Tuesday, May 31, 2005

 

Postmodern Medicine

Postmodernism is quite a curious thing. People love it. People hate it. It’s a relativistic evil embraced by liberals. No wait – it’s the new weapon of right-wingers. Well, actually, it does not even exist. Or maybe it does… Either way, Joe Carter makes a good point when he states:

I can’t recall ever meeting a true postmodernist. I don’t think I’ve ever met two people who could define the term in the same way. Ask a philosopher, an artist, an English major, an emergent church leader, and the pizza delivery girl how postmodernism differs from modernity. Assuming they can do more than stare blankly in befuddlement at the question, the responses will likely be at complete variance from one another.
So if no one can even define the term or, at least, no two people can agree on a definition, why is it stirring up so much emotion? Why is it posited as either the epitome of the new cool or the beginning of the end of Western Civilization?

(You may be expecting me to answer my own questions right now, but holding true to PoMo form, I am merely posing provocative questions with no intention of answering them. It’s kind of fun actually. Call me a deconstructionist PoMo poseur.)

Now I am not suggesting we rush to embrace this new cultural trend. Actually, I sympathize with blogger Matt Martinson who pleads, "Please make it stop." However, it does bother me that the doomsayers appear to be either advocating a victim mentality (sort of like what Lance warned about) or embracing a completely defeatist view of our culture. Some are even equating post modernism with post Christendom.

A good first step would be to get the terminology down first, particularly as it may apply to spiritual beliefs. And I think someone like emergent wannabe gets it right when he says:

Postmodern culture is not something we should ignore, oppose, or embrace; rather it is simply another culture that we should seek to redeem and transform by the power of the gospel...

Fortunately, my God is bigger than all of this brouhaha. I’d also add a word of caution to PoMo enthusiasts:

If you’re searching for the miracles of postmodern medicine, you’ll likely end up with nothing more than some sort of voodoo.

And finally, in the midst of all this meandering, I'll end with some lyrics I found to be appropriate (from Gomez):

The operation’s on
Movin’ forward
Don’t know where we’re going
But we’re on our way
So raise the alarm
Movin’ forward
We don’t know where we’re going
But we’re on our way

Monday, May 30, 2005

 

Bumper Sticker Ideology III

In a previous post, I surmised that there exists an alternate reality called Bizarro World. Its inhabitants are a curious breed. Many (though not all) of which we would commonly refer to as "hippies".

Perhaps due to the influence of too many mind-altering drugs, they maintain a rather warped sense of reality yet often fancy themselves as being very "deep".

The results of their intense intellectualizing often results in sloganeering which transcends (many would say ignores) real world complications. Very often such folks can be distinguished by pieces of plastic that encapsulate their enlightened worldviews.

For some reason, conspiracy theories run rampant amongst the aforementioned crowd. The conspiracy is often the product of a brilliantly orchestrated campaign of evil doers ranging from President Bush (of course) to royal families in the Middle East to corporate fatcats in the oil industry to military commanders and so on. See Exhibit A below for a common theme that emerges:



I know it's sheer speculation, but perhaps it's something in the doughnuts?



So just how bad can it get? Well, here is prime example of the end product of such dementia:

Go ahead, snicker if you must, but remember these people do exist and should be approached with extreme caution.

Friday, May 27, 2005

 

Coalitions of the Willing

A couple days ago, I criticized the methodology and language espoused by the culture warriors. As an alternative I suggested the need for “implementation of proactive, compassionate visions involving attempts to understand differing viewpoints”. Of course, the danger in laying out broad, sweeping statements like this is that they may be taken as “pie-in-the-sky” sort of sentiments without any real-life application.

So as a necessary adjunct to what I was advocating, I will point to two recent commentaries that outline more specific plans for achieving common goals by broadening the existing alliances rather than narrowing them. First, at Winds of Change, Joe Katzman suggests the following framework for conservative evangelicals to achieve their goals. (Link via Dignan)

I could envision a moral, proper, and winning program built around 2 pillars: (1) Insistence on genuine tolerance for and balanced public portrayals of the religious lifestyle; plus (2) A battle to define and drive a broad set of common values in concert with interested coalition partners, without requiring common beliefs or the achievement of salvation by members.

This dovetails nicely into an excellent column by David Brooks from yesterday’s New York Times (emailed to me by a friend). In it, Brooks asserts that the war on poverty is one cause in particular that can be fought effectively only by transcending the “war” mentality and, instead, agreeing upon common beliefs.

…we can have a culture war in this country, or we can have a war on poverty, but we can't have both. That is to say, liberals and conservatives can go on bashing each other for being godless hedonists and primitive theocrats, or they can set those differences off to one side and work together to help the needy.

The natural alliance for antipoverty measures at home and abroad is between liberals and evangelical Christians. These are the only two groups that are really hyped up about these problems and willing to devote time and money to ameliorating them. If liberals and evangelicals don't get together on antipoverty measures, then there will be no majority for them and they won't get done.

That sounds about right to me.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

 
The festivities of the blogosphere are underway at the following carnivals. If you're interested in reading some new blogs over the holiday weekend, there's plenty to test out here.

You can check out the most recent Christian Carnival at Technogypsy.

The granddaddy of the blogging carnivals is up over at Alarming News: Carnival of the Vanities #140.

For some lighter reading, take a look at the fifth edition of the Carnival of Comedy.

Also, I have (belatedly) updated my "links" or blogroll. I'd suggest checking out the last dozen, which are newly added and all worthy of reading on a regular basis.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

 

The Culture Wars: Rules of Engagement

I’ll say right upfront that I have mixed feelings on the so-called “Culture Wars”. On the one hand, I think the divide is very real and the struggle between “secularists” and “traditionalists” is an extremely important one. (To that end, I am of the belief that Democrats are losing the culture wars and will continue to do so as long as they fail to repudiate those on the far left who are hostile toward Christianity and traditional values.) On the other hand, I am weary of the ramifications of espousing military analogies to represent the causes of the Church.

We need to ask ourselves “what is the primary goal?” If the objective is to win – period - then, yes, I believe that waging a “war” is the best way to fire up the troops and accomplish the mission of achieving political victories (at least in the short term). But if the primary mission is to change hearts and minds, then the war analogies are perhaps the worst possible method. Rather than eschewing labels and opening a dialogue, we would be reinforcing the stereotypes and further entrenching the armies on both sides.

