27 September 2007

Inchoate Thursday

Inchoate: "only partly in existence; imperfectly formed." Meaning that I'm going to ramble, or possibly maunder, a bit tonight. Long day. Every Thursday is a long day, but this one was a bit longer. Annik has laryngitis, so I wound up giving the lecture for her 11:00 Math108 section. She could talk enough to help people one-on-one, but couldn't project. So I had one extra lecture to give in an already full day. *sighs I once had to give a lecture with a voice like hers sounded today... I used the ELMO and wrote out a bunch of stuff so that I could mostly point to things and avoid talking very much.

Anyway, I found a few things to share and carefully placed them below the fold. Make that inchoately placed them below the fold, as I don't feel that I am currently in complete existence. Incomplete existence? Uh... Never mind.

I found a poem excerpt over at Daylight Atheism, and decided to track down the whole thing. It's called "Sunday Morning" and was written by Wallace Stevens. I'll put one stanza here for your edification:

She says, "But in contentment I still feel
The need of some imperishable bliss."
Death is the mother of beauty; hence from her,
Alone, shall come fulfillment to our dreams
And our desires. Although she strews the leaves
Of sure obliteration on our paths,
The path sick sorrow took, the many paths
Where triumph rang its brassy phrase, or love
Whispered a little out of tenderness,
She makes the willow shiver in the sun
For maidens who were wont to sit and gaze
Upon the grass, relinquished to their feet.
She causes boys to pile new plums and pears
On disregarded plate. The maidens taste
And stray impassioned in the littering leaves.

Very nice poem. Read the whole thing. There are 8 stanzas, all about the same length as this one.

Also, one of the commenters at Debunking Christianity mentioned John Shelby Spong as his vision of how Christianity should be seen. I'd never heard of him, hence the Wikipedia linkage. His 12 points are rather...interesting. Completely heretical to 99% of Christianity, but interesting. As reported at Wikipedia, here they are (my comments in red):

1. Theism, as a way of defining God, is dead. So most theological God-talk is today meaningless. A new way to speak of God must be found. (If there is a god, how is any belief in god not theist? Me confused. Best guess: his alternative is a mystical god, rather than a personal one.)

2. Since God can no longer be conceived in theistic terms, it becomes nonsensical to seek to understand Jesus as the incarnation of the theistic deity. So the Christology of the ages is bankrupt. (Still presuming some form of mysticism.)

3. The biblical story of the perfect and finished creation from which human beings fell into sin is pre-Darwinian mythology and post-Darwinian nonsense. (Uh, obvious much?)

4. The virgin birth, understood as literal biology, makes Christ's divinity, as traditionally understood, impossible. (No clue what this means.)

5. The miracle stories of the New Testament can no longer be interpreted in a post-Newtonian world as supernatural events performed by an incarnate deity.
(Uh, obvious much^2?)

6. The view of the cross as the sacrifice for the sins of the world is a barbarian idea based on primitive concepts of God and must be dismissed.
(Uh, obvious much^3?)

7. Resurrection is an action of God. Jesus was raised into the meaning of God. It therefore cannot be a physical resuscitation occurring inside human history.
(No clue what this means.)

8. The story of the Ascension assumed a three-tiered universe and is therefore not capable of being translated into the concepts of a post-Copernican space age. (Presumably he means that ascending into the Christian Heaven by going up into the sky is nonsense, since beyond the sky is empty space, etc.)

9. There is no external, objective, revealed standard writ in scripture or on tablets of stone that will govern our ethical behavior for all time.
(Uh, obvious much^4?)

10. Prayer cannot be a request made to a theistic deity to act in human history in a particular way. (Cannot be? Maybe should not be. So a redefinition, here.)

11. The hope for life after death must be separated forever from the behavior control mentality of reward and punishment. The Church must abandon, therefore, its reliance on guilt as a motivator of behavior.
(Uh, obvious much^5?)

12. All human beings bear God's image and must be respected for what each person is. Therefore, no external description of one's being, whether based on race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, can properly be used as the basis for either rejection or discrimination. (Very nice, overall. Without a definition of God's image, I can't say much more than that.)

I'm curious to know how much of this is his own wording. I'd also be curious to read some expansions on these ideas. Some of this reads like inchoate babbling to me, while other parts are beautifully lucid. Anyway, before my own lucidity runs out, I'll stop writing.


John said...

So basically he's saying that in order for Xianity to remain viable in the modern world, it has to change to something completely different.

Qalmlea said...

Or possibly something more like Christian Mysticism. Interestingly, my only problem with the second link is that they pretty much ignore the huge mystic tradition of the east and insist that "true" mysticism began with Christ.

At Yakrider (which now seems to be defunct), he commented that the misery of Christianity is that Christ was one with god but traditional Christianity offers no path to its followers to share that oneness. I tend to agree with that sentiment.

Qalmlea said...

Oops! One of those links was supposed to be to the Wikipedia article on the topic.

John said...

" 'true' mysticism began with Christ"

for Xians, everything began with Christ. Most Xian holidays were stolen from other religions to make conversion easier, in the case of pagans at least.

My Mom dragged me to hear a Xian speaker on time who claimed tha Christmas was a particularly Xian holiday, because pagans "had nothing to celebrate in the middle of winter."

I was asked to leave after "*cough*Solstice*cough*"

Qalmlea said...

Yuh-huh... nothing to celebrate... Those big bonfires nearly every culture had for the solstice obviously don't count.