Monday, February 28, 2005

"Common Sense"

At the recommendation of Tony Jones (see sidebar), I am reading Gadamer's "Truth and Reason." In the middle of one of the early chapters (p.24 in a 550+ book - I'll be reading for a while!) is a discussion of the history of the phrase "common sense." Once exposed, the two meanings became so clear, that I cannot NOT see them both...

Typically in the U.S., "common sense" is that which all should know (e.g. don't barf on and curse at the police officer that has pulled you over for doing 105 m.p.h. in a school zone). It is 'sense' that should be 'common' amongst the population. But turn on the word "common" (e.g. community, commune, etc.) and a new (actually the original) meaning comes to light.

The Greek writers (continuing into the Roman era) spoke of what was good (sensical) for the community (common). "Common Sense" was an understanding of what was good for the health, life, and future of one's community.

Currently, "common sense" = what each and every individual should know. Previously, common sense was applied to one who thought long-and-hard for the community.

I find this even more interesting in light of my default definition of sin - sin = that which kills (i.e. an infinite God can see what will bring life and what will not, but rather kill). Of course in the U.S. I (we) see sin as an individual thing. But what if "sin" (and the opposite, "life") were allowed to be seen communally? I would be an individual whose sin impacted others, and whose life-giving activity (spawned by "common sense") also impacted others. Thus, "common sense" could also be seen as "community righteousness."

Words are fun!

Friday, February 25, 2005

Growth is always into new space

I came across a blog-article that looks into some contemporary use(s) of the word "growth." In light of my family's current situation, the article brought to mind that "growth" involves moving into a space previously unknown to the "plant." I picture a tree "growing" - its branches move ever into novel locations in the universe.

And in my little world: "unknown" = "scary"

I love the last paragraph of this article (the whole does a good job of loosly getting the reader ready for it). I resonate with it.

And I'm afraid. I want to go into the unknown, to adventure. But it is scary. For me, knowing the source of the fear helps. Perhaps some control-issue I have (grin).

Monday, February 14, 2005

Every belief has its costs

[Skip to "Jist of it" below to bypass my cathartic ramblings]

Having a semi-scientific background, I habitually notice when "science" is brought into "theological" discussion. In particular, the idea of a Darwin-based "evolution." Being one that leans towards a Creationist paradigm (rather, my own variant of it - which may or may not be acceptable to those claiming to be "Creationist"), I have sat in wonder at the development of the God-caused-Evolution that seems dominant in those who speak public ally about God.

These public speakers/writers are also very interested in the end of exclusive practice and speech (yeah!!). It began to feel to me that the God-caused-evolution stance was an attempt to say, "Hey you, scientist-types. We are no longer going to beat you over the head in public with our preconceived ideas about mater and origin. In fact! we're going to incorporate what you say. As we dialogue with you, we are going to [finally] let you be an equal voice."

Here begins the first "cost." In order to be non-exclusive, we have to make up for the past. We cannot say, "You're an equal voice" and STILL have nobody buy what the previously-oppressed is saying (in case I'm not making sense, we cannot tell "scientists" that they are a part of the dialogue while continuing to tell them they are wrong about Evolution).

This is the heart of affirmative action. We cannot say, "All are equal" and still have inequality at work, in pay, at school, etc. So affirmative action shows up - a swing of the pendulum the other way. It's destructive to its own goal, but it is the way that feels most correct and appropriate to humans.

So now there is a certain amount of pressure on Christians. Are you going to continue to exclude smart, science-oriented people!?!?!!! But what about smart, science-oriented people that think Evolution is . . . silly? None of the neuroscience department at Arizona State University thought Evolution was an option - there is NO way Evolution can produce a human brain, nor the non-physical connections of the 'mind.' What about Steady-State scientists? or Plasma theory?

Cost: in an effort to be "inclusive" we are hitching ourselves with people that we shouldn't be. The other issues that are being tied to these public-speaking Christians (VERY good issues: injustice, the abuse of authority, the silliness of mechanically thinking about God, etc.) will be mocked because of the messenger (ironic: most of these public-speakers talk clearly about how the message and the messenger are vitally connected - do they know the cost of holding to this truth?).

The jist of it...
Here is a list of what I think is driving some of the crisis-level issues. Green: many of these Christians, who are finally allowed to value something other than the all-go-to-hell-without-Jesus rhetoric, resonate with save-Earth ideals. Social Action: the unwillingness to not live what one says. The unwillingness to ignore what much of the American church has left to others or the government. Inclusivity: the desire to engage in actual conversations (that go BOTH ways) with those who have been excluded by Christianity. PostModern Theories: even self-observation by many of these philosophers see these non-solid, actually-relative stances as already crumbling. pseudoTolerance: the combination of Inclusion and PostModern relativity. Ask a "tolerance" person if they are tolerant of non-tolerant people/beliefs. But one just can't be non-tolerant in one's statements lest one be dismissed by the seemingly tolerant. SemiUniversalism: the combination of Tolerance, Social Action, and Inclusivity.

So the idea of Green and Evolution plus the Bible combine into: the Earth is to be cared for by humans, not simply consumed. God has spent millions of years creating this planet that we are now rapidly consuming. We should care for the earth, not simply because we should, but because we are destroying what cannot be rebuilt except by miracle or a million years of non-use. The real rationale is not goodness nor the Bible but Evolution. When Evolution goes away, does the reason to be Green go with it? Or will something else take its place? It makes the whole affair look some illegitimate combination of consumerism and Save the Forest.

The emphasis on the active, ushering-in of "the Kingdom of God." Rejection of the ridiculous lifestyle of the 1900's (U.S.) where some people actually lived as if Heaven was all that mattered, not here-and-now (as it pertains to people, the planet, etc.). However, this round of the "Kingdom" sees ALL people as subjects of the Kingdom. This SemiUniversalist Kingdom deliberately looks away from a future Heaven (though not denying it's existence). Further, all promises to Abraham, David, Israel (the people group) are rewritten. Ironically, this stance erodes Hope. While it DOES bring God back from being all-future, it all-but forces Him to leave future and promise in order to prioritize "today." Further, it forces the adherents to abhor those who are not SemiUniversal as evil, almost people-Haters! One even went so far as to say that the Church is simply (and only?) God's response to evil. Forget relationship, forget Body, forget God's glory, forget hope, forget promises, forget the past or the future, forget...

The forces that drive an issue, even misguided ones, do NOT negate the highlighting of the issue! But the reasoning, the rationale, must be done a little better. Because most humans, in my observation, do NOT allow the first sentence of this very paragraph. Further, as an actual expression of Conservatives and Liberals, I MUST allow these ideas to enter the discussion. I must let them illuminate the dark, unseen parts of my own beliefs, theories, paradigms, AND practices. It just saddens me that the good of what is being said might be lost due to illegitimate connections.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Frustrated with Emergent

I am so frustrated with many of those that I site on the sidebar as those I enjoy reading. The wh0le goal of anything "emergent" (small "e") is that it builds up what already is, but does is of different matter. Like the rings seen in the cross-section of a tree. Swinging pendulums in the same ring is NOT emerging. It's not really even thinking (see last quote of last post by Scott). Yet I do not negate nor disapprove of what they are doing.

These writers are bright. They are well-versed. They love God. They love and interact with people (no isolationists in the list). But it's as if they revel in the release (deep peace, not just lack of frustration or conflict - it's obvious they still fight daily) they have found by leaving the ridiculous stretch that is "typical Christianity." Like a rubber band that has been increasingly taut for decades (WOW! if that is not a play on words -- taut and taught!!) and has now been released.

But instead of taking new form, it seems as if they are preserving the non-tautness. AAAHHHHHGH!

I have come across many lovers of philosophers (philophilosopher?) lately, commentators giving prelude to a philosopher's writings. EVERY TIME they speak of how the given philosopher (Plato and Ibanez are two of late) always saw himself as part of an ongoing road. What the Reformers (according to what I have read second-hand) called "always reforming." Yah, even Plato. But now we have Platonists and even Neo-Platonists. Neither of which are consistent with Plato for he was a traveler on a road, not a city-maker. Not places to sit and enjoy rest on the journey. Not a place to release tautness.

I mentioned that I think N.T. Wright is a dispensationalist. He uses this "5 act" metaphor for the Bible. "You need to be careful, Dispensationalists are so much about the coming Kingdom of Christ that they forget to impact the world today." GEEESH! Grow, for crying out loud. It's the lame "I know someone who . . . " Am I to throw out everyone who says one thing hypocritical?!?!

How about "there is no metanarrative" and "there are no absolutes." Statements that have no power except in their enemy! I pray to God (I joke not) that these thinkers and writers will CREATE! If they did, then we all will gain unspeakably. I know they don't see it this way, but they spend their energy correcting. And there is certainly need for it. But I wish they would get on with creating.

Why does the Church stop creating? Why do I? For me, why did I let my "fear of __________" always be the next defining thought of Sunday nights (until it literally un-created)? Why do we look at how things are and simply try to make them incrementally better? Why not asses (even enlist others) what is desired and what is and what is missing and then CREATE a new thing? a new method. a new test, a new measure. Why do we educate the way we do - if for knowledge, then do so; if for learning to learn, then do so; if for socialization, then do so.

This is where I love Doug Pagitt. If I want people to walk with Jesus, then I stop preaching and start doing it. Amazing.

Here endeth the rant.