‘Dear Lord, I really want to love people…’


“…they just need to get their positions right first.”

Zombies take over philosophy departments!


Based on a survey of approximately 1,000 professional philosophers in 99 philosophy departments of North America, Europe, and Australasia:

ZOMBIES

Conceivable but not metaphysically possible: 36 percent

Metaphysically possible: 23 percent

Inconceivable: 16 percent

Other: 25 percent

The “other” is taxing my imagination.

Source: David Chalmers and David Bourget, “What Do Philosophers Believe?,” Philosophical Studies, quoted in The Philosophers’ Magazine, 1st Quarter 2014

Donald Sutherland compares Jennifer Lawrence to Jesus


Colin Foote Burch:

Two critiques of Mr. Tharpe’s post.

First, Mr. Tharpe seems dismayed by Donald Sutherland’s call for a youth rebellion.

If you click on the linked text in the post, you’ll find an article from the Guardian in which Sutherland expresses concern about, “Drone strikes. Corporate tax dodging. Racism. The Keystone oil pipeline. Denying food stamps to ‘starving Americans’.” Sutherland wants youth to rebel against those things. And what’s wrong with youth rebelling against those things? I’m glad Sutherland wants youth to dislike those things, even if I’m not afraid of the (now probably dead) Keystone Pipeline.

In fact, Mr. Tharpe ought to consider Sutherland’s stance quite moral. Is Jesus sitting there thinking, “Man! I wish we had more drone strikes, more corporate tax dodging, and more racism! How devilish for that actor to suggest people should oppose those things…”?

Second, consider exactly what Sutherland says about Jennifer Lawrence and about Jesus Christ.

Sutherland says Lawrence is “the right person at the right time in the sense of Joan of Arc or Jesus Christ, any genius, in that sense.”

So, Jesus Christ was the right person at the right time, according to Sutherland. For most of Hollywood, that’s crazy talk!

Consider his comparisons of Lawrence to Joan of Arc and Jesus Christ as hyperbole, not as a suggestion for redemption.

After all, as Sutherland continues, he says, “[Lawrence] has the ability as an actor to tell the truth out of the material….” The material he’s referring to is simply the script of the movie. She finds and expresses what’s true within the script.

Sutherland goes on to say, “…and that truth is immediately recognisable with everybody because it hits you in your heart, your solar plexus and your mind.”

If that wasn’t the case for Lawrence, it also wouldn’t be the case for any storyteller of any story that has stuck around for more than a few years. And over the centuries, Christians have found good reasons to read all kinds of stories from their surrounding cultures.

For that matter, Christianity frequently has appropriated pagan texts and stories: The Apostle Paul’s quotation of pagan philosophers in Acts 17:28; Augustine’s use of Platonism and neo-Platonism; Thomas Aquinas’s use of Aristotelianism; George MacDonald’s use of German Romanticism; J.R.R. Tolkien’s use of Norse mythology; and C.S. Lewis’s use of several mythological stories.

I think Mr. Tharpe has lassoed Sutherland and dragged the actor into a controversy he didn’t have in mind.

Originally posted on Roger Tharpe:

GTY 459146030 E ACE ENT CEL USA CA

At 24, she already has an Oscar and two Golden Globes to her name, but Jennifer Lawrence has been elevated to even higher levels of approbation after being compared to Jesus and Joan of Arc by her Hunger Games co-star Donald Sutherland.

Screen Shot 2014-11-21 at 10.29.38 AMSutherland, who has already said he hopes to see the blockbuster science fiction saga spark a new epoch of rebellious youth in America, Donald Sutherland wants to stir revolt. A real revolt

“When I worked with her, I realised the child was a genius,” said Sutherland. “She’s the right person at the right time in the sense of Joan of Arc or Jesus Christ, any genius, in that sense.

“She has the ability as an actor to tell the truth out of the material, and that truth is immediately recognisable with everybody because it hits you in your heart, your solar plexus and your mind.” Links above.

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‘Dear Lord, help me become a minister and a psychiatrist…’


“…so I can always fall back on my prescription pad.”

‘Postmodernism’ has jumped the shark: We are now post-postmodern


Click on the image for a better view:
Google Books NGram Postmodern Modernism Modernity

‘Dear Lord, I know the right positions, and I don’t listen to the wrong ones…’


“…so why won’t You let me pass these classes?”

Fears of Religious Conflict After Synagogue Killings


Colin Foote Burch:

“The dead include three American citizens and one British citizen.”

Originally posted on TIME:

Two Palestinians from East Jerusalem burst into a West Jerusalem synagogue on Tuesday morning, killing four Israelis and wounding eight others with knives and axes in an attack that is being viewed by both sides as a potential turning point in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

That conflict, simmering since the end of a seven-week long war this summer between Israel and Islamist militants in Gaza, has reached boiling point in recent weeks. There have been a string of Palestinian stabbing attacks targeting Israelis so far this month, resulting in the deaths of four Israelis. Palestinians accuse Israel of ratcheting up tensions around Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, or Noble Sanctuary, an area sacred to both Jews and Muslims, and say the building of Israeli homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem has provoked Palestinian ire.

