Sunday, April 29, 2012

Itinerant Mind

Discovered an interesting web site recently titled Itinerant Mind.  I responded to a post regarding an article in the Stone Campbell Journal from 2010 titled Evolution as Mythology.  Itinerant Mind summarized the contents of the article.  There is an inclination inside of me to want to attempt to refute some of the things the authors assert and imply about the legitimacy and validity of evolution.  But I will not.  Instead, it may be noted that mythology and "not true" are not synonymous.  Humans must have vibrant and viable myths to live by.  And note  in my blog post below, the quote from Richard Rohr where he says that historical cultures all understood this.  Throughout human history we have crafted narratives concerning our origin which are designed to be useful for our living.  Since evolution has to do with who we are and where we came from, it is inevitable that we should weave it into our story.  And we will do it well and we will do it poorly.  I reckon that we do not live at the end of history and down the road our myths will continue to change and adapt with our conditions and knowledge. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

What is Faith II

This quote from Falling Upward by Richard Rohr is a beginning to my previous question regarding the nature of Faith.  Things that have to do with sentient creatures who have such a wide range of response due to their feelings and their interactions are on a different plane and of a different nature than the consistent and mechanical world of matter.  Weather and climate is an example of the latter. 

"Western rationalism no longer understands myths, and their importance, although almost all historic cultures did."

So we have over literalized the Bible and its meaning. A scientific, constitutional reading of the Bible is misguided. 

"You cannot imagine a new space fully until you have been taken there. I make this point strongly to help you understand why almost all spiritual teachers tell you to “believe” or “trust” or “hold on.” They are not just telling you to believe silly or irrational things. They are telling you to hold on until you can go on the further journey for yourself, and they are telling you that the whole spiritual journey is, in fact, for real—which you cannot possibly know yet."

It appears that in regard to "faith", the evangelical world thinks it is a badge of honor if one can make the leap of faith even if the evidence is not conclusive.  The explanation that Rohr puts forth is that experience or journey can take us to where we need to be.  I've got to think that the content of what one becomes confident about is different in these contrasting cases.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

What is Faith?

I came across something that gave me pause.  It is a quote by a Christian man, Paul Douglas, who is a Meteorologist by profession and moderate Republican.  He says:

I’m a Christian and ultimately come to Christ through faith. With climate change no faith is required. There is a large and growing body of evidence. (link)

My conundrum is this.  I was always taught that we should believe in Christ and Christianity because the teaching about him and the story of Christianity is reasonable and has been proven to be correct by a substantial body of evidence.  After all, why should I accept it if not proven true?  But here he is contrasting faith with something else that does have, in his opinion, a large body of evidence.  So if Christianity does not have this body of evidence, why should we place so much confidence in it? 

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

The Gospel of Trees

One of the recurring themes of this blog relates to the meaning of trees.  Recently came across a website called The Gospel of Trees.  They have nice pictures and nice quotes, from ancient to modern times.  Trees have roots and they reach down into the depths of the earth and the depths of our psyches.  The first section was lifted from the About section of the blog.  Then follows a quote from Miroslav Wolf from another pane.

The Bible is a story about trees. It begins, or nearly enough, with two trees in a garden: the Tree of Life, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The pivotal event in the book comes when a man named Jesus is hanged on a tree. And the last chapter of the last book features a remade Jerusalem: “In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” If you understand the trees, you understand the story.

The words and images here are presented in no particular order: this is a mosaic rather than a narrative. Clicking on the arrow at the top right of each content page will take you randomly to another page on the site. 

Also, this mosaic is a work in progress: more text and images will be added to it over time.
This site is one of the lesser fruits of the Project on Lived Theology. I am greatly indebted to Charles Marsh, the founder and Director of PLT, and to the other members of the Virginia Seminar, who have greatly enriched my life in recent years.

My name is Alan Jacobs. Any text and images on this site that are not explicitly credited to others are created by me.

The site is designed by my very talented friend Brad Cathey. Hosting is by Highgate Cross

Creative Commons License
The Gospel of the Trees by Alan Jacobs is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

There is a remarkable image in the closing pages of Scripture that has become a touchstone for the way my colleagues and I think about faith and culture. Amid its descriptions of the New Jerusalem, Revelation includes “the tree of life, bearing 12 crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations” (Rev. 22:2). The tree holds out hope that whole cultures will be healed and mended, becoming places where people can flourish. And it sets an agenda for faith as a way of life that contributes to that flourishing, in anticipation, here and now.


Monday, April 02, 2012

Christ in Evolution

Have taken up Ilia Delio's Christ in Evolution.  This book was prior to her The Emergent Christ which I completed a few weeks ago.  Here are a few of the many things that have jumped out at me so far. 

The mechanistic view of the world associated with Newtonian physics has been replaced with a dynamic, open ended view of the world in which some events are in principle unpredictable. At the infinitesimal level of the atom and its subatomic particles, quantum mechanics has uncovered a realm where time, space, and matter itself behave according to laws whose very functioning have uncertainty built into them. Quantum physics has given us a new view of matter today as not only indeterminate but also as relational.The universe seems to be inherently relational.*

*Ian Barbour, Issues in Science and Religion (London:  SCM Press 1997)

John Polkinghorne, who notes that “both chance and necessity are indispensable partners in the fruitful history of the universe.” “The role of chance does not turn evolution into a cosmic lottery,” he states, “but is the way the physical world explores and realizes its potential.”**

** John Polkinghorne, Science and Theology, (Minneapolis:  Fortress Press 1998).

In the light of this, what she says earlier in the book about Christ makes a lot of sense to me.  The universe is evolving according to a plan and

Christ is the “design” of the universe because the universe is modeled on Christ, the divine Word of God; the universe is Christologically structured. Because the universe has a “plan,” we can speak of the evolution of this plan as the unfolding of Christ in the universe, who is “the mystery hidden from the beginning” (Eph 3:9).

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