Archive for October, 2008

Everything old is new again

Posted in Random on October 31, 2008 by Robaigh

Wenn die Börsenkurse fallen,
regt sich Kummer fast bei allen,
aber manche blühen auf:
Ihr Rezept heißt Leerverkauf.

Keck verhökern diese Knaben
Dinge, die sie gar nicht haben,
treten selbst den Absturz los,
den sie brauchen – echt famos!

Leichter noch bei solchen Taten
tun sie sich mit Derivaten:
Wenn Papier den Wert frisiert,
wird die Wirkung potenziert.

Wenn in Folge Banken krachen,
haben Sparer nichts zu lachen,
und die Hypothek aufs Haus
heißt, Bewohner müssen raus.

Trifft’s hingegen große Banken,
kommt die ganze Welt ins Wanken –
auch die Spekulantenbrut
zittert jetzt um Hab und Gut!

Soll man das System gefährden?
Da muss eingeschritten werden:
Der Gewinn, der bleibt privat,
die Verluste kauft der Staat.

Dazu braucht der Staat Kredite,
und das bringt erneut Profite,
hat man doch in jenem Land
die Regierung in der Hand.

Für die Zechen dieser Frechen
hat der Kleine Mann zu blechen
und – das ist das Feine ja –
nicht nur in Amerika!

Und wenn Kurse wieder steigen,
fängt von vorne an der Reigen –
ist halt Umverteilung pur,
stets in eine Richtung nur.

Aber sollten sich die Massen
das mal nimmer bieten lassen,
ist der Ausweg längst bedacht:
Dann wird bisschen Krieg gemacht.

Kurt Tucholsky, veröffentlicht in “Die Weltbühne” (1930)

Effin’ it up

Posted in Identity, Ministry on October 18, 2008 by Robaigh

Yep.  I effed it up.  Some who read this – some who know me personally – might or might not agree with my self-assessment here, but I think that I tend to listen more than I tend to give advice.  When somebody is telling me a story about something painful or traumatic, I will sympathize and I might even empathize, sometimes going so far as to tell a story about myself, where I had an experience similar to what you were just describing.  Only rarely do I offer actual advice.

Last night, just before I went to bed, I went against my usual m.o.   I had run across a website where somebody was expressing pain over a traumatic experience the author’s close family member had encountered.  I don’t know – the story touched me, so I decided to respond in a way that seemed like it would speak to the situation.

The trouble was that – for whatever reason – while I was reading this story, I failed to see the final paragraph.  That last paragraph completely changed the meaning of the posting, so my response was totally inappropriate.  When the original poster saw it, there was some backlash.  Some uncharitable words were written, some assumptions made, but considering the ham-handedness of my own response, I can hardly place blame.

I won’t disclose what the story was about and I won’t say anything more about how I responded.  Instead I’d like to post a quote from John Chrysostom which expresses what I would have liked to have said, but didn’t.

That you have sustained a severe blow, and that the weapon directed from above has been planted in a vital part all will readily admit, and none even of the most rigid moralists will deny it; but since they who are stricken with sorrow ought not to spend their whole time in mourning and tears, but to make good provision also for the healing of their wounds, lest, if they be neglected their tears should aggravate the wound, and the fire of their sorrow become inflamed, it is agood thing to listen to words of consolation, and restraining for a brief season at least the fountain of your tears to surrender yourself to those who endeavour to console you.

A new old look at the Great Commission

Posted in Christianity, Identity, Ministry, religion with tags , , , on October 18, 2008 by Robaigh

Steve over at Khanya posted this excellent (and for me, timely) message from the Orthodox bishops regarding the importance of proclaiming the Good News over proselytizing.   The first speaks of liberation, the second of oppression.  Maybe I overstate that, but maybe not.  In any case, I’m glad to see the statement.