But Tuesday’s attack in a crowded synagogue where worshippers has just begun their morning prayers is the…

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‘Desks as Bumper Cars’


“Desks as Bumper Cars: An Inquiry into the Phenomenology of Shifting Locales in Student Learning,” Journal of Bewildered Lecturers, November 2014

Desks on wheels in the university classroom

This is how I found one of my classrooms this semester.

‘Dear Lord, I passed my theology test, and I hate everyone…’


“…so may I please take Mark Driscoll‘s place and become an evangelical best-selling author? I’ll promise to give some of the money to my ministry. Please? Amen.”

Is Television Sacrificing Its Golden Age to the Closed Loop of Pop Culture?


Colin Foote Burch:

This is an excellent analysis of the state of pop culture, especially television and movies.

Originally posted on Flavorwire:

Let us begin with three seemingly unrelated entertainment news items.

1. Starz Television has announced a new, ten-episode series titled Ash vs. Evil Dead. Director/producer Sam Raimi and star Bruce Campbell will reunite for the series, which is a spin-off/continuation of their long-dormant original iteration of the Evil Dead movie series.

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Tolkien on Anarchism


JRR Tolkien on Anarchism

Israeli woman killed in West Bank stabbing spree, Palestinian suspect shot and wounded


Colin Foote Burch:

While debates about guns continue, violence branches out to axes, hatchets, and knives.

Originally posted on National Post | News:

WARNING: DISTURBING IMAGES

JERUSALEM — Assailants stabbed several Israelis on Monday, killing a young woman at a bus stop in the West Bank and gravely wounding an Israeli soldier in Tel Aviv, the latest in an ongoing wave of Arab violence that has put the country on edge.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised a harsh response to the violence, saying he will use all means available — and consider taking even tougher steps, to stop the unrest. And in a veiled threat toward Arab demonstrators in Israel and east Jerusalem, he said attackers should consider moving to the West Bank or Gaza Strip.

“Believe me, we will put no difficulties in your path,” he said.

Netanyahu spoke after the soldier was stabbed at a crowded train station by a suspected Palestinian assailant in Tel Aviv, but before the deadly attack outside the West Bank settlement of Alon Shvut.

[kaltura-widget uiconfid="23273481"…

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Protests Over Disappeared Mexican Students Intensify


Originally posted on TIME:

Masked demonstrators set fire to the door of Mexico City’s ceremonial presidential palace while protesting the Mexican government’s announcement that the 43 college students missing since September were killed by a drug gang and burned in a pyre of branches and tires.

The demonstrations were largely peaceful until the end, when a number of protestors broke away and tore down the fences around the palace and set its door on fire, The Guardian reports. Riot police clashed with demonstrators before clearing the scene.

Anger over the disappearance of the students, who are believed to have been turned over to the drug gang Guerreros Unidos following an attack by corrupt police offers, has been directed toward the government and its handling of the case since it took over the investigation from state officials after 10 days.

Attendees chanted “It was the state” to protest the apparent internal corruption within the government…

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Arendt, Heidegger, and Eichmann


Hannah Arendt (2012)

The movie poster for Hannah Arendt (2012)


This outstanding 2012 film tells the story behind Hannah Arendt’s famous phrase “the banality of evil” while explaining the horrific ability of the modern bureaucratic state’s potential to convert human beings into abstractions and parts of a process.

The film also offers a glimpse, if to me a somewhat inconclusive one, into Arendt’s professional and personal relationship with Martin Heidegger, a still-influential, profound, puzzling philosopher who at least briefly affiliated himself with the Nazis.

Already an acclaimed political philosopher for her book The Origins of Totalitarianism (waiting on my shelf), Arendt secured a deal with the New Yorker to cover the trial of Nazi Lt. Col. Adolf Eichmann, considered a “one of the major organisers of the Holocaust.”

Part of Arendt’s series in the New Yorker suggests Eichmann believed he was merely playing a role in a process and merely following orders, so he did not believe he had a direct role in the killings of millions of Jews. This perspective strains friendships while setting Arendt on a quest to understand the nature of evil. (She did, however, believe a court in Jerusalem did the right thing by ordering Eichmann’s execution.)

But these historical and biographical details don’t carry the film. Barbara Sukowa‘s portrayal of Arendt lured me in and carried me through. Perhaps Sukowa’s most compelling moment is her portrayal of Arendt’s defense of her perspective in a packed college lecture hall. Here we find the phrase “crimes against humanity.”

