and function of icons
by iconographer Dr. George Kordis. One of the subjects of the essay is the Byzantine iconoclasm
, a central event of which was the Seventh Ecumenical Council, depicted here in an icon
. Here are some other icons I like: The Forty Martyrs of Sebasteia
, St. Alypius the Stylite
, Synaxis of the Archangels
, Dormition of the Virgin
and Presentation of Christ in the Temple
. [Click on any image for a larger view]
On Truth and Reality.
Despite several thousand years of failure to correctly understand physical reality (hence the current postmodern view that this is impossible
) it is actually very simple to work out how matter exists and moves about in Space. The rules of Science (Occam's Razor / Simplicity)
and Metaphysics (Dynamic Unity of Reality)
require that reality be described from only one single source existing, as Leibniz wrote: "because of the interconnection of all things with one another." [more inside]
The Speculum theologiae
is a beautiful medieval manuscript. Its diagrams demonstrate visually various aspects of the medieval worldview. The diagrams are explained and translated and most of them are expounded upon in a short essay. My favorite diagrams are The Cherub with Six Wings
, The 10 Commandments, Plagues of Egypt and Abuses of the Impious
and The Tree of Virtue and The Tree of Vices
- Containing the three major works of Gerald Massey
and his minor work commonly titled: The Lectures
. Published here in their entirety, fully revised and amended, with additional material by the editor.
The University of South Carolina recently completed an ambitious survey
of all medieval texts in the state for an exhibit at the university library. All the works were scanned and archived electronically. However, not only can you view
the texts online, you can hear the university's chorus sing
(MP3) the musical manuscripts. [more inside]
The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism
is a book
released last month by Tim Keller
. Its faired reasonably well
(NYT, login req'd), which is interesting, considering the wide success of books preaching the opposite message, as of late (Dawkins, et. al.). [more inside]
Answers Research Journal
is a new "professional peer-reviewed technical journal for the publication of interdisciplinary scientific and other relevant research from the perspective of the recent Creation and the global Flood within a biblical framework." Current Volume
. Call for Papers.
God vs. the Devil: a Death Toll Perspective
So, who has killed more people throughout human history? In the blue corner, it's the Lord of Hosts, the Almighty, the Creator of Heaven and Earth and all Things Seen and Unseen: God
In the red corner, it's Old Nick, Beelzebub, Mephistopheles, the Sultan of Sulfur, the Bringer of Brimstone: Satan
He seems to imagine God,
if not exactly with a white beard, then at least as some kind of chap, however supersized. He asks how this chap can speak to billions of people simultaneously, which is rather like wondering why, if Tony Blair is an octopus, he has only two arms.
-- Terry Eagleton
on Richard Dawkins' new book, The God Delusion
is the knowledge of Life and everything pertaining thereto." The collected works
of Alfred Lawson
- professional baseball player
, aviation pioneer
, and philosopher
- are available to all. [more inside]
Interpreting Revelation's "Millenium."
Outside of the all-too-virulent rapture-crazy pre-tribulational dispensationalist premillenialism
permeating JesusLand, some Christians hold to other, more nuanced eschatological alternatives. You've got historic post-tribulational premillenialism
, which places the transformation of the faithful at the final judgment rather than before it; amillenialism
, which regards Christ's "millenial" reign as a symbolic spiritual reign culminating in the last judgment; and postmillenialism
, which sees the millenium as a gradual progression towards goodness and light. Overlapping those, you have the "it's all been fulfilled" preterists
, and their prophecy-party-pooping compatriots, the hyper-preterists
. It's a debate just slightly more fun than the end of the universe
. Meanwhile, the noncanonical apocalypses
sit in a corner, sadly ignored, and sunny Megiddo
is still waiting for some end times action
How to Build a Universe That Doesn't Fall Apart Two Days Later
is a speech by Philip K. Dick
which he never delivered. In it he details his theory of time and reality. A complimentary speech, which he did deliver, is If You Find This World Bad, You Should See Some of the Others
. According to one account "people left the auditorium, it was later reported, looking as though they'd been hit with a hammer." Other essays by him in that vein are Man, Android and Machine
and Cosmogony and Cosmology
Here are some excerpts
from his exegesis
. Also, a collection of interviews
"... Giordano Bruno might have been a pantheist.
A pantheist believes that God is everywhere, even in that speck of a fly you see there. You can imagine how satisfying that is—being everywhere is like being nowhere. Well, for Hegel it wasn’t God but the State that had to be everywhere; therefore, he was a Fascist.”
“But didn’t he live more than a hundred years ago?”
“So? Joan of Arc, also a Fascist of the highest order. Fascists have always existed. Since the age of . . . since the age of God. Take God—a Fascist.”
in the New Yorker
The Meaning of Life
according to various rather famous people (Dennett, Fukuyama, etc). I'm watching the Dennett video at the moment and it starts rather weakly, but, by midway through, is rolling along nicely. With topics like "being good without god" and "the anthropic principle" it struck me as relevant to a couple of recent askmefi threads
Dennett: [pause] i guess i'll say it again, more slowly...
(oh, and the player interface is rather delicate - give it time to load and click play a few times...)
"How do we nurture the healing side of religion over the killing side? How do we protect the soul of democracy against bad theology in service of an imperial state?
