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The “What” Vs. the “How” of Belief

Posted by on Jul 13, 2017 in Agnosticism, God, Homepage, Idolatry, Science | 0 comments

In my last post I sort of set the stage for a kind of Christian agnosticism, a way of doing faith without swallowing the jagged little pill of feeling like you have to be an asshole about it. Allow me to elaborate. Christianity is often rather gnostic as opposed to agnostic — conservative believers operate as though they know everything (Gnosis in Greek means “knowledge”). They know that God exists up in heaven, they know that he will judge everyone according to a standard that, again, they know. In their minds, their polar opposites are those rabid atheists who are certain that God does not exist (because, you know, science). My ironic suggestion is that perhaps theists and atheists are the true teammates here since, while the are metaphysically opposed, they are epistemologically united by their claimed certainty that...

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Nihilism, Grace, and the Religion of the Rose

Posted by on Jan 20, 2016 in Catholic Church, G.K. Chesterton, God, Homepage, John Caputo, Love, Mysticism, Postmodernism | 1 comment

I just returned from a Caribbean cruise (my life is hard), and I brought two books with me: Chuck Klosterman’s The Visible Man, and John D. Caputo’s Hoping against Hope: Confessions of a Postmodern Pilgrim. The former is a novel and is the one I was planning on reading (to be honest I wasn’t expecting to crack the latter at all). But as it turned out, I read almost all of Hoping while Visible remained untouched.  Caputo is one of the leading figures in the world of so-called “Radical Theology,” and this book explores his own spiritual journey from a young boy in his pre-Vatican 2 Philadelphia parish, through his time in a religious order as a young man, to his adulthood as a philosopher and theologian.  The basic gist of Caputo’s argument stems from a line from a German mystic (those “disturbers of the...

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Careful What You’re Thankful For

Posted by on Nov 26, 2015 in America, Football, God, Homepage, Humanity, Love, Protest, Thanksgiving | 2 comments

Like many of you, I will be spending the day with friends, family, and people I love. I’ll be eating turkey, having some good slash awkward conversations with plenty of eye-rolling, and watching a guy run the ball up the middle for a loss of yardage instead of just going around the defenders like he should’ve done.  Like many of you, I have a lot for which to be thankful. And like almost all of you, my giving-of-thanks should be mingled with a touch of grief, especially insofar as what I am thankful for falls under the rubric of The American Dream. To come at this by way of illustration, is it right for the child of a jewel thief to thank God for his Xbox? Sure, he may believe that it is God who is the ultimate Source...

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Don’t Love God, Love the World Instead

Posted by on Oct 26, 2015 in God, Homepage, Humanity, Love, Peter Rollins | 29 comments

I have given little hints here and there to the fact that my experience with God is largely characterized by divine absence, the “real absence of Christ” (to subvert a well-known theological formula). In short, the “every hair of your head” and “not a sparrow falls” passages resonated very little with me, if at all, while the one about his giving sunrise and rainfall indiscriminately to all made more sense. Shit happens, is what I’m saying. And it’s all pretty random, so don’t try to interpret Providence or expect God to be overly doting or attentive.  I read something the other night in Peter Rollins’s book Insurrection that made a little bit of sense out of all this:  In the Incarnation, then, we find a fundamental transformation in the way that we are to approach God, a shift that takes us...

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Is God Dead?

Posted by on Oct 14, 2015 in God, Homepage, Humanity, Idolatry, Peter Rollins, Postmodernism | 8 comments

I have been reading a bit of Irish philosopher/theologian Peter Rollins recently, as well as listening to some of his talks on YouTube. His reading of the Christian tradition is quite radical and subversive, and I am not convinced I have really “gotten” him quite yet. In an effort to further that along, then, I wanted to try to articulate his basic position as best I can (because that, for me, is the best barometer for knowing how well I actually understand something). Mankind is born with a sense of lack (of which a child becomes aware once he develops self-consciousness — it usually manifests itself as a fear of detachment from his mother). This desire for the other Rollins calls idolatry, for it is a desire for that thing out there that will ultimately satisfy us and give...

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I Am an Agnostic

Posted by on Sep 30, 2015 in Agnosticism, Catholic Church, God, Homepage, Humanity, Postmodernism, Suffering, Worldviews | 24 comments

(And so are you.) Here’s what I mean: Agnosticism refers to what we can claim to “know” (gnosis  being the Greek word for “knowledge”). An agnostic, then, is simply someone who doesn’t know something about a particular subject. The Latin equivalent of agnosticism is “ignorance” — if someone asks you whether you agree with the Iran deal that Obama recently struck, you could say, “Well to be honest, I’m pretty agnostic and ignorant on the matter, unfortunately.” In other words, there is relevant information that you don’t know.  When it comes to supernatural things it gets tricky. While a person may claim to know that water boils at 100 degrees Celsius and also claim to know that angels exist, those are two very different types of claims (even though they both invoke the category of knowledge). The first claim...

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Scientists and Superstitious Simpletons

Posted by on Aug 26, 2015 in Culture War, God, Homepage, Postmodernism, Science, Worldviews | 18 comments

I am sick and tired of hearing about the supposed “objectivity” of science and scientific inquiry. The claim goes like this: Belief systems, whether religious or secular, deal in supernatural issues like the afterlife, morality, and the state of the soul. Science, on the other hand, deals in brute facts, and therefore needs to be taken seriously. It’s an incredibly modern kind of claim, if you think about it. And I am just postmodern enough to be suspicious of it. It was Jean-Francois Lyotard who summed up postmodernism as “incredulity toward metanarrative.” By metanarrative, Lyotard meant any overarching story that grounds all of existence, a foundational worldview or set of principles that contextualizes everything else. To that, Lyotard said, the postmodern attitude is one of heel-digging and discomfort. In other words, there is no “view from nowhere.” The desire...

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Trans-Jenner

Posted by on Jul 21, 2015 in Caitlyn Jenner, Culture, God, Homepage, Humanity, Love, Pop Culture, Sex, Sports | 10 comments

I realize Caitlyn Jenner has been discussed ad nauseam by this point, but I would like to weigh in from a slightly different angle. I fully recognize that in some rare cases a person’s sex may not comport with their gender identification. For example, hermaphrodites (or “intersex” people) who were born with both sets of genitalia simply have to live with whichever decision their doctor made at their birth regarding their future maleness or femaleness—the physician decides that their body should be female regardless of his not knowing (or being able to know) how his patient will feel about this decision when she grows up. There is no doubt that this can, and certainly has, caused great suffering for those who feel trapped in the wrong body. Still, these are murky waters, and discussion of this issue can be...

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Fake Plastic Selves

Posted by on Jun 16, 2015 in Culture, G.K. Chesterton, God, Homepage, Humanity, Masks, Power, Protest, Questioning Authority, Rebellion, Thomas Merton, Worldviews | 19 comments

One of the most unfortunate phrases in the English language is “He’s only human.” The assumption lurking behind it is that humanity is akin to weakness, like a crutch, and is therefore something to be ashamed of. I touch on this in the book I am currently writing: A proper Christology reminds us that receiving heavenly grace does not force upon us an entirely new operating system or delete everything on our human hard drive, but affirms all the good stuff that we have downloaded previously (even providing the occasional update when necessary).   I am reminded of G.K. Chesterton’s response to those who would seek to dismiss the Church’s liturgical feasts and festivals due to their being of pagan cultic origin: “They might as well say that our legs are of pagan origin. Nobody ever disputed that humanity was...

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Of Mysticism Sacred and Secular

Posted by on Apr 15, 2015 in Catholic Church, Culture, God, Homepage, Humanity, Love, Miracles, Mysticism, Worldviews | 18 comments

I was recently watching HBO’s new documentary on Scientology, Going Clear, and was astounded at how so many wealthy, powerful, and seemingly intelligent people have bought in to L. Ron Hubbard’s bizarre and sci-fi inspired vision of the world. 75 million years ago some god called Xenu transported a bunch of humans to earth in a spaceship and dumped them into volcanos? Really? And Maverick from Top Gun  buys into this shit? But it quickly occurred to me that any system of beliefs — including the Catholic one to which I hold (albeit poorly) — is equally bizzare-sounding at first blush. God became a man and died and rose again from the dead? Really? And Riggs from Lethal Weapon  buys into this shit? The fact is that the only reason any belief system sounds reasonable to a person or a society...

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