To vacation: leaving for Bangkok tomorrow with Danah Boyd . I have no plans. But I do have a camera.
Landscape organizes everything within sight.
To vacation: leaving for Bangkok tomorrow with Danah Boyd . I have no plans. But I do have a camera.
A lot of personal correspondence has followed from my earlier posts about the Nerve moral values issue.
Death by a Thousand Blogs - New York Times
Editing a paper until late, downing cup after cup of coffee, all combined to the effect of strangely lucid dreams, in one of which I had been adopted by a kindly woman professor who was talking to me about dreams and writing. I explained to her that I've been having a series of vivid dreams in which I'd been chased by a witch with a terrible political agenda.
So the movie plays tentatively with a major theological point. It isn't clear that theological progressives have to believe in "eternal life" as an actual material state, or if "eternal life" is merely the transformation of a state of being here on earth. Mirabile dictu, that a sexy mainstream movie should be exploring the intricacies of how such theological perspectives play out. Fielding's life is really transformed; Fielding really does see Sarah, and it makes not a bit of difference whether Sarah is dead, communicating through God, communicating through Fielding's subconscious, alive and communicating from South America through esoteric psychic methods, or actually alive and momentarily appearing in the dead of night because she's actually in danger of being followed.
Why such a suspension of belief works so well has been studied by a literary critic, Victoria Nelson, in her book, The Secret Life of Puppets, which argues that by reserving a space for fantasy, science fiction and horror films are actually the last preserve where respectable, educated, rational individuals can allow themselves to momentarily reflect on man's relationship to the sacred and the possibility of an afterlife.
In the middle of the eighteenth century one A. Betson, an idiosyncratic writer with a scholarly bent, published a treatise on masquerades, setting the scene with a seemingly innocuous definition: 'Masquerades, or Masqueraders, are _Persons in Disguise_, representing or acting other Personages, than what they are commonly known to be.' Now read this definition again, paying particular attention to how its ending betrays an archaic way of thinking. We might say, 'masqueraders are acting personages different than what they _are_', but we are less likely to say that they act personages different than what they _are commonly known to be_. It is not much of a stretch to hear in this formulation an admission that real life was itself not unlike a masquerade: both, it seems, involved assumed identities. The difference appears more one of degree than of kind: whereas in real life one is known to be a particular character most of the time, in a masquerade one sports a character only for an evening.
Saturday, May 21, 2005
Practicing What You Preach
Here's James Watt , telling people not to make sweeping generalizations about the religious right, falsely attribute radical beliefs to people associated with the religious right, and not to divide people of faith. But in his editorial, Lies of the Religious Left, he seems to adopt the very tack he pretends to condemn.
// posted by Aaron @ 6:37 PM
Be alert. I learned this lesson two decades ago -- the hard way. Never underestimate the political impact of the twisted charges by extreme environmentalists now advanced by the religious left to divide the people of faith.
Previously a working-class demographic associated with the poorest backwoods of rural Appalachia and Arkansas, Evangelicals and Pentacostalists are profiting from their rising fortunes by going to Ivy League universities. Now they want to evangelize them. They see the educational power block as a major front in their battle to transform America's political dialogue.
From the article, it's clear that evangelicals are learning a lot from their class voyage from the depths to the peaks. They've learned to talk about the theology of God using rich people. They've learned about grand strategies in national politics. What's spooky to some of us mainline Protestants is how little their travels have made them think critically about pluralism, diversity, and the way the Christian message applies.
In account after account here, Christianity is set aside from other competing ideals not by what it tells the Christian about how to care for the poor, not by how it forces the Christian to reach out and listen to the downcast, not by the Christian's experience of outreach to the homeless, the diseased, and the immigrant, from the midst of the Ivy Tower's privilege. Instead, the dividing experience is how the Christian handles sex.
"I was just like, 'Oh, I can get this girl to like me,' " he recalled. " 'Oh, she likes me; she's cute.' And so it was a lot of fairly short and meaningless relationships. It was pretty destructive."
