How can a book written by a North African bishop nearly 1,600 years ago possibly have any relevance today? As Jason Goroncy points out, that’s precisely the question that ABC’s Encounter program sought to answer as it brought in a panel of experts to discuss the contemporary relevance of Augustine’s City of God.
The ABC’s recently aired a worthwhile discussion about the contemporary relevance of Augustine’s The program, titled ‘Grace and the City’ can be read here, listened to via a stream here, or downloaded here.
The guests on the program include Charles Mathewes (Associate Professor in Religious Studies, University of Virginia), John von Heyking (Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Lethbridge, Alberta), Lawrence Cross (Associate Professor, Faculty of Theology and Philosophy, Australian Catholic University), John Milbank (Professor in Religion, Politics and Ethics, The University of Nottingham) and Thomas Smith (Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Villanova University).
Patheos has posted a list of ten spiritually or theologically significant films from 2010. You’ll have to read the post to see their explanation for why they selected each film, but here’s the list:
- The Social Network
- 127 Hours
- Winter’s Bone
- Let Me In
- Get Low
- The Kids Are All Right
- Tron: Legacy
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1
As I mentioned while back, this has not been a big movie year for me. So, I haven’t actually seen any of these films (not even Harry Potter or Tron, though I hope to rectify the latter failure soon). If you’ve seen any of these and would agree that it is “spiritually or theologically significant,” let us know.
- Andy Crouch discusses the Ten Most Significant Cultural Trends of the Last Decade. (HT)
Ten years is a very short time. As I reflect on the world in 2011 compared to the world in 2001, I’m less struck by how much has changed than by how much is the same. Terror, war, new technology, economic boom and bust, surprising political triumphs followed by sudden changes of fortune—yup, sounds like the 1990s, 1980s, 1970s, and 1960s to me. It’s almost axiomatic that any change big enough to shape an entire nation or society happens in long waves spanning generations, not a mere ten years.
- Denis Alexander discusses the theological implications of human genomics, specifically recent studies dealing with the relationship between modern humans and neanderthals.
Do these findings have any particular theological significance? It is difficult to know why this should be the case. In the Judeo-Christian tradition humankind uniquely is made “in the image of God”. The suite of capabilities that emerged during human evolution is necessary but not sufficient to do justice to this much discussed theological insight.
That’s why, despite all the technology that makes communicating easier than ever, 2010 was the Year We Stopped Talking to One Another. From texting at dinner to posting on Facebook from work or checking e-mail while on a date, the connectivity revolution is creating a lot of divided attention, not to mention social angst. Many analysts say it’s time to step back and reassess.
- Brian LePort caused a bit of a stir last week by arguing that the Apostle’s Creed can serve as a minimum basis for Christian fellowship. He has followed that up with two other posts on the same topic (see here and here). The discussions have been interesting and are definitely worth following.
- Mashable has an interesting list of 8 Sci-Fi Technologies That Are No Longer Just Fiction.
- And, here is this year’s List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness.
Much of what medical researchers conclude in their studies is misleading, exaggerated, or flat-out wrong. So why are doctors—to a striking extent—still drawing upon misinformation in their everyday practice?
- Thomas Kidd asks Is Evangelicalism Standing the Test of Time? The “Fundamentals” at 100.
How much has the evangelical movement changed in the past 100 years? A quick review of The Fundamentals suggests that evangelicals 1) have shed some unfortunate biases of those bygone days, 2) continue to struggle with similar intellectual issues, most notably evolution, and 3) retain a common message of grace through Christ.
- In a Wired editorial, “Wake Up Geek Culture. Time to Die,” Patton Oswalt argues that the internet makes it to easy to be a geek and that is detrimental for creativity and culture.
I’m not a nerd. I used to be one, back 30 years ago when nerd meant something.
- In a NYT piece, Charles Griswold discusses the nature of forgiveness.
forgiveness is neither just a therapeutic technique nor simply self-regarding in its motivation; it is fundamentally a moral relation between self and other.
- Denny Burk offers a few plans for reading through the Greek NT in one year.
- And, if you’re looking for help with your resume, apparently RezScore is a webapp that will grade your resume and offer free advice for improving it. It sounds like it’s worth checking out.
- Justin Taylor has an excellent guest post from Andrew Cowan on What NT Wright really said.
In my judgment, however, the claim that Wright has changed his view on justification is misguided and results from the misreading of Wright that has been rampant in the Reformed world for quite some time.
- John Byron offers a good thought on celebrity-ism and the academy.
What are we doing? Our scholarship has become, in some ways, a celebrity sport. We stand in awe of speakers who are introduced as the author of twenty books, over one hundred articles and three video series. Bart Ehrman and NT Wright appear on the Colbert report, and while I admit I found their performance entertaining, I wonder why it is that these people are held up as the representatives of scholarship in our field?
- Richard Beck reflects on The Thomas Kincade Effect, or the problem of kitsch in Christian art.
it is worth wondering if Christians (or anyone for that matter) might be attracted to artwork that portrays a world “without the Fall,” a sweet, shiny, untroubled and Disneyesque existence.
- And, Bob Cargill’s SBL paper is now available, “Instruction, Research, and the Future of Online Educational Technologies”. HT
- Andy Naselli discusses how to organize your theological library using Zotero. Nick Norelli explains why he thinks it’s easier just to organize your library with a simple MS Word document. Personally, I like a good bibliographic manager, and have been using Endnote for quite a while now.
