Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Process continued: Wiki!

Lots of reading to do this week, so here's a cop out.. i mean more about Process Theology!!!

Here's what Wiki has as the tenents of Process Theology:

God is not omnipotent in the sense of being coercive. The divine has a power of persuasion rather than coercion. Process theologians interpret the classical doctrine of omnipotence as involving force, and suggest instead a forbearance in divine power. "Persuasion" in the causal sense means that God does not exert unilateral control.

Reality is not made up of material substances that endure through time, but serially-ordered events, which are experiential in nature. These events have both a physical and mental aspect. All experience (male, female, atomic, and botanical) is important and contributes to the ongoing and interrelated process of reality.

The universe is characterized by process and change carried out by the agents of free will. Self-determination characterizes everything in the universe, not just human beings. God cannot totally control any series of events or any individual, but God influences the creaturely exercise of this universal free will by offering possibilities. To say it another way, God has a will in everything, but not everything that occurs is God's will.

God contains the universe but is not identical with it (panentheism, not pantheism or pandeism). Some also call this "theocosmocentrism" to emphasize that God has always been related to some world or another.

Because God interacts with the changing universe, God is changeable (that is to say, God is affected by the actions that take place in the universe) over the course of time. However, the abstract elements of God (goodness, wisdom, etc.) remain eternally solid.

Charles Hartshorne believes that people do not experience subjective (or personal) immortality, but they do have objective immortality because their experiences live on forever in God, who contains all that was. Others believe that people do have subjective experience after bodily death.

Dipolar theism, is the idea that God has both a changing aspect (God's existence as a Living God) and an unchanging aspect (God's eternal essence).

The rest can be found here.

The big name in Process is Rabbi Harold Kushner and his book When Bad Things Happen to Good People. Also John Cobb, William Sloane Coffin, and Rabbi William E. Kaufman are worth checking out.

and homestarrunner's halloween toon is up! it's a 1,000 times better than last years. and katie burke is still a floozie.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE!! eat your fluffy-puff marshmallows!

Friday, October 26, 2007

An Intro to Process Theology

"Fundamentalism in all it's varieties--Christian (protestant or catholic), Islamic, Jewish-- all appears to be based on fear: fear of the universe, fear of science, fear of the lose of self, fear of nothingness and Aquinas observes that "all fear derives us from love."
--Matthew Fox, Creation Spirituality, liberating gifts for the peoples of the earth.

Process theology is my new thing. i absolutely love it. i love it because it rejects fear! Fox states "to be a person of faith is to be a person of trust. No religion based on fear can lay claim to following Jesus." Process Theology is the complete opposite of what ppl think when they think of Christianity. It is not fearful, judgemental, nor is it duelistic. You do not have to leave your brain at the door when going to church. In fact, process requires SO much thinking that most people are too lazy to attempt it.

I'm learning about process theology in my theology class. I have read the Fox book as well as God, Christ, Church: A Practical Guid to Process Theology by Marjorie Suchocki and Proverbs of Ashes by Rita Brock and Rebecca Parker. From my basic understanding, this is what i've felt about the nature of reality all my life.

here are the basic tenets: Reality is Relational, Free, and Changing. Can you describe yourself without using a relationship? Process says no, you can't. Even by saying you have black hair means that you do not have brown or blonde hair. this is relational. Hense, there is no inner you! You are a microcosm of relationships, you are like an onion, all layers, no core. we are like Shrek when he insists he's an onion, and donkey says that he's a parfait. We are the conjunction, a network of people, places, and things.

In these relationships, we have the ability to focus on some over others so that these 'chosen relationships' have greater impact than others. for example, i was constantly told i was gothic and affected except for my gma and uncle scott who said i was funny and creative. one day i just decided to focus on the imput from my gma and uncle scott.. mainly cause the chicks dig happy, chicks don't dig moody (at least at TCC they didn't). Free will is very important and this is what grounds agency.

and because of this shifting focus on relationships, this means that everything changes. perminence is an illusion.

This is a post-modernist thought base. relationships are internal (they do not exist on their own outside from us). we are free in an contextual environment. we are more likely to choose the majority imput alhtough we have the freedom to choose less likely.

in this, ALL things have freedom. you the reader, your computer, your chair that you're sitting, the subatomic partical, your body's cells are all free. however there are degrees of freedom. your chair could dematerialize from underneith you.. however it has a history and all it's imputs are telling those particals to stay put. so the likelyhood of this is very slim. however this explains cancer and other malidies. some ppl ask "why has God done this to me!" well, God franky didn't have anything to do with it! It was the cells that choose their freedom to multiply, not God.

