Thursday, February 25, 2010

Textual research visualization tool

(Preface: One of the principal tenets of blogging is "post often," which I have certainly not been doing much of this month, for a number of reasons. One is I'm insanely busy at life in general, and unfortunately none of the things I've been doing have been relevant for posting here. I've also picked up posting more often on my "old faithful" website: I've been going a decent bit of tweeting and also played around with Google's new social networking tool, Buzz - see my thoughts on that here. So hopefully some interesting material in the vein of theology and peacebuilding will be showing up again here in the near future.)

My friend and fellow CJP'er, Krista Johnson (who recently got a job at Mennonite Central Committee/MCC as their Peace Program coordinator) showed me an awesome online tool called Wordle. The tool generates word clouds based on textual information that you give it in a number of ways, which includes handing it a URL for a website. Well, I did this for the current front-page of this blog, and came up with the following neat picture:

I wish I would have known about this tool when I was doing my project for Arts-Based Research class last fall!  Thanks, Krista!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Just a pilgrim in search of that city

The subtitle for Barry Harvey's, Another City, states that the book is “an ecclesiological primer for a Post-Christian World.” Perhaps a better subtitle would have run something like “a mini theological-historical-philosophical education.” This book's diminutive size betrays a great density and scope of material. The book is essentially a crash course on postmodernism, a millenium-spanning church history survey, a critique of the Enlightenment and Western societies since, and a recapitulation of how the Church can be faithfully be Church in today's world. All this in an introduction and five chapters, and 165 pages!

The purpose of this book, Harvey makes clear near the end of the introduction, in that is is intended “to help the church speak again in a self-consciously authoritative way and thus let it reclaim itself as a distinct people who enact a different story in the midst of the world, not for its own benefits, but for the sake of the world.” (pp. 19-20) The thesis underlying his purpose for the book is hinted at in the title, “Another City,” the Latin equivalent of which, altera civitas, he uses throughout the book. The Church is this altera civitas, or at least it should be, argues Harvey. In the introduction, Harvey spends some time describing the postmodern world we find ourselves in, using lyrics from a Toni Morrison song about “the city” and using this image to represent the postmodern world, or “the world” of Scripture, which Jesus spent some time talking and warning about in the Gospels.

Read on after the break for my survey and conclusions from this jam-packed book on radical ecclesiology!