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Tracy Shier
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In light of the foregoing, thought this might make an interesting conversation piece. Article here:
Zwingli, Just so you know, I spent a fair amount of time this morning constructing a brilliant reply to your otherwise brilliant post. My post got lost somewhere in the ether. Now, the literariness (is that a word?) is gone and only the bare bones remain. I experience self-awareness in the sense that the difference between what I expect and what I experience makes me acutely present, but without any spirituality. I cannot say what others experience. I do not agree with your characterization of new masses or worship services as improvised, and certainly not sui generis. I question your abstraction from the proof-texts cited as to "living sacrifice." If what you are trying to say is that Christian life is worship, I agree. What is the liturgy of life? As for your "radical" statement, it is to vague for me to respond to and I think there is something you want to say, between the lines, and trying politely to say it.
Geoff, I would love to explore Chauvet with you and others, it is complicated and my objections are from the Catholic seat in the round table. Suffice it to say that it has to do with what Catholics believe about "real presence" and the Eucharist. Also, I think Chauvet's market exchange handles his idea of symbolic exchange if you simply introduce the notion of "psychic value." Finally,from a Thomist point of view, there is a real issue with causation, which, I might add, Chauvet argues his ideas do not disturb. On Zwingli's comments, I add the anecdote that while participating in some liturgy, a fellow student (recently escaped from Catholic Seminary) responded to my comment that since I was a new Catholic I haven't memorized all the little prayers, responses, sayings, etc. in the liturgy by saying that I had to because then I could go to the next level of participation. There is something there I think. Also, it has given me great comfort to know that I can go to any Mass, anywhere in the world and said in any language and still know what is going on. This fact reinforces community I think. However, I must honestly admit that this is not always true in some of the so-called Vatican II Masses I have attended. Finally, on prior posts alluding to the entertainment value of liturgy, one of the things I never hesitated to express in my conversion process was that I wanted to become Catholic for the entertainment value of the Mass. You haven't lived until you have actually participated in Mozart's Requiem Mass in a sacred place. Some people understood the comment, some didn't.
The first few lines of what has become known as "The Serenity Prayer" by Reinhold Niebuhr reads: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. If I understand you correctly to this point, a non-theistic grace would look something like: Accept the things I cannot change (all things external to me and over which I have no control), Change the things I can (all things interior to me and over which I do have control) ...[thereby] (I will thus obtain) wisdom (Grace) to know the difference (which will result in my happiness, which is my ultimate goal.) Is that right?
A few small points. I read Epictetus as saying that which we control is real, that which we do not control is not real, a mere "impression." According to Epictetus, we should not be concerned with what is not real. How does this reading square with the desire/reality distinction or formulation? An often overlooked and not often commented on feature of ancient Greek philosophers is that they were all doing Theology. St. Augustine recognized this in City of God. How do you propose to get to a non-theistic notion of grace from a theistic system of thought? Finally, this is all sounding pretty universal and propositional to me and wouldn't the post-modern mind dismiss the entire experiment on these grounds?
I think Alexander Schmemann's little book entitled "For the Life of the World" makes points as valid today as they were in the 60's and 70's. Keep in mind Schmemann writes from an Eastern Orthodox tradition, which at times can approach (but never reach) pantheism. I also like "The Sacraments: The Word of God at the Mercy of the Body." by Louis-Marie Chauvet, though I do not entirely agree with its "symbolic exchange" formulation of sacrament. On the question raised by Sue, "What is the nature of experience altogether.[sic]" I wonder if this isn't one of those questions that should not be asked because we humans just don't have the language for it as yet. Finally, does it make a difference if we are taking about a tradition that observes the sacraments or one that doesn't? What is the relationship between sacrament and liturgy? I would say that if there is no acknowlegement of the existence of sacraments, then we need a new reading list.