Posted in Christianity, Identity, Ministry, religion with tags , , on October 17, 2008 by Robaigh

I’ve put a lot of attention into the latest book I’ve read.  Maybe my focus on this text is ill-advised, since the class I’m reading it for is available only as a credit/no-credit course.  Still, this book keeps speaking to me even days after I’ve finished it.

The book is called Plurality and Ambiguity: Hermeneutics, Religion, Hope by David Tracy.  I won’t go into the full content of the book.  If you’re interested, see the link above.  It’s expensive for a paperback, but the content is dense – there’s a lot crammed into the small packaging.

One of the things that’s jumped out of the page and landed in my brain is a statement Tracy makes in the book about the argument between theists and scientific non-theists (my language, not his).  He talks about argument as an interruption of the flow of conversation.  Tracy doesn’t mean interruption in a negative sense.  Interruption in this case is about argument – a process that helps us distance ourselves from the conversation in order to employ various methods and explanations in order to make ourselves clear.  Argument, Tracy maintains, is sometimes necessary for real conversation.

The reason I’ve been thinking so much about this is because I’ve spent too much time of late trawling around various websites, many of which are maintained by atheists, anti-theists, and anti-Christians.  I don’t have too much of a problem with any of those folks believing what they believe.  I’d certainly never try to force them to believe what I believe.  Apart from that being a rather fascist thing to attempt, it simply wouldn’t even work.  It’s none of my business, really, how God speaks or doesn’t speak to others, or even whether others believe (fundamentalist arguments about the Great Commission notwithstanding).  No, the problem I have with some of the websites I’ve run across is this ironic insistence that theism is untrue (or a blatant lie, as some of them say) – ironic because they are completely unwilling to entertain the possibility that they are wrong.  That’s the functional definition of fundamentalism, isn’t it?

Anyway, many of these sites insist that theism (usually Christianity in particular) is foolish, because science “has disproven” the truth-claims of the great religions.  I put “has disproven” in quotes, not only because that’s the verbatim language many atheists use in order to make their claim, but also simply to stress the grammatical use of the perfect tense:  this disproving has taken place in the past and has continuing effects into the present.  In other words, the matter is settled.

This strikes me as bizarre, given how much acid many of these folks fling at fundamentalist Christians (to whose tribe I do not happen to belong), because “fundies” tend to say things like, “It’s in the Bible.  I believe it.  End of story.”  Pot, may I introduce Kettle?  Kettle, Pot.  I’m sure you have much to discuss.

Back to Tracy.  Tracy studies hermeneutics – interpretations.  The title of the book points to the fact that there are many ways/numerous methods of interpreting texts (not just written texts, but also experiences as texts), and his point is that humans are always interpreting, whether they realize it or not.  This also goes for scientists.  Scientists often like to claim that they base their conclusions purely on objective data, but as Tracy makes clear, the data themselves are laden with interpretations and are built on certain presuppositions.  It’s interesting to note how what’s perceived as law in astrophysics may completely contradict what quantum physicists know as law.  Everything is…ambiguous.

Tracy isn’t saying that we should or even could just throw up our hands and say that all interpretation is futile.  He points to Luther and says that it would have been very unsatisfying had Luther made his proclamation, “Here I stand; I can do no other…but if it really bothers you, I’ll move.”  But what bothers Tracy, and I guess what’s been bugging me about some of these websites, is the refusal on the part of strict scientists to acknowledge the interpretive aspect of their discipline, as if they are the only ones with Real Truth (TM), and to disagree with them means that you’re a complete dumb-ass, and a deluded one at that.

Many of the atheist websites I’ve looked at call upon Reason to make their Truth claims.  This is an Enlightenment worldview (not that it’s inherently wrong, but it’s a hermeneutic).  Tracy writes, “The Enlightenment both freed us from the weight of certain oppressive traditions and taught us, as Kant insisted, the we must dare to think for ourselves.  But as the dialectic of the Enlightenment unfolded, it became trapped in ever narrower models of what could count as truth and what could count as free action, namely, purely autonomous action.  The once emancipatory concepts of the Enlightenment, as Adorno suggested, became mere categories.”

