Saturday, February 27, 2010

FANTASTIC: A Lenten Failbook

Funny Facebook Fails
see more funny facebook stuff!

finally, someone gets the concept of lent!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Newtonian Relationships vs Quantum Ones: isolated and alone or interactive and interdependent?

My ministerial ethics class is shaping up to be a really good one. when i was going into seminary, my pastor said that if i could find anything else that i could do as an occupation, i should do it. being a minister is the hardest job in the world. why? certainly a rocket scientist's job is much harder... or a construction worker... or a dude on the deadliest catch.. what's up with ministry that makes it so hard?

well, you see people at their worst. grieving, dying, and on committees being anxious and completely irrational. granted you see them at their best too, like weddings, baptisms, and such.

i've been studying human emotion for some time now. the most recent two finds is the PBS Series This Emotional Life.  It's a 3 part series, most of which is online, dealing with the science behind emotions. The second source is Peter Steinke's Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times.

I've already experienced Steinke's work in another class and found him fascinating. This book covers Bowen Theory which is an understanding of what happens when people come together and interact, how the mutually influence each other's behaviors, how change in one person affects another, and how they create something larger than themselves. I like this view as it isn't a Newtonian understanding of people and their interactions.

Newton's atoms were like billiard balls, separate, compacted masses always operating to ironclad laws. This was extended into thinking about society, namely that the individuals were the atoms of society; isolated and impenetrable (unknowable). Freud might state "to myself, i am a self. to others, i am an object. to me, others are the objects." 

Quantum changed all that. Quantum states that there is no world of composed, solid, individual parts unaffected by and unrelated to one another. in fact the quantum world goes so far that it boils down particles to subatomic particles that are so small that there are no small particles---only relationships. there can be no subatomic particles without the presence of other particles. such it is with humans. the genius then, as Steinke puts it, is that life is built of small, discrete things that are connected and interactive. everything is connected to everything else. all parts dependent on one another and mutually affect each other.

Humans are responsive, relational creatures. Leaders then are the chief stewards who are willing to be accountable for the welfare of the thing/system/culture/thing-people-create-when-they-get-together/congregation. Leaders set the tone, invite collaboration, make decisions, map direction, establish boundaries, encourage self-expression and reflection, and maintain the integrity of the whole

a tall order.. one i hope to do well and get the message out that we're all in this together. Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Rationalist, Newtonian, Quantumian (?), Pre-, Modern, Post-, Post-Post, Fundamentalist, Agnostic, Atheist, Martian, Pens and Pencils.

Monday, February 22, 2010

LAST SEMESTER! The Class Schedule

This last semester, I'm taking World Religions, Christology, and Ministerial Ethics.

World Religions won't be all of the world's religions, which is a shame... but we will study Islam, Taoism, and Buddhism (specifically Tibetan Buddhism).

Christology has a great reading list and one of my fave professors. Books by Marcus Borg, John Dominic Crossan, Katheryn Tanner, and Rudolf Bultmann. Already some of my fave authors/theologians. looking forward to exploring the many thoughts out there about who Jesus is.

Ministerial Ethics is more about how to be an effective administrator and ethically do budgets and such. seems like a continuation of Pastoral Ethics... which largely focused on how to be a good sounding board and pastoral councilor.

i'll keep you posted on how the classes are going and maybe post some insights and such about them.

the real focus of this semester is getting ready to find a call. This Wednesday i head to my home church to discuss my ordination paper. in brief: they read the paper, ask questions about it, and decide if they will recommend me to Church and Ministry. C&M reads and asks me about the paper and then decides whether to recommends status to potomac board of directors. After i'm recommended twice, i am then labeled "authorized to enter the search and call process" meaning "able to circulate his profile to find a church that will have him as their minister." it's an exciting time! i'll keep you posted on that.

keep me in your thoughts and prayers for this Wednesday. i'm expecting no surprises here and am looking forward to being in my home church again and having a conversation about my theological positions and sense of call.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Metaphor, Doctrine, and Model: A helpful rubric in Christological studies

Posted recently in response to ER's Do Creeds Have Cred? i think this is a helpful rubric when discussing differing views of Christ. i think this helps in discussions like the one between Sabio, Anglican Gurl, and myself on Sabio's Charts and why Christians can still be called Christians even though their images and creeds are completely different and even non-complimentary.

