Friday, June 30, 2006

Objectivity and Truth: the new war (part 1)

Objectivity and Truth: the new war

(please forgive my militarist tone: i was sitting in the hot sun on vacationwhen I wrote this: although i’m uncertain about the correlation).

below i present the new linking of ‘objectivity’ and ‘truth’ which pragmatist develop against foundationalist. But I think this new link is bad, and that truth is not objective. (see also a good discussion from a while back at generousorthodoxy)

old war

The collusion of objectivity and truth has been under fire for several years now, especially among evangelical Christians. Usually the warring parties gather under the banner of ‘modern’ or ‘postmodern’. (I could site parties but I’m not going to bother.)

The conservatives (or modernists) argue (or merely assume) that Truth is only assured by Objectivity. If something is not objectively true, then it is not true. Truth is not subjective after all, for that would be merely whim or opinion. They generally disparage the enemy by claiming their opponents have given up on Truth all together and have embraced relativism, or at least agnosticism.

The liberal (postmodernist) responds by saying that they certainly have not given up on Truth, but they realize that Truth is very hard to get at, that there is never merely an Objective point of view, and that instead of Objectivity we must realize our embeddedness in particular stories, local contexts, and idiosyncratic interpretations, all of which do not bar the Truth, but open up the Truth is different ways.

Now concerning this war, it is somewhat old news, and while the battles rage, I do not think that those articulating the postmodern (or premodern depending on your view) perspective should continue fight this battle, when a more pressing conflict is brewing, drawing new battle lines.

Well, I'll tell you tomorrow or Monday.
But what do you think is the most pressing issue after ?
Have I majorly misconstrude the issues?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

on Jason Clark's "why we live in the now"

Jason Clark has this great post I just came across, on “The past of the Future: Why we live in the now." Following something he read he argues that we are trapped in the ever present ‘now’, totally losing any sense of past or future.

below is my response looking at it from the angle of ‘desire’ instead of ‘information.’



on the level of ‘information’ I totally agree with you. But on the level of ‘desire’ I think it is totally opposite.

Because of capitalism’s endless need for new desires, creating new opportunities for consumption, we are always forced into the future where we hope to find satisfaction–but it never comes, it is always in the future. and conversely, we are trapped into a pastward gaze of regret b/c of all the failed attempts at satisfaction–this is called ‘buyers remorse’ for a reason.

The problem I see facing the church in Theocapitalism, is how to regain the present, a present totally full of gratetude and thanksgiving, living contently. Then the past will be redeemed and the future fulfilled.

We live in a fantasy of a future (my next sexual encounter, getting a raise, buying a car that will symbolize my status) that we never embrace the present. Also, our culture is fixiated on the 'new and improved' and everything 'faster/better' that we live discontent with the present, looking toward the future.

But of course this is an individualized future (of personal desire), not a social future of uptopian dreams.

So it is a bit of both: concerning information and concrete planning, our culture is trapped in the "now"; concerning our desire (which inform our consumption) we are trapped in a future of false hope and a past of regret.

But I would say, pastorally, our concern is to help people live into the present full of contentment (not letting the future rule them) and without guilt or regret (not letting the past rule them). But we also, along the information level, need to teach church history especially (past), and a proper doctrine of eschatology (future).

anyway, those are my thoughts on the topic.


What do you think our problem is? Are we stuck in the 'Now', or stuck in the 'Future' never able to embrace the present?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Warning Label for the Bible

Go over to Dan Kimball's blog for a warning label for the Bible. It is all too true.

Monday, June 26, 2006

“It’s not about racism, it’s about law and order.”

“It’s not about racism, it’s about law and order.”…a response to the immigration marches I read last month.

