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Monthly Archives: July 2012

I’m not entirely sure about this idea, or….I’m not entirely sure what motivates the subsequent thoughts on this observation. Whether it be an innocent, or objective observation, or if it is motivated by certain attractions to others.

I’ll just call it comforting, a universalizing thread–that is, that everyone has certain small and inconsequential preferences, desires, and tastes. It would not be accurate to express these preferences as “personal,” because these preferences do not necessarily reveal something about the one who has them. The idea has a very reductive movement, it reduces us all to subjects under the influence, no matter how powerful or weak one may be. How odd and comforting, how attractive is the idea that someone like Nelson Mandela, Hillary Clinton, Noam Chomsky, or Bonhoeffer have certain preferences which are entirely unrelated to their fame. They prefer little things, a type of cake or brewed coffee, a favorite season, a wonderful uninspiring memory. (Uninspiring in that it can only be understood by the one owning the memory) These small unremarkable preferences expose vulnerability, and nothing is as universal as vulnerability. Large opinions, politics, or philosophy can definitely serve to unite, but it can just as easily divide, and in relation to such grandiose concepts or beliefs these divisions become burned into the minds of those who hold these ideologies so sacred, and it is in that moment that these modes of identity have the potential to become irreparably divisive.

Although, what great discussions could perhaps be had if two of these enemies both discovered that they watch re-runs of “Murder She Wrote,” or “24.” Unremarkable indeed! Such bad examples, but that is exactly why I used them. It is a welcome distraction which, by nature of its humility, possesses the potential to expose the gross absurdity of their more “sacred” allegiance to the abstract. Grandiose connections rely on grandiose alignment, and grandiose neglect. It requires much dependence on so much that be so easily changed or taken away. En revanche, those small and invisible, humble similarities rely and demand so little that they provide a subtle link that allows for the nurturing or anything else, yet is never threatened because it asks for almost nothing.┬áIf some thing is initially understood as inconsequential, then it is never imagined to be anything else.

…and many of those who imagine they are working for something great sooner or later find themselves laboring under a delusion.–Kierkegaard

Most historians, however, recognize that the pass of time allows the relative significance of events to become clearer. This might make later accounts more preferable. A theoretical preference for the earliest accounts really makes sense only if one romantically imagines some pristine early phase of Christianity, which was then systematically corrupted by institutional forces.–Stephen Fowl

Today I read a brief essay by Stephen E. Fowl that discussed three different approaches to the study of the, “historical jesus.” Fowl, as far as my limited knowledge of this topic can allow, makes some interesting points regarding the shift in theological study which he claims occurred sometime in the 18th century. He claims that those, prior to the shift, used biblical scripture to interpret the world, while those after the shift used the world and the study of history (which Fowl refers to as an “autonomous realm”) to interpret scripture. An approach which seeks to bend scripture into the parameters of historical methodological methods, “will not be able to give a theologically sufficient account of Jesus, and account that both rightly identifies Jesus as Lord and properly accounts for Christian claims about Jesus’ continued presence in the lives of believer and the church.” This mirrors a Kierkegaardian understanding regarding the possibility of knowing Jesus from history–

Can one then, come to know something about Jesus Christ from history? By no means. Jesus Christ is the object of faith….Thus history can indeed richly communicate knowledge, but knowledge annihilates Jesus Christ.

Practice in Christianity

I suppose this I’m considering the question of history because I often hear individuals complain about the institution of the church and its many missteps–both ethical and scriptural. That is not difficult to do. It does not suggest an elevated or privileged understanding to point to the errors of an institution which is subject to the same handicaps as others–that is, the handicap of man. Regardless of one’s beliefs regarding God’s providence, that providence evidently does not correct man’s seemingly eager inclination to error. In addition to the tired grievance with the church, these individuals often, as Fowl mentions, romanticizes the idea of a more pure church, an earlier church free of theological squabbles and greed. Although, one does not need to read any deeper than Paul’s letter to the Corinthians to see that, even from the Church’s infancy, it was plagued with…let’s call it a loose but understandable subjectivity. Perhaps there is no “golden era” to be harkened back to. Christ has always been a problem, and affront….and offense. Christ has never been understood. Obviously, any figure with such influence, yet so difficult to grasp, will surely create controversy. The Church has never experienced harmony, at least, not in any large context. It has always battled itself, it has battled “heretics.”

I personally have never been able to place the roll of the church inside a comfortable context within my own pollution. That pollution being a result of a desire to somehow understand Jesus.

Christianity is not at all closer to heavy-mindedness than to light-mindedness; they are equally worldliness, equally far away, and both have just as much need of conversion.–Kierkegaard