i'm taking a Christology class and found a helpful rubric. the early church was like a metaphor machine, churning out images for Christ: Christ is like a vine, bread, living water, shepherd, Moses, Elijah, God, Messiah, etc. etc.
metaphors emote something, causes you to transfer feelings from something you know to something you don't know.
then came doctrines which tell you how to feel and think. Christ is bread and here's how. Christ is two natures, one in being with the Father, and here's how. here is the dividing line, you're either with us or against us.
then come models, which when doctrines fail and cramp your brain, models are what you use to massage it out. two natures?! how does that work! well, it's like peanut butter and jelly, you can't separate the two, yet they are two distinct substances... problem with that model is you can distinguish between the two and that leads to modalism. so it goes.
so creeds serve a group in a particular time and place. helpful to obtain a communal identity. not so much if you want to be open. creeds are exclusive where Jesus, at least how i read him, was inclusive.
The question then becomes, what images are permanent? Can you legislate metaphors? Would it be insane to say "Well, we're the bread people, you vine people are apostate!"? Where do you draw the line?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ponder the Problems with Providence

Sabio recently posted "Everything Happens for a Reason" where he explores the idea of Providence that was brought on by a Drew Brees interview. This subject has been near and dear to my heart for awhile now, but really came to the front during CPE. I posted a little bit on Free Will in April 2009 and later that spring with my Existential Crisis and again that fall with the post "There's no Such thing as Secular" but I never tackled the issue head on.. and I think it's time to do so.

Providence is defined as divine guidance or care: God conceived as the power sustaining and guiding human destiny. The word derives from the Latin noun providentia meaning "foresight, forethought" and is related to providere, "to provide for, take precautions for or against" something. Secularly used, it is the belief that there is a benevolent ordering principle governed the universe and human history and that nothing happens solely by chance or is merely haphazardly, but rather there is some guiding principle ordering things toward an end. 

If you listen closely enough, you'll hear all sorts of people make this claim, atheists included. For some like Richard Dawkins, the ordering principle is the biological process which ends in death and existence is largely accidental and while can be understood through the ordering principle, we are largely at the mercy of our genes and the entropic process and we all will live and die in a meaningless and godless life. For other atheists, the guiding principle is Math as math as upheld as the universal language of a passive yet ordered universe. we all have our rubrics to interpret this irrationally full existence with... some Christians have a "big daddy in the sky" rubric like Drew Brees.

The Pirate had a recent post (that he stole from Marcus Borg's book:The God We Never Knew) that described the problem with this view as opposed to a panenthestic approach. Yet this still doesn't deal with the problem of Providence. This notion taken optimistically can lead to the prosperity gospel or pessimistically of determinism or fatalism. One posits that all one has to do is believe and sometimes act a certain way and things come to you if you choose it while the other is marked by a passive sense of human resignation before the whimsy of uncontrollable fates. take your  pick really.

but is there a middle way? what does the bible say of God's providence? 

Starting off in Genesis, we are shown how God's providence starts in Creation, keeps through Abraham and Joseph, extends into the Exodus, is reinforced by the Dueteronomistic tradition (Josh through Judges), and then in statements like those in Proverbs 2. yet these aren't totally solid. God does not always provide.. well, at least provide what the people where hoping for. There's the multiple invasions by the Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans... there are the parts where God seemingly abandons God's people or behave punitively towards them (2 Sam 12:16-23, Job, Psalm 22:1,2 Luke 13:1-5, 2 Thess 1:9) and then there's the theological watershed of the Holocaust.

This problem has been around way before the Holocaust, way before modernism and the rather new debate as to where Evolution Leaves God and the problem is found within the Bible itself. Specifically the wisdom literature books such as Job and Ecclesiastes, both of which challenge the conventional understanding of God' unwavering providence. 

Job and Ecclesiastes both acknowledge the randomness of life's vicissitudes. They claim that there is no moral order of the universe, the wicked go unpunished and the good get trampled. The conclusion of both books is that we are not to assume anything personal about the providence of God according to one's life situation (Ecc 9:11-12). by personal we mean God caring about us personally, God rewarding and punishing us personally, God forgiving our sins personally, God hearing our prayers and responding personally. 