- Brian LePort points out a new blog project called “Intercultural Theology: Theological Education and Cultural Inclusion.” This should be worth keeping an eye on.
- Brian also has a nice post on the importance of letting Luke’s pneumatology stand on its own.
- Jim West reports that the Dead Sea Scrolls will soon be available through Google Books.
- Yesterday I linked to Michael Patton’s summary of an Eastern Orthodox view of predestination. Today, Joel Watts provides the text of the Confession of Dositheus, in which Eastern Orthodox theologians respond to the rise of Calvinist theology. It’s very interesting reading.
- Grateful to the Dead provides a very nice summary of Luke Timothy Johnson’s defense of the “innovations” in the Nicene Creed and the importance of creeds in general.
- Here’s Skye Jethani’s report on the first day of the Lausanne conference
- And, the word on the street is that Homer Simpson is officially Catholic.
- John Armstrong offers some interesting reflections on postmodernism and Christianity. (I noted this post particularly because he references Merold Westphal’s “Overcoming Onto-theology,” which some of us are reading for a class this semester.) HT
- Over at Per Crucem ad Lucem, Jono Ryan discusses the importance of having a transformative encounter with truth, reflecting on Paul’s counsel to Timothy in 2 Tim. 2:18-19.
- Russell Saltzman deals with mean Lutherans. (Actually, he’s talking about civility in online theological discourse, but “mean Lutherans” sounds so much more interesting.)
- The Guardian has an interview with Insane Clown Posse, which may be among the more disturbing things I’ve read in a while. The two rappers confirm that although they’ve been producing some of the most violent rap music in the industry for the last 20 years, they actually claim to have been active (closet) Christians the entire time. As Gangster J explains, “You have to speak their language. You have to interest them, gain their trust, talk to them and show you’re one of them. You’re a person from the street and you speak of your experiences. Then at the end you can tell them: God has helped me.” Oh, so the rampant violence, profanity, and misogyny in their songs, were just ways of gaining access to and credibility in the world of gangster rap. I guess that makes it all okay then.
- Camille Paglia has some scathing comments to make about Lady Gaga and whether her complete lack of “genuine eroticism” heralds the “death of sex” for this generation. HT
- Justin Taylor asked around and came up with a very interesting list of important sermons and articles worth reading.
- Kim Fabricius has an interesting post on our need to repent from our repenting (i.e. we need to realize that we’re repenting wrongly).
- Michael Lindsay summarizes a recent study on how evangelicals in positions of power actually lead, demonstrating a broad range of ways in which these leaders live out their evangelical convictions in the workplace.
- Peter Sacks criticizes a number of recent books written on American higher education. He argues that their criticisms are overinflated and sensationalized, contending instead that many indicators suggest that although our colleges are at a critical crossroads, they are far from failing entirely.
- Carl Trueman continues to write in praise of the generalist this time with a few thoughts on how to become one.
- There’s been an interesting exchange on minimalism and biblical interpretation. Jim West started things off by explaining what “minimalism” is and why “maximalism” is a distortion of Scripture’s real purpose. Daniel Kirk and Thomas Verenna followed with posts of their own. Together, these three posts comprise an excellent discussion on the “historicity” of the biblical texts.
- And, if you want to get a little grossed out this morning, here’s a list of 10 parasites that turn their hosts into zombies.
- Carl Trueman posts his second blog in praise of the generalist, this time arguing that being a generalist is in fact possible.
- Bob Cargill has an excellent reflection on the relationship of faith and doubt. “While the interplay between faith and doubt is daunting enough in the abstract, its lived manifestation fundamentally alters the foundational worldview of anyone who dares to wield the powerful sword of doubt. And that is precisely what I did.” (HT)
- James Smith continues to talk about going to grad school, this time looking at the importance of friends, family, and church in the grad school experience.
- Laura Miller has an interesting post at Salon.com on some significant problems with Google Books.
- Mere Orthodoxy has an interview with Brett McCracken, the author of Hipster Christianity.
- Nijay Gupta offers some reviews of a couple of books on the historical Jesus.
- Justin Taylor offers a list from Ken Myer of the 10 best books for developing a better understanding of culture.
- And, Daniel Kirk explains one reason why understanding Greek accents is more important than you may have realized.
I was going to try and post something thoughtful and intelligent this evening, but then I ran across this article in Ten of the Bloodiest Bedtime Stories. That’s just not fair. How am I supposed to resist a title like that? Sure I still need to finish preparing my lectures for my Philosophy & Theology class tomorrow (don’t tell my students), but this is critical research that absolutely cannot wait. If I really thought about it, I know I could come up with a way of integrating this material into our philosophical ruminations. So, I’ll get to kill two birds with one stone. (See, the bloody imagery is everywhere.)
Obviously, I succumbed to the temptation and read the article. It was fun. Stupid Little Red Riding Hood stays inside the wolf’s belly where she belongs, two of those three whiny pigs get eaten, Belle’s father actually sells her to the Beast in exchange for his own freedom, the Little Mermaid dies and her beautiful prince marries someone else, and Pinocchio smashes Jiminy Cricket with a hammer. That’s outstanding. Why doesn’t Disney make these stories? They’d be so much better.
One question that comes to mind after reading these other endings: Do we coddle our kids too much or were the kids of an earlier era a complete emotional/psychological mess?