So God in this theology is also relational. God is not the all-powerful, sovereign judge of yore. If things are truly free, then God can't make anything do something it doesn't want to. God doesn't have the power over freedom. God suggest and coaxes and God's will is for harmony in diversity and complexity. So sin in this theology is ignoring God's will and choosing something counter to that. The good news here is that while God isn't all powerful, God has more power than anything else. There are no guarantees. If the world wanted to blow itself up (as it seems to be doing), God will ask it not to, but the world can ignore this and blow up. But process has a cautious optimism when it comes to the future, since God can influence things into harmony.

In the next post i'll tackle where process stands on creation, humanity, sin, and it's Christology. stay tuned won't you?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

What Do We Call This?!: Thoughts on renaming the Hebrew and Christian scriptures

This is a paper i wrote from my OT112 class. I have since edited it and clarified some spots... hope you enjoy!

There are too many Bibles in the world. If we look at just the arrangement of the books there are at least four different Bibles. The Jewish Canon, the Roman Catholic Canon, the Orthodox Canon, and the Protestant Canon all include books arranged differently to further certain agendas. There are also translation issues that multiply these four canons to an uncountable number of Bibles.

There are as many Bible translations as there are languages. There are also specific translations in these Bibles as to the exact wording, Kings James or New International Bible or Everett Fox translations for example. In all of these translations the Bible never gives itself a name (Williamson 106).

Other book collections do not have this problem. One would simply title their work “The Collected Works of So-and-So,” or one could logically put the overarching theme as the title. The problem is that no two groups can agree on what exactly the Bible’s theme is. To the Jews, everything points toward the Torah. For Christians, everything points to the cross. These two groups are theologically at odds with each other. To make matters worse, the Christian faith groups cannot agree on a theme, hence the various denominations of Catholic and Protestant.

People attach a great deal of political and emotional weight to these books. We cannot just name the first collection the “Great Escape,” nor can we name the second one “The Empire Strikes Back.” There is too much religious sentiment riding on the Bible, so using a catchy title will not do for this sacred text.

So how can we pick a title that everyone will agree on? How can we pick a title that people do not judge? How can these groups with different agendas co-exist with the same texts? Christian struggle internally with these questions to come to terms with the role of the Jews and Judaism in Christian theology (Schramm par. 4).
Christians must work to avoid the theology of adversus Judaeos. In the book Has God Rejected His People?, Clark M. Williamson states that “against the Jews’ theology is an apologetic argument in the support of the claim that Christianity has superseded Judaism” (90). Against the Jews’ theology is defined in two ways:

1. Rejection/Election theology—Gods reject Jews and therefore “elects” Christians as the new people of the covenant
2. Inferiority/Fulfillment theology—Jews are inferior to God’s plan and through Jesus, Christians fulfill God’s plan (90).

Jews are very aware of the “New Testament.” This book is Christianity’s claim that the ritual demands of the Scripture are abolished (Schramm par. 8). Christianity’s founding fathers have cited the New Testament many times to attack Judaic theology (Williamson 90). With the way that Christians have arranged both testaments, the New Testament is dependent on the Hebrew Scriptures. William Johnson Everett states in his article “Renaming scripture - Old Testament or Hebrew Bible?” that “Judaism can no longer be understood apart from Christianity, not only because Christian oppression so deeply shaped the development of Judaism, but because through the expansion of Christianity the whole world has come to know the peculiar witness of the people of the ‘Old Testament’” (73).

The traditions are so intertwined it is impossible to separate the two without harming the other. Judaic and Christian theologies are like conjoined twins who violently disagree on many issues. One twin argues that there are three major parts of the body: the Torah, Nevi’im, and the Ketubim (and the latter supports the former). The other twin not only disagrees but suffers from schizophrenia and reorders the first’s order of organs while adding a few other organs. So in the end there is one big confused mess. We have one schizo twin that is dragging the other half around claiming the same origins. But the situation is not as hopeless as it seems. I feel that acknowledging the individual twins’ agendas and motivations would be defining factors as to what to call the Scriptures.

