Archive for October, 2008|Monthly archive page

Okay, Maybe Now I’ll Read It

The Canadian book blog Book Ninja ran a contest asking people to redesign the covers of highbrow literary fiction titles for a more popular, “dumbed-down” audience. The winner was this heartwarming cover for Cormac McCarthy’s bleak post-apocalyptic novel, The Road.

One of the runners-up was also a Cormac McCarthy novel, Blood Meridian. My favorite part is the endorsement by Annie Proulx (who wrote the short story on which the movie Brokeback Mountain is based).

Here are some other good ones. Hilarious!

And here’s a still from the film adaptation of The Road, which is coming out next year. Something tells me the film will be a mite more faithful to the book than the cover above. That’s Viggo Mortenson as the father.

Film adaptation of The Road

Irony in the Reformation

On August 8, 1535, [early in Calvin’s Geneva] there was a scene of truly collective frenzy when several young men destroyed images and religious objects, crying, “We have the gods of the priests, do you want them?” The crowd then seized fifty consecrated hosts and gave them to a dog for food. “If they are really God, they will not let themselves be eaten by a dog.” (Bernard Cottret, John Calvin: A Biography [Eerdmans/T & T Clark], p. 118)

Regardless of your view of communion, one has to wonder whether they understood the irony of this last statement. Or were they consciously alluding to the mocking words barked at Christ on the cross in Matthew 27:40? “Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God.”

An Open Letter to Obama-Loving Evangelicals

Read this excerpt from Rod Dreher’s contribution to an election symposium in The American Conservative:

I can’t vote for Barack Obama. He is a pro-abortion zealot and wrong on all the issues that matter most to social conservatives. Mind you, one should not be under any illusion that things will markedly improve under another Republican administration. But there is no question that on issues related to the sanctity of life and traditional marriage, an Obama administration, with a Democratic Congress at its back, would be far worse.

The best case that can be made for John McCain is that he would serve as something of a brake on runaway liberalism. But the country would be at significantly greater risk of war with the intemperate and bellicose McCain in the White House.

This goes a long way toward how I feel. Dreher’s conclusion is that he’s not voting in this election. I’m not sure that’s where I am, but then again I’m not sure where I am. (We’ll see in a week.) But I’m not writing this to sort out my own decisions. Rather, I want to make an observation. It seems that so many Christians of my generation, eager to throw off the strictures and bloviations of the previous generation’s right-wing zealotry, have replaced uncritical conservative dogma not with robust critical thinking but with uncritical pseudo-liberal dogma. Mostly this takes shape under rhetoric along the lines that there are more issues for Christians to be concerned about than just abortion and gay marriage and that feeding the hungry and not killing for the sake of oil or democracy are also “pro-life” issues. Fine and good. I agree. But I have not observed that this has resulted in a more holistic political vision; it has resulted in complete silence on more typical republican-platform issues (other than to repeatedly drone, “There are more issues for Christians to be concerned about than abortion and gay marriage”). Then they go and simply write Obama a blank check.

I’ve experienced firsthand that people who advocate not voting (in this election or any time) are not winning any popularity contests Christian or otherwise, so I won’t try to make that argument. Moreover, I can even see the validity in voting in the direction that the scales are ever-so-slightly tipped in favor of your convictions. But I regularly see all-out evangelical ardor for Obama this campaign season. To my mind, it seems the only proper Christian response in this election is at best bewilderment. Or maybe tentative-but-qualified endorsement. But enthusiasm?

In Which Nary the Two Shall Meet

At work a book just came back from the printer called The Global Dictionary of Theology. It’s an interesting, but also a little odd, project. One of its main aims was to encompass many perspectives, ecumenically and ethnically, from across the globe, thus the global aspect of the dictionary. By way of example, and also the only reason for this post, the following two quotations provide an interesting juxtaposition. This first quotation is from the article titled “Business.”

There is a global movement of the Spirit in connection with business. Virtually every country in the world and every part of the body of Christ is being touched. Perhaps most significantly, individual believers with business skills are being awakened to the potential involvement they can have in bearing witness to the kingdom of God in the business arena. . . . Spanning the globe are Christian business ministries to executives and employees with a calling to the higher purposes of God. All this represents a genuine sign to the people of God and to the world of the kingdom in our midst.

And here is a quotation from the very next article in the dictionary, from the article “Capitalism.”

Capitalism does not merely represent a structural sin, but the global and imperial configuration of the basic structures of Adamic sin. Capitalism is the concrete manifestation, in our historical period, of the Adamic pretension of self-justification by means of human actions.

Corporate kingdom of God, meet . . . the Revolution!

New Tagline

I changed the tagline to this blog. First person to guess where it’s from gets a prize.

Theological Comment-Question of the Day

Jess and I are currently attending a weekly adult education class on the sacraments at our Anglican church. Since most of the class last spring was on Communion, the majority of the class this fall is dedicated to baptism. Being good Anglicans, the default position of the teacher and most of the parishioners is infant baptism. Jess and I, having been raised in free church traditions—and me specifically in a vaguely Anabaptist tradition—naturally default toward believer’s baptism. We are also parents of an infant . . . well, toddler. Naturally, Jess and I naturally find the discussions highly relevant and quite personal.

But this is all just backstory. What I’m thinking is, one of the many critiques of infant baptism by those of the believer’s baptism stripe is: not enough scriptural support! Fair enough in its own way. But. It seems that for infant baptizers, baptism is a way to deal with Original Sin. Infants are born dead in their sin. Infant baptism provides a way of salvation for babies who have no other way of being saved. There is plenty of scriptural support for Original Sin. Believer’s baptism people also believe in Original Sin, but deal with it differently, usually by way of some variation on a doctrine of the age of accountability (let’s call it AoA) for the young ‘un (i.e., since infants don’t really have a say in the matter, they are not held accountable for their sins until a certain age). This seems consistent with the believers baptism scheme overall, but not with Original Sin. It seems that the doctrine of Original Sin (remember: lots of scriptural support) would trump a doctrine of an age of accountability (for which there is no scriptural support whatsoever), thus making infant baptism, or some other practice or belief with more explanatory power than AoA, necessary.