Friday, March 29, 2013

The Provisional Nature of Truth As Illustrated by Fashion

From an insightful post by Rachel K. Ward over at The Church and Postmodern Culture.   I bolded two sentences that especially applied to me.

Postmodernity has continued a clash of absolute truth with relativism. Relativism, or varying perspectives on variable truth, dominates media...........We are now viewing the world provisionally, embracing a stream of teasers of what may be true, without responsibility to understand a matter or its implications because we expect it to change.

The provisional view is to consider something, without conclusion. It is diplomatic, and free of allegiance. It is the most fashionable perspective today because it has the permissiveness of relativism but without the weight of accountability.  
A teaser is a glimpse into a story. It is the ultimate provisional view that entices a viewer to screen a full film or buy a product. The teaser is pure suspense, the initial look at a love affair or drama to unfold........Reading a full article, getting the whole story, is less and less possible or interesting. We prefer the provisional, since tomorrow there will be more.

The fashion industry is made of teasers, not just in film shorts but editorials that do not preview something to come but simply glimpse a fantasy. Fashion stories propose a narrative, but they never conclude.
Perhaps our current stage of advanced relativism known as the provisional is a teaser for the return for the unspoken absolute. While our ongoing interest in mere glimpses can rest on nothing, it can also open to the eternal.

I've been conservative and I've been liberal.  And both at the same time in certain ways.  It seems to me that conservatives tend more to shoehorn all events into their pre-determined view.  Events and comments must be interpreted within that framework.  I think my framework is more provisional in the same way as the author relates.  I do note that oft times in recent years, when an event or statement is made that seems clear cut to me to validate my view or my guy, the other side surprises me with an interpretation or new facts that have to be considered.  After I dig into the issue further for more information and answer that objection and look at how the other side responds, I find there is more information that needs to be considered.  This goes on and on and back and forth till I get exhausted and give up for the time being.  So quite often I do not go that far.  It just takes too much time.  I just hit the high spots.  This illustrates the provisional nature of some of my opinion/feelings. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Pithy Quote for Today from Andre Gide

“One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.” - Andre Gide

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Yes, Aliens Do Exist, in My Opinion

In my own thought experiments about life on other planets, I arrived at the opinion that yes, there must be life on other planets. As I grew up there was no proof that other stars had planets. I was in my forties when we received the first indications and I excitedly relayed the information to my sons.  It was the X-Files era and they were interested in the possibility of whether aliens really existed.  Now it is clear that there are many within our range of observation. There is now evidence though it is definitely not yet positively established that simple life may have once existed on Mars. Life evolved here in our solar system, so, why should not there be evolving life out there in others? And if so, and there is sentient life on some of these planets then will they not evolve along the same paths? The capability for flight developed at least three times on earth here in the past. First insects, then reptiles (birds), and then mammals (bats). So then it was meant to be and therefore it must be God’s will. It is part of That-Which-Brings-About's plan that nature unfolds to achieve flying creatures. And the same could be hypothesized for the movement of sentient beings from being pack animals to, after verbal communication becomes possible, tribal culture. Will they not arrive at culture, religion, politics and the whole wonderful expression that brings. I cannot imagine that they will not have their Christ. This line of reasoning helps me to believe, to believe in the cosmic Christ.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

That Which Causes to Be

This is from an interesting article by Ray Waddle in the March 16 issue of The Tennessean, the Nashville newspaper.  He quotes a new book by Richard E. Friedman.  I highlighted in red what struck me as poignant.   Richard takes up a theme that is apparently similar to that of Jack Miles' God A Biography.

In both the Exodus and the Resurrection stories, God intervenes at a crucial public moment on behalf of embattled people in a dusty corner of the world. In both cases, unpromising human material is forged into a band of believers who change global history, succeeding against all common sense and sociological norms.
And in both cases, decisive actions of God are never repeated again, not in the same way. In his book “The Disappearance of God,” Richard Elliott Friedman argues that God slowly removes himself from the Hebrew Scriptures. Friedman is not attacking the Bible. He argues that public contact with the divine recedes in order to give human beings room to come of age. After the birth of modern science and skepticism, the “death of God” triggered a crisis for Western civilization. But Friedman resists despair. Contemporary physics, cosmology and Big Bang theories suggest mystical new points of divine contact, a restoration with God. “The name Yahweh probably means ‘that which causes to be,’ ” Friedman writes. “And that which causes to be is what we are seeking. It is what we have been seeking all along. We may be very close to it. There is some likelihood that, as some of the conscious matter of the universe, we are created more in the divine image than we have suspected. There is some likelihood that the universe is the hidden face of God.”

God as that which causes to be.  I like that. That is a definition to sink one's teeth into. We are here.  No doubt about that.  How did we get here and why?  Well, science has told us quite a bit about that story.  The Big Bang.  Galaxy formation.  The development of the different generations of stars.  Then the planets.  Ocean life.  Land life.  Emergence.  Consciousness.  Most of that narrative is from the past two hundred years and opaque to previous generations.  We are lucky to be here now to become aware of it.  But however it happened, we give a name to that which is behind the process and call that name God. 

It fits with a growing interest of mine in Process Theology.  I've got to delve further into it.  And that is the topic of Rob Bell's new book What We Talk About When We Talk About God which I learned about from Homebrewed Christianity:  Rob Bell:  Out of the Process (Tillichian) Closet.  I've gotta get that one and maybe Friedman's too.

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