Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Make up your mind, Dr. Craig

Okay, I'm not surprised but here's a rather "egregious" case of Craig changing his statements halfway through a debate. Well, okay, over halfway through.

Craig's Opening Statement
"In patriarchal Jewish society the testimony of women was not highly regarded. In fact, the
Jewish historian Josephus says that women weren’t even permitted to serve as witnesses in a
Jewish court of law. Now in light of this fact, how remarkable it is that it is women who are the
discoverers of Jesus’ empty tomb" (5).

Ehrman's Rebuttal
"Yes, Mary Magdalene was a follower of Jesus, but his [Craig's] own argument was that
nobody would invent the women because they were marginalized, because men didn’t think
highly of women. My response is, that’s precisely why Mark would invent the tradition, because
in Mark’s Gospel, it’s the marginalized who understand who Jesus is, it’s not the male disciples.
That’s why you have the story of the women discovering the tomb" (27).

Craig's Concluding Statement
"Again I would simply suggest that as women disciples of Jesus, who are faithful to Jesus and involved in his support and following him, they don’t represent marginalized people" (27).

Please, Dr. Craig, please, tell me how J.C.'s female followers who, incidentally, were NOT believed by the male disciples when they reported but that Jesus had risen in the gospels were not representatives of marginalized people. Or, at least, make up your mind, they either were marginalized by the society and considered unfit to testify or they weren't marginalized. Pick one.

Craig is just, so, mock-worthy. Wandering about, ripping off theologians who are far superior to him, and doing it badly. Resorting to borderline ad hominem attacks. Murr.

Yes, I really don't care for this guy.

ETA: Hmm, I suppose there is something rather inconsistent in ranting about how I don't like Craig's use of near ad hominem attacks in the midst of declaring him mock-worthy. Oh well.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Question for pondering purposes...

Are there theological/philosophical drawbacks to emphasizing whether or not there is historical evidence for the ressurection of Jesus?

I'm starting to read through the transcript of a debate between William Craig Lane, who I admittedly don't like and think is mostly full of hot air (Lane debated a philosophy professor at my college over the existence of God. I cheered on our Prof and kinda wish he had verbally gone for the throat), and Bart Ehrman, who I do rather like. And I'm not very far in, but Lane is already making himself sound like a bit of fool. So, are there theological drawbacks to emphasizing, attempting to prove, etc. that the resurrection of Jesus is indeed a historical fact. Perhaps more to follow. Perhaps not. Depends on my mood.

Monday, May 21, 2007

I finished up Barbara Eherenreich's and Deirdre English's For Her Own Good: A 150 Years of the Experts Advice to Women today. An interesting work of deconstruction, Ehrenreich and English sketch the rise of the "scientific" expert in American society and trace the history of the advice these experts have given women on how to be women. The authors find the problem is the unwilligness people to question the structure of society and relying on a false binary between the choices of assimilating to the norms of the culture or adjusting to life in the margins. Of course, being a theology geek, I immediately thought: well, here's a place a hearty dose of the Jesus Movement (and I'm thinking of holy vagrants, not the pseudo-Paul) could be useful.

I feel that the authors passed over the role religion and the religious "experts" have played in doling out advice to women that has trapped them in a false dichotomy between sacrificing themselves to create an oasis or giving up on morals and ethics to assimilate to the outside world. In the epilogue they touched briefly on how the neo-romantics (Phyllis Schafly, Focus on the Family, and company) have relied upon religion rather than science to justify a binary division of the genders into private women and public men. This is different from the romanticism of the previous eras which used science to add legitimacy to demand that women stay barefoot and pregnant in their kitchens. They also touch briefly on the model for God adopted by the neo-romantics, "a God who has made his peace with the consumer society" (320). Religion is a powerful force in any society, either for good or ill. Unfortunately, in America at the moment, it appears that Christianity's public image has been hijacked by people who are using it for ill.

Reconstruction is where this book, as do many in the area, falls short. Ehrenreich and English fail to offer up much in the way of a plan of action. The authors offer little in the way of suggestions as to exactly how society should begin to address the problems created by a marketplace mentality in which human beings are reduced to cogs in an assembly line. There's a clear and convincing argument that humans much change the system, but not a plan of how to change the system or even a particularly detailed vision of what the institutional structures should look like. (There's a newer edition out as of 2005, they may have added something to this effect.)

While I hardly think that Christianity or even religion is necessary for ethical action, I do think that Christian theologies that offer up a vision of what human society should be have a lot to offer in the way of reconstruction. Christian theologies from Liberation Theology to Silver Age Russian Religious philosophy are quite clear that humans aren't called to simply assimilate or "adjust" to a injust society but are called upon to improve it. And more importantly, progressive Christian theologies have something of a vision of what the world should and could become whether its called a Sophianic vision or a preferential option for the poor. Or, heck, just reading the hard sayings of Jesus seriously rather than listening to the self-proclaimed prophets of the religious right.