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Posted by on Jan 5, 2016 | 6 comments

Safety is not a Christian virtue

Safety is not a Christian virtue

In 1934, Dietrich Bonhoeffer addressed the ecumenical peace organization World Alliance for International Friendship through Churches in Denmark.[1] Centrally in this address, Bonhoeffer argues that the World Alliance must function as the universal Church by working for peace with the aim of not only ending war but finding victory over it. Victory over war involves understanding war “as the work of evil powers in this world, enemies of God.”[2] As Christians, Bonhoeffer reminds his audience that the work of peace is a mandate for the ecumenical Church, not an optional problem that needs to be dealt with. The mission of peace among Christians transcends and unites across any and all societal boundaries, be they “national, political, social, or racial.”[3] In this address, Bonhoeffer highlights the confusion of safety with peace: “There is no way to peace along the way of safety. For peace must be dared. It is the great venture. It can never be made safe. Peace is the opposite of security.”[4] To pursue safety is to diverge...

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Posted by on Oct 6, 2015 | 1 comment

What Hulu Can’t Do

What Hulu Can’t Do

  Let me begin by casting off any pretense of judgment towards a Saturday afternoon spent watching Gilmore Girls while the sun shines gloriously outside. One of my “incentives” for reaching a days reading or writing goal often involves a couch, two cuddly dogs and the most recent episodes of Once Upon a Time, I must admit. But, I also admit that a day of binge watching on Netflix does not compare to the times when I spend an entire day immersed in a novel, bottomless cup of coffee in-hand. There is something the pages of a book offer that the television screen cannot. What I propose here is not revolutionary, in fact, it may seem quite obvious to some: consider this a reminder of our imaginative capabilities to indwell fantastic worlds. In The Act of Reading, Wolfgang Iser discusses a particular kind of imaging that occurs in reading. Its particularity resides in the fact that when we read narrative fiction we imagine worlds that are independent of any...

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Posted by on Jul 23, 2015 | 5 comments

Christian Theology Needs Good Stories

Christian Theology Needs Good Stories

  I am at the very beginning stages of a long journey in dissertation writing. In my usual meandering and often frustrating mode, I am beginning this journey with an intuitive kernel and then working towards a substantial and convincing argument. My intuitive kernel is this: stories do something important for theology. No, more than that: Christian theology in some way needs good stories. The grounding for this is pretty easy to point to: Christians are storied people. Our Hebraic roots are in stories of God calling forth order from chaos, a guy from Ur to establish a nation in a land flowing with milk and honey, stories of identity formation and personal failings, stories of a people struggling to do right and stories of a frustrated and long-suffering God. The climax of this storied history comes via four story-tellers, the four Gospel accounts proclaiming God become incarnate and the tearing of the veil between heaven and earth. Of course, these stories contain and give rise to important dogmatic...

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Posted by on Jun 19, 2015 | 0 comments

Hildegard of Bingen: Theology Spoken, Seen, and Heard

Hildegard of Bingen: Theology Spoken, Seen, and Heard

    Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179) was born as the tenth child of an honorable family in a town to the northwest of Worms. She was handed over to the church at the age of ten to the hermitess Jutta, who taught Hildegard to read Latin, chant the Office and live out the Benedictine Rule. Throughout her life Hildegard experienced mystical visions alongside severe bouts of illness, but it was not until her later life that she experienced her prophetic call. In 1141, at the age of 43, she received a vision where she is called by a voice from heaven to share what she sees and hears in her subsequent visions. This call is recorded at the start of Scivias along with the infamous image of Hildegard sitting to write with pentecostal flames dancing on her head: “‘O human, speak these things that you see and hear. And write them not by yourself or any other human being, but by the will of Him Who knows, sees and...

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Posted by on Feb 9, 2015 | 0 comments

Only (Male) Geniuses Need Apply

Only (Male) Geniuses Need Apply

Recently on public radio’s Science Friday, host Ira Flatow interviewed psychologist Dr. Carol Dweck. The interview was centered on a recent study exploring “innate genius” and the impact that emphasis on genius has on the gender ratio in certain academic fields.[1] Innate genius is the raw talent, the “it” factor, that one possesses for a particular field of study (e.g. in the fictional world Flatow references TV’s Gregory House or Sherlock Holmes). An alternative to emphasis on “innate genius” would be an emphasis on sustained hard work that over time allows someone to excel in their field of study. The study that Flatow and Dweck reference is “Expectations of Brilliance Underlie Gender Distributions across Academic Disciplines.”[2] In this study, the researches pose the question: is there a relationship between fields that emphasize innate genius and the ratio of women that are found in those fields? The results of this study suggest that in fields that emphasize genius—philosophy is the most genius-focused discipline they studied—a considerably smaller number of women are found completing PhD’s, whereas in fields that...

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