Another issue to keep in mind is that not even all Christians are in agreement with conservative policies. So this is where it gets tricky. As Expat Teacher points out: “I can still be a committed Christian and vote for a Democrat”.

He makes a valid differentiation between principle and policy by providing examples wherein agreement on a general (Christian) principle can still result in different policies being advocated to achieve them. While I would hope that there are certain things that are repulsive to every Christian, I can also sympathise with a divergence when it comes to determining which specific policy approaches best address our primary concerns.

His blogging partner, gurufrisbee, asked this question, which I would consider to be a necessary corollary: “…is there a theologically sound way to determine which issues are more important than others or perhaps which issues are the ones to focus on and compare for selection purposes?”

To that end, a blog like Evangelical Update is performing a great service in trying to moderate the discussion and really get to know all sides of the debate. It is billed as “a website for lefties who want to understand Christian Evangelicals”. It seems to me that any hope for a true transformation of morality in the U.S. lies in the implementation of proactive, compassionate visions involving attempts to understand differing viewpoints rather than offering only reactionary condemnations of opposing worldviews and, subsequently, declaring “war” on them.

Catez at AllThings2All points out an astute observation by Nancy Pearcey, in which she addresses the disillusionment felt by many evangelicals regarding the political realm:
This heightened activism has yielded good results in many areas of public life, yet the impact remains far less than most had hoped. Why? Because evangelicals often put all their eggs in one basket: They leaped into political activism as the quickest, surest way to make a difference in the public arena - failing to realize that politics tends to reflect culture, not the other way around.(emphasis mine)

In an excellent post from a while back, JollyBlogger offered some important insights as to how we should go about trying to answer the question above:
Culture warriors tend to think in binary terms. There are two kinds of people - those who fight the culture wars and those who don't. I say there is a third way - influencing the culture from the inside, rather than fighting it from the outside.

Influencing the culture from the inside means that, rather than positioning ourselves as outsiders at war with the culture, we do the hard work necessary to earn a hearing in the "marketplace of ideas."...we've got to excel in school, this means we've got to write books and articles that thoughtfully engage the issues of the day, rather than screeds which merely denounce.

This means we go and sit down and talk to "secularists," "liberals," "atheists," "homosexuals," rather than always talking at them from afar. This means that, instead of merely criticizing the "secular news media" and Hollywood, we become broadcasters and actors and producers ourselves. This means that we become politicians who learn the finer points of rhetoric and political science that can somehow enable us to cast a vision that sounds more like a vision for the common good of all, than just a vision to protect our own rights.

A recent USA Today Editorial made an assessment worth pondering:

As religious leaders become more involved in politics, they risk making religion more a vehicle for exerting power over non-believers than for persuading skeptics to join the faith. (Hat tip: Whymrhymer)

Certainly, there are no easy answers and I definitely don't mean to be dismissive of culture warriors who care passionately about the moral direction of this country. But some of these concerns should at least give us pause to question the effectiveness of the tactics and language currently being pursued.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

 

Bumper Sticker Ideology II

The U.S. Presidential election has long since passed, but I'm still seeing a whole lot of fantastic bumper stickers around town. Being that I live in the city, I am not particularly surprised to be surrounded by Bush hater stickers. A while back, they even inspired me to write this post: Bumper Sticker Ideology. These slogans are all pretty amusing, but this is my personal favorite:



I just don't get the point of these things. Did this actually sway someone's vote? Do they figure that some uninformed voter is finally going to see the light and say, "I had no idea his family values are missles, what a terrible man!" I'm all for keeping things simple, but if you can summarize the thrust of your political ideology into one phrase, you may want to consider broadening the range of your ideas and political dialogue a bit... Just a thought.

Monday, May 23, 2005

 

Religion On My Sleeve?

(I actually wrote this 3 months ago - on the first day I started this blog. I'm thinking not many people had read it back then, so I figured I'd recycle it.)

Religion on My Sleeve... Yeah, you got a problem wit dat?

Look, I know this old cliche can mean a lot of different things to different people. I'm musing now in the context of the whining type of gripe that infers that you should just shut up rather than speak your mind on anything "religious".

But why should we stifle open dialogue when it comes to this topic? Do the people that say this have something much more interesting to discuss, like, say the details surrounding the most recent episode of their favorite reality TV show? This topic strikes a nerve with me because, in fact, I think the typical level of discussion in our culture is increasingly dumbed-down so I consider it very counterproductive to discourage the discussion of ideas - particularly big, spiritual ones that have potentially eternal ramifications.

I'm looking at it this way...If you just saw a really good movie or heard a great new CD, you're going to tell people, right? And why? Because it's human nature to share interesting and enlightening experiences. In fact, you could argue that your enjoyment is not fulfilled until you express it with a friend or relative. You could also correctly mention that you want others to partake in the same uplifting or rewarding experience that you did.

Now, assume you have a life-altering experience with the Holiest of Holies, the Creator, the Alpha and Omega... Do you think you'd want to share it? Do you think it would have an impact on your worldview and your decision making process? I'm sorry but I don't see the wisdom in relegating something of this magnitude to a separate and isolated entity - put into its own box not to be touched except for Sunday mornings.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

 

Keeping It Real

"And I must be an acrobat to talk like this and act like that." - "Acrobat" by U2 from Achtung Baby

Polls of non-believers have consistently shown a wide dichotomy between their feelings toward Christians and their thoughts about Christ. By and large, non-believers have a favorable impression of Jesus Christ while they typically express varying degrees of disdain toward Christians. The hypocrisy issue undoubtedly plays a large part in this.

To which a Christian could justifiably assert that his flaws (and those of all of mankind) are the very reason for needing a Savior. But I think this rebuttal lets us believers off the hook too easily. I suspect there is more to the "hypocrisy" sentiment, which should provide us with more than a little reason for introspection.

Growing up I was surrounded with a church community that did not show any sort of vulnerability in its spiritual journey (as far as I can recall anyway). To a kid, there was a sense that these people had it all together. To an adult, the reality reveals itself as more like a false sort of piety and assuredness.

Until a couple months ago, I never once heard a pastor (from the pulpit) admit to any sort of real weakness or express doubt in his spiritual walk. Congregants responded accordingly, perhaps fearing they may go to Hell for confessing a crisis of faith. Or maybe they just thought it would weaken the message of salvation by admitting to some doubts and frustration with their faith.

Beyond the fact that this attitude is very unhealthy to one's own spirituality, I think it is off-putting to non-believers. It seems disingenuous and phony to outsiders and as such it lays the groundwork for calls of hypocrisy when the inevitable failures and sins manifest themselves. People don't want a sales pitch from a self-righteous Christian. They want honesty - in all its dirty, ugly glory. It is through our own brutally honest tales of brokenness and weakness that the Truth and strength of Christ will resonate.

In Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton made an intriguing and shocking observation:

Christianity alone has felt that God, to be wholly God, must have been a rebel as well as a king. Alone of all creeds; Christianity has added courage to the virtues of the Creator. For, the only courage worth calling courage must necessarily mean that the soul passes a breaking point - and does not break.

In the garden Satan tempted man: and in a garden God tempted God...Then the world shook and the sun was wiped out of heaven, it was not at the crucifixion, but at the cry from the cross: the cry which confessed that God had forsaken God... They (nonbelievers) will find only one divinity who ever uttered their isolation; only one religion in which God seemed for an instant to be an atheist.

When I first read those words, I was a little angry with Mr. Chesterton for writing such things about my Lord. It seemed to border on blasphemy at first blush. But now I wonder if he was in fact getting to the essence of Christianity by confronting those seemingly unfathomable words of Christ rather than sweeping them under the rug or explaining them away.

Mark 15:34 - "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"

It's in this sort of blunt questioning and soul searching that we may truly deepen our understanding of this glorious, personal, and yet mysterious God of the Trinity. And in the process of so doing I suspect some folks may just happen to catch a glimpse of Christ in us.

This is a Savior, afterall, who shared in the human experience, including even those times of isolation, sadness, and temptation. If our Lord did not shy away from expressing his subjection to such hardships, why should we? Personally, I think that accusations of hypocrisy will melt away once we become truly genuine and vulnerable.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

 

On the Lighter Side...

Frank at IMAO offers some Useful Tips for a Cordial Political Discussion. Here's a sample:

DO make sure not to get caught up arguing minutia.
DON'T burn the other person's house down over a small disagreement on a fact. Yes, insurance will probably cover it, but he'll be less likely to listen to what else you say.

Bill Simmons speculates as to what happened to John Travolta’s career post-Pulp Fiction:
…I think Scientologists killed the real Travolta and replaced him with a cyborg. So when you see him in these older movies, it's enjoyable because you realize just how bizarre he is now. Like seeing Michael Jackson's "Off The Wall" video or something.

On the research front: New "Drunk Pill" On The Horizon.

This alcohol-related story is actually true: Drunk Man Steals Krispy Kreme Truck

I'm guessing he was a hippie.

And just in case you needed some more reasons as to why hippies rule, check out tons of (unintentionally) funny stuff over at Groovy Hippie Links.

This item may not be as humorous for those who don't work in the investment industry: GM, Ford Offer Alternative Names for 'Junk Bonds' Here's an excerpt:

In a teleconference with institutional investors, they made a vigorous pitch for buying what they called "quality-checked" or "certified pre-owned" bonds.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

 

Who is the Religious Right Anyway?

I have a confession to make: I may be part of the dreaded Religious Right. Mind you, I have no idea what that term means. However, from the connotation of the words alone, I must consider the possibility that the shoe may indeed fit. Afterall, religion – specifically Christianity - is a very important component of my life, and I lean to the right politically.

Now I don’t see anything particularly horrifying about the aforementioned self-description. As far as I can deduce, I do not deserve to be burned at the stake for it. However, judging by the prevailing tone of many left-wing websites, I should be one removed nativity scene away from strapping a bomb to my chest right now.

In their rhetoric, there is absolutely no difference between Islamic fundamentalists who commit terrorism and “the Religious Right” in the United States. Of course, this is absurd, but as long as there is no clear defining of terminology and the likes of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell are out front-and-center in the evangelical community, the lambasting will continue.

In an intriguing new post at Stones Cry Out, Matt makes a good observation regarding the need to provide a clear delineation between the media darlings of evangelicalism and its true scholars. In the article, Matt is looking specifically at a post by Al Mohler in which Mohler references and briefly assesses an attack on the Religious Right by Vanity Fair columnist Christopher Hitchens. Matt states:

While I do not fully agree with Hitchens, it is disappointing that Mohler cannot understand the differences between Robertson and (Catholic scholar Richard) Neuhaus. Until such distinctions can be made and articulated, it is unlikely that the evangelical influence on politics will progress beyond a grass roots campaign.

My concerns are graver. I’m worried that the evangelical community will increasingly be denigrated as lunatics, hypocrites, fundies, and even fascists. In short, I’m worried that it will be in the hands of those on the left to “set the record straight”.

Matt’s right about Mohler needing a little bit of nuance as well. As much as I hate to hear my God derided as a “possibly mythical Nazarene” and my own beliefs condescendingly being addressed, Hitchens is smart, witty, and makes points that need to be addressed and countered. So what does Mohler do? He merely reinforces Hitchens’ characterizations of Christians as “shallow and demagogic” by providing only a few snide and dismissive comments in rebuttal.

Why not take the opportunity to make the case as to how Islamic fundamentalism is very different from the aims of the Religious Right? He could have explained how evangelicals are not advocating a theocracy, but rather are embracing our secular democracy and seeking to strengthen it by trying to move back toward a moral framework that more closely reflects the Judeo-Christian values inherent in the government created by our founding fathers.

Matt pinpoints the problem when he asserts, "The lack of evangelical presence within the conservative intellectual world is no accident, and I am eager to explore the reasons behind this development."

I wish him good luck in this exploration and it’s a topic I’d also consider worthy of exploration. As for the current state of demagoguery, I will take some comfort in knowing that not all atheists are hostile towards Christianity. John Ray wisely states: “If you are secure in your own beliefs you don't need to denigrate the beliefs of others.”

That’s true. I just really hope evangelicals can more clearly spell out those beliefs before these ridiculous labels – and their vague, slanderous connotations - begin to stick. That will involve formulating actual arguments rather than embracing an attitude of mere flippancy. Otherwise, we are no different than the name-callers who need so badly to be disavowed.

UPDATE: Dignan, a blogger I admire a lot for his humility and fairness, has alerted me to a post that will shed some light on my question here. It's a fascinating look at the formation and progression of the whole religious right movement from an "insider's" point of view.

For a more detailed assessment of the argument Hitchens made against the "religious right" and James Taranto's counter to it, plow your way over to The Paragraph Farmer.

Monday, May 16, 2005

 

The Darfur Collection

Catez Stevens at AllThings2All has posted a diverse array of blog entries regarding the Genocide going on in Darfur. For those who are looking for some introductory information as to the nature of the atrocities currently taking place there, I'd highly recommend first checking out this earlier post by Catez. Kudos to her for putting this together. So now let's all turn our disgust into action by trying to do something to help end this terrible humanitarian crisis.

Some estimates put the total death toll in Darfur as high as 400,000 with another 10,000 dying every month. Those of us in the USA in particular tend to feel isolated and cut off from such atrocites, but our responsibilities here should be no less than if it were happening across the street. The commandment to love and show compassion for our "neighbor" has been illustrated to supercede any geographic or ethnic boundaries.

Luke 10:30-36 (Jesus in response to the question "And who is my neighbor?")

A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.

But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, "Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you."

So which of these three do you think was the neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?

Our Lord gives each one of us a pretty clear choice here: Mercy or Apathy? Unfortunately, there has been a whole lot of the latter thus far.

 

A Cultural Creative

That's the first I've heard of this term, but judging from the definition I suppose it makes sense... If you want to do a little spiritual self-examination, you can check this out:

You scored as Cultural Creative. Cultural Creatives are probably the newest group to enter this realm. You are a modern thinker who tends to shy away from organized religion but still feels as if there is something greater than ourselves. You are very spiritual, even if you are not religious. Life has a meaning outside of the rational.

Cultural Creative

69%

Romanticist

56%

Fundamentalist

50%

Postmodernist

38%

Idealist

38%

Existentialist

31%

Modernist

25%

Materialist

13%

What is Your World View?
created with QuizFarm.com

Link found via Living Room.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

 

A Little Humility Goes a Long Way

In my last post, I critiqued the types of approaches toward non-believers that I consider to be ineffective. This post by Messy Christian captures the essence of the tone which I think we would be well advised to repudiate. In it she states:

I have seen in the blogosphere, people who crusade for doctrinal "rightness" or purity so much that they've become unbalanced. Their posts are heavy on the finer points of theology, but no matter how elegant the argument, they usually drive me away because of their smug tone and lack of love for the brethren who disagree with them. (emphasis mine)

So how do we transition from diagnosing such ineffective approaches to the hard part of prescribing productive methods? As a starting point to this dialogue, I would point to a post from Wendy at Just A Little Bit Odd. Although she is specifically discussing issues surrounding the (mis)treatment of homosexuals by Christians, this assertion gets to the heart of what is required to effectively present the gospel in general:

In order to gain a more sympathetic hearing for the gospel, we must first demonstrate love for the sinner. The key word here is demonstrate. I ask you, who is a homosexual more likely to listen to? A pastor closeted in a study? A small group of people yelling on a sidewalk? Or a volunteer laboring in an AIDs clinic? It’s hard to not like someone who is helping you or serving you in some way. It’s even harder not to listen to what they have to say at that point.

From the starting point of the advice rendered above, I would suggest that it is crucial to honestly engage the issues of non-believers. What complaints do they have against Christianity and are some of them valid? Any honest assessment would acknowledge the validity of at least some of their issues.

Darren at ProBlogger points out an interesting idea:

I once heard of a debate between a Christian group and a Pagan group…Each side was told to prepare arguments against their own religion/faith perspective. The Christians had to say what they didn’t like about Christianity, what they felt uncomfortable with and had to deconstruct and poke holes in their own framework for thinking. The Pagans had to do the same for paganism.

The result was fascinating - rather than the two groups coming away with reinforced hatred of and anger towards the other the event was incredibly constructive. Both groups found that they learned not only a lot about the other group - but about their own perspective.

(Hat tip: Classical Values)

Now that sounds like an effective means for fostering productive dialogue. I really would be interested in seeing a similar dialogue open up between Christians and non-Christians now, since it seems to me the blogosphere offers the perfect medium for facilitating just such an interaction. I’d be curious to know if anyone else thinks it practical or worthwhile for this sort of conversation to evolve online. Call it a Carnival of Spiritual Examination or something like that…

Of course, the foremost prerequisites for making any sort of progress in such a dialogue would be humility and consideration for the opposing viewpoint. It is in this vain, that Ales Rarus wisely urges us to heed these words from St. Clement of Alexandria, a father of the early church:

Be thoughtful in all your talk, and give back a useful answer, adapting the utterance to the hearer's need… Take care never to speak what you have not weighed and pondered beforehand; nor interject your own words on the spur of the moment and in the midst of another's; for you must listen and converse in turn, with set times for speech and for silence.

Now lest anyone fear I am suggesting abdicating the core convictions of Christianity, I will refer back to a sentiment that Jollyblogger had astutely pointed out a while back:

I think we Christians are often unwilling to listen sympathetically to our opponents. When I say ‘sympathetically’ I mean that we try to understand them as they understand themselves, not that we agree with their views.

The Bloke from In the Outer summarized it quite well in a recent post. He offers this as a concluding sentiment:

My hope is that we wake up and drop the critical spirit and start extending grace to each other. I pray that we realize that the more we shed voices of dissension the more ineffective the total work of the gospel is.

Amen. If we are to be at all serious about accurately portraying the love of Christ, it’s high time we all cool it with the arrogance.

UPDATE: John at Blogotional is also touching on the 'humility' theme. Check out his recent post for some further insights on the aforementioned subject.

William at Beyond the Rim has some really interesting thoughts to share regarding humility from a more personal perspective. I really liked this quote:

For me, God is using the Internet, the blogosphere, and other writers and commenters to remind me that while he has given me something unique to say, it is just one note in the Symphony of Redemption and while I need to play it well and true, it is only a very small part of a very large piece of music.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

 

Shaking the Foundations of a Fragile Faith

I recently came across a great post by Lance at Ragged Edges, which was a reaction to an essay entitled Why I am Not a Christian from Leighton at Welcome to the Grind.