Then there's Jesus. Jesus claims that God is not only active in the world but more intimately personal than we have imagined!

  • God knows the number of hairs on our heads (Matt 10:29)
  • Not a bird falls from the sky outside of God's will (Matt 10:29)
  • A friend helps another friend and we have much more assurance that God will rise and help us (Luke 11:5)
  • A corrupt judge gives justice to a persistent widow, how much more assurance do we have that God will grant our petitions? (Luke 18:2)
  • Ask and it will be given, seek and we will find, knock and the door will be opened (Matt 7:7)
yet we also must acknowledge:
  • God may have numbered our hairs but God neither prevents them from falling out or turning grey.
  • Why is it God's will that a bird dies? I would have prefered "Knowledge" instead of will, what the heck does that mean?!
  • If God is inclined to rise when we need help, he do so many children go to bed hungry and die before morning?
  • How much time does it take for God to respond to our petitions?
  • If we ask, seek, and knock and don't like the results, or can't interpret God's answering, why doesn't God prevent us from getting disappointed in God and turning from faith and community? (just check out any one of the stories from the De-Cons for evidence.)
I've been reading a lot of Paul Tillich lately. In his sermon "The Meaning of Providence" Tillich states what providence is not. Providence is not a vague promise that everything will turn out for the best (it didn't for Jesus, Peter, or Paul). Providence is not being hopeful in every situation as some situations are hopeless. Providence is not the anticipation of happiness and goodness will come to humanity. Tillich concludes that all things work together for good, for the ULTIMATE good, the eternal love and the kingdom of God. Tillich states that the one constant in the world is suffering and that Faith is an active defiance of this. Through trusting that everything will turn out well, that God is in control despite the fact that we may meet an awful death is what counts. the obedience to a God we cannot understand nor even count on personally is the key.

i wonder if Jesus would agree with Tillich on Good Friday?

this leads me to believe what i thought before hand... that my thoughts, the various testimonies like Drew Brees and other believers and former believers, that even the testimony of scripture are not harmonious and even contradictory. all i have is a belief. all i have is how i interpret the world.

and isn't that what we all have? interpretations of our subjective experience? in this instance, i don't believe that we have any measurable way or objective data to find an answer to this question. for some to believe that things work out for the good, or at the very least that submission to the will of God (as found in Islam, Judaism and Christianity) or even just to the "natural way of things" (like Taoism or Buddhism) result in an interpretive framework for our experiences. this can lead to some questionable notions like spiritual elitism, spiritual warfare against other believers and nonbelievers, and an institutionalization more caught up in temporal power than spiritual insights. Sabio is right in his questioning of the results of this style of thinking (see his first chart in his post).

yet, i have witnessed the power of this time and time again in the ER and in the families of dying patients. the hope that this life isn't it.. that we shall meet again and be returned to the Spirit from which all things come. so once again, i am caught! I am living within the tension of a caring God who has brought me thus far yet doesn't  protect me from bad things happening. Maybe the problem lies not within the idea of providence but within my own interpretive framework. Death isn't the enemy but the natural conclusion to life. it sucks when it is cut short, but we must face our own mortality. 

not being afraid to die, isn't that a person we would want to keep alive? Someone who strives for justice in the face of oppression, unafraid of the consequences. Someone willing to question the conventional wisdom despite the consequences of their thoughts... people like Sabio and Ian who are atheists in a culture of theists. people like CoffeePastor and RJ and Jason and John who are various shades of Theists who seek and probe and challenge. people like Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, and my more conservative brethren who risk stating that we aren't in control of our lives, that a bigger force is operating and left in human hands, we'd just screw it up. 

Yet i find myself having little patience with those who think they already have the answer and are at the extreme ends of this scale. Pat Robertson who can say God is punishing poor people from his rich mansion and TV studio. People like Richard Dawkins on the other side saying that believers are stupid, self-deluded  people. they can't enter the conversation because they can't see the limits of their own interpretive frameworks. both are assured of their correctness and will damn anyone who disagrees.

that isn't grace. that isn't loving thy neighbor. 

i know i stand leaning toward providence yet recognizing that God is God and I am not... thank God for that! if i had my druthers, Green Bay and Cleveland would win every Super Bowl, we'd have avatars telling us what to do like in Battlestar Galactica (where everything did work out for the better) and the world would be so simple it'd be boring. i much prefer this ambiguous life filled with such wonderful people... and even the not so wonderful. they help me learn what not to do.