The film is available for streaming on Netflix. If you don’t demand explosions, gun fights, bikinis, or slapstick in every movie you watch, play this film tonight.

Auctions, Museums and Fossils


Colin Foote Burch:

Excellent piece in which Errol Fuller deals with ethics, academics, and dinosaurs, originally from the Huffington Post:

Originally posted on Emilio Cogliani:

2014-11-07-mammothhuffington.jpg

On November 26 an auction house operating from a small village named Billingshurst in southern England will try to sell the entire fossilized skeleton of a Mammoth. Last year the same auction house — an enterprise called Summers Place — successfully sold a fossil Dinosaur — (a Diplodocus) that had been found in Wyoming and somehow made its way to the same sleepy English village. How do I know this? Because on both occasions I was asked to help mount (if that is the correct word) these fossils — to change them from being piles of disconnected bones into imposing structures conforming to their original gigantic shapes. Similar sales of prehistoric creatures happen from time to time at other auction premises, although usually in large cities like New York, London, Paris or Los Angeles rather than out-of-the-way villages in the heart of the English countryside.

And always such sales bring…

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No analogy, please: it’s ALL bad language here


The following Internet meme is false.

Arminian Memes takes on so-called 'Calvinism'

In this internet meme, ‘Calvinism’ is presented as a matter of fate or chance.

Do you understand what the above Internet meme means?

Well, if you take Charles Spurgeon seriously, God’s love or hate isn’t even luck of the draw — meaning the above meme is inaccurate.

Remember, as John Piper says, Spurgeon believed each dust mote in a sunbeam is exactly where it’s at because of God’s appointment. Piper extrapolates from Spurgeon’s authority and passages in the Book of Proverbs and the Acts of the Apostles that God predetermined every sin.

Presumably, according to the Piper-Spurgeon view, God ordained, created, and engineered Language and languages, too.

So whatever you want to call it — providence, sovereignty, neo-Calvinism, predeterminism, or fatalism – it’s not luck-of-the-draw as suggested in the meme above, and it’s not merely about one’s eternal disposition, either.

It’s something worse.

It’s more like God saying, “I’m going to create a Sudanese girl who will be raped and murdered at age 12, and then send her to conscious eternal torment, for my good pleasure.”

You cannot honestly think, as an “out” for this horrible point of view, that God didn’t create the girl to be raped, but rather he just created the rapist to rape (as if that’s any better).

God as all-knowing and all-powerful — and if invested in the predetermined course of everything as Piper says — could not do one without doing the other.

A bit more recently than Spurgeon, A.W. Pink held a similar point of view, believing God not only decided who is saved and who is damned, but also orchestrated all sins.

Furthermore, Pink thought the true believer could take comfort in the heresy of others, as a way to know one is right, but thereby he implies a radical dehumanizing of the unorthodox and unbelievers, which seems like it would run against the grain of New Testament teachings about loving enemies, blessing persecutors, and forgiving those who know not what they do. (Not loving the function performed by enemies and persecutors, but loving the actual people.)

We rejoice in the sufferings of the heretics because the suffering of heretics lets us know God likes us more. Wow. To say it in a contemporary way, Pink missed the anti-narcissism message in the Bible.

The problem might not be strictly related to the moral outrage we ought to feel if this god was the Grand Puppeteer.

The problem probably relates to our human ability to understand anything.

Consider, for example, this passage from the First Epistle of John:

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

Consider what has just been excerpted from First John and try to work it into the Spurgeon-Piper point of view.

John says God is love and tells us to love one another. He doesn’t seem too concerned about telling us how to love one another — maybe because he’s assuming a natural, intuitive understanding of what it is to love others.

Now consider the Spurgeon-Piper view: Each child suffering is suffering due to God’s direct, purposeful, intentional will and each situation in which someone does not help is also due to God’s direct, purposeful, intentional will.

Consider an analogy: A community of believers preaches that love is demonstrated in procreation for the purpose of experimenting on toddlers and young children.

Now, “God is love,” and if the Spurgeon-Piper stance is correct, God creates toddlers and young children for horrible traumas and painful deaths, because that’s what happens, and everything that happens is directly orchestrated by God.

We could stop here and ask, “How can God do terrible things while telling us to be like Him and to do the opposite of what He does?” We could, because after all: We’re supposed to be like God by loving others, and God’s so much about love that John says God is love, and God willfully and directly creates certain children for suffering, so Susan Smith very well could have been loving her children by drowning them.

You cannot comprehend this sentence

But I think the bigger problem might be the resulting implication that plain, everyday language has the absolute inability to say anything even analogous to God’s intended meaning.

The significance of that problem might not be immediately obvious. Let me put it this way: It’s as if God, as Creator of all things and omnipotent, has set up a situation in which He lobs words at people who will never understand the simplest idea of what He is saying.

