December 15th, 2012
Pantheism is the idea that God is immanent in all things. Modern pantheism rose from the transcendence vs. immanence debate in the 19th century. The closing of the age of Reason appeared to leave religion in a predicament. It seemed that the choices were to opt for the traditional Christian emphasis on human sin and divine salvation, maintained by appeal to the Bible and the church. Or one was forced to follow the modern skeptical rationalism that arose as the final product of the enlightened individual mind. Theologians of the pre-Enlightenment era agreed that one could not just return to pre-Enlightenment dogmatic orthodoxy, they refused to accept post-Enlightenment skeptical rationalism as the only alternative. Thus, they began to search for new ways to understand the Christian faith. Thus they sought to move beyond the Enlightenment while incorporating the advances it had made, which could definitely have been to the detriment of the Christian Faith. More specifically, they attempted to establish a new relationship between transcendence and immanence in the wake of shattering the medieval balance.
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November 30th, 2012
I would like to ask all of you to wear purple at least once this week for Crohn’s and Colitis awareness week. As some of you know, I’ve been in a tough battle with the disease for a while now and I’ve been in chronic pain since last summer. For more on my story please see my links:
Originally blogged at My Journey With Crohns.
As a result of a federal bill introduced by Senator Harry Reid
(D-NV) and Congressman Andrew Crenshaw
(R-FL-4) (passed in 2011 [LINK: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/sres199/text
], Congress declared December 1-7 to be Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week to educate Americans about the diseases and encourage people to join in the effort to find a cure for IBD. This resolution was passed in thanks to some great Senators and Representatives who cosponsored it including:
· Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS)
· Senator Jack Reed (D-RI)
· Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
· Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)
October 4th, 2012
The following is the abstract and a link to the paper written by Thomas Talbott.
I argue that, contrary to the opinion of Wes Morriston, William Rowe, and others, a supremely perfect God, if one should exist, would be the freest of all beings and would represent the clearest example of what it means to act freely. I suggest further that, if we regard human freedom as a reflection of God’s ideal freedom, we can avoid some of the pitfalls in both the standard libertarian and the standard compatibilist accounts of freewill.
My purpose in this paper is to set forth a theory of agency that makes no appeal to mysterious notions of agent causation. But lest I be misunderstood at the very outset, I should perhaps clarify the point that my emphasis here is on the term “mysterious” and not on the expression “agent causation.” I shall begin with what seems to me the best possible example of agent causation: the sense in which a supremely perfect God, if one should ex- ist, would initiate or originate his own actions. I shall not, however, simply adopt without modification the standard understanding of agent causa- tion, assuming there to be such an understanding.
Please continue reading…
July 20th, 2012
Today, July 20, 2012, marks the first anniversary of my Crohn’s surgery. I have had Crohn’s for eight years and it has won the battle over a few organs. I was in serious pain for just over a month prior to the surgery. I spent my birthday last year, July 18, in pain. The next day I was going to go out with some friends to TGI Friday’s for a Jack Daniel’s steak to celebrate my birthday. I wasn’t feeling well that afternoon and took a nap. I woke up with a 105 degree fever. Leah rushed me to the hospital. I was not a good patient. I was angry. I refused to take the CT scan at first because I knew what they would find. I gave in. I didn’t know what they would find. I was wrong. They found that my colon was perforated and I needed emergency surgery. They let my body rest for the night in the ICU. It was a rough night…
(Please click here to help me and others.)
I remember the nurses pushing my bed into the room where they prepped me for surgery. I was, of course, having fun with all the drugs I was on, but I knew what was going on. My Dad and step-mother drove out from Richmond for my surgery. I’m so glad they did. I saw them before going in thinking, “What if this is the last time I see them?” The staff let Leah back in one more time before I went unconscious. She had to hold on my wedding ring while I was in surgery. I remember asking my surgeon how many times he’s done this surgery and he said that my condition was “pretty bad” but that he has done thousands and this sort of thing was his “bread and butter.” I trusted him. These surgeries happen all the time, so why was I so nervous deep down?
Before Leah came back into the prep area to get my ring, I prayed. Even though I was high as a kite on the dilaudid and Valium it was the most serious prayer I ever made. I prayed for the surgeon and that I’d make it out okay. I felt like I couldn’t even pray for no complications. Even if complications happened I didn’t care, I just wanted to come out on the other side. This was the first time I seriously entertained the thought that I might actually die and these are my last few moments awake. Without the surgery I could have easily died in a short period of time, but I didn’t think that was going to happen. I’ll come back to this in a bit.
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February 3rd, 2012
I was speaking with a good friend of mine earlier today and she told me about why her recent ex-boyfriend broke up with her (let’s call her Jane and him Richard). Jane is in her last year as an undergraduate in theatre. Richard couldn’t come to terms with an appreciation for theatre and the arts. According to him these things are only useful if used for explicit ministerial purposes. This led to Richard breaking up with Jane. This is such a sad state of affairs. What makes this a curious situation is that I’m fairly confident this ideology is rampant in men. I often hear that if a man is in theatre, the ballet, or the arts he must be gay or feminine. I’m going to argue on the contrary. It seems that being masculine or manly has become equivocated with being macho or a rough and tough man who likes football and hockey. There’s nothing wrong with football and hockey, surely real men can like these too, but there’s more to being a masculine man than just that. Men who have an appreciation for theatre, ballet, opera, gymnastics, poetry, and the arts are men who encompass so much more about life.
Let’s primarily consider just a few of these examples. Ballet is such a beautiful feat. This is one of the most beautiful expressions of the beauty and ability of the human body. Imagine an adagio, slow graceful movements to slow music, while the woman is performing several movements and entrechats and she comes to rest in battement tendu (sliding her straightened out leg beside her). While she comes to her last position imagine the man gracefully approaching her for their final coda. He forms his body to hers for a perfect coupling. The grace, discipline, strength, and the form of dance is a spectacular demonstration of the body. It’s a presentation of how the beauty of the body can be expressed–the intimacy of the coupling of body to body.
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December 20th, 2011
I wanted to write to you with my best intentions of preparing you for the life to come. I have so much to tell you and so much to prepare you for. Don’t worry; I’m not ruining any surprises. It’s like when you read the ingredients of your favorite dinner on the menu of your favorite restaurant. You know what’s coming but knowing just that never seems to ruin the experience, does it? You still experience the joy of the meal. It’s a bit like that my friend. This letter will only foretell you of things to come. My purpose in writing you is to make sure you understand what it means to experience life.
I’ll cut straight to the core issue–your life is going to be good and I have nothing but good news for you. Despite what you’re about to read it’s all beautiful. Your life is going to change. Okay, before I continue I know what you’re wondering and yes, you will get married. You’re going to meet this beautiful girl in college. She’s going to distract you from everything. You’ll have a romantic tunnel vision. Everything else is going to blur and you’re going to focus in on her. Her smile is going to capture you. Her eyes are going to melt you. You’ll learn to love. This is the love that can never be adequately expressed in words. Actions and experience is the only sufficient way of knowing this love… a love that helps you understand God.
This brings me to my next point. Sooner or later you’re going to become a Christian. The thing is, this doesn’t make your life any easier. You’ll go to a university and study philosophy and you’ll learn to love science. Pay attention in school. Please, if this finds you please study physics more before university. It will make things easier for me here! You’ll eventually aim to make a career in academia.
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September 9th, 2011
We all remember where we were. I was running the mile from P.E. class my Freshman year in high school. My mother worked at the high school and I saw her as I walked back in to the school from the track. I wasn’t able to talk to her but I saw on her face that something didn’t seem right. By the time I got to the locker room someone had said that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. I’m thinking a little Piper Cub. I was wrong.
There weren’t any loiterers in the hall, everyone went straight to the next class, mine was history. We watched the news for the rest of the day. I saw the second tower fall. It was hard for me to grasp what was happening. This was something you see in movies. Buildings don’t fall down like that. The hardest part was watching people jump to their death… suicide. Consider their thought process… “It’s better for me to jump to my death than to be in this burning building.” Consider the hell. Consider the peril. Consider their subliminal existential reflection… “I’m over.”