Why do I side with providence? Because it is part of my life, i've experienced it and feel that there is no way i could have gotten to where i'm at today without some higher power guiding me through, putting people into my life, and speaking to me in a "Still Small Voice." this voice doesn't say i'm great, in fact, it often says "serve." or something else that i don't want to do. could be my super-ego talking, could be something else. maybe another way to look at it is that we hold onto our past and when similar situations arise we are able to draw from the past experience and make it work out better "this time around." it's all about how you picture time, some picture it linear, for me it's more of a spiral... things cycle in and out... all of this has happened before and will happen again. my job is to pay attention in the present moment and not have historical amnesia. look for the connections. could be called Providence, could be called being a student of history... either way works in my mind (because i'm simple and tend to combine things that maybe shouldn't be ;-))

okay.. ramble over... thanks for reading if you got this far.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


It's Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent.

as always, here's my group's instillation of an art project depicting Lent:

this year i'm giving up Soda. well, soda made with High Fructose Corn Syrup. i'll struggle to read the labels and avoid the extra calories and try to eat more healthy, more local, and without corn, which is pretty much in everything including all aspects of your happy meal, your applesauce, your soda (unless you go with Pepsi and Mt Dew throwback), your beef (corn fed ones, not grass fed) your chicken (grain fed not free range). but it's good to note that Lent isn't about giving something up, although that is a good practice, it's about taking something on. I'm taking on trying to be careful and mindful of what i eat. fast a little more, stop overeating like most Americans do.

are you going to give anything up? What areas in your life need improvement? What can you do better or can you focus on something you're already doing to promote justice for these 40 days?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sabio's Charts

My blogging buddy Sabio made some pretty fancy charts. Here is my chart based on his "Christian: Declare Thyself!" 

My Denomination: United Church of Christ

God’s Nature: The Ground of Being/The sum total of Existence and more

Christology: I am taking a Christology class this semester, hope it solidifies, right now I swing between high and low.

Theology of Scripture: Inspired

Soteriology 1: Universalist

Soteriology 2: Monism

Atonement Theology: Each one provides a unique view; that being said I can't get behind the substitutionary atonement theory. Rene Girard is helpful here with his Mimetic theory.

Literal Bodily Resurrection: I interpret metaphorically, but leave room for literal. Like Christology, I still swing but not as much.

Cosmology:  Evolutionist

View on State of Israel:  Israel-Neutral

Missionology: You were saved, and thus called into service

Eschatology: No Millenialist

View on Science: Science = AWESOME

Women can be priest or minister: Yes

Homosexuality can be valid life style: Yes

LHe also made this chart for atheists under his post: Atheist: Declare Thyself!

Level of Certainty: Strong Theist

Openness: Open, but cautious

Degree of Outreach:  Evangelical

Present Religious Participation: Often

Stance toward Categorically Rejecting Religion: Sympathetic

Degree of Enchantment  Enchanted

Mystical Perceptions: Partially Mystical

Theory of Religion: inherent in human genetic and neurological paths, excellent for building up community and self and locating both community and self in history and connecting to it.

Non-theistic Leanings: there is an awful lot of chaos in the world. not sure how providential my thinking is.

Secular Superstitious or Irrational Habits: can't think of any.

View of Reason: Reason is helpful but humans aren't rational creatures, just rational in hindsight.

Faith Items: Theist!

Past Belief History: Christian: from literal to progressive in a few denominations.

Past Orthopraxy History: I am a fan of the Lectio Divina, the Book of Hours, Labrythn walking, keeping the Sabbath: life long.

Past Sect History: Roman Catholic -> United Methodist -> "Christian Buddhist" -> United Church of Christ.

And he also has one for Philosophy with Philosopher: Declare Thyself!... now if he just adds one for Politics, we'll be set!

