Archive for the ‘Blogging my thoughts’ Category
“No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed, the house can be plundered.” Mark 3:27.
Binding the Strong Man
When I asked the anti-racist working group of the discipling team of our synod why we had over a $3,000 deficit and no money in the budget to do anything, even though ant-racism work was a priority of the bishop, I was told that some church in Davis had gotten a resolution passed that the synod was not allowed to run a deficit. (Sorry a quick thought takes all these words to explain.) Now when a synod is not allowed to use debt and the elasticity of credit, its ministry becomes bound.
Now granted there could be frugality and concern for future indebtedness involved in this resolution which is good, but the good can be used by an evil spirit. An alcoholic searches for a very good person as a co-dependent, so the demon of the bottle has full sway.
So let me submit that the resolution can be calling a growing church evil, like big government, and wants to restrict its ministry. Isn’t this the case of binding the good guy and letting the bad guy loose to run rampant? Why does the church bind Christ so that ministry becomes restricted?
Thousands of police attended the funerals of their fellow officers. All lives matter. The lives of the police matter, too. But how many police attended the funerals of Oscar Grant, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner? Their lives matter too.
I’m always bothered by the narcissism and unsportsmanlike behavior when winning baseball teams congratulate each other rather than the players of the losing team as in soccer and football. The Mennonites gave us quite an example when they attended the funeral of the murderer of their daughters in that school in Pennsylvania. Now that is some witness to the way forgiveness constitutes the affirmation of life.
Our heart also goes out to the police, however, because they are continually exposed to the darker side of human existence, while pastors like myself enjoy weddings and baptisms and many random acts of kindness and senseless acts of love. Wouldn’t one of these be a whole number of police attending a funeral like that of Eric Garner?
Blogging my thoughts: Divine Performative Promises 15. Nov. 2014
I’ve worked and reworked my book on Creation via Language over and over again for many years, after taking John Searles’ language philosophy class and hearing about his supernatural declarations, which for him merely constituted a thought experiment. Then I became discouraged with my work in the book and I thought, “Good thing I did not publish it, because God’s speaking seems inadequate, to say the least, in the face of evolution and the physics of this universe.”
But today I started thinking that perhaps God’s speaking is enfleshed, embodied, and concrete and, for example, the development of God’s thought could be the evolution of plants and animals on this earth biologically and, in the more elemental physics of God’s thoughts, they could become manifest in the big bang, the expanding universe, the galaxies, their black holes, the solar systems in those galaxies, our own particular “third rock from the sun” — our planet, earth and our very own moon.
When I was saying that Christ is the Word of God and (continuing with Luther), that we become Christs, by God’s grace, and therefore we too become Words of God, and then (I extrapolated and I wrote in Creation via Language) we do become the vocabulary, the living biological vocabulary of God’s language in a new social syntax.
Now language is an organic system that abstracts from our socio-biological reality of being human, but in terms of Hegel’s concrete spirit, language can incorporate, can become filled with its referents thereby becoming socio-biological and physical, in terms of the physics used to understand our universe. In God’s speaking everything into creation and thus into its existence, the theological comes into play.
In an analogy, an author can write a story, which is more abstract than if as a playwright he or she writes a play with real actors on the stage. At that level the author is thinking in terms of persons, (the terms as the persons) their relationships, and the speaking has gone up into the grammar or syntax of a plot, in which an acted story moves to its climax and dénouement from the in medias res in which it was begun to its end in the same.
Now people leading their daily lives and experiencing crises and their resolutions by calling upon God in their distress and being rescued and then embarking on the plan of God’s salvation, are on another level from a play performed by actors, in which life and death are merely imagined. In our real lives there are also stories and plays in which they take place, but pace Christian Scientists, people really live and die. But people could live in the Gospel in God’s speaking, in divine speech-acts, language acts, language events, and the salvation history in which they are nested, and continue in the Holy Spirit’s continuous creation (the living theology of God’s thought brought to speech) and continuous incarnation, as we live out the Gospel stories again and again in becoming Christs, the Words of God addressed to one another, the performative promises of God’s people in but not of this world.
I just wrote an essay and it is published in Scholardarity: Instrumental Rationality as Opposed to Hegel: Hegel and Augustine’s Triads
If Hegel is right, could the structure of reality be triadic reflecting creation by the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity? Or do triads have a privileged place as Augustine argues in their being the traces left by the Trinity? Contrary to all Hegel disparagement since 1801, he did not deduce a missing planet between Mars and Jupiter. But where Venus, the second planet is twice the distance from the sun as Mercury, and Mars the fourth planet, four times that distance, why is Jupiter, the fifth planet 13 times that distance away? In this essay that searches for a non-instrumental rationality in Hegel’s dialectical logic of life, the question also comes up: in the violent birth of the moon, when the Mars-sized planet Theia struck the earth, where did it come from? A hypothesis requiring scientific feedback is presented.
David Brooks writes in his OP ED piece in the New York Times (8/15/2014) page A21: “Every type of new hero is like a new word added to our vocabulary.” That was the kind of insight I was developing in my Joseph Book. If a word can already be a message, a promise, and a whole language-event, like a sermon or lecture, why can’t it also refer to a person? Brooks makes it do so here. So I say that the children of God are Words of God — and we become the vocabulary in the language of God.
We of course refer to Jesus Christ as the Word of God. When Luther said in “The Freedom of a Christian,” that we all become Christs to one another, then becoming words of God is just another extension of this insight.
The Hightower Lowdown had an article this month that really hit home, because I was a part-time seminary and community college instructor for almost ten years. See Lessons from corporatized college: Even PhDs are being squeezed out of the middle class.
Every semester one had to hustle for courses from five different community colleges. One time Diablo Valley Community College interviewed me back in October for three courses (a professor was retiring and they kept checking with me saying they were relying on me) that was for the Spring Semester and then a week before starting in January, they informed me that because I had once worked over 60% that the president had disqualified me. He was too frightened that they might be forced to make me a full-timer. That made it too late to get courses for that semester. That cost $9,000 while we were often living from our credit cards. Our balance at the time was $36,000! On top of that I had taken out $46,000 in student loans (we were a family of five) over the eight years of graduate school. When the banks capitalized the interest over the eight years that became $75,000 (when I include the Perkins Loans) and then the banks added $100,000 for the 30 years interest. After paying over $300 a month since 2002, my debt is still $166,000. Meanwhile I have mostly been unemployed the way many other PhDs are who have never received positions. We need solidarity among scholars!
I taught ten different courses. The first time a professor teaches a course, a great deal of preparation is required. The second and third times makes the course come into its own. Often after all that preparation, I only taught the course once and then had to start from scratch preparing another one. Imagine teaching the following courses: Ethics, Critical Thinking (Logic), Introduction to Philosophy, Philosophy of Religion, History of Philosophy I and II, Sociology of Religion, Ethical Inquiry into Contemporary Societal Issues (the capstone course for Los Medanos), the Honors Course in Comparative Religions, and Western Civilizations, Part Two (the latter in Philadelphia). Often I would have to work writing lectures, preparing exams, and grading papers until 2:00 in the morning and then have an 8:00am class 46 miles away in Pittsburg, CA. I often got traffic tickets because I was dead tired and the police wondered why I became so upset. I had to appear in court and not my employers. For a while there I became quite desperate.
In our community colleges, when the state really supported education and rampant cuts did not occur, full time instructors were 80% while the part-timers were 20% of the teaching staff. Now it’s 80% part-timers and 20% full timers.
When you read Hightower’s article you will see how my experience illustrates the plight of many adjunct professors. We were simply called part-timers here in the Bay Area.
That’s why we opened a website called Scholardarity. We need solidarity among scholars, because they play off the full-timers against the part-timers so the instructors become divided and get turned into cheap labor after the most expensive graduate school education ever.