Monday, December 31, 2007
The Gospel According to The Simpsons
The reader is given a behind the scenes look at Simpsons writers, their religious backgrounds and perspectives and their desire to be honest and integritous. I was especially impressed by what I learned concerning the writing in episodes focusing on Krusty the Clown's Jewish roots. Nothing is sacred on The Simpsons, and Pinsky makes no apologies for that; instead he points out things the show does, in this regard as well as in regard to various other sociocultural happenings in North America, that no other show has been able to do. Like I said, overall this is an interesting book that caused me to laugh out loud -- loud enough to get some strange looks in the library.
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Who's Afraid of Postmodernism?
If all this were not excitingly useful enough, the best part of the book comes as Smith proceeds to do exactly as he says he will do in his clever subtitle, and takes Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church, a thing which many are afraid to do. Smith grabs hold of the positive criticisms each philosopher gives and applies them to the Modern Church in hopes of holding out a vision for the Church in which she might break free of the glittery trappings of Modernism and bravely step forward into a truly post-modern existence. I stress truly postmodern because the major difference between pop-Postmodernism and Postmodernism is that the former is not actually post-modern at all, but is rather hypermodern -- a phrase coined by Middleton and Walsh in their book on Postmodernism: Truth Is Stranger Than It Used To Be. That is to say, society is more hypermodern than it is postmodern insomuch as the phenomenon we experience called relativism (strange truth) is modern, not postmodern, because relativism is the result of a Cartesian equation of epistemology multiplied by negative one (or worse, zero).
What!? OK, let me back up. Rene Descarte equates knowledge with certainty, therefore modern epistemology (how we know we what we know) is based upon that of which we are certain. This sounds familiar, doesn't it? How do we know something? By discovering the cold, hard facts. Science. Empiricism. However, after years of dining at the table of modernity, the chair of certainty has been pulled out from under us; in fact, it has disappeared entirely! The fall causes us to question whether we can be certain of anything, and we look around at the world with despair from under the table and resolve that if we cannot be certain, we cannot know. Knowledge still equals certainty. We are living on the other side of the same coin of Modernism. (For more see my post Sex & TV.)
Well, all that was a bit more than I intended to say, but needless to say, I enjoyed this book and while I don't agree with all Smith has to say, I recommend it to anyone who might be interested.
Letters to Malcom
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Eat This Book
You may not go quite that far, but you probably know people who do. And it's something prevalent enough to warrant addressing it -- Since this is a pervasive way of thinking in my culture, has it crept into the way I think? Is professionalism all bad? How do we resist the ways it is unhealthy?
I think Peterson swings a bit too far on the pendulum in reaction against the ideology of professionalism, particularly as he suggests everyone can be an exegete, which to some degree may be true. But there are trained, or professional, exegetes upon whom we should rely for help in our Bible study efforts. However, Peterson is right. If we think, 'I have a job and a family and don't have time to study the Scriptures, but studying the Scriptures is the job of the pastor...' That's not a good place for us to be.
Peterson also encourages us to develop a "hermeneutic of adoration" and draws our attention to Paul Ricoeur:
Paul Ricoeur has wonderful counsel for people like us. Go ahead, he says, maintain and practice your hermeneutics of suspicion. It is important to do this. Not only important, it is necessary... But then reenter the book, the world, with what he calls 'a second naivete.' Look at the world with childlike wonder, ready to be startled into surprised delight by the profuse abundance of truth and beauty and goodness that is spilling out of the skies at every moment. Cultivate a hermeneutics of adoration -- see how large, how splendid, how magnificent life is.
Overall, I appreciate this book and hope it provides encouragement and inspiration for those wondering if personal Bible study, specifically exegesis, is possible and how to begin.