noetic effects of sin Posts
September 7, 2012 by Jason Hood
Dear English friends,
I was listening to an old cassette tape of national anthems with my daughter this weekend, and a question popped into my head. Have your people found a substitute for the most ironic national anthem ever? (Let me say up front that I’m an Anglophile and I love E2. But that aside, we’ve got a really awkward situation here with this anthem.) Let’s break it down from a British perspective:
“God” (in whom we hardly believe, and certainly aren’t interested in obeying) save our gracious (in terms of manners, yes, but can a professional celebrity really show grace to anybody?) “queen” (she’s essentially just a fantastically wealthy lady with lots of servants). She can’t be victorious save for the realms of fashion and public opinion. She certainly doesn’t “rule over” anything other than her palaces and country estates…so why exactly are we asking for her to reign a long time? Will Balmoral Castle fall into shadow without her?
Then there’s the second verse:
Scatter her enemies,
And make them fall.
Confound their politics,
Frustrate their knavish tricks
Clearly there is only one enemy of royal rule in England at the moment: the democratic and parliamentary system of government. So the song becomes a prayer for the destruction of democracy. That’s not offensive to me personally, as I have less love for democracy than most, and virtually no stake in Tory or Labour politics.
May she defend our laws
Well they’re now carrying guns down in that London, not just those less-than-terrifying sticks-and-hats. And the queen is apparently taking up sky-diving. So I guess I can understand this request. But again, her lack of official authority still makes this confusing for me. Is she licensed to carry, let alone kill? I suppose she could be a judge–and I’d trust her more than most American jurors–but I doubt the UK has juries, and if they do I bet she’s exempt.
The fourth round is quite nice. But it never mentions her.
Last but not least, she’s called a “prince” in the fifth verse. Now, I appreciate that English is not a gendered language. Still, that’s quite a leap of the imagination with respect to gender–almost as much a leap as imagining she has any more power than George Clooney or other such celebrity.
But look on the bright side. This revelation means that the Sex Pistols were singing an ironic song ironically, and thus no one needs to be offended at them anymore. They were probably being patriotic. They were certainly being English.4 Comments
September 4, 2012 by Jason Hood
I regularly hear laity, theologians, and sketpics alike employ a bizarre tool: the denial of biblical or theological points on the basis of the reductive nature of their own imagination. We might call it the “I-can’t-imagine” strategy.
Some people can’t imagine healthy complentarianism; others can’t imagine that egalitarians might be partners in gospel work. Many can’t imagine a God who has the right to judge his creatures. Not a few can’t imagine racial equality or the intensely fallible nature of their favorite political party.
What’s particularly naive about this approach is that it overlooks the depravity of our minds in general, and our imaginations in particular. And as one symptom of the Fall, it feeds gross selectivity in historical and biblical analysis. David Koyzis at First Things highlights a great paragraph from Jamie Smith, who comments on “the New Universalism” in light of a Lauren Winner review of Rob Bell’s Hell book for the NYT Review of Books:
The “I-can’t-imagine” strategy is fundamentally Feuerbachian: it is a hermeneutic of projection which begins from what I can conceive and then projects “upwards,” as it were, to a conception of God. While this “imagining” might have absorbed some biblical themes of love and mercy, this absorption seems selective.
More importantly, the “I-can’t-imagine” argument seems inattentive to how much my imagination is shaped and limited by all kinds of cultural factors and sensibilities–including how I “imagine” the nature of love, etc.
The “I-can’t-imagine” argument makes man the measure of God, or at least seems to let the limits and constraints of “my” imagination trump the authority of Scripture and interpretation. I take it that discipleship means submitting even my imagination to the discipline of Scripture.
As Tom Wright sometimes says to exegetes, you need to expand your imagination a little. Or to riff on Richard Hays: your imagination needs to be converted, baptized with Scripture.
Read all of Smith’s post–it’s a Winner. (So sorry for that pun.)4 Comments
August 30, 2011 by Jason Hood
It’s an ode in three parts: epistolary, poetry, and a testimonial narrative.