In his sophomore year, though, his evangelical a cappella singing group, a Christian twist on an old Ivy League tradition, interceded. With its support, he rededicated himself to serving God, and by his senior year he was running his own Bible-study group, hoping to inoculate first-year students against the temptations he had faced. They challenged one another, Mr. Havens said, "committing to remain sexually pure, both in a physical sense and in avoiding pornography and ogling women and like that."
The scene: the president whose victory has been repeatedly attributed to the evangelical vote arrives at a small, Midwestern, evangelical college.
The following day, Bush was greeted by another letter in the same newspaper signed by about 100 of 300 faculty members that objected to "an unjust and unjustified war in Iraq" and policies "that favor the wealthy of our society and burden the poor."
The focus of this book is on the teaching of morals within the Catholic Church. ... I focus on what appears to be true of slaveholding in every context: the right of the owner to determine the identity; education, and vocation of the slave and to possess the fruit of the slave's body. Acts exercising these kinds of domination were once accepted by the teaching Church as without sin. They are no longer.
Chloe posts about the recent food-for-bombs inquiry circus.
I am instructed to view that skinless web of veins and tendons not merely as a human face, nor even as that dead man's face, but rather as my face.
But it is not my face. In life, the organs of this man's face were his primary point of interaction with the rest of the world, that from which he evaluated his surroundings and went beyond the now desiccated body to make his thoughts and desires known to others. His mouth has been reduced to a static bit of muscle and bone, but we can imagine it moving through space, chewing the food that he enjoyed, whispering to a lover.
The widespread acceptance of Body Worlds is either violently a-religious -- at once a stark humanist proclamation of our own wonders and a rejection of extra-individual considerations in the treatment of our selves in death -- or oddly indicative of a religious sensibility: an acceptance that whatever, whomever, it was that possessed that jaw, has given it up, leaving us free to use it. This is something that Gunther von Hagens, the doctor behind the exhibit, gestures toward in his writings, suggesting that locating dignity within the soul rather than the body "is certainly an alternative for those who believe in the existence of the soul." Since a vast majority of Americans say they do believe in the soul, the perception of the body as an empty husk would seem to be at work in the public acceptance of Body Worlds.
...But if in your boyhood you had read Jusserand with D'Arcy Thompson's book also in mind, you derived a lasting feeling that the preexistence and physical condition of the road-ways of the fourteenth century had a great deal to do with causing and shaping the life of that period.
You derived the feeling that roads had played an active part in the great formations, language, law, and order and so forth, which arise in an energetic society.
You saw that the great roads of the world should be studied, not merely for the ways in which they exhibited various heydays of various civilizations, but for the ways in which heydays of civilizations came into being.
You saw, in short, that in the great academic department of morphology there had to be a special room devoted to the study of roads
OpinionEditorials.com %u2013 N.C. Church %u2013 Democrats Need Not Apply - Ford
Hi there - Joe, thanks for your comments; Abby, thanks for your statements.
People claim that there are a lot of reasons for turning away from the church as a liberal. But I don't buy most of the excuses. I don't buy the irreconciliable philosophical problems, the "I read Dostoevsky" and then God was impossible, the "I learned about the crusades" and then joining a church was impossible. Modern thinking Christians read Nietzche and Wittgenstein. They know about the crusades. They know that all organizations have problems, and all power corrupts. They also are over the 1960s critique of all organizations and all power. But this isn't about the church, this is about the people who bristle.
Social Redemption is looking into what technology to use to get its people talking together. We're hoping to eventually provide a service -- newsfeeds, email newsletters, links to blogs and statements -- rather than a total platform to which grassroots activists have to conform. The social gospel in Florida need not look like the social gospel in California, but it's time that the non-radical-fringe stood up to be counted.
Alright, okay, I admit taht I went through a longer-than-normal hiatus from blogging after realizing that my mother was reading. "Have no illusions! Whatever you post is public!" says Mom. But much as I love her, the maternal public is very different than the anonymous public, whatever their presumptions and prejudices. Mother will always love me, which is a kind of responsibility in and of itself. I don't really care about the public, and sort of cleave to the challenge of changing their minds. So here we go, back to what I've been thinking about during the last week and always, somewhere near the intersection of landscape, theology, and the urban hipster scene.