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Prashant
Houston TX
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I have never seen the vast majority of those shows, so I will withhold comment on the list in general. But I am surprised Treme ranked highly with anyone. I consider The Wire the epitome of television in my lifetime, and couldn't wait for Treme, but I quit after one season because I thought it was a preachy formulaic show full of thoroughly unlikeable characters. I could watch the Wendell Pierce bits, but the rest bored me. Did The Wire also rank highly with Dems & not Republicans? The Letterman vs Leno split doesn't surprise. Letterman has always been more sardonic in style. I'm currently working through season 4 of Breaking Bad (aside: great show!!) and I wonder which side would like that one more...
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I meant to add a paragraph where I agree with Steven's point about Tebow working with sick kids. Religion apart, that is great to hear about.
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I came to post Charlie Pierce's Grantland article but Dave beat me to it. It didn't strike me as virulently negative about Tebow - more about what Pierce describes as "the great national dumbshow that is our culture war". I largely agree with Pierce. With any publicly religious person, there's always a gap between what they believe, and what we think they believe. In so far as my perception of Tebow's beliefs hold true, I find a lot of them rather ungodly, so I tend to think God would be unlikely to advance his cause. But what do I know. I'm generally uninterested in even considering if God intervenes in sports, because it seems obvious that none of us will know the answer any time soon. A more interesting question to me is whether sports teams eventually come to reflect the prevailing spiritual dynamic in their city/country/college/club. Was there some sort of spiritual shift in New England in 2004, or in the years leading up? Oh, and GO PATS!!!!!
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"What if, when I experience a tension between what I understand of the Bible and what I understand of Christ… what if I choose to follow Jesus?" Then you would make the wise & correct choice in my opinion. Why is that controversial? Better respond to the living Word, than to any static snapshot. I should clarify that I strongly value the Bible and the understanding of it that comes through study and tradition. But I have learned to be mistrustful of my static interpretation at any point in time. And if there were good reason (for example "what I understand of Christ") to change that static, I would go for it.
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With similar qualms about the horror genre - I am a definite fan of Stephen King. It isn't just that his ordinary heroes find themselves in a grand narrative - it is that good & evil are clearly & unambiguously demarcated in those narratives. With the exception of a few sections of the Dark Tower series, I'm unaware of anything by King where there is a shred of doubt about who is good & who is evil. Normally that trait almost guarantees bad storytelling, but he pulls off compelling, gripping & pulsating stories despite it. I've been eagerly waiting for my library to acquire that new Kennedy assassination book. Lots to say on Tim Tebow but I'll wait till there's a thread. Klostermann is excellent as usual.
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Brian describes worship & prayer ministry in the Vineyard framework as sacramental shared experiences. This makes me wonder - is sacrament necessarily a shared experience? My experience with the Vineyard and with more liturgical traditions (Catholic & United Methodist) makes me wonder if they have different answers to this question. The sacrament of Communion is administered, but the sacramental nature comes from a transaction between celebrant & God, and another between me & God. We emphasize the communal nature of Communion, but that is ritual, not sacrament. Could we say the same of worship singing or prayer ministry in the Vineyard? I am skeptical.
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I'm fully on board with the questioning of assumptions - that is an essential of working out our salvation. In my life this plays out as a series of periodic re-calibrations of differing magnitude. Some of them I come to quickly, others I get dragged to via the love of others or a serious kick in the pants. Having said that - I'm severely unconvinced that either of the two distinct life paths portrayed in yesterday's post is intrinsically superior. Thomas Merton wrote: "In planning the course of our lives, we must remember the dignity of our own freedom. A man who fears to settle his future by a good act of his own free choice does nut understand the love of God." If one wants a career, and to focus on that, and to hope/try to find companionship & shared mission along the way - there is a very good chance that that is exactly where one is meant to be. The notion that one must be "counter cultural" in this respect is prescriptive in a bad way. Of course, the blind pursuit of this approach is probably not wise either.
Toggle Commented Sep 22, 2010 on Radical Radicality at Not The Religious Type
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Two thoughts. First - is it necessary for a young person to be jaded with their faith in order to have a better faith? Is it maybe a common spur to a Stage 3 faith? If so I'm all for it. Second, I'm not sure if I understand the phrase "counter-cultural". We don't really have a choice about having a culture - we can substitute the dominant one with a niche sub-culture (generally a horrible idea for people of faith), or choose wisely which facets of the wider culture we allow to influence us. Really the best choice vis-a-vis culture, is to make as much of it as one can. I suggest instead that we must confound contemporary wisdom - make choices that are not the generally recognized as the best choice. But only rarely need these decisions be "inexplicable" as you put it. In fact, I wonder if they ever need be. It is in explaining them that we can point toward Jesus best. Its been over a decade since I last looked at Rich Lamb's book, so perhaps he addresses these concerns & I have forgotten.
