Friday, April 25, 2014

Theme: Religion

  • When Yaweh advanced into Ezekiel in the form of penetration, the four wings of the chariot became instantly erect and bloodshot and then fell directly into limpness: violated prey shot by the gibbering hunter. The four live animals (man included) that were previously sprawled beneath the bronze base of the chariot in servitude to it shook until their vestments fizzled off of them.Read more
  • If I recall correctly, Plotinus was said by his disciple Porphyry to have experienced a total of four mystical visions, in which he, it is reported, became one with the One. The great Platonist philosopher could not relate anything of his visions, however, since they had brought him beyond the boundaries of discursive language, into a realm where the 'true' and the 'false' of propositions no longer hold.Read more
  • Many scholars have noted the broad resemblances between this Cynic gesture, on the one hand, and, on the other, the various universalist, and therefore necessarily transnational, religious movements that appeared in the so-called Axial Age, not least Buddhism and Christianity. Both sought to establish the global validity of their central truth claims, and in so doing to break the historical link to a given culture.Read more
  • The rapper DMX is famous for his infamy. Fame came to him through his trademark rapping style and emotionally staggering songwriting, letting him become the powerhouse that has had five consecutive No. 1 albums. Infamy came to him through his continuous trouble in abiding several legal frameworks and law-enforcing authorities. The intersections of DMX’s fame and infamy, once responsible for his rise to mainstream prominence by inspiring soulful lyrics, is now following a pattern in which the infamy overshadows the artist’s creative credibility.Read more
  • In her influential work Standing Again on Sinai, Jewish feminist theologian Judith Plaskow asks “what can we claim that has not also wounded us?” (1)1 The Hebrew scriptures have been and continue to be used as a means of control over women, of profoundly limiting the livable possibilities for sex, gender and sexuality. Read more
  • Near the end of Susanna Clarke’s magical history, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, comes a peculiarly chilling scene. A magician named Childermass, riding through a wood festooned with corpses, arrives at the Castle of the Plucked Eye and Heart. Before the castle stands a champion who defends its lady by killing all who would insult her and hanging their bodies on the thorn-trees. Childermass has the wisdom to flee, but a more reckless colleague, Lascelles, scorns his cowardice and returns to challenge the knight. Read more
  • The secular movement is a cause that, by and large, I support. I think a more secular society would be a better one. But I think some of the purported arguments for secularism are in one way or another bad arguments. Here, I attempt to prod secularists into some critical reflection on their ideas.Read more
  • No, she insisted, she could never go back to Zanesville. Of course, she would continue to visit her hometown but she would not live there again. My student’s words were adamant but her voice broke with undisguised sadness. I stared at her as the sun flooded the oak desk behind me. Leaning against my chair, I repeated mentally her declaration, one that I had often heard before and had in fact uttered myself years earlier. Read more
  • The narrative of splits in Protestantism which is based on convenient binaries, with African and Asian churches emerging as the conservatives, and the US and Europe as the liberals, fails to capture the complexity of what is going on at ground level.Read more
  • It was jarring to realize it, but there it was: I nearly wished evil on someone. Alan Sullivan’s cancer was starting to close in on him, and I should have been sobered. But what I felt was startlingly close to Schadenfreude. Admittedly, I was lurking on the outskirts of this situation.Read more
  • I have declined, and continue to decline, to reply to many of the diverse points of criticism directed against my profession of faith, which I released into the world a month or so ago. I had thought it would be clear that there is a sort of writing that does not invite arguments in opposition, but simply says lo! behold! ecce!, and carries with it an implied Whitmanian ass-covering: "You say I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself!"Read more
  • Judith Butler discusses the gathering of crowds.Read more
  • Different people, different closets. I don't quite know how to say it delicately so I'm just going to come right out and say it. I believe in God. Apart from periodic spells of foolish pride, I have believed in God all my life. Even during these spells, I did not so much cease to believe, as turn my back on what I believed.Read more
  • Declaring oneself an "atheist" just isn’t what it used to be. Growing numbers of Generation Y prefer to remain agnostic, which is why so many of them go by the "nones", or state no religious preference. My wife used to work at a large university, and she told me that on standardized tests, many of the students put "human" in the ethnic and racial identity box.Read more
  • I don’t know about the time of Marx’s original publications, but I’d like to believe that in the 1890s perhaps, 1920s, when there was a strong labor movement going on in the country, a lot of civil unrest, my sense of things is that it was possible to describe oneself as a Marxist, to use Marxist ideas, to appropriate Marxist categories and language, to use the ideas of socialism in a fairly overt and mainstream way for the purpose of social organization.Read more
  • It occurred to me that Genesis is such a supreme fiction, or perhaps it is the supreme fiction in western culture, which begat many others. For thousands of years this book has been the mirror or lamp that reveals what reality consists of – regarding the nature of human existence, the cosmos, and God. Or, to put it differently, the meaning of life, the universe, and everything.Read more
  • One honest response to the lunacy of the world is to laugh. Laughter relieves anxiety and fear, and it pokes holes in the pretensions of the powerful. In medieval times, humor was often coarse and obscene, and the more effective because of it. Luther’s rough handling of his opponents is rooted in this medieval tradition. During the heyday of the Reformation, with social upheaval, religious conflict, and the devil on the loose, François Rabelais wrote the first volume of his comic novel, Gargantua and Pantagruel. Read more
  • It may be ironic, but it is not entirely surprising that the YouTube clip of what appears to be a badly made film satirizing the Prophet Muhammad appeared, causing mayhem and destruction—coinciding with the death of US ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens—in the same week of September that the novelist Salman Rushdie published Joseph Anton.Read more
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