The next day the whole school gathered in the hallways as we sat and listened to the boys chorus sing “I’m Proud to be an American.” It’s hard not to get emotional about reflecting about that now. I was sitting with my JROTC class at the time. I tried to hide it. I wept in that hallway. I didn’t even know anyone that was directly effected by this, but how can you not weep over such murder, evil, suicide, and devastation on human life?
Last year I delivered a lecture on the problem of evil. I spent the first hour trying to emphasize the importance of this discussion and how God can still be good and loving given such evil and suffering. It was difficult for me to keep my composure giving the example of September 11th. We may have forgotten the direct impact we have had but we cannot forget the value of human life and the evil that seeks perilous ends. Yes, nationalism plays a role in most Americans… It’s the nature of being American. However, the existential value and purpose of human life far exceeds any national empathy. That’s not to note that I don’t want my nation to protect me, I do. There are many evils I cannot protect myself from and I am thankful for that protection.
I stood where the towers once were a few years ago. I saw some of the damage in surrounding buildings and a firehouse where they didn’t want to replace the damaged bricks. It was haunting. Here I am ten years later… Where were you?
August 10th, 2011
The Enlightenment restricted knowledge to experience and the phenomenal. Post-Enlightenment thought sought to progress in knowledge while considering the advances the Enlightenment had made. The Christian faith attempted to develop a new relationship between transcendence and immanence. Transcendence has to do with God’s being self-sufficient and beyond or above the universe. Immanence corresponds with God being present and active in creation, intimately involved in human history. Newtonian physics did not permit God to be immanent in the universe. This came into question was brought into light by the unmistakable success of science.
Einstein’s GTR permitted the possibility that God interacts with the created order without interrupting the physical cause and effect system. The most important task for scientific theologians was how to avoid de facto deism—not merely by calling it unorthodox and expressing a dislike for the Newtonian theistic system, but by actually showing why it is an unnecessary conclusion drawn from science. Christian theologians must be in the position to say what they mean by God’s activity in the world and how God’s activity can be consistent with the belief that God has created a finite order with a goodness and perfection of its own.
 Clayton Philip, God and Contemporary Science (Edinburgh, Scotland: Edinburgh University Press, 1997), 188.
 See Thomas Torrance, Space, Time, and Incarnation (Edinburgh, Scotland: T&T Clark, 1969).
August 7th, 2011
As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” 58And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” 59And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” 60But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” 61Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” 62But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
The passage in Luke is in reference to a problem passage where Jesus describes the costs to being His disciple by claiming that you must put Him at priority above all else. In a culture completely different from first century Judaism, the words spoken by Jesus are incredibly problematic and make Jesus seem to be unsympathetic to a man in grief. The historical context to Jesus’ words serve to eliminate the problem of sympathy and goes to show that His words carry much further to a deeper and more profound meaning.
The key historical context that is needed is to understand is the Jewish thought and priority to the parents. Parents were to always be shown favor. In light of parents being due honor in the Ten Commandments, it was esteemed with more honor than many other commandments (Letter of Aristeas 228). Tobit [4.3-4; 6.14-5] gives further historical background on the priority and respect given to parents in the context of the death of a parent.
Josephus elaborated on the view of funerals and the dead from a [Jewish] legal perspective according to the law [Against Apion 2.27-28 §§205-206]. The death of anyone was an event that was highly respected. During the funeral procession, anyone who passes by was to join with those who are mourning and lament. Josephus adds that the death of a parent is honored immediately after God Himself and if anyone does not honor this law then that person is to be stoned.
The historical facts that make these words of Jesus so incredibly profound are that it involved the death of someone and the death was of the man’s father. The question that immediately arises is whether or not Jesus broke the law by telling the man to follow Him. The answer would simply be “no,” He did not break the law. Jesus completely overrode that priority given to parents and in doing so actually made a claim of divinity. Notice that Josephus pointed out that parents were a priority immediately after God Himself. In Jesus saying that He had priority over the death of this man’s father was a claim, which would be understood to those who knew the law, that He was God. Jesus [as God] has immediate priority over everything.