Ever Being Formed in our Heart

In our modern world we sometimes forget that a single person is not able to do much on their own. If Wittgenstein was right, then we really can’t do anything on our own. We live, for good or ill, within a culture, within a social matrix that makes most aspects of our life possible. Language is a social construct; world-views are a social construct; family is a social construct and I could…

In the Shadow of the Grand Inquisitor

Perhaps the most famous chapter in all of Dostoevsky’s novels is that of the “Grand Inquisitor” in The Brothers Karamazov. It is a “poem” according to the character Ivan Karamazov, a fanciful tale that embodies all of the cyncism that Ivan can muster. In a previous chapter, “Rebellion,” Ivan had mounted a devastating complaint against God with regard to the problem of evil. Having completed his tales of injustice (mostly involving children…

Talking Theology

I learned during years of theological study that it is possible to give a “theological account” of almost anything and even make it sound cogent. Of course everything that sounds cogent is not necessarily true. In my morning paper I read the following account from a local Church. It was under the heading, “Cafe Worship”: Cafe Worship is an interactive church service designed to engage all five senses. Instead of pews, congregants…

Learning to Sin

This morning I had a chance in a conversation to remember Stanley Hauerwas with whom I studied in my time at Duke in the late 80’s (and early 90’s). This article begins with a reflection from a Hauerwas contention: “that sin is something you have to learn.” It is typical of his thought – startling statements that beg a question – followed by a frequently new insight. The insight of this piece…

Icons and the Smashing of Images

My recent series on iconicity would seem to require a word or two about the smashing of images (iconoclasm). +++ I have a quote on the sidebar from an earlier posting. It is about the need we have for proper images and the danger inherent in “image smashing” or “iconoclasm.” We have to renounce iconoclasm. In so doing, we inherently set ourselves against certain forces within modernity. The truth is eschatological, that is, it…

How Simple Should Christianity Be?

There is a tendency in our modern world to make things as simple as possible. We hide the complexities behind a keyboard (I don’t know how my computer works – or not very well) or we treat things that seem complex as unnecessary obfuscations. This same drive to simplify was very much alive in the 16th century as Christianity underwent reform in many places of the world. Thomas Cranmer, the English Reformer,…

What's the Point?

For a man who does not believe in God – nothing points to God. For a man who believes in God – everything points to God. So who’s right? There is almost no argument between these two experiences. For someone who does not believe in God my own contention that everything points to God is pretty much meaningless. In extraordinary cases we can listen to each other and struggle to understand what…

The Agent of Change

A continuation of the series on culture and the individual. As inhabitants of our modern culture, we find ourselves trapped in a world of “cause and effect.” It is a physical explanation of the universe that has, for all intents and purposes, become a universal metaphor, dominating religion and the most personal aspects of our lives. We see ourselves as the agents of change – or responsible for the disasters that litter…