Archive for the ‘Media’ Category
Posted by NT Wrong on December 26, 2008
Posted by NT Wrong on December 21, 2008
Satirical country music … this is funny stuff:
“I bet he’s a Commie,
Or even worse, yet, a Jew.”
Posted by NT Wrong on December 4, 2008
Posted by NT Wrong on December 2, 2008
Nick Cave’s song, There is a Kingdom picks up on a number of Gnostic and Christian motifs. There’s the idea of the Kingdom of God being within (and, Nick Cave adds, without). He also sings of the human spark unable to be quenched in the darkness (which parallels a single bird singing up the sun in the darkness of the early morning). Cave also employs the Gnostic idea of the material world as mere appearance — but complicates it by ascribing this quality of false appearances to those signs of transcendence that Kant thought he could rely on. What Cave does seem to affirm, instead, is the ephemeral one-off never-to-return dawning day, in all its materiality and lack of transcendence that we can still love. In this way, the Christian-hymnlike qualities of the song and its mystical Gnostic motifs manage to open up a world which is both more mundane and more spirit-filled than the individual Christian and Gnostic motifs it employs.
It’s also a very nice song to listen to:
Here it is, accompanied by some still pictures by one of the videographers of Youtube (as John Lyons refers to them):
Just like a bird that sings up the sun
In a dawn so very dark
Such is my faith for you
Such is my faith
And all the world’s darkness can’t swallow up
A single spark
Such is my love for you
Such is my love
There is a kingdom
There is a king
And he lives without
And he lives within
The starry heavens above me
The moral law within
So the world appears
So the world appears
This day so sweet
It will never come again
So the world appears
Through this mist of tears
Gospel of Thomas 3:
Jesus said, “If your leaders say to you,
‘Look, the (Father’s) kingdom is in the sky,’
then the birds of the sky will precede you.
If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’
then the fish will precede you.
Rather, the (Father’s) kingdom is within you and it is outside you.
When you know yourselves, then you will be known,
and you will understand that you are children of the living Father.
But if you do not know yourselves,
then you live in poverty, and you are the poverty.”
“Two things awe me most, the starry sky above me and the moral law within me.”
- Immanuel Kant
Posted by NT Wrong on November 28, 2008
There seem to be at least two ways in which evangelical Christians have misappropriated the term “postmodernism”. One of these ways is described by Robert C. Greer in Mapping Postmodernism, and can also be seen in the blurb to G.K. Beale’s book and in William Dever’s rant against minimalists. This approach is a retrenchment back into what was falsely assumed to be a doctrinally secure positivism. Here’s Greer (p. 14):
“A number of books have been published in the 1990s and early 2000s excoriating postmodernism and admonishing the Christian community to stand firm against the postmodern tide saturating the West. In the pulpits, on the radio and on television, this same message has been presented. With Bible in hand the Christian believer argues for absolute truth, often with the words ‘Thus sayeth the Lord” serving as a centrepiece to his or her arguments. Hence, where polemical works had previously targeted secular Christianity as one of Christianity’s chief foes, the new foe is postmodernism. Only by understanding and embracing that which constitutes absolute truth, leaders within the Christian community explained, could the battle be waged successfully.”
Here’s an example, in the introduction to The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World (2007) by John Piper, Voddie Baucham, D. A. Carson, Tim Keller, Mark Driscoll, and David Wells:
“Many would have us believe that life is hopelessly fragmented and truth an elusive dream. The authors of this book beg to differ and enthusiastically point us to the cohesive centrality and absolute supremacy of Jesus Christ.”
The other approach is that followed by those sympathetic with ‘emergent/emerging’ movements, and involves taking those bits of ‘postmodern’ thinkers which attack secular modernism, and thereby providing a defence of the same absolute truth of Christianity, without being quite so explicit as to the grounds (if any can be spelled out) for such absolute truth. It’s the ‘Christianity is absolutely true, because all truth is relative, and so my claim for absolute truth is equally valid’ argument. It’s never said like that, of course, because that would expose the odd inconsistency of the position — using a relativistic epistemology to support absolute truth, and then naming that absolute truth as specifically traditional orthodox Christianity. And the problem is deeper than that. There’s a careful selectivity from thinkers who are grouped as ‘postmodernists’, taking only those parts of what they say that can be useful, while refusing the full (anti-authoritarian, indeterminate, anti-metanarrative) implications of what they are saying.
Neither approach has much interest in what the so-called ‘postmodern’ thinkers say. One simply opposes it, the other mines it for material. Both are defensive positions, and where there’s defense, there’s usually tendentious use rather than reading. But in that dichotomy, which is really a sliding scale, I guess I’m revealing I think modernism has a few good and worthwhile features, yet.
Posted by NT Wrong on November 27, 2008
In the ‘What Planet are Conservative Evangelicals On?’ Category, G.K. Beale has released a book which seeks to reinstate old-fashioned ultra-inerrancy as ”a fundamental part of [evangelicalism's] vibrant future”.
But wait, it gets nuttier…
The book’s blurb, which reflects the substance of Beale’s complaint against Peter Enns in his earlier book review, describes Enns as a “leading postmodernist”!!!
“In The Erosion of Inerrancy in Evangelicalism, Beale vigorously yet even-handedly meets the challenges presented by leading postmodernist Peter Enns.”
For those who don’t get the joke, Enns is very conservative himself — but hasn’t got quite as big an inerrancy-carrot stuck up his ‘authorized version’ as those ultra-conservative fundie fringers who inhabit the atavistic hovels of darkness called the Westminster Theological Seminary and Wheaton College.
But what gets me is the “postmodern” label. Hasn’t this just become an empty label fundamentalists apply when they realize they have no idea what’s going on? Does anyone believe that Peter Enns is the new Derrida? If Peter Enns were to opine that “there is nothing outside the text”, he would only be affirming sola scriptura, not irresolvable textual indeterminacy.
What’s more, “postmodernism” occurred in the 1980s. It’s over. Well over. Times and ideas have changed. There’s only one source printing books which rant about “postmodernism” these days: conservative evangelical publishers.
Update: Art Boulet at Finitum Non Capax Infiniti provides a review that dares to go beyond the book’s blurb and finds even more nuttiness…
Posted by NT Wrong on November 18, 2008
Roland Boer has denied that Jesus and I have even one anus between us. This is blasphemous heresy. Jesus is wholly man; wholly arse. Not only does Jesus have an anus, but the divine anus is the key to the meaning of the Incarnation, in which God becomes his own shit.
The theology of Jesus’ excremental identity is discussed by world-leading theologian Slavoj Žižek, who addresses the divine anus immediately after his discussion of the Johnny Cash song, ‘The Man Comes Around’ (which he describes as “an exemplary articulation of the anxieties contained in Southern Baptist Christianity;” The Parallax View, 186).
According to Žižek, the message of Christian love has its dark underside in the message that “the just remain just and the filthy remain filthy.” It doesn’t matter what you’ve done or who you are, God will fuck you up the arse if he whimsically decides to do so. The “love which suspends the law is necessarily accompanied by the arbitrary cruelty which also suspends the law.” The Christian conception of grace can be less nicely — and much more truthfully — expressed: as arbitrariness, as the law-ignoring, bastard behaviour of divine wankery. And Mankind (to use the theological term) is thus most accurately defined, in light of the Incarnation, as a bunch of little shits:
“Martin Luther directly proposed an excremental identity of man: man is like divine shit, he fell out of God’s anus. We can, of course, pursue the question of the deep crises that pushed Luther toward his new theology; he was caught in a violent debilitating superego cycle: the more he acted, repented, punished, and tortured himself, did good deeds, and so on, the more he felt guilty. This convinced him that good deeds are calculated, dirty, selfish: far from pleasing God, they provoke God’s wrath and lead to damnation. Salvation comes from faith: it is our faith alone, faith in Jesus as savior, which allows us to break out of the superego impasse. This “anal” definition of man, however, cannot be reduced to a result of this superego pressure which pushed Luther toward self-abasement — there is more to it: only within this Protestant logic of man’s excremental identity can the true meaning of the Incarnation be formulated. In Orthodoxy, Christ ultimately loses his exceptional status: his very idealization, elevation to a noble model, reduces him to an ideal image, a figure to be imitated (all men should strive to become God) — imitatio Christi is more an Orthodox than a Catholic formula. In Catholicism, the predominant logic is that of a symbolic exchange: Catholic theologists enjoy long scholastic juridical arguments about how Christ paid the price for our sins, and so on — no wonder Luther reacted to the most contemptible outcome of this logic, the reduction of redemption to something that can be bought from the Church. Protestantism, finally, posits the relationship as real, conceiving Christ as a God who, in his act of Incarnation, freely identified himself with his own shit, with the excremental Real that is man — and it is only at this level that the properly Christian notion of divine love can be apprehended, as love for the miserable excremental entity called “man.” “
- Slavoj Žižek, The Parallax View, 187
Ah! Don’t those canny continental theologians (such as Žižek, Badiou, Agamben) make that other bunch — those puritanical guardians of dogma — appear just as unpalatable as shit on a plate?