If anyone thinks they’ve got reason to love their PC, well, I had more. I was of the nation of PCs, of the tribe of laptop; as to the web, an Explorer. As to operating systems, of the eighth generation of Windows (Vista, XP, or whatever was after Windows 7).
But I didn’t consider my PC-ness as righteousness, and I became a Mac user, that I may be found with an Apple, not having computer greatness of my own, but having my own macrighteousness. Still, even though I’m a Mac user, I don’t consider myself to have “made it”. I press on, working to reach that for which I purchased a Mac, forgetting my PC ways and striving to reach what lies ahead. (I bought my wife a Macbook.)
Aiming for Apple like William Tell
Went online and found it tax-free for sale
Now I’m ruling the web like Mac-iavelli
I’ve said goodbye to my PC and even my telly.
A testimonial narrative
No, seriously. I’m now so cool that I went outside and fall started. My habits of driving old Grand Marquise (or whatever the plural is of Grand Marquis) and taking very early lunch were once regarded by an unnamed friend as “old man” style. But because I have a Mac, they are now hip as can be. The local dealerships have sold out of Grand Marquis and even other similar cars, like Crown Vics. All the lunch joints are packed at 10:45.
And no one calls me “sir” around town anymore. No, they call me “Dude”. Thank you, Steve Jobs. Thank you for making me cool.3 Comments
August 29, 2011 by Jason Hood
Well, it’s that time of year again: fantasy football time, and all my friends are on my case to join them in the fun. I just don’t have the time; the last thing I need is more time on the computer at home or at work. But I like the idea of fostering a little camaraderie and gamesmanship. So the question is, how can I make a game out of work?
Here’s my first effort: Fantasy Theologian. 10 points for a book. 5 points for a conference. 1 point for an interview or op-ed. 1 point for every 20 blog posts. I drafted N. T. Wright and Tim Keller in the first three rounds.
You select a theologian from each category: NT, OT, Systematics, Pastor-theologian, and (for special teams) Activist Theologian. You don’t have to sit a guy unless he goes on sabbatical (like John Piper) or gets nailed for some heresy (negative points).
Even more fun: Fantasy Televangelist. 10 points per TBN appearance. 5 points per conference tour. 2 points for each continent visited during a season. 1 point per person slain in spirit, faith offering; celebrity guest while on tour (heck yes Carmen counts) and 1 point for every 10 foot lengthenings. Negative points for divorces, congressional investigations, and sex scandals.0 Comments
February 14, 2011 by Matthew Mason
How sad that David Bentley Hart, whom I’d formerly considered on of the best and most stimulating contemporary theologians and cultural commentators, has revealed his true colours. Has there ever been a theologian so debased, so degenerate, so utterly deluded? Can it be possible for someone who presents as so profound a metaphysician to be so metaphysically incompetent? What could possibly provoke a moral commentator so shamelessly to demonstrate his utter lack of moral sensibility? Never mind the filioque, here is the reason I could never become Eastern Orthodox. If Barth considered the analogia entis the invention of the antichrist, what ever would he have made of this latest tragic, nay, demonic offering?
As a taste of the depths to which he has stooped:
I take it as an absolutely irrefutable maxim that a man capable of playing golf very well is probably capable of little else, while a man capable of watching golf with interest is probably capable of anything. As a purely private pastime, of course, and so long as one never learns to do it with any appreciable skill, golf is as unobjectionable as any other pointless diversion (tossing bottle-caps, shooting icicles with your .22 rifle, casting a vote in a presidential election). When I walk in the woods, I like to swing a walking stick and whistle; if I am feeling particularly heroic, I sing or recite verse more loudly than I could do safely in inhabited parts. The casual golfer, who adds some variety to a morning stroll by attempting to persuade a small ball to dash ahead of him at irregular intervals and take the lay of the land (so to speak), is doing nothing more reprehensible than that. (David Bentley Hart, ‘Golf and the Metaphysics of Morals’)
The whole sorry thing is worth reading, if only as a cautionary tale with which to scare one’s offspring. Though, in fairness to Degenerate Barmy Hart as I shall now think of him, his second sentence above, and the first half of the first, if true, puts me well and truly in the clear.0 Comments