Archive for March, 2012

Which Scripture?

March 31, 2012

Stanley Fish provides an interesting analysis of the discussion of faith and science. There’s a bit of a post-modern vibe to all of it. What is useful is that he doesn’t allow scientific materialists to claim the high ground (which is why I kind of enjoy his writing; there’s a refreshing honesty at times). We all come to the table with assumptions about which sources have authority, that is which scripture can we appeal to. Here’s one slice of the piece:

Don’t misunderstand me. I am not criticizing Dawkins, but thanking him for affirming the argument I made last week in Campaign Stops, the argument that despite invocations of fairness and equality and giving every voice a chance, classical liberals, like any other ideologues (and ideologues we all are), divide the world into “us” and “them.” It’s just that rather than “us” being Christians and “them” Jews or vice-versa, “us” are those who subscribe to the tenets of materialist scientific inquiry and “them” are those who don’t, those who, in the entirely parochial judgment of liberal rationalists, subscribe to nonsense and superstition.

Messy Desks?

March 31, 2012

Under the obviously false and deceptive heading: “The Dangers of a Messy Desk”, Forbes has an article about messy desks. The author obviously doesn’t understand the need of academics for clutter and messiness as an inspiration. So sad…

Something from Nothing?

March 31, 2012

Lawrence Krauss’s A Universe from Nothing has drawn a lot of recent attention. Here’s an interesting critique. From an avowed agnostic, no less. He uses the God of the gaps issue, concluding:

Even if it’s possible for a universe to spring into existence ex nihilo, by itself and without being created by God, how does that prove that our own universe was not created by God? At best, Krauss can prove that we cannot use the Thunder Fallacy, the God of the gaps argument, to prove that the existence of Universe requires special creation by God.

College Classes

March 31, 2012

There are some crazy ones. Perhaps I should create one to teach.

Culture Wars

March 31, 2012

A few weeks back there was a good example of our political polarization (even within the Christian world). The reaction to John Fea’s comments on President Obama’s explicit Christianity (a point which seems at least plausible) suggest something seriously wrong with the way we discuss such things. Since the point of the column was to be critical of Obama in significant ways, the reaction seems especially problematic.

Free Tuition for All

March 31, 2012

This idea (free tuition) for Michigan’s colleges seems to be a problem, even if they had money for it.

In Praise of Introverts

March 30, 2012

We’ve had some discussions about introverts recently, and thought this from Scot McKnight was worth noting.

Hunger Games

March 30, 2012

I have been watching with interest the discussion about the Hunger Games in the Christian online world. I haven’t read the books (which probably disqualifies me from making this post!), but several people I know well and I’ve been discussing the book with them. There have been a series of reviews that suggest they are almost evil and morally corrupting. They come from people I often admire (Douglas Wilson) and from sites that provide recommendations for Christians such as Good Reading Guide and from the Christian Post. My sense from each of these reviews is that they seem to approach the books from almost a moralistic framework – granted in slightly different ways. But to me reading a piece of literature (even Hunger Games) requires entering into the world of the work and its internal logic before trying to make moral judgments, and I just didn’t sense that for these. Perhaps I missed it or misunderstand the stance of the books.

These are dystopic books, hence bad things happen and good choices rarely exist in such worlds. There are several more helpful questions I’d like to know more about. Do these books encourage murder and mayhem, or do they describe the horror of a world where these become the norm? The mere existence of bad things – or bad choices – doesn’t condemn a work (or we’d be eliminating significant parts of the biblical canon).

Even if there were some of these problems, I think it might be more productive to talk about how to interact in a Christianly way; with worldview oriented thinking. I think the review at Redeemed Reader seems much closer to what helps me think about the book and the kind of discussions we might want to be able to have with those who have read the book(s).

I guess I’ll have to eventually read and work through this on my own!

P.S. Here’s another more recent post from First Things that is worth looking at.

Blue Like Jazz – the Movie

March 30, 2012

A pretty positive discussion of the upcoming movie. I thought this response to criticisms of Miller was interesting:

But I think this kind of critique misses the point. In the book and in his subsequent works, Miller has never claimed to be a theologian. He doesn’t labor at making precise theological statements; he labors at telling compelling stories, at being truthful about life. He’s a storyteller whose gift takes us into the uncomfortable world of Christians living in exile. I don’t get the sense that his stories are prescriptive; they describe his life and experience, and the success of the book demonstrates that something about his life resonates with readers.

The New Bible Belt

March 30, 2012

This points to some broader religious and cultural trends. Here’s part of the conclusion:

Politicos on the left and right like to explain religious voters’ proclivity purely in terms of values. But this misses a central point – that religion is inextricably bound up with the nation’s underlying economic and geographic class divide.