I’ll be reading Philebus all weekend with some friends, so blogging may be a bit lighter. Here are a few stories that caught my eye this week.
O Death, where is thy victory?
A focus on death is, to some extent, a part of human existence. But there is a big difference between the medieval concern with death as the doorway to judgment and eternity and the more contemporary concern with death as a final life experience. That medieval approach was formed and framed by Christianity, and death was understood as a reminder that sinners will face the judgment of God…
In our postmodern times, death takes on a very different meaning. With no clear understanding of the meaning of either life or death framing human existence, room is left for a developing fascination with how death can be transformed into a new phase of life — now complete with its own 24/7 television channel.
Yet shouldn’t the Christian to see death as “transformed into a new phase of life?” Rather than frame the opposition that way, it seems the difference is in the means of transformation. Christianity offers resurrection through the power of the Spirit of God, while modernity gives us technological enhancement and empowerment.
A Truer Word Ne’er Been Spoken
Mark Joseph is more optimistic about the power of media–and Christians’ ability and freedom to tap into that right–than anyone I know. It’s for that reason that I found his column on Hollywood’s effort to reach Christians that much more…honest:
I’ve produced three books, The Rock & Roll Rebellion, Faith, God & Rock n’ Roll and Pop Goes Religion, all making the case for lowering the wall of separation between faith and entertainment. But if the result is both dumbed-down religion and comedy as in the box office flop Evan Almighty, it may be the strongest argument yet for reinstating that wall and keeping religion and the movies as far apart as possible.
Strong words, but Joseph adeptly demonstrates just how well Evan Almighty has earned them.
An “I” for an “I.”
The release of the iPhone brought the techno-worrywarts (for whom I have much sympathy) out of the closets. Consider Bruce Weinstein:
Our society has devolved into a mass of turned-on, tuned-out, and plugged-in technophiles. Whatever distinction used to exist between public and private life is all but gone, as one can witness on any city street, bus, plane, or shopping mall. Waiting in line at the grocery store or post office used to mean striking up a conversation with the person in front of you. It now involves blurting the intimate details of one’s love life into a cell phone for all to hear or scrolling through a playlist for just the right song, or surfing the Web for something we want but don’t really need.
There is also some good discussion on the issue at ThinkChristian, where I first saw the article.
A Hundred Years and Still……
But the outlines of the original mission are still evident in the work of this Christian university. The faculty in each of the disciplines strives to teach from a clearly Christian point of view. The 30 units of Bible instruction for every undergraduate continue the old Bible Institute ideal of an army of godly laypeople, qualified to enter the workforce and bear witness there with an informed, attractive Christian faith. And as we celebrate our centennial, Biola is finding creative new ways to honor our fathers and mothers in the faith by carrying forward the work they started into more fields than even our founders foresaw.
What is man?
The assault on human exceptionalism, the idea that humans have a unique status in the world, is going full steam. So argues Wesley J. Smith on First Things, who concludes:
It should now be clear to everyone that very powerful forces have totally dedicated themselves for varying reasons to convincing us that we really aren’t all that important. Those who think otherwise had better answer the call to defend the intellectual ramparts. Much is at stake. Demolishing our self-perception as a uniquely valuable species would have very grave consequences, given that human exceptionalism is both the philosophical underpinning for human rights and the basis of our unique self-imposed duties to each other, posterity, and the natural world.
Meet Terry Eagleton
The cultural and literary critic Terry Eagleton is one of the most interesting and enigmatic thinkers alive today. The Scrivener provides a helpful roadmap into some of his thoughts:
If it is worth reading Eagleton these days it is because at his best he seems capable of a degree of intellectual honesty which has become impossible for the majority of his compeers. Eagleton at least acknowledges the elephantine shade that haunts the ivory tower, where others prefer to ignore it or pretend it’s nothing but the ghost of a long-dead and irrelevant mouse. Whatever his own religious convictions or lack thereof (of which I’m entirely ignorant), Eagleton at least gives the nod to the Christian gospel’s singular achievement in transforming the culture and history of the West, with all the implications this bears for literature, art and the sciences.
(HT: Mark Olson)