Saturday, April 14, 2007

And the Word is . . . Love? Destroy? Both?

"Have you heard -- the word is Love."
The Beatles

"You are the Word -- the Word is Destroy."
Franz Ferdinand

"Зла, добра ли? -- Ты вся -- Не отсюда."
Александр Блок
("Are you good or evil? You are both entirely. Entirely not from here."

Aleksandr Blok, "To the Muse")

So, in the midst of my mistaken foray into Church of Christ discussion boards, I began to meditate on the theological implications of the belief that the Bible is the full, complete, inerrant, and infalliable Word of God.

I'm of the opinion that the Divine, the Eternal, the True, the Good, the Just (pick your personal favorite) is transcendent of the world. Actually transcendent isn't quite the right word here. Its not that the Divine is throughly separate from the world, but more along the lines of the Divine is partially knowable, but beyond full knowledge. The fullness of the Divine is beyond human comprehension. It's whay paradox is important in certain branches of theology. Our logic, our rules, are mocked if you will.

It's a concept I think is best expressed in the Hindu images of Shiva Nataraja, or Lord Shiva dancing through creation and destruction over the demon of ignorance. Triumph over ignorance is found in paradox.

It's hardly a concept that foriegn to Christian theology, but it does seem to a concept that is foreign to evangelical Christian theology. The paradox of Divinity that reminds of that the Divine is beyond our full comprehension, that for any statement we make about the Divine the reverse may also be true, has been reduced to a dry Biblical literalism. Instead of the paradoxes of the Bible, the contradictions (which there are) being embraced as signals pointing us to look beyond human logic and recognize the limits of our own perceptions, any contradiction must be harmonized either through a canon with in a canon reading that prioritizes one view of the Divine, or Divine will, over another, or through clever wordplay that prioritizes human cleverness over a infinitely complex Divine.

And that is why I feel it is so necessary to look for paradox and alternate visions of the Divine. To me it is the most important feature of iconography -- that a religion possesses visual reminders that the Divine has no one single face, but is best represented through many faces.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Like carnivores to carnal pleasures...

(just ripped off Harvey Danger)

I went to Central BBQ for and returned with a pork sandwich, mild sauce, and slaw. I bit into it. I chewed. I swallowed. I gulped coke to kill the burning in my mouth. I gasped something along the lines of: Oh, God, yes! That's what I've been wanting all Lent!

Monday, April 9, 2007

Communism, Libertarianism, and Morality

I have to make a confession to begin this post. I'm a bit of a libertarian. Not a hard-core, jumping up and down screaming card-carrying member of the Libertarian Party. But I'm a libertarian. I want the government to be involved as little as possible in my life. I don't want them telling me who I can kiss, what I can smoke, who I can pray to, what I can drink, and that I have to wear a seat belt in my car. Nor do I want the government taking care of me. Personal responsibility -- it's the flip side of personal freedom. Mind you, I take personal responsibility a bit further than most libertarians and think that it requires attempting to think through how one's actions will affect others and acting in an ethical manner. So for me, making a ton of money by exploiting other human beings is anything but responsible behavior.

And, yes, I'm technically a capitalist. It's taken me years to convince my family of that, because I have crazy ideas for a capitalist. For instance, I think Marx was onto a lot of things and should be read more widely. And I've been known to quote Eugene V. Debs. And I think anti-communist propanganda is ridiculous in every way.

I've been reminded of the ridiculousness of at least twice a week for the past couple of months. I'm taking a class on world politics since World War II, and we've just wrapped up a unit on Latin America. I'm ashamed I didn't know more about Latin America before now, and I'm throughly disgusted with the series of completely morally indefensible American "interventions" in the region. Pinochet, we're responsible for fucking Pinochet! (Can't imagine why that wasn't in my high school textbook.)

And most of this was done in the name of establishing an anti-communist government to ensure that U.S. economic interests in the area were protected-- because the United States is interested in spreading democracy through free elections if, and only if, they like the result of elections.

This is why I don't belong in politics or economics. I can't divorce myself enough from moral and ethical concerns to judge the effectiveness. I would rather have a hypothetical leftist leaning government that has some comprehension human rights than a capitalist government with no comprehension of personhood. Honestly, I would rather pay a bit more for a hamburger and know that the girl ringing it up makes enough money to live on. And I think that trying to ensure that people receive enough compensation from their work to live on is personal responsibility.

So now, there's been this lovely on and off battle between the libertarian and the progressive, both of whom are just hanging out in my skull, wondering how to live ethically. Yah!

Of course, if human nature were such that everyone acted morally and ethically, maybe we could just be happy anarchists. Stupid human nature. Always getting in the way.