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My wife & I have realized that there are certain movies we will each not accompany the other to (instead of arguing later). Hence, she went to Eat Pray Love with a friend. And ended up closely paraphrasing the comment from the Detroit News. I had the same reaction to Into the Wild. Fortunately we rented that & didn't waste a date on it. I have never met a movie character I could sympathize with less than the dude in that movie. Narcissistic nonsense.
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David I think your comments are absolutely spot on. Trish talks about the "mysterious element" in marriage. I wonder if this is what the church describes as the sacramental - marriage as a sacrament is in a mysterious way intrinsically blessed by God? I'm not sure what to think about this notion. I recently read that the church didn't make marriage a sacrament until the middle ages, and then it was a response to prevailing social mores. I guess I want to know what you all think - is there something intrinsically blessed by God in marriage, or would you argue against the Newsweek article on social/sociological grounds? If the former, do you believe that applies intrinsically to all situations of marriage? That would be hard to justify in my opinion. If not, then when does it apply?
Toggle Commented Jul 7, 2010 on Is Marriage Passe? at Not The Religious Type
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in a secular spirituality, traditionally religious rituals can be practiced without a specific religious content or apprehension. The 'church wedding' is a good example. What used to be a religious ritual has evolved into a secular or cultural practice. It remains a deeply significant experience, but often it lacks religious underpinnings Intriguing example. I think the religious response would be to invoke the notion of sacrament in a wedding. Without that a wedding is a cultural, or more accurately social, experience regardless of the religiosity of the participants. But the sacrament is necessarily religious - a direct transaction between God & the wedded. If a ceremony or ritual is symbolic of a transaction with God, is it valuable in the same way without that?
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The Talmud tells us that one will have to give account in the judgment day of every good thing which one might have enjoyed and did not. Hyperbolic perhaps, but a good reminder & a daunting one for me. Perhaps a good sacrifice is seeking joy with determination, or working hard to be mindful of what steals joy away.
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I wonder how you would consider famous folks from the more monastic traditions? Some of them had little by way of movement in their lives, and in some cases almost no contact with followers. Were they not leaders? Second question - can the impact of leadership be solely in ones legacy? Or posthumous? In which case, is one a leader even though ones life is spent laying the ground work for that posthumous impact? I can certainly think of secular examples where this was true.
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Excellent analogy. I'm reminded of Jeremiah describing God's mercy & compassion being new each morning. Right through our lives, there is a new way to comprehend, learn of God's compassion. Or the Psalmist talking of how minuscule we are in comparison with God's creation. As Brent suggests above: with both "truth" and "knowing", we must distinguish between the propositional and the relational. There are facts & concepts that we can know, fully. But the relationship must always be growing in knowledge. The way, the truth & the life must be relationally understood - otherwise we end up in the Crusades.
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Let me suggest, briefly, that the stage 4 analog of "cool" is "truthful". I agree that stage 3 faith is often concerned with being cool (substitute "hip" perhaps?). But growing out of this isn't so much moving beyond image, as the realization that depth or truth or authenticity is paramount in the realm of image as much as anywhere else. Art or music or poetry included. What is cool can be very stage four if it is also deep & truthful, but probably not otherwise. Cf Nick Cave or Leonard Cohen. Or maybe they're not cool, I don't know. The "sparkling writer/occasionally insightful" fits this notion I think - the sparkle is largely stage 3, the occasional nugget a flight into truthfulness beyond sparkle. I am a huge fan of both Simmons & Gladwell, but especially in the case of the former, I'm looking for irreverence first and wisdom is the occasional by product. Klosterman: I've never completely agreed with his notion on music. I see the point that adults shouldn't have to defend their music choices - as an example, I am happy to admit in a public forum that I have a Roxette station on Pandora. But following his argument to its end removes the need for the critic altogether. And that would leave us significantly poorer. Majority does not always win. "Critic" bands like the Ramones or Yo La Tengo made music that I think will stand the test of time better than some of the more popular stuff. I want to hear music that is excellent in craft and creation, voice and view - even if it is not the song that catches my ear on the radio. Maybe it isn't cool, but it is good. And that is the truth.
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Are you & Charles really "church" guys in a general sense? Or are you arguing that Stage 4 faith must be practiced in community ("connection & partnership") as you describe it? Is the institutional community necessary? Analogy - in many of our best and richest friendships we don't typically have an institutional component. We don't discuss or enshrine the parameters of the friendships, or explicitly covenant in any way. We are, simply, friends. There are of course implicit compacts - trust and confidence and selflessness and more. But none of those is aided one whit by codification. About the only relationally rewarding experience that is covenanted is marriage, and there too a stage four perspective would describe that covenant as emblematic of the sacramental, not the institutional.
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I think one needs distinguish between world affairs and pop news. I completely see your (Postman's?) point in reference to the latter - the Jon & Kate or Manny Ramirez etc. But what about global warming? Or Darfur? Tiananmen square? AIDS? I do want to stay well informed on these and many other issues, and I do want to have my opinions interact with those of others who care, so that iron may sharpen iron so to speak. Otherwise my life would be small & parochial & I would miss seeing the ways in which God moves and perhaps not discern as well the ways in which I can contribute to the world. Here's my encouragement to you all: read widely, but read wisely. Remember the journalistic adage, sadly ignored by the idiot cable news channels: everything you read is either fact, hearsay, or opinion. Your first job should be to suss that out. Then, view each with a different lens. I like the Nassim Taleb point (very much liked his books) - but I see that as fitting in with my framework above. What the chairman of the Fed says is a fact. How much impact it will have is someone's opinion.
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OK, I know its bad form to reply to my own post, but how many of these names do you recognize? Emily Greene Balch John R. Mott Cordell Hull Nansen International Office for Refugees Robert Cecil Carlos Saavedra Lamas Carl von Ossietzky Now I'm sure that a history major could school me on some of those, but NONE of those are meaningful to a layman 50 years on. Those are the worthies who won the peace prize through the forties/late thirties. So prize meet pinch of salt.
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Lost in the partisan posturing is any mention of the questionable, even nonsensical, history of the Nobel peace prize. Sometimes they make great calls. Often, not so much. Henry Kissinger got one. Mahatma Gandhi never did, despite being nominated every year for about a decade. I need a head-scratch emoticon. So my take - who really cares about the peace prize? I'll take the physics/chemistry/biology prizes seriously. Economics is a maybe. And DON'T get me started on the literature prize.
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I'm in. Can you please give us a 1 week warning before starting the discussion?
Toggle Commented Aug 26, 2009 on Book Club, Part 2! at Not The Religious Type
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Dave (not Schmelzer) - you say "Southern global Christian leadership is a response to heavy, heavy secularity". Really? That is absolutely counter to my experience as someone who grew up in the global south. It is for the most part very religious. And that is true of both public & government. Maybe I'm not getting your point. Pete, thanks for the Benedict links - I will definitely read them. I'm aware that we have a much shorter history to consider with Benedict, and also that personality influences perception as much as statements do. I'm open to my first impression being wrong...
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I'd have enjoyed being a fly on the wall in your conversation with the high-level Catholic leader. Since you bring up George Weigel, I'm reminded that I was chagrined by the last choice of pope. I had a great deal of respect & regard for John Paul II - JP2 appeared to change from a stage 2 faith to a stage 4 faith during his papacy & I felt joyful about that. The new pope seems to have regressed firmly into Stage 2 - the "lines in the sand" approach really does appear to come from the top. But I pray that that will change in the future.
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Hmm. I used Typepad's "reply via email" feature for the first time on my last post & it appears that the formatting is very poor. Sorry about that.
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Hello again, Alagon. Here's what I see you saying - that there is a universal Church of followers of Jesus, populated by multiple theologies, denominations et al. There is a multiplicity of churches that make up this Church. Hopefully that is a fair synopsis. Here's why I think the truth of that isn't ultimately helpful - the only way to know the Church is in the way it is expressed by the church. The Church is an ideal, but we can't see it in action, know its fruit. Yes, we can belong to it, but as human beings we can only intuit and experience and feel our belonging through the expressed church. Which leads me to think that the expression of church is vitally important. And, to resonate with Mark's [b]ideal[/b] of re-joining with the historical church. And to like Peter Kreeft's comment, because it speaks to the heart of two large traditions of church. When you have anything made up of people, even people animated by the Spirit of God, then the structures and the history and the expressions are important. By the way, I am not disparaging the notion that we "put our differences aside and celebrate the same faith. That's regardless of who is right in some aspects and who is not right" - there I completely agree with you, particularly because we don't even know all the ways in which each of us are right & wrong.
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On the contrary Alagon - it is precisely because I want more of the Entity that I like Mark's comments. I am actually little concerned with the institutional strengths & weaknesses, or things like "how church should be lead" as you put it. An Entity is not helpful as an abstraction alone. Entities have expression, which takes different forms, and those forms, those expressions matter greatly. I find your notion that we are "part of the same universal church" unhelpful, even if true. I certainly have no desire to impugn the faith of any follower of Jesus (or indeed anyone of any faith really), but the expression of that faith matters. If we are, collectively, the church, then what the church looks like & behaves like matters greatly.
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