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Pacifism and Politics: The Tank and the Letter

Posted by on May 3, 2016 | 2 comments

One has to be careful not to project onto the past what is known to have occurred later, as if, in those days, people had before them two alternatives, with full knowledge of their consequences. We have to admit that certain choices were made in a kind of fog.[1] The most famous pacifist whom Hitler prompted to change his mind was Dietrich Bonhoeffer. As is well known, Bonhoeffer concluded that pacifism, while almost always the right approach, could on rare occasions become a way of avoiding responsibility for the hard decisions politicians have to make. But Paul Ricoeur had a similar trajectory. Years before becoming famous as a gentle and irenic philosopher, Ricoeur was a militant pacifist and Marxist, writing revolutionary tracts in French socialist journals.[2] In the 1930s he and his circle demanded that France lay down her arms and not engage in any warfare. We should learn our lesson from the First World War, they said: conflict of...

The Myth of the Christ Figure

Posted by on Apr 26, 2016 | 3 comments

  Mythological embodiment is a common allusion used in everyday English. A Herculean task is something that is difficult to accomplish, an Achilles’ Heel is a weak spot, and if someone has a Midas touch then she is able create success out of anything she sets out to do. Allusions are used in order to maintain a distance between the subject and the thing that gives the allusion meaning. For example, if I were to call you my nemesis I am not actually calling you a Greek goddess sent to punish me, what I am saying is you are my bitter enemy who will do everything within your power to cause my downfall. In doing so I am doing two things. The first is I am acknowledging the gap between the language and the object that gives the language meaning. The second thing I am doing is stripping the mythology from the allusion; I am, in a sense, humanizing...

Physician-Assisted Death: A Few Thoughts About the Canadian Situation

Posted by on Mar 29, 2016 | 2 comments

In this blog post I am going to make a variety of observations about physician-assisted death (PAD), physician-assisted suicide (PAS), and euthanasia, in no particular order. Note that each observation will be necessarily compact and incomplete; these are not to be taken as definite statements but pieces of a puzzle to be mulled over as I (we, I hope) reflect on Canada’s situation.

God is (Super) Dead: finding God in forsakenness

Posted by on Mar 21, 2016 | 5 comments

  Holy Week is essential for most Christian denominations and sects. Similar to Christ’s own experience upon his entrance into Jerusalem, our eyes cannot help but look to the impending cross, and the hope found soon after. I think this is why I have witnessed so many conversions and rededications to the faith during Holy Week. Death has a way. The death of the God-Man beckons reflections on other deaths in our lives, whether it is the physical deaths of those we love or the other kinds of death that impact us so immensely. A lot of ink has been spilled about God’s suffering with humanity. I believe there is a catharsis in this. Christ’s cry of dereliction, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” is often read as our own cry—as if the original Psalm had the fundamental human experience in mind. But a paradox seems to exist here, no? In the face of suffering and death, people find ultimate...

Behold your wickedness

Posted by on Mar 8, 2016 | 0 comments

100 years ago, two miles from my house, seventeen-year-old Jesse Washington was lynched just outside the courthouse in downtown Waco, Texas.[1] What came to be deemed nationally as “The Waco Horror” was caught through gruesome images of Washington’s charred body hanging from a tree with a crowd of thousands in their Sunday-best encircling the scene. One of these images (warning: this image is graphic) captures the face of a young man smiling a benign smile that could just as well be made in a school photograph or at the sight of one’s crush on a first date. The smiling young man beams out from the bottom right corner of the image. Just to the left of him, there is a tree and hanging from it is the barely recognizable remains of a man. It would be easy to stand apart from the appalling joy of this young man before such a horror. Evil is always easier to swallow when...

Political Messiahs

Posted by on Feb 23, 2016 | 0 comments

We in America believe in political messiahs. This is a problem as it indicates we are forgetting the realities of the human condition.