Friday, June 29, 2012

After Virtue...I'm exhausted

If anyone has spent any time paying attention to Stanley Hauerwas, you're accustomed to frequently seeing two names referenced: John Howard Yoder and Alasdair MacIntyre. Having just graduated from a Mennonite seminary whose theology professor - Mark Thiessen Nation - is steeped in the work of all three men, I felt it was my duty as a budding intellectual  to at some point read MacIntyre's landmark work of moral philosophy, After Virtue. So in my final semester this past spring, in a seminary practicum, I assigned myself the book.

It only took me five months, but I finally completed it the other day, mere minutes before our plane from the UK landed in D.C. Despite its age (first published in the early 80s) this book is terribly important for today's world and has all kinds of far-reaching implications, including for contemporary Christian discipleship. So in what follows I will attempt the impossible task of briefly summarizing this tome, and then offer some implications to Christian discipleship in the church.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The furniture in Mr. Roger's neighborhood

From Harrisonburg, VA, USA
Before I say anything critical about this, let me just say: This video is AWESOME, and it's been stuck in my head for two days now...

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Cap or Katniss? Violence in The Avengers and Hunger Games

It's strange business, being an Anabaptist-Christian pacifist who grew up loving comic books and videogames, both practices that are largely predicated on the myth of redemptive violence. Recently this has been brought to mind by two movies: "The Hunger Games" and "The Avengers." In this post I'll be focusing solely on the movies and not the prior art from which they're being adapted, and this is largely a "viewer response" commentary. Caveat: I'm currently near the end of the entire Hunger Games book trilogy and have a few thoughts that seem relevant from a theopolitical view, so some of what I say toward the end borrows from my having read the fuller story.

[Spoiler notice: I'm not going to give any major plot spoilers here, but I will discuss particulars of scenes and snippets of plot. So if even that counts as a "spoiler" and you have yet to see these movies and plan to, perhaps you shouldn't read on...]

First off, these two movies certainly share the view that violence is a necessary means. Neither espouse any pacifist ethic in any substantive way. What struck me, rather, is how violence functions in each movie and the response it elicited from the theater audiences that I was a part of in each instance.

Friday, June 1, 2012

What hath Kerouac to do with Mack?

From 80 Court Square, Harrisonburg, VA 22802, USA
Jack Kerouac
About ten years ago, in my early 20s, I read Jack Kerouac's On the Road, and it made a pretty big impression on me. The gestalt of the book really resonated, and it was a mostly gut-response. In the intervening decade, I haven't thought much about its impression on me, informally or academically.

But I think someone may have just done the hard work for me, expressing why I think Kerouac's work hit me like it did, and why it may have a continuing influence on my thinking. Over at the Englewood Review of Books, R. Dean Hudgens has an excellent review of the book, The Philosophy of the Beats, wherein he states that:
in [the Beats'] restlessness with the American Dream, their cynicism about mainstream society, their hunger for spontaneous expression, and the desire to be at home in their own bodies and with the bodies of others, there is a recurring call that many still find difficult to ignore. I don’t look to the Beats for all the answers, but I sure do find them giving voice to some of the most fascinating questions about embodiment, desire, imagination, poetics, vulnerability, and emotional intensity. These are not topics alien to Christian life but they are topics often foreign to Christian thought and reflection. (emphasis mine)