He later adds, “Scientism has pretensions to a mode of inquiry that tries to deny its own hermeneutic character and mask its own historicity so that it might claim ahistorical certainty.”  That’s the problem.  Again, if atheists want to use science to come to conclusions about the validity of religion, that’s fine.  It just perturbs me to see them claim that their interpretations are the only true interpretations.  I had never thought of it this way, but Tracy calls this “a Whig history on the triumph of the final scientific method or the ultimate explanatory theory.”  “Whig history” seems a very good term to describe the attitude.

I’m prattling now and I have “real” work to do, but this topic has been under my skin for the last couple of days, and has really put me in a bit of a funk.  Now that it’s off my chest, I feel a little better and can get on with life.  Which for me right now – unfortunately – means writing a paper on a Friday night.

At Last, it All Makes Sense!

Posted in Humor, Identity, music with tags , , , , on October 6, 2008 by Robaigh

I was just over at the Tom Waits website, and was reading this interview with him (instead of finishing my Greek homework for tomorrow).

Here’s what I saw:

Q: What is up with your ears?

A: I have an audio stigmatism where by I hear things wrong- I have audio illusions. I guess now they say ADD. I have a scrambler in my brain and it takes what is said and turns it into pig Latin and feeds it back to me.

That is exactly what is going on with my brain. At long last, I’m not alone in the world.

One of the stranger things I’ve seen on the internet

Posted in Humor, religion on October 6, 2008 by Robaigh

I’ve seen a lot of weird stuff on the internet.  Some of it has been pretty sick.  I’ll never “unsee” some of that crap.  But here’s something unique.  Not sick, no.  But rather weird, to be sure.  Did you ever imagine YHWH as an orange?  Well, you’re in for a Floridian treat.

Uncloudy Day (for the most part)

Posted in Christianity, Identity, religion with tags , , , , on October 5, 2008 by Robaigh

It has been an interesting day.  This morning, scant minutes before heading out the door to our usual Lutheran-flavored church, I got the inspiration to try someplace else for a change.  I mean, we get Lutheran liturgy 5 days a week in chapel – a change is as good as a rest.  So we drove through the rain to St. Luke’s Methodist.  This is actually one of the oldest congregation in DBQ.  They got their start with Methodist class meetings back in the 1830s when this was a rough and tumble mining town.  It’s far more genteel today.  The building that houses the congregation nowadays was built in the 1890s and contains a wicked-cool collection of stained glass windows designed by L.C. Tiffany.  Yup, THAT Tiffany.

The service was not exceptionally well-attended, but hey – it was 8:30 in the a.m. on a dreary, cold Sunday in Dubuque.  Whatchagonnado?  (By 10:30, attendance had really picked up.)  We stayed after the service and chatted with some folks, found some unexpected living history connections (It is *such* a small, inbred world we live in), and left feeling pretty excited to come back.

It’s a bit of a conundrum to be attending a Lutheran seminary and thinking about becoming adjunct members at a Methodist church, but our two church bodies do share pulpit and altar fellowship.  Maybe the change isn’t so strange after all.  Plus, it’s really nice to get a different theological perspective and to see some different (non-seminary-related) faces.

In the afternoon we took the hounds on the Dubuque CROP Walk.  I tried to take some pictures, but it didn’t work very well.  If I can salvage anything, I’ll stick them on this page.  We almost didn’t make it to the CROP Walk – in part because of the aforementioned monsoons, but also because I’m buried up to my hoodlie-hoos in school work for the upcoming week.  But at 12:30, the sun made an unexpected appearance, and it was just way too nice to skip this thing, which – to be fair – I had committed to a number of weeks before.

So, a great church service with very hospitable fellowship (and an excellent message about the inherent dangers of finger-pointing), followed by 2.5 hours of dog walking on a sunny day through nice and not-so-nice parts of our newly adopted city.  Not too shabby a way to spend a Sunday.