OVER THE PAST few years, as the poor got poorer, the health care crisis worsened, wealth and media became more and more concentrated, and our political system was bought out from under us, prophetic Christianity lost its voice. The Religious Right drowned everyone else out. And they hijacked Jesus. The very Jesus who stood in Nazareth and proclaimed, 'The Lord has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor.' The very Jesus who told 5,000 hungry people that all of you will be fed, not just some of you. The very Jesus who challenged the religious orthodoxy of the day by feeding the hungry on the Sabbath, who offered kindness to the prostitute and hospitality to the outcast, who raised the status of women and treated even the tax collector like a child of God. The very Jesus who drove the money changers from the temple. This Jesus has been hijacked and turned into a guardian of privilege instead of a champion of the dispossessed. Hijacked, he was made over into a militarist, hedonist, and lobbyist, sent prowling the halls of Congress in Guccis, seeking tax breaks and loopholes for the powerful, costly new weapon systems that don't work, and punitive public policies."
Bill Moyers on democracy excruciate.
The Beecher Family.
'Families that have been influential in American life and culture are often recognizable by their signature names. The Beecher family is an example of one such family whose deep religious convictions and social conscience spanned the nineteenth century and made them prominent historical figures whose impact on religion, education, abolition, reform movements, literature and public life were exceptional. Biographer Milton Rugoff claims that in "two generations the Beechers emerged, along with many other Americans, from a God-centered, theology-ridden world concerned with the fate of man's eternal soul into a man-centered society occupied mainly with life on earth." ... '
"Jesus?" he murmured, "Jesus -- of Nazareth?..." Pontius Pilate
, is the only historical figure named in
the Nicene Creed
-- Coptic saint
or eternally damned
, his role in the greatest story ever told
has been debated by many of history's greatest minds: St Augustine
, Dante Alighieri
, John Ruskin
, Mikhail Bulgakov
, Monty Python
. Unfortunately, there is very little historical evidence
about him. His role in the death
of a certain
healer and apocalyptic
preacher is still being debated today
and historians alike
. He is also, of course, the main character of The Procurator
, the classic short story (complete text in main link) by Anatole France
. (France's magnificent story has lately been tragically neglected by publishers, even if the author was one of his era's most acclaimed writers in the world -- he won the Nobel Prize in 1921 over Shaw, Yeats, Joyce, Thomas Hardy, D.H. Lawrence, and Proust, and when he died in 1924, hundreds of thousands of people followed his funeral procession
through Paris). These last 2,000 years of fascination with Pilatus
can be explained, some argue... (more inside, for those unwilling to wash their hands of this post)
Web Project Seeks to Digitize Religious Images for Theological Libraries
The American Theological Library Association's Cooperative Digital Resources Initiative aims to create a large database of religious images to spare research librarians the expense of digitizing documents that other institutions have already scanned
Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer
, the founder of the Opus Dei
movement, was canonized
today. Opus Dei is a conservative
movement within the catholic church, and counts many powerful people among its adherents
- the current pope among them. However, it is not
without its detractors
. Some of
the most important people in the Franco
were part of the group, as were several of the participants in the Venezuelan coup
earlier this year. Should
we keep an eye on
? They are certainly secretive and aggressive
, but are they just a group of
concerned, pious Catholics, or a power-hungry fraternity? I'm half-catholic myself, and certainly curious to hear if any Catholic MeFiers have thoughts on this subject. Even better, an Opus Dei member to clarify some of these misunderstandings...
The World Politics Heavyweight Fight: Huntington vs. Fukuyama:
Which of these two now classic approaches offers a more plausible vision of the world's future? Huntington's Culture Clash
[Foreign Affairs, 1993
] or Fukuyama's Pax Democratia
[National Interest, 1989
]? In an updating mode, Stanley Kurtz
[Policy Review, 2002
] measures their chances from a political viewpoint. On the same front,Jack Miles
[Cross Currents, 2002
] offers a refreshingly liberal and optimistic theological perspective. Yep, it's still
all about East meeting West, the Muslims and the rest of the us. Or even increasingly
Today is Reformation Day, the anniversary of Martin Luther
nailing the 95 Theses
to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church in 1517. He was largely criticizing the practice of selling indulgences (forgiveness for sins). He didn't intend to split with the church. He left room for the Pope to slip out of the indulgences corruption. But the Pope didn't, and the split eventually came.
"Listen up: God isn't Santa"
says a retired bishop of the U.S. Episcopal Church. The basis of prayer has always seemed like a paradox to me. I'm glad to see that John Shelby Spong agrees.
Where Was God?
.......there is nothing else I can say about this.
Christian Fundamentalism Inspiring Radical Muslim Theology?
Arab fundamentalists long ago woke up to the potential of European anti-Semitic literature such as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Now, in a truly bizarre piece of cultural miscegenation, they are turning to the Bible belt for inspiration.
I encourage all people to take a look at a few sites to learn what Satanism actually is. As a nominal Christian, I was suprised to learn that Satanism isn't anything like popular culture says it is. Actually, as a student of theology, I found it fascinating. It's based on Magick and the teachings of British poet and mystic Aleister Crowley. The
Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
has a great introduction
to Satanism, among 70 other faiths. The prominent Satanist 'church' is the Temple of Set
. The Order of the Thelemic Golden Dawn
is a notable Satanic order, but no Order compares to the Ordo Templi Orientis
, an Order that Crowley himself ran. The Aleister Crowley Foundation
and The Hermetic Library
are two other interesting resources.
I went to Catholic high school for two years, and being the incredibly geeky type, I wondered, given the Pope is the Bishop of Rome, how he ran the whole church and his provincial diocese. This site
is a good snippet that answers the question, for those people like me who have academic interests in theology.