Pages Menu
TwitterRssFacebook
Categories Menu

Posted by on Jul 7, 2014 | 9 comments

The Aristocratic Ethics of the Agrarian Ideal

The Aristocratic Ethics of the Agrarian Ideal

In his essay, “Why I am Not Going to Buy a Computer,” Wendell Berry tells the world why he has no intention of buying a computer. Berry makes it clear throughout the essay that he believes choosing not to using a computer is the morally superior course of action. Some of this is because of the harm reduction in terms of the environment, but he also clearly believes that avoiding this new technology will enable him to be more fully human. This does not, for Berry, extend just to computers, as he mentions in passing that, “[a]s a farmer” he chooses  to “do almost all of [his] work with horses.”[1] Indeed, it seems that behind Berry’s argument in the essay is the classically American blend of agrarianism and Aristotelian virtue ethics that sees land ownership and the labor of farming as the forge that will shape virtuous citizens for the republic. I cannot say with certainty that this is what undergirds Berry’s thinking, having only read this one essay, but...

Read More

Posted by on Apr 7, 2014 | 0 comments

Is Humanity Worth It?: Seriously Dangerous Religion, Noah, and the Image of God

Is Humanity Worth It?: Seriously Dangerous Religion, Noah, and the Image of God

The following article contains spoilers for Noah (2014) and is in part a response to this article, which was shared with me after I had expressed my appreciation for the film. In discussing the film’s narrative, I have used “man” and “Creator” in place of “humanity” and “God” following the film’s language. Dr. Iain Provan recently released his newest book, Seriously Dangerous Religion: What the Old Testament Says and Why it Really Matters. I had the privilege of attending the book launch, and getting a taste of what the book, which I’m currently reading, has to say. Among the arguments of the book is a point close to Provan’s heart—the deep positive significance of the Old Testament for human rights. Without going into too much detail, the argument hinges on the importance of the Old Testament’s view of human worth in undermining other ancient Near Eastern views of humanity in the cosmos and how these assumptions about human worth that the Old Testament makes form a foundational bed-rock for the...

Read More

Posted by on Mar 30, 2014 | 1 comment

Noah’s Righteousness Contra the Wicked

Noah’s Righteousness Contra the Wicked

This post is not yet another assessment of the recently released movie Noah. Others have done a good (and not so good) job of evaluating how this movie harmonizes with the biblical account. Instead, this post is using the excuse of a new and popular movie to return to a key biblical theme that carries water in our current age: wickedness and righteousness. In Genesis 6:5 it is written: The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. (NRSV) The language at the start of this verse should be familiar. Where have we heard it prior in the book of Genesis? The last time the verb “to see” (ראה) contained God as the subject of seeing is in the creation account. God saw the light, the vegetation, the beasts, and the human, that is, all that he had made and it was very good. The next time the text points to God’s seeing...

Read More

Posted by on Mar 24, 2014 | 8 comments

The Goodness of God and the Theology of Suffering

The Goodness of God and the Theology of Suffering

“If Jesus could heal a blind person he happened to meet, then why not heal blindness?”[1] This, for Christopher Hitchens, was one of the simple, obvious questions marking an intelligent person’s path away from faith. It was his way of describing one of the most common objections to Christianity. How can we believe in a God who is both all-powerful and good amidst the brokenness we see in the world? The strength of this objection lies in its appeal to both reason and emotion. In the face of suffering and evil, heart and mind come together in an outcry against the claim that God is good. I come from a church background that has a strong sense of God’s immediate presence and direct intervention in our lives. We believe in the reality of miracles and healing. We believe God is intimately involved in our circumstances. We regularly proclaim God’s goodness and power in our worship, and invoke them in our daily lives. For example, I pray for God to...

Read More

Posted by on Feb 13, 2014 | 5 comments

Technology’s Lie and the Promise of Love

Technology’s Lie and the Promise of Love

Last week Ryan Ricker responded (Evangelical Environmentalists and Ethical Oil) to my creation care (Salvation is not the Point: The Point is what we do with Salvation) post with an argument of technological optimism in support of responsible development. Tracing the development of Protestantism, science, and capitalism through the enlightenment’s pursuit of certainty, Ryan asks “So what is the goal to value: pristine earth or human flourishing?” He concludes that the questions of ethical development are questions of risk and potential harms. However, to limit the ethical discussion of development to empirical arguments over projected risks or harms is to participate in the faith that technology will “lead humanity to justice and equality” by assuming that all we have to do is limit harm.[1] Like so many moderns before him, Ryan combines his confidence in the rewards of risk with a confidence in the ability of humans to know, learn, develop, and act in progression towards the good with the help of our technology. Hence he can say of ethical...

Read More

Posted by on Feb 3, 2014 | 0 comments

Evangelical Environmentalists and Ethical Oil

Evangelical Environmentalists and Ethical Oil

The “tarsands” have become a sticky topic in North America.  Development is becoming the main driver of the Canadian economy, but they pollute and they are ugly.  Should a responsible Christian offer up some worship lyrics and join Neil Young’s protest song?  Or is there a theological defense in favor of continued development? I would submit that the Protestant work ethic (PWE) that got us to here in the first place is good for a few more rounds. John Wesley summarized the PWE as “earn all you can, save all you can, and give all you can”. This is a reflection of the reformer’s idea that all work is sacred, if it is done with your best effort “as to the Lord”. Money is nothing to be ashamed of, if it’s used wisely (“good stewardship”). Protestantism and the scientific method grew up together, coming as they did as part of the enlightenment.  The “modern” outlook they share is an attempt to appeal to objective observation rather than subjective decree....

Read More