Follow these points through, and please allow me to repeat just a little of what I’ve already said:

The New Testament is notorious for telling people to love their enemies, to love their neighbors, to love others in the believing community (despite the fact that these are the last things that characterize communities in which Spurgeon and Piper are highly valued).

In the context of love one another, John says, “God is love.” That suggests some kind of similarity.

As he thought about his audience, John must have intended for his readers to see a connection between how the believer is to live within community and what God ultimately is.

However, no one would ever assume love to motivate the creation of someone expressly for the purpose of horrible suffering, in a powerless earthly situation, followed by horrible suffering in a powerless eternal situation — no one, that is, except the Spurgeon-Piper-ites.

Now, let’s be clear about the Spurgeon-Piper view, because we have to understand its scope, and we have to look at it directly without flinching:

God’s decision to create a Sudanese girl and appoint her for rape and murder at the age of 13, followed by eternal damnation, is love in action.

You might argue her sins warranted her damnation.

But the Spurgeon-Piper view says, specifically, God placed her in that time, and in that place, and in her own sins, and in those horrible crimes, for his good pleasure.

This cannot be love or anything like it, unless we say that God has definitions of love, of good, of pleasure, completely opposed to our natural, intuitive senses of those words.

We cannot say that situation is distantly analogous to some complicated circumstance in which human love involves an indirect infliction of pain.

We have to say that situation is the absolute opposite of any idea or experience of love.

Any revelation through language, then, is not merely veiled by time, culture, and translation, but rather is completely darkened because what we understand as lovingkindness is not related to God’s idea of lovingkindness.

Furthermore, we open the door for people to claim they have received orders from God to harm others.

The biblical story of Abraham preparing to kill Issac (and finding the scapegoat) is easy to appreciate when it is assumed by Christians to be a symbolic foreshadowing of Jesus’ death on the Cross.

But when a mother thinks God has told her to kill her own children, we must say it is possible that God has told her to do that because God’s idea of love is (1) beyond our comprehension and (2) compatible with torture and murder.

God makes girls to be raped and murdered, and that is supposed to be loving and His good pleasure — and all that is easy to justify in the abstract, until your daughter is raped and murdered because your all-powerful God thought it would be a good thing to bring about through His direct force of will.

Therefore, someone who carries out God’s will by murdering her own children, in one respect, could not do anything else, and in another respect, could not be legitimately criticized by those who have not murdered their own children.

God is love, and everything He does is righteous, and His love and righteousness are inseparable, and according to the Spurgeon-Piper view God does all the doing; therefore the murders of children are loving actions.

Now of course you may invent an abstract apparatus to get around this problem. You might say, To make these sections of the texts true and reasonable, we must invent a perspective by which these sections of texts become cohesive.

I’m guessing one would find a fitting work-around difficult, considering the depth and breadth of the problem.

Perhaps a theological way out for some people, at least for Christians, would go like this: theologically speaking, the death of Christ ended the tyranny of necessity.

In other words, love could triumph over the cause-and-effect, closed-universe system that made (in the Old Testament sense) animal sacrifice and damnation necessary.

Maybe. I’m not sure I believe that, but it could be intellectually honest.

I’m baffled that Piper and Spurgeon think they honor God by assigning rapes and murders to His direct will and intention — and I’m especially baffled that they do so while they claim a high view of Scripture.

So, are you sure you understand what the opening Internet meme means?

 

Spying And Police Requests For Facebook Data Up 24% Since 2013


Colin Foote Burch:

This is not good.

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

Facebook continues to fight dragnets for private data by governments, but the combined number of requests from local law enforcement and federal spy agencies like the NSA went up 24% from the last half of 2013 to the first half of 2014, according to Facebook’s new government requests report. In the US, Facebook received 15,433 data requests about 23,667 accounts, and was forced to provide data for 80.15% of the requests.

Meanwhile, countries with local laws about objectionable content increased their requests to Facebook to restrict content by 19%, with the most coming from India, Pakistan, and Turkey.

In the report, Facebook details how it’s still fighting what it calls an overly broad search warrant for data about suspects in a disability fraud case. Of the 381 people the goverment requested data about, only 62 were later charged, giving credence to Facebook’s argument that law enforcement overstepped its bounds by…

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Last month’s visit to Ostia, the ancient port city of Rome, included a walk through an early Christian basilica


An early Christian basilica at Ostia, the ancient harbor city of Rome.

An early Christian basilica at Ostia, the ancient harbor city of Rome.

The sign with the info.

A walk through the early Christian basilica in Ostia, the ancient port city of Rome.

Ostia, Italy

I’m guessing this was the altar area.

To the left and behind the altar-looking area.

Early Christian basilica in Ostia, the ancient harbor city of Rome.

Looking back toward the entrance from the space in the previous photo.

Looking down the main aisle, back toward the entrance.

At the “front” of the basilica.

Ostia

What stories they could tell.