My solution would be to give each separate grouping of a particular religion’s Scriptures a name. The overall name for both Jewish and Christian Bibles simply would be The Bible or more politically correct, The Scriptures. The Jews could call their Scriptures the TaNaK or Jewish Bible or something similar. The Christians will then acknowledge their own rearrangement of the Jewish order of the books, since they are indeed arranged to fit a certain agenda. The name I would use for the Protestant Old Testament would be the Protestant Agenda Scriptures or P.A.S., and the New Testament would be the Protestant Agenda Testament or P.A.T. The Catholics in turn have C.A.S. and C.A.T. and the Orthodox O.A.S. and O.A.T. This fulfills the Christian embrace of acronyms and manages to pay proper respect to the Judaic tradition without belittling it. To argue for the Protestant names specifically, pas in Spanish means peace and to pat someone is usually a sign of respect and to show affection. It is perfect for my Protestant tradition because peace is love and love brings peace.

Realistically this would never work. For religions to gain members they must argue that it is God’s agenda they are following and promoting, not their own. Some might also say that this phrasing paints Christianity in a bad light compared to Judaism. The reality here is that we cannot afford to continue the use of “Old” and “New” Testaments due to the history of Judaic abuse at the hands of Christians. These types of characterizations of the testaments have led to many abuses like supersessionism and claims of inferiority that were manifested in the Holocaust (Williamson 105). We do not have the vocabulary yet to get across the ideas and histories that these Scriptures contain, but we must work to get it.

We must be accurate and give each separate Bible a different name. We must recognize that there is not one from of Christianity and that even our selection of Bibles differ. We also must recognize Christianity's dependence and history of disreguard for the Jewish religion. We must strive for a vocabulary that can do all of this and I know i'm not the one to do it.

Works Cited

Everett, William Johnson "Renaming scripture - Old Testament or Hebrew Bible? - Column". Christian Century. Oct 29, 1997. FindArticles.com. 02 Oct. 2007. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1058/is_n30_v114/ai_20013860

Schramm, Brooks. “Uncertain Terms: the Title of the First Volume of the Christian Bible”. Institute for Christian & Jewish Studies, Autum 2000. Moodle. Lancaster Theological Seminary, Philip Schaff Lib. 2, Oct. 2007. http://online.lancasterseminary.edu/moodle/course/view.php?id=6

Williamson, Clark M. Has God Rejected His People? Anti-Judaism in the Christian Church. Nashville, Tennisee: Abington Press, 1982; 89-105

Monday, October 15, 2007

Further Down the Rabbit Hole

I feel like i didn't go far enough with explaining the Bible and it's formation. The whole point is that the formation is very complicated. So much so that some things will seem alien or counter to what we've been traditionally taught.

let's name my primary assumption. the Bible is worth reading and investigating it's origin. This collection of works has been cited throughout history. some would say it is the backbone of western culture, so i would say it's pretty influential. so what is the bible?

it is not a history book as it doesn't match up with other histories in the areas directly. it doesn't mention a lot of heavy hitters that influenced it... like alexander the great! he's sort of a big deal in the history of the region, but the bible does not mention him although most of the prose in it is a direct greek immitation.

it is more than a hallmark of literature. most like the entire cultures of Jewish, Christian, and Muslims would agree that it's God's dealing with people over the ages. this is the world viewed theologically.

the Bible is very fuild. some books were already written and being copied and distributed while others were being written. it was not circulated between two covers but as individual scrolls. communities had differing stories. even though some had the same stories, there were differences between those! some scrolls were widely distributed early and then died off and vice versa.

for example the Christian Testament pretty much had the 4 gospels and 10 Pauline letters widely distributed. James, 2&3 Peter, and Revelations struggled early but made it into the final canon. Barnabus and the Apocalypse of Peter started early but didn't make it to the canon. however the ideas stayed around and Dante's Inferno was written based on the Apocalypse of Peter.

The Bible started to stabilize for both Christians and Jews in the 4th century. Cananizations not up to a small group but it was rather inclusive. large segment of communities that already held scrolls to be central, holy, or authoritative. there was also a typical Middle Eastern process that puts differing and contradictory traditions into a single book. Just ready Numbers and then Deuteronomy or Paul and James and you'll know that there's a lot of stuff that doesn't stack up easily in the Bible. This is a huge problem for fundies who read the Bible 100% literally. This fact makes a literal interpretation of the Bible impossible because it's not build on linear thinking. it's built on Jewish non-linear thought. It is built so that different groups can form their own canons out of the Canon.

the dead sea scrolls confirm this whole process. the dead sea scrolls are pretty much the entire TaNaK (what we would call the "old" testament, but more on this later) with the exception of Esther. There are also more additions to certain books like Daniel and Numbers. This really is the most important find in the 20th century for biblical studies and has lead to the revision of the Bible many times.... and yes... the BIBLE is being CHANGED! even today!

