Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Hanging With Some New Homies

Not sure what the Deconstructionists are about...

...but their enthusiasm is infectious.

The Deconstructionists Podcast is hosted by John Williamson and Adam Narloch, who appear to be sincere seeker who just may be hobbled by their presupposition that the form of Christianity they profess is self-evidentially true.  Still, their giggling, "Yeah, man!" and "Oh, wow!" exclamations are so true I can't not listen.

I've asked them - but have yet to hear their reply - the following questions...

Still working through what you mean by deconstructionism. I do wonder a little if everything is on the table as you deconstruct your religiosity. Your method - post modernism, maybe? - seems to allow a certain credulity when it comes to what moves you. You referred to John 7:53-8:11, the story of The Woman Taken In Adultery as though it features Jesus' own words. It's one of my favorite bible stories too but it was not in the original manuscripts and is first found in the form we recognize in Codex Bezae (~400-500 CE) and is widely accepted to be an interpolation. Further, the discussion of Dr. Masuru Emoto was enthusiastically accepted at face value, when his work is widely regarded as pseudoscience derived from poor technique. [See] I so hope your definition of deconstructionism means more than simply discarding ideas you don't like and keeping your favorites. I'm not a Christian but I have no interest in being an angry atheist either. Ironically, I've been studying the history of religion, the science of mystical experience, and the nature of the religious impulse for some time now. There are those, myself among them, who found no there there when they took it all apart.


Unless and until you face the possibility that some of the story didn't happen at all, or at least not in the way traditionally expressed, have you honestly dug deeply enough? If you are genuinely serious about your deconstruction/reconstruction project read everything L. Michael White, , Elaine Pagels, Candida Moss, Paula Fredriksen, Pamela Eisenbaum, Bart Ehrman, A.N. Wilson, [and] Reza Aslan have written. If you don't have time for all that at least read Ehrman's "Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium," "The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament," and "How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee." You may scream and chuck these books across the room but at least you'll have stuck your hand into "The Box."

Not quite sure these young fellas can escape the core presuppositions but I'm going to listen all the way through. They are worth a try.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Purple Cat

Used books stores are such fun...

There's a new used book store at the Willow Crossroads in Prescott, Arizona.

I finally visited The Purple Cat used book store this afternoon. Owned and operated by Shari Graham, this tidy little shop has small but growing Sci Fi, Fantasy, and Horror sections in the back left corner. Ms. Graham has a deep supply of military SF by the likes of David Weber. The titles are varied and the aisles are well lit. I went in looking for a copy of The Keep, by F. Paul Wilson. Didn't find it, but I left with six other volumes instead; that's how used book stores work.  Give The Purple Cat a visit next time you come to Prescott.

The Purple Cat

3180 Willow Creek Rd. #A4
Prescott, AZ 86301

Saturday, April 9, 2016

My 2016 Goodreads Challenge

Is 26 books in 52 weeks...

Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic, by Frank Moore Cross

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari

The Dark Forest, by Cixin Liu

Breaking the Mishap Chain, by Peter Merlin, Gregg Kendrick, and Dwight Holland

Doubt: A History, by Jennifer Michael Hecht

SMLE (No. 1) Rifles Mk I and Mk III, by Charles Stratton

Know Your M1 Garand Rifles, by E. J. Hoffschmidt

Forty Years With .45/70, by Paul A. Matthews

Is Space The Place? Yes, No, by Various

The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, by Bart D. Ehrman

I have some catching up to do.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

An Episode of Unbelievable Got Me Thinking

Such is my synthesis so far...

The Saturday, April 2, 2016 episode of Unbelievable - Did Jesus' followers believe he was God? Yusuf Ismail vs Jonathan McLatchie - was a thought provoking hour and a half. Yusuf Ismail was erudite and well spoken. Still I found it interesting that a Muslim apologist was chosen to argue for an evolving Christology - in which he does not believe. And it was amusing when the evangelical apologist, Jonathan McLatchie, quoted the Quran - to which he otherwise grants no warrant - to buttress his claims for the credibility of Paul.  Here are the comments I left in the discussion section below the episode:

As I read my early Church history, there were all flavors of Jesus followers: Ebionites, Adoptionists, Docetists, Separationists, Gnostics, Modalists, Patripassanists, and so on and so forth. Most of these believed Jesus to be divine in one way or another at some point in his life or ministry. Believing that the man Jesus had been raised from dead as the first fruits of a coming resurrection of all the faithful at the end of time is different from believing that Jesus' resurrection elevated him to the status of messiah, appointed lord, or divinely elected saviour, is different from believing Jesus was adopted by God at his baptism or conception, is different from believing Jesus to be a pre-existing deity, let alone co-equal and co-eternal with God.

There are Ebonite and adoptionist strains in Mark (60s CE). There's fuel for docetism and separationism in Matthew and Luke (70-80s CE). John responds to separationist and gnostic themes (90s CE). When one reads the gospels in parallel the evolution from a simple to a sophisticated Christology is striking.

But because "bible believing" evangelicals regard everything in the good book to be factual and moreover that all the red letter words actually came from Jesus' mouth they treat all the gospels as though they were composed during Jesus' ministry and simply were not recorded until 30, 40-50, and 60 years later. By doing so, rather than simply finding their theology in the NT and OT, Christians read their ever evolving Nicene, Constantinopolitan, and medieval Christologies into and over the stories there.

The Christian who reads the Pauline epistles as though they were written after Paul (and those writing in his name) had read everything in all the gospels might be forgiven for thinking the story was meant as a fully harmonized package. If one reads the papers in order Paul comes across more as the first franchisee, a little too desperate to establish his credibility and at times at odds with a more conservative Jesus movement (and its traveling preachers) in Jerusalem to whom he had to pay licensing fees. If one doesn't assume Paul really was Jesus' mouthpiece then a lot of his theology reads like he just made it up, riffing on hymns and statements of faith made by early Jesus followers.

The authors/editors/redactors of the later gospel traditions spent 30-60 years adapting the good news for their respective audiences, quote mining the OT, as well as responding to traditional, skeptical and heretical criticisms.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Essence of Trump

In 1415 words...

Goldie Taylor, Editor-at-Large at The Daily Beast, has written a marvelous essay about all that's wrong with presidential candidate Donald Trump, as well as the hearts of those to whom he appeals. Louis CK's "This guy is Hitler" email screed earlier this week was flailingly heartfelt. On The Media's satirical performance of  Jon Lovett's "Looking Back On A Trump Presidency" is at once hilarious and horrifying. But in her 1415 word essay in the March 5th issue of The Daily Beast - Can Trump Bully His Way To The White House - Ms. Taylor absolutely nails it!

She tells us that the other GOP candidates "possess neither the gravitas nor the electoral might to save the GOP from the darkest impulses of its base."

She reminds us that Trump's "ugly nativist theology and racial animus" was once an embarrassing but deniable element of GOP politics, but now such jingoism is not only tolerated on prime time but lapped up by frightened, angry whites.

She warns us that Trump is a schoolyard bully who has surrounded himself with a thuggish following that sees itself as the victim.  The GOP may act chagrined but the truth is Trump "is simply taking the wheel of a car that was custom-built for him."

If you love our republic - especially if you hope to see it live up to its highest aspirations - you must read Ms. Taylor's succinct and frightening analysis.

Photo credit: