Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Spiritual Rhythms of Life for Today

A cursory look at the headlines shows that a million acres have burned in drought stricken Texas, someone is accused of bribing oil officials, nuclear destruction is wrecking lives, terrorist alerts are on the rise, storms and tornadoes are sweeping through parts of the world, Christians are being persecuted, the Arab world is in growing disarray with no end to the killing in sight, and as the one year after de-versary of the Gulf disaster arrived, recovery is moving all too slowly. When you add to this the economic crisis, unemployment, and the danger of the collapse of political stability, it appears that we find ourselves close to a meltdown. As we peer into the hourglass, we discover the grains of sand are not unlimited. How long, oh Lord? If ever there was a moment to turn to the living God, it is now. To wake up, be prepared, and come to our senses, means we have to engage the breakdown of the world and present the gospel in the teeth of the relevant and pertinent challenges we face, as we are truly living in perilous times.


Nita said...

Dear Greg,
Yes, this sounds indeed like the apocalyptic scenarios that we get from the Hebrew Tanakh and the NT. And I actually believe that those are tied in with the highly interesting, previous posts on the resurrection. As both Ragnar and Carter correctly remarked, belief in the risen Messiah has more to do with worldviews and self-understandings than with evidences or theistic proofs. It seems to me that the existential, subjective commitment cannot be the last word here: many Muslims are sincerely committed to belief in Mohammed's resurrection and all believers of all different creeds are equally sincere and existentially committed to their respective beliefs, narratives and values. The rational or argumentative punch, in my opinion, doesn't help much either: Plato's argument for immortality in the Republic is betrayed by a presupposed belief in the trans-migration of souls and other elements from Orphic cults. We all know that Jesus' social, cultural setting was that of Essenes, thus closer to Pharisees than to Sadducees, who denied the resurrection of the dead. This would be ultimately restated and affirmed in Jewish creeds, after
Maimonides. The Judeo-Christian worldview favors thus the irruption of the new, the wholly other, hence its eschatological axis, tied in with the radical condemnation of idolatry and the golden rule of love, reciprocity, and recognition of the otherness of others. I think that most evangelicals, esp. US fundamentalists, commit the same mistake that we find among Marxists and orthodox communists, namely, they succumb to a necessitarian, historicist view of eschatology. I just gave a talk in Atlanta on Heidegger's take on reification (as over against Lukács), and as I am trying to relate it to Marcuse, Habermas, and Honneth's critique of consumerist capitalism, I realize that liberation theology has correctly identified the problem of idolatry in this oblivion of human alterity and recognition, as a greedy humankind becomes alienated and forgets how to properly dwell on this decaying planet of ours. Our messianic hope is the only way out of this huge, planetary mess!

Lukas und Céline Kuhs said...

Reminds me of...

Casting Crowns - If We've Ever Needed You
If we've ever needed YOU
LORD, it's now
LORD, it's now
We are desperate for Your hand
We're reaching out
We're reaching out

All our hearts, all our strength
With all our minds, we're at Your feet
May Your kingdom come in our hearts and lives
Let Your church arise, let Your church arise

greg laughery said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Greg said...


Greg said...

Thanks. I'm pretty much in agreement that the existentialist, subjective commitment to a dead and risen Messiah cannot be the last word here. I wonder though if we equal out the playing field too early on that one? That is, subjective commitments, such as they are, gravitate towards equivalence. Yet, I would wager the uniformity, or might I say related-ness, of all subjective commitments, should not reduce them to the same. Distinction still performs a role in that subjects cannot be committed to merely subjectivity, as there are referents / outsiders / testimonies that come into that sphere and cause these commitments to be challenged, which may lead to an affirmation or critique of the matter at hand.
Therefore, beliefs are similar in one sense, but different in another, and perhaps both are in play and have to be in dialogue. To discount some types of subjective commitments because they are subjective may call for a refiguration (through the text - which one? that can only be suggested in consideration of what and who the text testifies to) of subjectivity.

The all too easy conformity of many an evangelical with Marxist tendencies has to be considered to represent one of the major drawbacks of our time - a thoughtless and disengaged Christian faith.

I'd love to have a read of your talk on Heidegger, etc.

The living Messiah has inaugurated something so new and unceasing, which bursts on the scene, and that explosively constrains the present and directs it towards the future. Resurrection remind us how to be and do in hope that the planetary mess is facing and will face transformation.

nythamar said...

Hi Greg! Excellent --I do appreciate these very fine points you make here:
1."related-ness, of all subjective commitments, should not reduce them to the same." I agree entirely with you,and that's the main reason why I cannot follow postmodernists, non-cognitivists, and many existential thinkers (including interpreters of Kierkegaard's view of subjectivity) who tend to dismiss objectivity as just another social construction of sorts;
2. "referents," as you suggest, do make all the difference here, esp. as one thinks of historicity and the effective results thereof, which include cultural and moral values, social, political institutions, lifeworlds and life forms overall. Any atheist, any agnostic naturalist recognizes that modern science is indebted to a Judeo-Christian worldview (which certainly includes non-fundamentalist Islam, as it flourished in 9th-12th centuries) that sought to make sense of the "Book of Nature" and relate it to self-understanding "coram deo;"
3. the "refiguration of subjectivity" is indeed tied in with the intertextuality of all texts that must come into play --there is no need for such thing as a "black list" or an "Index" to exclude books and challenging works (such as Darwin's, Nietzsche's and Freud's, to name a few) as fundies do in Iran, Afghanistan, and elsewhere (including "thoughtless and disengaged Christians" in the West --gravediggers!)
4. as for the Heidegger talk I'll make it available soon and will be glad to share with you, so that I could get your critical remarks