There is a famous anecdote in which a man, after death, wakes up surrounded by all the pleasures of life: food, sex, and leisure. An angel approaches him and says “Welcome, enjoy all the pleasures you have ever wanted.” The man basks in all the pleasures available, but after a few weeks of uninterrupted ecstasy, he grows bored. So, the man approaches the angel and says “Is there anything I can do, any work?”
Being a pacifist and an American is virtually impossible. Typically, the peace and justice community focus on violence issues, human trafficking, and other visible forms of oppression. They come out against war and unsanctioned military engagement (which is basically the status quo in the global capitalist empire: instead of war, we have police action). All of these things are unjust and need to be opposed, but ultimately they are the blood dripping from wound that we keep wiping up without recognizing their source: global capitalism.
Under the pretense of talking about pirate theology, Peter Rollins, Kester Brewer and Barry Taylor gathered to discuss “radical theology” at Fuller this month. Rollins, in particular, analyzed the intersection between psychoanalysis and theology, arguing that Christians need to experience doubt like Jesus on the cross, asking God, the father, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” After much contrived discussion, the panelists concluded that radical theology will lead to the death of Christianity as a religion in order that a new manifestation of Jesus-following might emerge. While I sympathize with Rollins and co.’s intentions, I am not certain how radical theology’s psychoanalytic approach relates to non-western contexts. Moreover, their assessment of radical theology’s (read: Emergent Church) role in church history falls victim to the same dialectical trap that Rollins critiques in his work…
Marriage equality is a hot topic in Christian communities. Recently, Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop, came to Fuller to talk about the freedom to love. As a result, many students at Fuller are beginning to rethink their heteronormative understandings of marriage. While I am all for LGBTQ equality in all arenas (anything else is shenanigans), the resurgence about the right to marry and marriage as an existentially important institution worries me […]
Four years ago, I was an idealistic college student who believed in change. Frustrated with the years of Bush-style imperialism and capitalism, I was ready for some big government and the return of civil liberties, singing the doxology Praise God From Whom all Blessings Flow as balloons reigned down and Obama waxed eloquent on a stage overlooking thousands of people. Needless to say, I have learned my lesson over the last four years. Although a less harmful sovereign, Obama turned out to be—surprise, surprise—a neo-liberal. The problem, however, was not with Obama, it was with me….
The original unifying function of liturgy becomes lost if we begin to dehistoricize liturgy by shopping among the traditions. Like consumerist postmodern culture, the Emergent Church shops among traditions for forms of spirituality that are useful and pleasurable and incorporates them into general western, melange of religious items….
The Middle East has erupted in series of violent protests, with one in Libya killing four U.S. nationals, including the American ambassador. The media as well as some the protesters claim that the protests were precipitated by an anti-Muslim film that was originally attributed to the US (or the west more generally), but has been revealed to be produced by a Coptic Christian from Egypt. The video depicts the prophet Muhammad participating in sexual activities and announcing that he is a homosexual. The media claims that the video was created to incite Muslims and now the protesters are mistreating the US, who aided in the liberation of the Arab spring. The erroneousness of the US paternalistic narrative aside, the video is being used by the media as a tool to mythologize US imperialism in the Middle East. The video contains an allegory that disguises true forms of power and domination, cloaking it within the narrative of religious conflict….
There is a sense when one steps into the produce section at the Whole Foods that one has entered a sacred space. The delicate ambiance created by the well-tuned lights and the gentle purr of background music cloaks the organic kale in an almost mystical aurora. Like a church service, Whole Food’s shoppers dress for the experience, donning bright shades of Yoga pants, organic slippers made with bamboo reeds, or any locally-made organic cotton tee—in a concerted effort to show the completeness of their healthy and ecologically-sensitive lifestyle. Moreover, when they reach the checkout line and fork over what for many normal folks amounts to a whole paycheck, the acolytes gently absorb this small sacrifice as doing their part for the environment and their bodies….