Posted by NT Wrong on November 11, 2008
In October 2008, Harry Kreisler interviewed Talal Asad, “focusing on religion, modernity, and the complex relationships between Islam and the West” (57:02).
Posted by NT Wrong on November 11, 2008
In September 2008, Bart Ehrman delivered one of the 2008 Foerster Lectures on the Immortality of the Soul at the University of California Berkeley. The lecture series commenced in 1928, and has included lectures by Oliver Sacks, Thomas S. Kuhn, Aldous Huxley, and Paul Tillich.
“God’s Problem and Human Solutions: How the Bible Explains Suffering”
Posted by NT Wrong on November 5, 2008
Bono, lead singer of U2:
“Right now there is the biggest pandemic in the history of civilization, happening in the world now with AIDS. It’s bigger than the Black Death, which took a third of Europe in the Middle Ages. Sixty-five hundred Africans are dying every day of a preventable, treatable disease. And it is not a priority for the West: two 9/11s a day, eighteen jumbo jets of fathers, mothers, families falling out of the sky. No tears, no letters of condolence, no fifty-one-gun salutes. Why? Because we don’t put the same value on African life as we put on a European or an American life. God will not let us get away with this, history certainly won’t let us get away with our excuses. We say we can’t get these antiretroviral drugs to the farthest reaches of Africa, but we can get them our cold fizzy drinks. The tiniest village, you can find a bottle of Coke. Look, if we really thought that an African life was equal in value to an English, a French, or an Irish life, we wouldn’t let two and a half million Africans die every year for the stupidest of reasons: money. We just wouldn’t. And a very prominent head of state said to me: “It’s true. If these people weren’t Africans, we just couldn’t let it happen.” We don’t really deep down believe in their equality.” (Michka Assayas and Bono, Bono on Bono: Conversations with Michka Assayas with a Foreword by Bono. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2005: 81.)
Bono is then asked by the interviewer whether poverty is simply the fault of Africa itself for not addressing these issues, and if Africa is just behind Europe in terms of ‘civilization’:
“This is a fifteen-year-old’s geography textbook. I was looking at this today, and it tells about it exactly. [Eventually finds the passage and proceeds to read out] “Income gap. Two hundred years ago, it appears that very little difference existed in living standards between the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere. Today, a very wide income gap exists: the North is many times richer than the South. What brought about this gap? The answer seems to lie in colonialism, trade, and debt.” They’re explaining to this fifteen-year-old kid how the reason why Africa is still in the Middle Age is largely to do with us, and our exploitation through French and British colonialism, but also in their present exploitation of unfair trade agreements, or old debts. You can’t fix every problem. But the ones you can, you must. To the degree we are responsible, we must fix. When you ask me to just accept that civilizations are just at a different level, there is a reason why they are. That is my answer.” (82-83)
And here’s a video of what could have been in poor, black New Orleans. Call me an old romantic, but this is a beautiful vision: