Thursday, February 26, 2009

metalepsis: Yoga vs Christianity

metalepsis: Yoga vs Christianity

Yoga vs Christianity

Now I usually don’t comment on such silly things on my blog, leaving the few posts that I do post, to my current academic interests, but this is just too funny.

Apparently CNN did a little spot about Yoga and Christianity, I didn’t bother to watch it, because I just don’t care what people think about Yoga and Christianity, call me an elitist.  Well this particular segment had Doug Pagitt and John McArthur both men who espouse to follow the Christian faith, and they I assume gave their views on the subject.  But the funny thing is, and this is real funny, they caught Pagitt talking to a women on the set after the segment, and here is what transpired:

Pagitt: Yeah, yeah,…well, you’re sure welcome. Ok, so was it on live too, and then be re-aired? Huh; yeah, that’s great. Thanks. Bye-bye.

Woman: [Way to] go.
Pagitt: Well, thanks. It’s just so weird, isn’t it? [background, “Yes.”] To hear people say stuff like that, like what he’s saying?
Woman: [unintelligible] the reason why younger people don’t go to church. You know what I mean?
Pagitt: I do.
Woman: Because everything is so black and white. You know a position has nothing to do with your body and your spiritual th–you kidding me? [Pagitt snickers in the background] Seriously.
Pagitt: Seriously, [mockingly] “if you want to relieve stress go to the Word of God.” [chuckles]
Woman: Yeah.
Pagitt: [snickering] Oh my goodness.
Woman: It’s like, that’s totally separate; how can you even–ah.
Pagitt: Ah, I don’t know; I…
Woman: I’m glad they have you.
Pagitt: Thanks. Thanks, I apologize for him. [laughs]. Ah…
Woman: [sighs] Well, maybe since that was such a nice conversation, they didn’t give us a lot of time, maybe we can see you again–
Pagitt: Maybe we’ll do it again sometime. Wouldn’t that be fun.
Woman: I got your recording so they did go live with it.
Pagitt: Well, that’s nice.
Woman: That’s here… [unintelligible] you have a DVD–
Pagitt: I have a DVD player. Now my phone should start ringing. All my quirky friends calling me.
Woman: “I saw you…”
Pagitt: “You were pathetic.”
Woman: [laughing]
Pagitt: “I told you to sit up.” I can hear it now.
Woman: No, you were great.
Pagitt: Well, thanks.
Woman: And you didn’t sound crazy either.
Pagitt: [laughing] Thanks.
Woman: Like tha’ other guy. But then you get to watch it again, so…
Pagitt: Yeah, watch it over and over.
Woman: An’ wanna make more copies.
Pagitt: Thanks.
Woman: It was cool to meet you.
Pagitt: Yeah, thank you. Good to know you.
Woman: Yeah.
Pagitt: Should I leave the tag with you.
Woman: I’ll take it for ya. Is it easy for you to go out that way?
Pagitt: Go out that door? Yeah, because I’m parked across the street.
Woman: Oh, cool.
Pagitt: Ok.
Woman: Alright, you have a good day.
Pagitt: Thanks so much.

Now the reason this is so funny is that people (well cronies of John) are now all over Pagitt  for apologizing for what John MacArthur said.   From this transcript it looks like John said something about finding stress relief akin to yoga in the word of God.   Well whatever… I kinda feel for Pagitt because I don’t think he intended his remarks to call into question MacArthur’s Christianity, just his crazy Yoga beliefs.  The moral of the story is only debate a fundamentalist if you want to distance yourself from them, and if you never again want to engage them.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Something to Ponder

"Every position on postmodernism in culture - whether apologia or stigmatization - is also at one and the same time, and necessarily, an implicitly or explicitly political stance on the nature of multinational capatalism today."

Friday, February 06, 2009

Justice, what is it good for... Post 5

Folks, I think I was close to getting back on the biblioblogs page, but alas I must have no pull with Brandon Wason, nor with Jim West.  I can't believe that my Sheffield connection didn't do anything for my chances.  Why did I pay so much for an education if it doesn't even get me on to the biblioblogs site? I thought Sheffield was the mecca for Jim, I have heard stories of his regular pilgrimages and ritual sacrifices that he has offered to the the great paternoster in the north. The same paternoster that I myself made regular sacrifices to weekly as a student.


I do promise to stop the groveling ... soon.

Ok, now for the next topoi that Elliott brings to light in his reading of Romans is JUSTITIA.  Now justice is by and far the biggest subject in Romans, however many people are not able to see this because they frame Paul's justice talk in individualistic pietistic ways like, "how can I be made right in the sight of god".  The problem with such individualistic notions is that they are foreign to the NT and Paul.  What Elliott wants us to understand is that the notion of morality is often given to, and an authority enjoyed by, those with the actual power to dominate others.  This is pretty basic stuff, and even if you detest Foucault and his cronies this statement seems pretty uncontroversial, right.  So in looking at Paul's justice talk in comparison to the Empire's we can see that what Paul is doing is contesting the morality of the Empire and confronting the imperial claims and propaganda.

A number of things that Elliott highlights in the text of Romans that Paul is confronting are (1) the notion that Caesar is the embodiment of divine Justice, (2) the proclamation of Caesar's triumph, and (3) the notion that Rome has brought peace to the world, to highlight just a few.  Paul's point is to give his readers/hearers the ability to see that appearances are deceiving, and that reality should not be read from current events, but rather through an apocalyptic imagination.

Elliott does something really interesting in this chapter.  Now I am not sure that I am entirely convinced, but I must say that Elliott is one of the most provacative and interesting interpretors of Paul that I have read, I put him with the likes of Nanos and Stowers as my favorite authors to read on Romans. Elliott takes the famous "chrestus" pronouncement as having a real effect on the Jewish community of Rome.  I tend to see the "chrestus" evidence as overblown, and of little relevance for interpretations of Romans, but that is because most people use it as evidence of a Jewish Gentile split in Rome. Elliott sees it as having an effect on how the recently returned Jews would have been perceived socially and politically.  In the case of the Roman imperial order they would have been deemed as the weak, poor because they would have had to start over whence returning to Rome, and the marginality of these returned Jews, would have called into the power of the Jewish god.  Elliott surmises that the presence of a marginalized poor Jewish community would have been bad PR for the Jewish god, especially when compared to the imperial rhetoric of triumph.  Paul is thus intent in his letter to the Romans to contrast his message with the political realism of the Empire.

It is definitely food for thought...

Monday, February 02, 2009

A Plea, A Post, and (im)Perium

So blogging is not as regular as I had hoped. I must admit that I am not as bright as most bibliobloggers, and that the process of writing is a painful art form, that i have yet to master (and don't have much realistic hope of ever mastering).  But i trudge on in the hopes that Jim West will allow me back on the bibliobloggers site (I think I was on once) even though I don't post enough for him (at least once a week).  Ok I am really hoping that Brandon Wason just uses his clout as moderator and just bypasses jim's screening process all together, sneak me in Brandon!  Either way obscurity is hard to maintain on the internet, so at least I have achieved something, Right.

Ok, now back to our synopsis of Elliott's The Arrogance of Nations. Now like Elliott, I too believe that the exigence of Paul's Letter to the Romans is found in God’s active purpose in calling himto bring about the “Faithful obedience among the nations” (1.5).  And so begins the investigation into a series of topoi that help one understand the dialogical character of Paul's letter to the Romans.

The first topoi Elliott presents is that of IMPERIUM, which loosely translates into something like "the power or status a person or group has". Imperium was very important to Rome, as it is to any government, because in the maintenance of power the consent of weaker peoples is of paramount importance to the ways in which the powerful seek to represent their rule both to themselves and also to their subjects. Elliott suggests that because the obedience of the nations was the prerogative claimed by the Roman Emperor that as a natural consequence we must situate Paul’s rhetoric in this wider field of discourse. It is here that the categories of coercion / consent / obedience / subjection become helpful in navigating imperium.  Naturally all governments, and Empires are no exception here, are systems that are always in permanent crisis of legitimation, so it is within these tensions that the rhetoric of Romans and Paul's program as the apostle to the nations promises to be fruitful.

Elliott uses James C. Scott's Hidden Transcripts as a tool in this exploration. (the Public Transcript = the direct interaction between dominant and subordinate classes and the

Hidden Transcript = the interaction between either the subordinate classes themselves, and or between the dominant classes, that they don't want the other classes to know about.) So rather simplistically (this is due to my simplifying, and is not meant as a polemic of Elliott's study) the public transcript that makes up the backdrop of Paul's letter to the Romans is essentially the idea that justice and faithfulness are the hallmarks of beneficent Roman rule.


Because this public transcript was so prevalent, Paul needed to win the hearts and minds of the Romans. He did this by offering an alternative to the official Public Transcript of Rome.  It is important then that we notice a few terms and how they were used in both the Public Transcript/and in Paul:

1.  Lord was a title for Caesar/Paul uses it to refer to the Messiah

2.  Gospel was the propaganda of the emperor’s victories and described his accession to the throne/Paul uses it to describe the power of the Messiah.

3.  Faithfulness was ones loyalty and steadfastness to the Emperor/Paul uses it to either describe ones loyalty to the Messiah, or the Loyalty of the Messiah to God's plan/promises.  (here Elliott sees faithfulness and obedience as interchangeable terms).

Elliott's reading results in some keen insights:

1.  Paul evokes imperial language, “Greeks and barbarians” in order to show that he will not be engaging in the “civilizing mission” of Rome.

2.  Paul rather playfully rejects the honor and shame codes current among the Roman elite.

Up next...JUSTITIA