Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas break: Weeping and a crisis of faith

From Toledo, IA, USA
It's been a blessedly quiet Christmas break this past week. After a crushingly difficult semester for my family, we've been in Iowa for the past week and a half, and I've been severely limiting e-mail and Facebook. It's also been a very quiet front here at Restroative Theology, for the same reasons, but here are a few scattered thoughts from this past week...

My daily Scripture reading has enjoyed an uptick on this break, and on Christmas morning I found my heart resonating with the Spirit as I read Psalm 39, particularly its closing verses, 12 & 13:
"Hear my prayer, O LORD, listen to my cry for help; be not deaf to my weeping. For I dwell with you as an alien, a stranger, as all my fathers were. Look away from me, that I may rejoice again before I depart and am no more." (emphasis added)

Friday, December 2, 2011

The creation myth of human rights

From Harrisonburg, VA
For as much as I gripe about nationalism in the U.S., I want to be fair in representing the fact that the myth of "nation as savior" is not unique to my own nation, as this video about universal human rights makes plain. Especially of interest to my argument is minutes 2 through 5...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The hunted becomes the Hunter

From Eastern Mennonite University, 1200 Park Rd, Harrisonburg, VA 22802, USA
James Davison Hunter
Yesterday afternoon and evening, I had a chance to listen to and later converse with James Davison Hunter, a sociologist from the University of Virginia, just over the mountain from Harrisonburg. Hunter was a significant figure for me this time last year, as I was reading his recent book, To Change the World. One of my favorite Christian scholars, James K.A. Smith, was pretty excited about Hunter's work at the time, so I was eager to integrate it into my learning. Last fall I wrote a paper on biblical and cultural hermeneutics, using Hunter's work, which was later presented at a symposium at Bridgewater College, which I wasn't able to attend due to the passing of my grandfather.

As I prepared for Hunter's lecture, I re-read my paper and went back over my copious notes from the book, with the expectation that I wouldn't come away from his visit with anything profoundly new or different from what I had discovered last year. While Hunter's lecture was largely drawn directly from the pages of his book, and thus wasn't all that novel to me, I was pleasantly surprised by our subsequent conversation, when a few faculty, my seminary dean, and our provost hosted Hunter for dinner at a local restaurant. Luckily, because the prof organizing the guest list for the dinner had read my paper last year, my name got added to the list and I got to tag along. (Thanks, Kevin!)

So in what follows, I will nuance my earlier summarizations and critiques of Hunter's book, including backing off my complaint that he didn't "get" neo-Anabaptists, which I made somewhat out of self-defense because that's how I like to describe my own theological project. It turns out, I was the one that didn't "get" the sense in which Hunter was using the term. But I'll start with his constructive argument first...