Monday, November 22, 2010

Eastern Versus Western Understandings of Anthropological Brokenness

As this blog attests, I'm an Augustinian. Yet I've been challenged in this assertion by an Eastern Orthodox friend and the writings of some EO writers such as Hart, etc. Each has asserted in eloquent and convincing ways for the deep brokenness of humanity, but from very different starting points. What would be some good critical texts available in English that address the division and vision of each side? I know that we (I) are deeply shaped by our cultural confluence, and that affects our perception of every issue, even our basic identity.

I certainly affirm, in my deep uncertainty, my Christian convictions, doubtful as they are. Primarily because I see myself so clearly in the gospel. A Saviour saving those so clearly needing to be saved rings true to me. I seem myself in the Publican and the Sinner. I see myself in the Brother who ran away and in the one who stayed. Every parabolic expression of this spiritual reality tells my story. Scripture is brutally honest. That's what spoke to me even as a child. When I read Job and Ecclesiates I recognized the words.

But how do we understand our brokenness? What was it that "broke" us?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Herding Cats and Conspiracy Theories

An excellent essay about how conspiracy theorists get academia and experts so wrong. I just discovered this blog today, called Muertos's Blog, and I must say I'm impressed so far. I look forward to checking it out more. Even with what I've read today, I know I'll be going back for more. Oh, and a hat tip to James McGrath for the link.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Beck versus Soros: Day Two

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

What's fascinating and obviously scary about Glenn Beck's fanatical conspiratorial rantings is NOT how many times he lies or distorts. That's a long list in its own right. No. What's fascinating and scary is how reminiscent this all is. On night one of the conspirator's wet dream Glenn gave us numerous antisemitic memes (oh, but Glenn's not an antisemite! He LOVES Israel.) such as Soros' Jewish background, referencing antisemitic attacks against him, classic imagery and terms that serve as convenient dog whistles to those who "know" what's "really" going on.

Beck has been steeped in far right conspiracy thinking for years now. His guiding light, if you will, is none other than Willard Cleon Skousen, a far right Mormon "historian" that even the Mormon church, not to mention mainstream conservatism, rejected as being so beyond the bounds that he laid in well deserved obscurity till Mr Beck decided to resurrect his bizarre notions and propel them to #1 on Amazon. To better understand Beck's conspiratorial milieu, especially with regard to his spouting off on Soros, Klousen is essential. It's a bizarre, if internally consistent, melange of far right anti-communism of the JBS variety combined with some very "peculiar" Mormon beliefs. Mormon beliefs not only about America's founding, but also about end time prognostications.

Anybody who knows me knows I enjoy poking fun at Beck. He is beyond outlandish and has even described himself as being a rodeo clown. But in the last year or two he has morphed into a surpassingly effective demagogue to millions of viewers who listen to his words as though he were a modern day prophet. As an aside, I'm not a fan of George Soros. I'm sure he does good stuff. But it's pretty evident that he's ruthless in his business dealings and has his own mega-maniacal ego that is larger than life. Yet, as powerful as he is, I'm pretty sure he's not the Prince of Darkness. Though I suspect Beck, in his own darker moments, thinks those very thoughts. I suspect that may betray more about Beck than anything he's analyzing.

Glenn Beck versus the "all powerful" George Soros.

Part one:

Part two:

Part three:

Part four:

Part Five:

Part six:

Part seven: