Sunday, August 31, 2008

"God is on Our Side:" A Primer in the Hermeneutics of Empire

Unfortunately, neither party it seems cares about the peasantry. Ever wondered what political theology is? What are the hermeneutics of empire? I would argue whatever the hermeneutics of empire are--certainly, in practice it looks something like this... a congress person interpreting a hurricane that will potentially kill and certainly destroy thousands of the poor and ethnic minorities by claiming that "God is giving his party victory!"

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Christian and the Vote: What is the theological significance?

A recently released book out by Cascade Books is entitled Electing Not to Vote: Christian Reflections on Reasons for Not Voting (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2008). What is a Christian to do? Anyone sensitive to the Imperial nature of Americanism is rightly reticent to participate in the enthronement of yet another quasi-Caesar figure. Conversely, is electing not vote tantamount to the retreat of fundamentalism into the "holy huddle?" Why or why not?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Is Pelosi the Whore of Babylon? Denounced by Cardinals and Priests!

While this blog takes an unabashed progressive point of view, I have gone to lengths to refrain from commenting on America's fundamentally failing and utterly worthless government (the result of the idiot Bush and the equally worthless congress). Watch the video below (this video is obviously from an anti-Pelosi bent; however, you can't distort what the woman so clearly and stupidly says....):

Last time I checked, the Catholic church, if they believed in anything at all unilaterally believed that life begins at conception. That is not a statement of right or wrong (that is, I'm not valuating the statement, merely making it). How can this woman so easily distort and pander to her own ideology? This is further evidence of the fact that she is an ardent ideologue sold so far up the river, she is just as bad as Bush---totally worthless. She will say anything and do anything to stay in and acquire more power.

Note the Catholic response: Cardinals have blasted her, members of Congress have publically and formally written a letter of correction.

And all this from a woman who wants America to get off of "Fossil Fuels" by getting on to Natural Gas (a fossil fuel)! I'm sorry, but I officially hate all republicans and all democrats. I think Pelosi is at best an imbecile and at worst, well a chief player in the perpetuation of empire in America.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Daniel and Empire: Initial Thoughts

Who is the enigma of the Hebrew Bible (besides possibly יהוה)? Could it be that seer of luminous things, visionary, and prophetic riddler whose words are enshrined in the Hebrew Bible as "Daniel?" This document scrawled out in Hebrew and Aramaic has been the fancy of liberal and fundamentalist alike for some time. The latter abduct various visionary episodes subjecting them to the scrutiny of their so-called interpretations offering little more than a modernist, head-in-the-sand hermeneutic yielding fodder to construct vain charts for their laser pointers. Ah, I suppose that's enough poking at the blindness of fundamentalist theology.

Daniel is a fascination, not only for its fanciful and endearing tales, but also for its genre. It denotes a shift within the burgeoning and imaginative resistance to empire. Not just that, but the book itself, if taken as a whole is fundamentally conflicting; whereas in the first several chapters (1-6) the tales of Daniel relate to the apparent complicity with empire that these foreigners had, albeit with some minor resistance. By and large this section though is sprinkled with an orientation toward dominating powers that is rather positive. The paradigm shifts as the reader transitions to chs. 7-12, in which the destruction of the tyrannical empire is projected via the apocalyptic imagination into the immediate (or less likely remote) future. Further, this issue arises as to whether said prophetic oracles are ex eventu (a very likely, if not probable position), but for the sake of argument lets say they are not ex eventu (that is--for the fun of it).

More to come. I'm digesting a host of commentaries presently as I feverishly assimilate my thoughts and put them on paper for my thesis.

Friday, August 8, 2008

What makes a great teacher?

The gears in my tiny noetic apparatus have been spinning... While apocalypticism, hermeneutics, classical Hebrew prophecy, and of course the infamous Son of Man have been weighing deeply upon my mind, I would like to share and query with you regarding something more practical.

I just finished the best class I've ever had. This professor exemplified everything a student could possibly desire, simply masterful pedagogy, engagement with the data, moving through the material in a timely and insightful way, all I can say is WOW. Now I know for sure that someone is actually doing education the way I aspire to, critically, unapologetically honest with the data, and willing to follow the evidence where ever it leads.

What makes a great teacher? Is it charisma? Is it brilliance? How do we measure brilliance? I know one or two of the top tier people in their niche areas, but does that make them the best teachers? In fact, some of the people who write incredible books have pitiful classroom etiquette; conversely, I know of at least one professor who has published extensively in a variety of modalities from popular level to monographs and yet is also likely one of the top teachers in terms of in-class engagement.

As of today my thoughts are:
The Best Teachers/Academics are (in biblical studies):
  1. Individuals committed to analyzing the data from all vantage points fairly. That means being willing to genuinely entertain, critique, and valuate each argument on its own merits (regardless of the religious implications). The best example of the mentality not to have (an anecdotal quote no less) is one that "my beliefs are battle-tested, unshakable..." (yes, I actually read that somewhere). All this signals is fundamentalism, which at base is no different that hardened liberalism which refuses to entertain anything remotely orthodox (whatever orthodox means).
  2. Committed to the highest quality scholarship and desirous not "to put the cookies on the lower shelf" (I hate that expression). Students should be taken deeper, pushed further than they can go, stretched farther than they can stretch---this in my estimation is real learning.
  3. Intentionally push viewpoints contrary to the normative student body's theological orientation. If you don't teach people to think, they will wind up losing their faith because no one had the nerve to be honest. If, in the face of the data, they choose to walk away from faith---so be it. Nothing is more aggravating that the tired rhetoric of pseudo-"pastoral" protection by educators who choose not to entertain the hard questions. When professors are known only to tow the party line and fail to engage the difficult questions honestly (often admitting there are not clear and certain answers that are comforting) then they fail their students and their vocation. Students see through the mirage and coming from a lifetime student, it is almost impossible to have respect for someone being paid to educate who views their vocation as some sort of "ministry of encouragement" wanting only to "teach people what to believe."
  4. Kind, merciful, and just. Justice is grading critically, but fairly. However, I have little compassion for those students who always have some emergency or excuse. Who has time for that crap? Life or death, sure I understand. But good teachers are firm, yet just.
  5. Are committed to guiding their students both in life and most importantly in their future vocation. If that means training a student to be more academic, teaching them how to write better, or pointing them in correct directions for doctoral and other work then so be it. These are teachers who care about their students enough to 1) be honest with them about the state and limitations of knowledge and 2) to pour into their lives something of the character, values, and insights the educator has pertaining to academics.
I have only seen education like this modeled in a handful of individuals in my life. That statement is itself a travesty. What do you think

Enough of my hobby horse, lets talk prophecy.