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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.

Comparative Mysticism: What is Comparison, and What is Mysticism?

Posted by on Jan 27, 2016 | 5 comments

“Comparison” is a Religious Studies buzzword. Many religion scholars are very enthusiastic about “comparative projects” which compare (surprise!) one set of “religious” texts or practices with other sets of texts and practices. Textbooks compare Tibetan death rituals with those of ancient Greek orphic cults; Egyptian creation myths with those of the Hopi tribes of the Southwestern U.S.; medieval Catholic economies of indulgences with the ancestral rites of contemporary Chinese popular religion. The famous J.Z. Smith compares the Jonestown tragedy with Bacchus’s violent orgies. Philosophers of religion compare pseudo-Dionysus’ apophatic theology with Derrida’s deconstruction, noting that in both cases, there is a problematizing of language. Why are we comparing things? Does comparison entail more than simply listing the similarities and differences between the set of items we’ve chosen to examine? Are we playing one long game of “point at things in the world and see if they match”? On what basis do we choose items for comparison? Are we looking...

Murder and Moral Notions

Posted by on Jan 19, 2016 | 0 comments

In Towards Zero, one of Agatha Christie’s murder mysteries, Mr. Treves, a retired solicitor and specialist on criminology reflects on how we often begin murder mysteries in a mistaken fashion. We think of the murder as the beginning of the story when rather it is the end. “I like a good detective story,” reflects Mr. Treves. “But, you know, they begin in the wrong place! They begin with the murder. But the murder is the end. The story begins long before that—years before sometimes—with all the causes and events that bring certain people to a certain place at a certain time on a certain day.”[1] Murder is the end of a series of events, thoughts, plans, and intentions. The novel itself is a reversal of the standard murder mystery story, the actual intended murder does not happen until the last pages of the book.[2] A similar misconception is attached to moral inquiry: in many accounts of moral inquiry, the...