Leighton’s argument was well presented and respectful of those of us who do have a faith in Christianity. It was not until I started to read the (extensive) commentary to this post that I began to get frustrated. People began to issue a rebuttal by quoting scripture and telling him they would “pray that your eyes will be open.” One person condescendingly noted that he knew “the real reason” why the author was asking such questions in that the spirit was leading him…

I don’t doubt that people who make such arguments generally have good intentions, but I consider that sort of retort to be very counterproductive. Why not have some respect for people’s intellectuality and concerns by listening and then responding thoughtfully?

Quoting random Bible verses is of no persuasive value whatsoever to a person who does not believe in the authority of scripture in the first place. And the tactic of threatening them with the idea of eternal damnation is probably not going to fare much better. Yet, as I was linking my way through the blogosphere on this topic, I stumbled across another example of the strong-arm approach to Christian apologetics detailed above. In this case, Vincent instructs us to:

…reject such pretended humility, unfaithful spirituality, and asinine pseudo-scholarship in exchange for an approach to apologetics that is biblical, which is one that says, ‘We are right, and we are sure that we are right. You are wrong, and we are sure that you are wrong.'

Somehow he is arguing that this approach is actually humble. While I believe a person can, and should, have strong convictions, it is at best questionable to assert such a supreme certainty of one’s rightness in interpreting all scripture. Additionally, this type of attitude is disrespectful of those on the other side of the debate and, as such, it would seemingly never be effectively persuasive.

This is where Lance, in writing about the need for a Humble Dogma, really zeroed in on the issue:

What Christians often lose sight of is the fact that it really is ok when others hold beliefs contrary to what we hold to be True. In other words, if what I believe in is true, the fact that another doesn't hold the same belief doesn't make it any less true. I think the internal drive of many to convert (change through coercion by guilt, shame, and namecalling) is often born of an undiagnosed insecurity in one's own belief.

That last sentence really struck a chord with me. A few years ago the foundations of my faith nearly crumbled under the façade of a seemingly sturdy and long held spiritual belief system that I refused to question and examine. Fortunately, I did hone up to my own skepticism and the need for a solid intellectual understanding of Christianity as a prerequisite for a strong faith.

Consequently, I learned through a healthy, honest process of questioning and learning, that it is natural to have doubts and it is good to ask questions. I really cannot figure out why it seems so many Christians are determined to suppress all doubts rather than deal with them. Those who continually restrain their doubts are in danger of erecting a faith that amounts to no more than a house of cards.

I would not be at all surprised if the bullying/know-it-all tactics of “persuasion” utilized by some Christians is really masking an untested and insecure faith. Whatever the reason for it, I find myself cringing when I hear Bible verses quoted to justify a “head-in-the-sand,” anti-intellectual line of thought (ex: “I will destroy the wise…”) as a rebuttal to the arguments of non-believers.

It is assuredly a balancing act to maintain strong convictions while still remaining humble both in discussion and in the plethora of areas in which we do not have definite answers. I really hope the trend of justifying ignorance through scripture is fading. Otherwise, Christianity is going to suffer as a result.

So how should we be responding in such dialogues? Well, I intend to offer some less critical, more proactive thoughts soon, but for now I’ve found a couple good thoughts to consider. Along the lines of a need for humility, Phil at The Spirit Formed Life offers some good advice by suggesting that “We Need to Get Over Ourselves”.

Gaunilo asked a good question on his blog last week that is appropriate to this discussion: “Do we take seriously the responsibility of love for the body of Christ, respect for the other, and seek to embody the virtues of humility, civility, and sensitivity?”

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

 

Children Playing With Nuclear Dominoes

For anyone who wants a clear and concise explanation for how nuclear proliferation in Iran and North Korea can be halted, see Thomas Friedman’s article in today’s New York Times. (Link via The Corner)

Here’s the thrust of it:

North Korea's nuclear program could be stopped tomorrow by the country that provides roughly half of North Korea's energy and one-third of its food supplies - and that is China.

All China has to say to Kim Jong Il is: "You will shut down your nuclear weapons program and put all your reactors under international inspection, or we will turn off your lights, cut off your heat and put your whole country on a diet. Have we made ourselves clear?" One thing we know about China - it knows how to play hardball when it wants to, and if China played hardball that way with North Korea, the proliferation threat from Pyongyang would be over.

Ditto Europe vis-à-vis Iran. If the European Union said to the Iranians: "You will shut down your nuclear weapons program and put all your reactors and related facilities under international inspection or you will face a total economic boycott from Europe. Which part of this sentence don't you understand?" Trust me, that is the kind of explicit threat that would get Tehran's attention. Short of that, the Iranians will dicker over their nuclear carpets forever.

So why haven't China and the E.U. said these things? …Mr. Mandelbaum said, "the Chinese and the Europeans are all for combating nuclear proliferation - just not enough actually to do something about it.".

Gee, I wonder whom it is that China and the EU rely on to be mature enough to actually confront such an explosive (pun intended) issue? Again quoting Johns Hopkins foreign policy professor Michael Mandelbaum, the article states:

The Chinese and the Europeans "each assume that in the end, the U.S. will deter both the North Koreans and the Iranians anyway, so why worry," Mr. Mandelbaum said.

It must be nice to be able to sit back and continually criticize the world’s only major power willing to step up and try to actually do something about these issues. Makes me wonder whether the term “World’s Babysitter” would be more appropriate than the “World’s Policemen”?

The problem is, as Friedman explains, the U.S. does not have sufficient leverage to effectively diffuse these situations apart from staging an actual confrontation. And unfortunately, there are horrifying ramifications of not taking action soon against the nuclear proliferation. Here’s his sobering conclusion:

This is not a joke. If North Korea and Iran both go nuclear, that step may trigger a major realignment of geopolitics - the likes of which has not been seen since the end of the cold war. If North Korea sets off a nuclear test, how long will Japan continue relying on the U.S. for its nuclear shield?

And what will South Korea and Taiwan do? And if Japan or South Korea goes nuclear, how may an anxious China react? And if Shiite Iran becomes a nuclear power - in tandem with Iraq's being run by Shiites - the Sunni Arab world will go nuts, not to mention the Israelis. Will Saudi Arabia then feel compelled to acquire a nuclear deterrent? Will Egypt?

We're talking nuclear dominoes.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

 

Hey, Wait a Minute…

This isn’t supposed to be happening. Apparently, a massive number of residents of the former Soviet Union have not heard what all the “tolerant” and “open-minded” people across the globe have long since understood. This cowboy President is not to be tolerated nor should anything he says even be considered, not to mention cheered. Here’s the scoop:

Arms are raised in the air, everyone cheers and chants, and Freedom Square turns into a sea of Georgian and American flags. At first glance you may think you’re witnessing the Republican National Convention all over again. But if you saw President Bush speak just now, you would know that he was winning the hearts and ears of a crowd of jubilant Georgians.

Someone please inform those 100,000+ ecstatic Georgians that America is the source of all evil and injustice around the world. And, of course, they need to understand that the U.S. leader is the very symbol of Everything That is Wrong With the World.

Stop the madness before the worldview of all self-appointed intelligentsia and sophisticates across the Western world comes crumbling down into their respective café lattes. So many scholarly people could not possibly be proven wrong by this cavalier renegade who cannot even enunciate his words properly and goes by the name of Dubya.

Unfortunately, the Enlightened Ones are no longer able to perform their role as gatekeepers as they did in the old media age. Much like the Communist propagandists of yore, they have lost power to determine what stories the common folk will hear and in what context they are to be presented.

Now, apparently, it’s now up to Yoko Ono to set the world straight. Imagine all the people living in oppression, er I mean, peace if only they would listen to this woman… Uh, but I digress. (Hat tip: littlegreenfootballs)

In the age of ever more freely flowing information, the Michael Moores of the world will have to work even harder to convince the peons to believe their cherished conspiracy theories. You see, unfortunately, this freedom thing really does appear to be on the march and some people are actually happy about it.

UPDATE: I feel it necessary to add a caveat and caution to my praises of freely flowing information. There are times when we would expect the media to use discretion in withholding the release of certain specific details that may put U.S. national security at risk. Unfortunately, as Winds of Change points out, this is not always the case as is witnessed by a story in the New York Times today.

the editors of the New York Times feel that breaking a titillating story about sensitive CIA operations is much more important than national security…

Monday, May 09, 2005

 

Bono Rocks

I’ve often wondered about the spiritual beliefs of the charismatic lead singer of U2. Well, it now seems much of that mystery has been cleared up by the superstar himself in the new book, Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assayas.

I stumbled upon several excerpts from the book posted by Michael from Kicking at the Darkness. (Hat tip: U2 Sermons)

Now, I know there are some haters out there, and I too have grown weary at times of Bono's self indulgent attitude and in-your-face political rants. But he also has a whole lot of smart and interesting things to say. And, as I suspected, Bono gets it right on the things that matter most. Here’s a sampling:

Assayas: Christ has his rank among the world’s great thinkers. But Son of God, isn’t that farfetched?

Bono: No, it’s not farfetched to me. Look the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: he was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius. But actually Christ doesn’t allow you that. He doesn’t let you off that hook.

Christ says: No. I’m not saying I’m a teacher, don’t call me teacher. I’m not saying I’m a prophet. I’m saying: “I’m the Messiah.” I’m saying: “I’m God incarnate.” And people say: No, no please, just be a prophet. A prophet we can take. You’re a bit eccentric. We’ve had John the baptist eating locusts and wild honey, we can handle that. But don’t mention the “M” word! Because, you know, we’re gonna have to crucify you.

And He goes: No, no. I know you’re expecting me to come back with an army, and set you free from these creeps, but actually I’m the Messiah. At this point, everyone starts staring at their shoes, and says: Oh, my God, he’s gonna keep saying this. So what you’re left with is: either Christ was who He said He is- the Messiah- or a complete nutcase. I mean, we’re talking nutcase on the level of Charles Manson. This man was like some of the people we’ve been talking about earlier (Islamic fundamentalists).

This man was strapping himself to a bomb, and had “King of the Jews” on his head, and, as they were putting him up on the Cross, was going: Ok, martyrdom, here we go. Bring on the pain! I can take it. I’m not joking here. The idea that the entire course of civilization for over a half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside-down by a nut case, for me, that’s farfetched… (204-205)

Did you catch that? Bono is co-opting C.S. Lewis’s "Liar, Lunatic, or Lord" argument from Mere Christianity. This is truly music to my ears. Preach on, Bono. I Will Follow.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

 

Eternal Sunshine of a Heavenly Kind

Having recently finished reading The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis and gotten most of the way through Wayne Martindale’s Examination of Lewis’s thoughts on Heaven, it occurred to me how greatly we have come to misunderstand Heaven. As a consequence of literally interpreting symbolic representations of streets paved with gold, crowns, and harps, we often think of Heaven as an isolated, cold, and distant place.

That interpretation could not be further from the version of Heaven that Lewis describes. Steve at Ragamuffin Ramblings tells how C.S. Lewis’s depiction of Heaven in the Great Divorce provided a sense of hope and real truth to him:

But it was the image of Heaven that really got me - that Heaven would be like Earth, but more real. The image of people newly arrived from "the grey town" as ghosts, insubstantial and needing to be "thickened up" with the love and knowledge of God, was a riveting understanding of Heaven that I'd never heard before - but one I fell in love with instantly.

The Great Divorce is wonderfully illuminating because it portrays Heaven as a sort of fulfillment of our lives here on earth and not as a completely detached entity. It theorizes as to how, once we arrive in Heaven, we will look back and realize we were always in it. Though we did not have eyes to see.

In The Weight of Glory, Lewis describes how we occassionally will catch a glimpse of God’s true glory and the afterlife through various means:

The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing.

Lewis shows Heaven to be the fulfillment of human potential, dreams, and desires. It is in Heaven that we blossom into fully differentiated personalities. This is in complete contrast to the thought of angelic type clones in Heaven monotonously floating through space and perhaps even becoming bored with their plight.

From his C.S. Lewis Encyclopedia entry on Heaven, Colin Duriez sums it up as follows: Heaven is founded upon the paradox that the more we abandon ourselves to Christ, the more fully ourselves we become.

Many of us may also have a concern about becoming perfect. We may fret that perfection implies too great a restriction on us, in not allowing us to “be ourselves”.

Wayne Martindale suggests just the opposite in stating that we will find true freedom in Heaven:

When we are in Heaven, like these pilgrims, we can act on every impulse because every impulse will be good and right. No need to second-guess or hold back or check our feelings. There will be no need to watch our backs or guard our emotions against hurt from others because they will all be perfected in love, too. That will be true freedom, and that is the right way to think of perfection.

I have to wonder why this is the first time I am learning of this enlightened and intriguing idea of Heaven. Lewis’s portrayals are not inconsistent with scripture, and it is vital for us to have a deeper visualization of the eternal life, even if it is "fictionalized" in an imaginative way.

Andrew at TallSkinnyKiwi asks an interesting question: "Does the Church Believe in Heaven?" I think he may be on to something there.

So what is the practical ramification of all of this eternal probing? C.S. Lewis offers us an interesting thought as to how this should affect our interaction with others:

There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal… it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.

UPDATE: For further consideration on this topic, I'd suggest reading JollyBlogger's Review of Wayne Martindale's book (referenced above). While JollyBlogger expresses some theological qualms about Lewis's heavenly depictions, his conclusion is what matters most: He will engage your imagination and make you long for heaven. I actually can't think of any authors who have done it better. For that reason alone, the book is well worth reading.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

 

"Never Again"

Genocide - The deliberate killing of people based on their ethnicity, nationality, race, religion, or (sometimes) politics, as well as other deliberate actions leading to the physical elimination of any of the above categories.

Since February 2003, the Sudanese Government, using Arab "Janjaweed" militias, its air force, and organized starvation, has killed more than 400,000, displaced almost 3 million, and continues to kill at least 15,000 Darfurians each month. The UN Secretary-General has called it "little short of hell on earth." (Source: Genocide Intervention Fund)

I want to step out of the realm of theoretical discussion for a moment and talk reality. I watched Hotel Rwanda last night, and I was devastated. Not only was I crushed because the world let this happen in the first place, but even worse is that we didn’t learn from what happened there ten years ago.

The sick atrocities documented in that film may as well have been a news bulletin. If any news programs actually bothered to report the atrocities going on in Darfur right now, that is.

From the Human Rights Watch:

"On mission along the border of Chad and Darfur, Human Rights Watch researchers gave children notebooks and crayons to keep them occupied while they spoke with the children’s parents. Without any instruction or guidance, the children drew scenes from their experiences of the war in Darfur: the attacks by the Janjaweed, the bombings by Sudanese government forces, the shootings, the burning of entire villages, and the flight to Chad."

Look here to see the children’s photos. The phrase “scarred for life” seems apropos.

Which brings to mind the “Not in My Backyard” sloganeering in America. Apparently, the corollary to that is that if it is not occurring in our backyards (or in a country in which we have a strategic interest), we pretty much do not care.

I know many will say the U.S. should not be the “policemen of the world.” And to some extent, I’ll buy into that. But at some point, we have an obligation to get angry and morally indignant enough to rise up and say “enough is enough” and take action. And call it what it is: Genocide. Catchy slogans do not absolve us from taking responsibility and intervening in order to stop the slaughter of innocent people.

In particular, I would assert that anyone who calls him/herself a Christian has a responsibility to speak up on this matter. But it can’t stop there. Unfortunately, words do not always resolve real-life conflicts. The answer is not pacifism.

We need Reagan-esque leadership on this human rights debacle. Reagan had immense influence because there was meaning behind his words. Jimmy Carter could have commanded Mr. Gorbachev to “Tear Down this Wall,” and the Soviets would have laughed. Reagan may have been ridiculed, but he was no joke. There was always a real, nasty threat of consequence behind his words.

Taking a strong, principled stance is necessary at times. And leaders need to lead, particularly in the face of genocide. That’s why I’m deeply disappointed to learn about the Bush's administration's recent policies, or lack thereof, on this issue.

The U.N. bureaucrats in their blue hats and diplomatic niceties and political correctness are not going to solve this problem. Morally depraved murderers do not answer to the smurfs. At least, Kofi Annan is starting to own up to how impotent his organization has become…

Sometimes there is good reason to be mad as hell. Sometimes, we need to care about the plight of those outside of our own secluded worlds; our safe little bubbles here in the states. Unfortunately, too many people (whether they admit it or not) could give a crap about Africa. It’s the forgotten continent.

There does seem to be a glimmer of hope that NATO will finally get involved here - if France does not prevent it. As for this bleeding heart conservative, I will cling to the possibility that someone cares enough to actually do something.

And to all those people who look at hideous massacres of the past and, with a false and blind sense of assurance, say “Never Again,” WAKE UP.

UPDATE: One thing I failed to point out in the post above is the sad irony that we are recognizing Holocaust Remembrance Day this weekend. Passion of the Present notes these thoughts from a survivor of a Nazi concentration camp now ruminating on the situation in Darfur:

"My heart goes out to these human beings who are being attacked because of who they are. It brings back awful memories of the attacks on the Jews during the Holocaust just because of who they were.

Virtually every day, soldiers of the government of Sudan and its allied militias rape, burn villages and kill people of so-called "African" ethnic groups because of their identity. Families that have done nothing wrong bear the weight of the violence."


How many people do not even know what is going on in the Sudan, and yet are dismissively asserting that they are glad "this will never happen again"?

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

 

Take a Link Around

For a plethora of diverse and intriguing thoughts from around the blogging universe, check out these two roundups, both broken down nicely by category:

Carnival of the Vanities is up at Fresh Politics.

And Kentucky Packrat is hosting the new Christian Carnival.

Accuse me of shameless self-promotion if you must, but the Evangelical Outpost has presented awards for the recent Blog Symposium. I have previously linked to the top two and would highly recommend checking them out.

If you want to catch up with some of the dialogue ‘round here of late, Gaunilo has mapped out the whole conversational thread. Also, he poses some very pertinent questions to both liberals/progressives and conservatives. For anyone who’s interested in doing more than just paying lip service to the need for engaging in dialogue with the other side, it’s worth checking out.

Chrenkoff on "Why life as a top Al Qaeda operative is not good for your health and well-being, not to mention your skin"

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

 

The Problem With Springsteen

From what I remember, Bruce Springsteen approached the status of being a god to me early on. I don’t really feel guilty about that, since a child of two can hardly be expected to understand the repercussions of idolatry. I’m not sure, but I think my first words may have even been “Blinded By the Light”. (If my mom’s reading, she can hopefully confirm this.)

