Watch just the first few minutes of this clip until the credits (the whole clip is over 20 minutes). Sounds like a Jamesean mystical experience to me.
Archive for September, 2009
OK. It sounds like quite a leap. But this guy actually makes it work. (Reminder: If you don’t know what “Narnia” and “Yellowstone” — or any other terms of reference — are, look them up.)
Deism is back. This is a very interesting development. There are political ramifications, I suppose. We know that some have pushed the idea that the America’s “founding fathers” were Christians. And by “Christians” they usually mean people who hold the same beliefs as contemporary American evangelicals. The topic of evangelicalism in America is way beyond the scope of our course this semester. But what is interesting is that as “everybody” knows, most of the founders were in no way “evangelical” in today’s sense of the word. This isn’t to say that there was nothing like evangelicalism in the colonies at that time. There was. We’re just focusing on the founders. Read the rest of this entry
Happy New Year!
A little late! I did celebrate. But I wanted to share two things.
1) The traveling rabbi who comes to your office to blow the shofar!
2) This poster. I think it’s over the top cool.
May our names continue to be inscribed in the roll book of learning.
Salon.com has an interview with Robert Wright, author of The Evolution of God. This quote reminded me of James’ discussion of medical materialism. Here the point isn’t so much what is going on medically (!) with God, as taking a look at some non-spiritual, i.e., material, causes or explanations for why God’s moods change so much.
At the very beginning of your book, you describe yourself as a materialist. This raises an interesting question: Can a materialist really explain the history of religion?
I tend to explain things in terms of material causes. So when I see God changing moods, as he does a lot in the Bible and the Quran, I ask, what was going on politically or economically that might explain why the people who wrote this scripture were inclined to depict God as being in a bad mood or a good mood? Sometimes God is advocating horrific things, like annihilating nearby peoples, or sometimes he’s very compassionate and loving. So I wanted to figure out why the mood fluctuates. I do think the answers lie in the facts on the ground. And that’s what I mean by being a materialist.
Philosopher Simon Blackburn reviews Karen Armstrong’s book The Case for God.
A key question he examines is whether or not we can talk about God or remain silent. Shades of James on mystical experiences, right? There’s even a little Prof. Pam there. And you thought I was the only one “talking” about the aphophatic tradition. Actually, Blackburn gets the tradition wrong, doesn’t he? Blackburn writes:
So what should the religious adept actually say by way of expressing his or her faith? Nothing. This is the “apophatic” tradition, in which nothing about God can be put into words. Armstrong firmly recommends silence, having written at least 15 books on the topic. Words such as “God” have to be seen as symbols, not names, but any word falls short of describing what it symbolises, and will always be inadequate, contradictory, metaphorical or allegorical. The mystery at the heart of religious practice is ineffable, unapproachable by reason and by language. Silence is its truest expression.
There’s a whole lot that can be said about William F. Buckley and religion. I spent hours when I was in high school watching in rapt awe of Buckley’s argumentative prowess on Firing Line . (More info here.) Only much later did I learn of his love of music (playing Bach in concert!) and religious beliefs. Here’s an article by Gary Wills on Buckley.
Perhaps it was his matchmaking urge that made Bill want to connect people with his church. After he learned as a child that any Christian can baptize a person in need of salvation, he and Trish would unobtrusively rub water on visitors to their home while whispering the baptism formula. In the National Review circle, those who were not Catholics to begin with tended to enter the fold as converts—Bozell, Russell Kirk, Willmoore Kendall, Frank Meyer, William Rusher, Jeffrey Hart, M. Joseph Sobran, Marvin Liebman, Robert Novak, Richard John Neuhaus. The major holdouts were James Burnham, a born Catholic who left the faith and never went back, and Whittaker Chambers, who was drawn to Richard Nixon’s Quakerism. It was always easiest to be a Catholic around Bill. I believe Bill was so nice to me because I am what the Lutheran scholar Martin Marty called me, “incurably Catholic.” There were different concentrations of people at National Review—Yale alumni, ex-communists (Burnham, Meyer, Chambers), ex-CIA members (Bill, Burnham, Kendall, and Priscilla Buckley, another of Bill’s sisters)—but the Catholic contingent outnumbered all others.
Bill went to church on Sundays with the many Spanish-speaking house servants he had over the years. That did not fit his reputation as a snob. He was accused, at times, of being a social snob, an ideological snob, and an intellectual snob. None of these was the case in any but the most superficial sense.
I hadn’t heard of Terry Eagleton before. I’ll definitely have to check his work out. Especially his review of Richard Dawkins The God Delusion.
Reading the first sentence of Terry Eagleton’s review of The God Delusion in the October 2006 edition of the London Review of Books was not unlike watching a gunfighter kicking over a table of cards in an otherwise well-ordered saloon. “Imagine,” fired Eagleton, “someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology.”
It’s not even December, but there’s no mistaking the Guadalupan-i-ness of the Beguinage.
The proof below.