This seems like a good place to reference an article in the New York Times today under the headline "Those Monks Could Draw." You may find it here: The slide show is interesting. Conclusion, Medieval Monks were somewhat overly taken with the concept of "line." I wonder why? What is the connection between the intellectual and religious environment of that time to an art that was expressed emphasizing one of the features of the trinity of classic art (line, form, and texture.)
Great post, and a topic well worth the attention because all the statistics say there are as many believers, if not more, than there ever was, they just aren't attending worship services. Nice.
Anyone seeking a really brief on-line presentation of the history of the Netherlands can find one such here: I found some basic information helped me to understand some of Nico-Dirk's narrative. Message # 1: A population experiencing a shift from left-leaning liberalism to right-leaning conservatism. Message # 2: A country that has been Protestant by a substantial majority for most of its modern history. Please correct me if I am wrong, Nico-Dirk.
Interesting. But in order to port an application, don't you first have to write the application? I wonder if a working definition of "grace" might not be helpful. You discuss the attributes of grace, or rather your thesis on what the attributes of grace might be, but I don't see language that indicates to me what grace is. On the other hand, I can read your post as an attempt to define grace in terms of its functionality assuming a dynamic "being" that is not singular, that is, perfect. Whenever I engage in a functional analysis I like to key on three questions around the concepts of role, rule, and reason. What is the role of grace, the rule of grace, and the reason for grace? As for ontologies, is it not true that postmoderns tend to eschew all talk of ontologies as false in the absolute. Not sure about this, but maybe you can help me on this point. In terms of sources of grist for the mill, your experiment sounds to me in "process theology" and might I suggest Whitehead and Hartshorne for some relatively contemporary ideas. Maybe Russell? For the noncontemporary piece, maybe we should look at Spinoza's notion of function. One thing, for a vast number of people this clearly is the vernacular. Good luck.
Hi John Doyle and thanks for your comments. Yes, Tracy's (and Lonergan's)"hard rules of conversation" in and of themselves are a topic of conversation. Yes, I think we can know what we intend to mean before we express ourselves but, to me, the interesting question is will the hearer, reader, or responder interpret our communications in the way we intended them to be interpreted. How do we know the meanings found in our communications by others unless by way of conversation? Is it even important? Perhaps here mere dialog would do. Yes, ambiguity is essential, in my view, for insight. Moreover, ambiguity is essential because it makes what we interpret interesting. Without ambiguity there is no need to interpret nor is there the desire to do so. Yes, assumptions are often unstated but usually surface in argument, I think. Tone is very often what is misinterpreted in online conversations and for that reason causes me to question whether these online "networks" can really ever be "communities." Would tone questions come up if these conversations were being had face-to-face? A point you didn't make but I will is that conversations take place in relationship. Stated differently, the community or other relationship of conversation partners shapes and provides meaning to the conversation. In some cases, the fact of community obviates the need to state explicitly the assumptions underlying the topic of conversation. Community also affects tone, in my view. I think placing God and Job in conversation, rather than dialog, discourse, diatribe, or lecture means that either God or Job could have changed his mind. I think the Deuteronomic historian provides several examples of YHWH seeming to change his mind. I am thinking of 2 Kings here. I am well aware that this is a shocking statement for those who hold that God is immutable and please no comments on my heresy. I think it is a question of interpreting texts and I just don't think human beings have the story right yet. I hope my comments are in some small way responsive, John. If not, let's have a conversation. Tracy
James, How did you know I edited out reference to the fact that Metz is usually characterized as working in the area of political theology? In a prior draft I wrote, "I wish to express that while I have cited to Metz for his views on productive noncontemporaneity which I think are particularly apt, I do not necessarily adopt his theological position which might fairly be characterized as political or liberation theology. I note that Metz makes an interesting argument in the cited essay regarding how a lived productive noncontemporaneity calls into question what he calls the “classic bourgeois distinction between public and private” and serves the interest of perhaps constituting the question “in new fashion.” I threw in this last sentence with an eye on a posting for a call for papers on Christian Philosophers as Public Intellectuals.