Now of course the true debate around ‘illegal immigrants’ are neither that they are immigrants (concerning racism) nor that they are illegal (law and order). What this is all about really concern economics, not law or ethnicity.

but now someone has gotten it all right, but so wrong:
“The rich, they’re totally oblivious to this situation—what the illegal immigration, the illegal housing, the day labor is doing to us [‘us’ being legal middle class citizens trying to exist]…Everyone’s exploiting these people [immigrants]—landlords, the contractors. And now we [middle class Americans] can’t afford to pay taxes. People like me who want to live the suburban dream, we’re being pushed out unless we join the illegality.” (NYTime Frontpage story)

Yet the speaker of these words, while properly diagnosing the problem as economically driven big business exploitation on both sides of the border, thinks the solution, the way to save these immigrants is to throw them out. He is trying to only buy from American owned, larger chain businesses who he thinks only employs legal workers. But could it be that the very American Dream of the middle class is producing its own nightmare lived out before them, exploited laborer who they think are ruining their lives.

What we really need to do is join the illegality of the situation, join with and support the illegal immigrants against the exploitation in general, rather than merely undergirding American exploitation against legal workers. By joining the illegality, I don’t mean going and breaking the law, but standing against what ‘law and order’ is meant to protect, the economic status quo.

-soon i’ll relate this to ‘workers rights’ movements and ‘civil rights’ movements and how they are being played off each other in relation to 'illegal immigrants.'

Friday, June 23, 2006

I was gone; now i'm back

So I've been gone for the last 2 weeks. Roughly on vacation. Two weeks ago I was in MN with a bunch of other emerging church people. fun times. and last week I was with only my family. Great time.

I did some reading and some writing and some brainstorming so hopefully I'll have some time to sit down and work out what I've been thinking.

But alas, now I've got to get out from under all these emails in my inbox.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Political priests and Sectarian Theologians: is the shrine empty?

(continuing on...)

It goes like this: The priests of the ‘empty shrine’ (like Stout and Laclau) see a religious community making substantive (and theological) claims about itself and politics in general. To the priests this is an attempt at creating a particularist identity without reference to the larger context (the secularizing context), and therefore sectarian. The theologians counter that they are indeed making reference to the context, and that they are even trying to change the context. But the priests reply that the theologians are closing down discussion (rather than opening it up) because they are attempting to fill the ‘empty shrine’ with their particular god. But by definition the shrine must remain empty, otherwise political disagreement will revert back to sectarian violence. So the priest remind the theologian, either enter politic by acknowledging the ‘empty shrine’, or continue in your sectarian complacency and complaining.

It seems some in the EC are opting to endorse the ‘empty shrine’ approach of modern democracy, seeing no alternative in their compulsion (which is good) to bring their faith out the private realm into the public, this is their equating the 'empty signifier' with the 'empty shrine'.

But might what we think is 'empty' is really a cover for both the invisible idols of nationalism and capitalism?

“empty signifier vs. the empty shrine”: EC and American Political Discourse.

Here is my question, of which I do not have answers, just a feeling.

“If the EC has assended to the function of ‘empty signifier’, does that mean it needs to support the politics of the ‘empty shrine’?”

My feeling and hope is to answer, NO. But some (perhaps many) in the EC answer, YES.

Let me explain:

The logic of the “empty signifier” seems to give a good understanding of the emerging church and its self-understanding as a ‘conversation’ and in its perpetual mis-understanding by everyone else.

But this logic applied to politics by Ernesto Laclau [in Emancipation(s)] leads straight toward a politics of the “empty shrine” (where there is no “common good”, no common vision for society, and no telos...only the competition of ideas without any gods underwriting it all). The problem is that this vision of politics (which is Liberalism) assumes conflict and violence as the norm, assumes scarcity and loss, and usually disregards substantive theological claims/practices.

So might not the EC enter into a differential relationship not only with those in modern theological/political context, calling that context into question and thereby moving along in the logical of the ‘empty shrine’, but also question the context of antagonistic politics altogether? But to do this looks like a return to sectarian communities with ontological assurances which cannot be allowed into democratic discourse.

What say you?

(next..."political priests and sectarian theologians: is the shrine empty?")

Thursday, June 01, 2006

...pithy saying on politics…

We the Church must develop more self-confidence, not assuming ourselves merely one soul among many hoping to be infused into the Frankensteinian body of the State. We already have a body, a flesh in which we are living. We are the public Body of Christ, and as such we must continue to proclaim to the world, "This is my body, given for you."

next, the 'empty signigier (of EC) vs. empty shrine (of Politics)'