School of Philosophy:Continental
Ontology: unsure
Science: has limits
Theory of Time:B-Theory
Mental Content:unsure
Abstract Objects:unsure
Personal Identity:Psychological View
Free Will:Compatibilism
Normative Ethics:Deontology 

Feel free to fill out your own! Check Sabio's site for links to the definitions and categories.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Kirkegaard's Ducks

The Danish philosopher Soren Kirkegaard wrote a story of a little town of ducks. Every Sunday the ducks waddle out of their houses and waddle down Main Street to their church. They waddle into the sanctuary and sit in their proper pews. The duck choir waddles in and takes it place, then the duck minister comes forward and opens the duck Bible (Ducks, like all other creatures on earth, seem to have their own special version of the Scriptures.) He reads to them: “Ducks! God has given you wings! With wings you can fly! With wings you can mount up and soar like eagles.” Well the ducks start going nuts and quacking “AMEN!” and “PREACH! PREACH!” 

The Duck pastor continues “No walls can confine you! No fences can hold you! You have wings. God has given you wings and you can fly like birds!” All ducks are beside themselves and are in a frenzy. After the service, the told the duck pastor how this was the best sermon ever… And then they all waddled home.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Family Systems Theory in Action: who is my father and who am i?

Identity is a funny thing. many people get it from their parents. i have just had the honor of knowing my mom. my dad, Loren, remains a mystery as we left him when i was 3. last time i saw him i was six... i don't have too many memories of him. i gained some insights about him from meeting my half-brother Key back in 2005. Key took a job as a truck driver and contact with him has been spotty. Well, he recently got laid off and re-connected with my sister Val. this spawned a new round of revelations and such about Loren. my sister has been doing some sleuthing on the internet and found this post by someone who lives close to Loren:
LOREN LINDON-Freind of the family(50 Blackfoot Indian)To be open minded and non judgmental. Treat everyone with fairness. Taught me that there is no difference between race, religion, color, or creed. Whether we are black,white, yellow, green or purple we all have the same souls. Although we may be different on the outside we all bleed the same. To see a person for who they are Not WHAT THEY ARE. Sympathize those who are down and out. (SYMPATHIZE THE FALLEN) Be able to put yourself in that persons shoes. To be proud of your heritage. CHEROKEE AND IRISH MAN
how strange it is that while i have never met the man, we share a similar outlook. my outlook, however; includes a track about parenting the kids you father. i was struck by this reflection on the father i never knew. like he's a member of the Blackfoot nation?! hard to tell. could be. i was raised thinking i was part-Cherokee and then i met my older half-sister Bobbie-Jo who claimed we were Cree. now Key and this guy claims that Loren claims Blackfoot. i'm a little confused here.

for being proud of heritage? i guess so. i never knew my father, i caught my gpa cheating on my gma when i was 15 and they divorced. my family has been fractured twice. my religious views have as well. but instead of becoming a victim; of letting these circumstances become an excuse to act irresponsibly; i have been able to use this weird and unique upbringing to my advantage. my mom was an excellent model for this, being a mechanic in a small rural town. she valued education and liberation in a place that demands conformity and she used both the Bible and science as tools of liberation. her example and this history has been excellent for me in preparing for ministry.

in CPE it helped me hold complex family situations with grace instead of freaking out that this family didn't fit my ideal concept of one. as a minister it has helped me find ways to empower people and to hold their short-comings lightly and not get to hung up on them. personally, it has helped me deal with chaos with a laid back style. i'm a passionate dude but i think i hold that in balance and don't over-react in crisis situations. i used to seek order and deal only in black-and-whites and get really stressed out when things didn't fit my rubric or broke my categories. i was sort of a jerk in high school because of this. but now... not so much. i'm okay existing in the questions, in the mystery, in a place where i'm caught between order and chaos.

my father is an enigma and i'm okay with that. he's a paradox of this high-idealistic prose and the reality of the history of my life. both sinner and saint... and aren't we all?

the best part of all this is how my past and experience of this man has informed how i will parent. i want to be an active and engaged father and i work everyday on it. i want Eve and any siblings that are to follow that they are loved. it's not about me, as it seems to be with Loren, it's about them. like how Drew Brees only had eyes for his son at the end of the Super Bowl. that's the type of dad i want to be.

Thursday, February 04, 2010


In 2004, CBS rejected an ad from the United Church of Christ, saying its message of inclusivity was "too controversial." Now CBS is planning to run a pro-life ad sponsored by Focus on the Family during the Super Bowl.

there's also this one too:

here i think we have the big ol' fallacy of "No True Scotsman." The UCC can't be Christian because we all know Christians are exclusive. They all are pro-life, conservative, and believe the same thing. WRONG!

Why then do some expressions of Christianity get more access than others? I keep coming up against the same objections to my theology time and time again, namely that it doesn't sound too "Christian." when pressed further, most ppl will articulate that i don't match up to the conservative Christian stance, since that is the percieved majority.

Funny thing is, the Pew Forum ran a survey that found
"the spiritual roots of the religious right and left to two broader faith communities. On the right, white evangelical Christians comprise 24% of the population and form a distinct group whose members share core religious beliefs as well as crystallized and consistently conservative political attitudes.

On the left, a larger share of the public (32%) identifies as "liberal or progressive Christians." But unlike evangelicals, progressive Christians come from different religious traditions and disagree almost as often as they agree on a number of key political and social issues."
Whoa?! Progressives outnumber evangelicals? Well, that doesn't make sense! Well, we know that every Christian believes the bible is the Word of God and reads it literally.

On matters of faith, fully 62% of white evangelicals say the Bible is the actual word of God, to be taken literally. In contrast, only 35% of the public including just 24% of Catholics and 17% of white mainline Protestants share this literal view of the scriptures, with most believing that although the Bible is God's word, not everything in it is literally true. (from the same survey)
Well butter my butt and call me biscut! The majority believes what I do, that the bible isn't COMPLETELY the word of God but contains it. As Karl Barth put it "when we read the bible we aren't reading THE word of God, we're reading FOR it." This is what it means when ppl answer that the Bible is the "Living Word of God." Much different than a static literal "Word of God." stance. This view has also been backed up last year as I and others in my class had to do church surveys for our "Church and the Human Sciences" class. Some took theological inventories as part of this survey, and they too found that churches largely view the bible like this... this comes from an American Baptist, two UCCers and a Methodist. My inlaws church also did a survey like this and they posted the results!

Well, we know all Christians are dogmatic and completely tribal, excluding all other faiths. The Pew Forum also found that"Many Americans Not Dogmatic About Religion" crap! They even found that Most Mainline Protestants Say Society Should Accept Homosexuality and that they believe "Other Faiths Can Lead to Eternal Life."

So why then, with all this "objective evidence" (HI SABIO ;-)) do these stereotypes still exist? Well, because of access to media thanks to morons like those at CBS who only want a pre-packaged "Pop" understanding of Christianity. Also because the more conservative segment of the religion would rather call the liberals "not Christian at all" as evidenced by this post by Shane Vander Hart. That argument makes me very very sad yet I hear it time and time again from the right seeking to pull the rug out from under their own brethren.

There is not just one view on Christianity, but multiple streams, theologies, views, denominations, and debates that have been going on since the founding of this religion. I like what a character in Defiance states about Judaism and what they traditionally do on Passover: "We will sit around and argue just has we have been doing for thousands of years." I like this idea! If you look closely enough, you'll find that every religion is doing this. That's one claim I can stand by. Even Islam, which claims that the Koran is the indisputible word of God has denominations, namely the Sunni and the Shi'ite. We can throw in the Sufi's as well, crazy mystics are always muddy'n the religious waters ;-)

I fit directly into a particular sense of what it means to be Christian. I'm a Mainline Protestant who used to be Catholic (largely Jesuit trained!). Science as always been held in high regard, the Bible has always contained stories... even though I once thought Jonah was literally swallowed by the whale. Now that I'm older I can use form criticism and see what is myth and what is not. I don't fit into a conservative understanding of Christianity nor do i have to, as it is not the only understanding out there.... so please stop acting like it is.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Objectively Subjective? Subjectively Objective? The Confusing State of Myth, Fact, and Truth in General

I've been discussing Metaphorical vs. Literal Truth on Sabio's blog. It's been quite a discussion! These are the types of conversations that I live for! They are heated yet generous, loaded with concepts yet open to new views, and most of all, you leave wanting a drink and some advil only to go at it again! These are the hard questions I love asking and exploring.

Sabio states that "sure, a made-up story obviously can have subjective truth — gee, that sounds like a truism." My question then would be... can a story also have an objective truth? Something that can't be expressed any other way? What about Sociology? Can there be a zeitgeist event where a subjective truth some how become objective in a sense? Or at least in a given group, say like Gen-Xers and the Millennials?

What this conversation is about is trying to answer what humans have been trying to do since we developed the frontal lobe; namely to answer the question: "What is true?" I like trying to get at an answer to this question through multiple means. The Socratic method, though, is my favorite and which is what we on Sabio's blog are engaged in now. I will attempt to further that dialog now.

Ian mentioned two types of truth, a subjective and objective: 1. Objective truth – ‘facts’ as Alice called them.
2. Subjective truth – things that ‘chime with’ or ’speak to’ an individual.This is very helpful as it is part of the method. Even the most universally recognized and used concept, like Truth for example when subjected to scrutiny, might reveal not only that there is NOT universal agreement but that every single person has a somewhat different take on each and every concept under the sun. i don't think this is necessarily a bad thing.

I have really tried to tackle this question time and time again in the labels "Truth NOT Fact" the biggest discussion being found in "Absolute Truth." Largely i find myself holding to the main thesis put forth by Parker Palmer in To Know as We are Known is that truth is relational. Parker makes the case that education is at it’s best when it reflects this model. The quest for truth, by this definition, is a quest for self and for community with each other, with all creation. We cannot be removed from the equation and viewed as entities observing truth. We must be a part of it and be willing to be transformed by it. This way of life is only as secure as your relationships, and relationships are a lot of work. Parker’s truth is not to be found in our various doctrines or theologies (as these are partial, impersonal), but in the quality of our relationships. There can be groups of people who just want the easy, impersonal relationships. I see these in extreme fundamentalist religions and even atheist stances. These are a threat to community as a rigid adherence to doctrine takes an objectivist stance that reduces everyone to mere objects for conversion. Just holding things in binary tension and thinking things like: "it is either this way, or it isn't" is too simplistic for my blood.

going back to how myths can have objective truths, i present my fave tv show Battlestar Galactica as an example. There's a whole book written about the philosophy found within the show. i like it as it presents questions and situations, as does philosophy and theology, that won't pop up on a dradis screen or will be observable through Dr. Baltar's microscope.

things like "heroic figures have personal failings" or that some people "have overpowering egos and split personalities yet their selfish actions may lead to the salvation of many." In myth of a rag-tag fleet of survivors on the run we find objective truths about our post-9/11 reality. things like "we don't know who is with us or for us" our enemy is within our midst. stuff like that. we see how technology can both be a great compliment to our society and our downfall.

all of this to say that we need to be IN RELATION to the variety of ways to get to Truth (whatever that is). the objective and the subjective are in operation simultaneously and one should not be focused on to the detriment of the other. i may find some objective claim but my subjective feelings may color how i explain it to others. what we are left with in this quest for truth are not answers, but more questions and questions within questions. there are many methods and a great method is the Scientific one. it is ordered and rational and repeatable. yet when turned on humans, there is little that science can really tell us about personality or how a person will react in any given situation. sure it can tell us wonderful things about our mechanics (chemistry, biology, anatomical construction) but in terms of psychology or sociology, we can only lay out suggestions and points of reference that we must hold in tention with other contradictory points of reference (all of which can exist inside one single person).

Monday, February 01, 2010

Ordination Paper Update

IT IS DONE! Thank you all for your help! I was able to keep my goal of having the paper done by 1/31!

I had to completely re-write part one as many emails were sent saying "Hey, all this is nice, but it says what you're against, not what you're for." So i re-wrote that. I had some great "tweeks" on parts 2 and 3.  i could repost it in it's new form, but feel a little burnt out on it. maybe you do too.

now i can say that i'm done and awaiting my interview by my home church. It looks to be schedule for 2/28/10. I'll keep y'all posted.

thanks for your help!