so in conclusion, i'll restate my stance on the Bible. THe Bible is complex in it's reading and in it's formation. The Bible, I would argue, is not without errors. There are a ton of questionable translations since Hebrew is a pun-based sometimes vowel-less language. the copying of this book isn't perfect and any bible scholar worth their salt will admit this. I do believe the bible to be infallable. i do believe there there is enough in the Bible that it will never let you down if you're looking for an answer. this is also the reason people can be pro-choice or pro-life and be scriptually supported for either stance.

keep it tuned! up next: What to call the Old Testament!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

a religion of questions

Seminary will shatter your faith! well, it will at least challenge it at it's very core. questions about the true nature of God, how the bible was formed, and even the history of christianity... many ppls views on all of these issues have drastically altered in the past few weeks.. for me it was more of a confirmation of things i've suspected over the years.

did you know that the first five books of the bible has at least 4 authors? this explains the two creation stories i mentioned a few weeks back. this also explains how when you're reading the bible, stories will start over or be interrupted in the middle. the bible is actually many traditions spliced together.

the bible didn't fall out of the sky and was complete cover to cover. it was a long process of passing around scrolls and these were never in a particular order. plus it wasn't until much much later that anyone decided to put a cover on these stories anyway! so the order of the stories even to which stories got in is up for debate. there were never a room full or rabbis or priests who decided which books go where, it was mainly through popular concensus that the bible was ever formed. so despite what most consiracy theorist tell you, or what the DaVinci Code would have you believe, a vote was never taken on the bible.

when things were translated from hebrew and greek into latin, The Vulgate, this set the stage for what books were in and which were out. so one man, named Jerome, pretty much decided what made it and what didn't.

so who cares? well just think of the theological implications of this. where is God in all of this? this is something i challenge you to answer for yourselves.

what i am proposing here is that we start to develop a religion of questions. i was asked recently about how i deal with all of these "faith shattering revelations" and i said that it fit my religion of questions. even when i get an answer i question that. the person then said that it seemed like i'd never get any answers... i said that this type of religion always keeps one engaged and active. religion is not just something one should do on sunday, it should be a week long, hourly process.

that's all for now! coming up later this month is a spotlight on the jewish christian relationship (including a post concerning what we should call the old testament), a halloween special, and hopefully a video post if kate and i ever get around to doing it.

Thursday, October 04, 2007


Not getting much sleep recently due to the papers.. here's what i've started using drugs to help! aaah... drugs.. they're my new god now! (hi Jimmy! :-))

also found here

i however see Denny, a 17ft allosuarus... however that's nothing new. Denny's been chill'n with my since elementry school.. i think he's still dating his high school sweetheart Erin B.!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

What the BLEEP am I talking about?!

What the Bleep Do We Know!? (also written What tнe⃗ #$*! Dө ωΣ (k)πow!? and What the #$*! Do We Know!?) is a controversial 2004 film that combines documentary interviews and a fictional narrative to posit a connection between science and spirituality.(from wiki)

Did you know that our brains’ neurological set ups are based on what emotions we experience on a daily basis? Our brain networks our synapses in response to daily stressors. So if we’re angry or frustrated or happy at certain times of the day our brain connects to respond to these emotions. The problem in this is this wiring is very hard to undo and is already set up even if the stressors aren’t there. This leads to all sorts of habits, emotional problems and even addictions.

Here's The Addiction Clip:

Some other ideas discussed in the film are:
+The universe is best seen as constructed from thought (or ideas) rather than from substance.
+What has long been considered "empty space" is anything but empty.
+Our beliefs about who we are and what is real are not simply observations, but rather form ourselves and our realities.
+Peptides manufactured in the brain can cause a bodily reaction to an emotion, resulting in a new perspective to old adages such as "think positively" and "be careful what you wish for."

Also it talks about the power of intention and prayer in one's life. there was a study about how water on a molcular level would react to prayer and meditation with very conclusive results! the movie states that if observing water changes its molecular structure, and if we are 90% water, then by observing ourselves we can change at a fundamental level via the laws of quantum physics! pretty cool stuff!

how often have i said science and religion are not fundamentally opposites?! i have always argued that they do infact share the same basic operating question, how does the world work and why are we here? we won't reach this question through just one lens... we will have to use both the lens of science and religion to gain any ground on these questions.

anyway.. this movie is a mind bender! go check it out!

Rule of Three
Movie: See above

Book: Engaging God's World- Plantinga

Music: Omega Love great band from pittsburg that my fellow seminarian Cathy turned me onto! great loungie, nora jones-esque sound with some electronica thrown in for good measure.