At any rate, I'm a music fanatic. As such, I am of the belief that music, in those certain surreal moments, can provide us with our closest glimpses of the afterlife. And Springsteen jumpstarted my own musical journey. Greetings From Asbury Park remains a treasure to me. Born to Run was no small feat either. But then, somewhere shortly thereafter the Boss, or shall I say the man-who-would-become the Boss, lost his way.

(As an aside, I’m not trying to demean everything the guy has done thereafter. Born in the USA provided a vivid, mid-80’s soundtrack for my childhood. I may be a music snob, but I can still admit to liking “Glory Days” and “Dancing in the Dark”. But do they rise to the caliber of “Thunder Road” or “Lost in the Flood”? Puh-leeze.)

A new article at Slate.com does a great job of detailing the change in the Springsteen persona. He went from “a scrawny little dirtbag from the shore” to “a majestic American simpleton with a generic heartland twang”.

At the time, I was too young to perceive the dumbing-down of Springsteen that was transpiring, but now it seems obvious. It also seems to have been calculated, as the article detailed. The Boss wanted to live up to a caricature of himself that was emerging so he transformed into “Joe Sixpack from the Heartland”. But the truth was bound to surface and it has, of course. And it hurts.

Look, here’s the deal. I would never expect Thom Yorke’s political beliefs to align with mine. I’m not naïve, and I don’t even mind that the politics of 90% of the musicians I admire most are to the left of mine. The difference is they didn’t put on a façade in the first place. Radiohead never pretended to patronize people who live in Flitwick, England, or Arkansas, for that matter.

Honestly, I could care less as to the nature of Wilco’s politics or even whether they choose to spout them off in concert. As long as I get to see them at Red Rocks Ampitheatre on June 17th, my summer will be complete. The point is I’m not being a whiner about musicians and their politics in general. I am expressing a certain beef I have with Bruce Springsteen, his politics, and his fabricated self-image.

I don’t want Bruce the Anti-War Protestor (and neither does "the Heartland" for that matter). I want Bruce the Entertainer. I want Bruce the fun-loving, frolicking dirt-bag from the Jersey Shore, not the Bruce who’s droning the blues in a Tunnel of Love.

Where the hell did the socially conscience political activist come from? Who is this guy? And why was he campaigning last fall with the French-looking stiff from Massachusetts? Some people have never liked Bruce. I did, however, and that’s why I feel betrayed… by a not-so-Brilliant Disguise.

Some may chalk it up to “enlightenment”. I attribute it to That Thing I Hate Most. Phoniness.

Monday, May 02, 2005

 

Come Together, Right Now... Electronically

I recently began reading a book by Donald Miller called “Blue Like Jazz”. I really started to like the book. Miller writes from an amusing, episodic type narrative and his writing is engaging and provides some great moments of insight. Unfortunately, lines like this have already gotten in the way of my ability to enjoy it:


I felt like, by going to this particular church, I was a pawn for the Republicans. Meanwhile, the Republicans did not give a crap about the causes of Christ.

When I encounter this sort of over-reaching generalization, I lose patience and interest pretty quickly. It called to my attention once again the fact that this type of divisive, and even vitriolic, language is all too pervasive. In fact, a couple folks have even named their blog after the page of the book (132) where Don Miller’s quote above is found.

Ironically, I point out this blog, because it seems the authors really are willing to engage in constructive dialogue. My point is that, even amongst the best intentioned of us, this type of rhetoric creeps into the fray and kills any chance of productive dialogue almost instantaneously. And I can understand why someone like Dignan, who has been attempting to facilitate just such a dialogue, has become frustrated.

Speaking of best intentions, I need to remove the wooden plank from my own eye. In this post, I started out intending to engage the other side in a dialogue, which has begun to happen. However, shortly after suggesting we all need to “transcend the labels,” I began to apply… well, ah, labels.

I vented about moral relativist liberals as I repudiated what I assumed they believe. Now, regardless of the accuracy of the association or the strength of the argument, I immediately built up walls within the parties involved in the conversation at that point.

As an independent thinking (and left-leaning) friend of mine recently told me, my case in a recent post was fairly persuasive until the instant that I reverted back to using the “liberal” label. Immediately, at such point, she switched from an open, receptive posture to a defensive one.

Particularly among those who share the Christian faith, I believe it is crucial to expand the dialogue beyond those with whom we agree politically. Regardless of our views, it is crucial to understand why it is that those who share our faith have a very different worldview. Rather than arrogantly asserting our own beliefs and demeaning the intelligence or morality of those with whom we disagree, why don’t we try to determine the root of our disagreements?

In discussing the differences between liberals and conservatives in Christianity, Rev-Ed at Attention Span gets it right when he states:


The clash of worldviews is a major weakness in the Church today… The expanse becomes a small crack when our common love of Jesus Christ is taken into consideration, but there is still that crack which needs repair.

I would submit that both sides, by and large, have the best of intentions. The reason the blood boils and the tempers flair is that people are very passionate about their beliefs and about trying to change the world for the better. Regardless of whether I agree with them on the means of doing so, I respect such people a whole lot more than I do apathetic folks.

Blogs are a great means by which to promote and facilitate a constructive dialogue. Unfortunately, the blogosphere currently has an incredibly short attention span. Perhaps it is due to a condition that David Wayne terms “information paralysis” or “paranalysis” as Marla Swoffer calls it.

However you describe it, the abundance of information amounts to an intense, never-ending streaming distraction. As a result, there are few instances where we effectively continue a dialogue on a singular topic to the point that it really becomes fruitful. However, I do have an anecdotal reason for optimism in this new technological experiment in conversation.

Anyone who has followed the conversational thread between this blog and several other bloggers over the last week will see that it can be done. As we have meandered from one link to another, we move from an initial idea to an elaboration to denunciation to reconciliation and so forth.

Through an explosive banter of ideas, I hope we can all come to a truce in the mindlessly bitter partisanship. The alternative is not a viable option:

“Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house divided against a house falls.” (Luke 11:17)

 

Where My Dogs At?

Well, it looks like a lot of them are in lock down on bad behavior. For a little taste of the ghetto to start the week, Check this out. (HT: Lileks)

Here’s a sample:

Dobee Red is a red Doberman Pinscher. Known to all the dogs for his style and extreme love for the bling bling and ladies in life. He is a true playa…Dobe red now arranges conjugal visits for the other dogs...for a price.

There’s plenty more where that came from. It makes me what The Blogging Cat would think of all this?

Word.

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