Thursday, 9 December 2010

cjbanning: (Palm Sunday)
This morning, Tony Jones embedded the following video on Christian orthodoxy tests in one of his blog posts:

(For people reading this from the Facebook crosspost, which strips out embedded video, rather than from my Dreamwidth journal, you'll want to watch it here.)

Christians who believe homosexuality is a sin are a lot more socially damaging, more obstructionist in the building of the kingdom of God so to speak, than those who believe that the Holy Spirit flows only from the First Person of the Trinity and not from the First and Second Persons, but I take the point. We--with "we" being the entire catholic Church, or at least all of Western Christianity (i.e., Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism, and Protestantism; I don't make any claims to knowledge about Eastern Orthodoxy)--don’t talk enough anymore about the Trinity, about the Holy Eucharist, etc. (Although I think this criticism is particularly levelable against the emergent church movement, which sometimes seems to eschew high-falutin’ theology in favor of “relational dialogue.” And yes, Circle of Hope definitely falls as subject to that criticism as anyone--not that I think the Episcopal Church is any better on the macro level, and my home parish certainly isn't on the micro level.) As Christians, we need to talk about these things much more, although probably as well as rather than instead ofthe more sexy culture war issues.

I wonder how this understanding fits into Jones' anti-denominationalism, however. I mean, there’s nothing I can think of which would stop a Unitarian and a Trinitarian from breaking bread together inside an emergent church faith community (although Jones points to the relational nature of the Trinity as one of the central themes of emergent-ism in another post), and a move away from denominationalism opens up the potential for a dialogue between them which wouldn’t exist if they both stayed with home churches which each taught their own particular brand of theology. But what would a belief in transubstantiation look like outside the context of an ordained prebyterate? And what would dialogue look like between someone who accepts the authority of the deuterocanonical books of the Hebrew Scriptures and one who doesn’t?

I guess another way of asking my question is: Is there an implicit claim about normative theological authority already structured into the emergent praxis? And if so, what is it? In what ways does emergent praxis structure the content of our theological doctrine in addition to the methodology of our evangelization? Is the emergent church's particular style of "being Church" going to lead us to a different conclusion on, say, the nature of Hell, than would an alternate ecclesiology?

The larger point, of course, is that the authenticity of any person's Christianity shouldn't be called into question based on any sort of test of orthodoxy, whether it surrounds cultural/political issues or fine points of doctrine. I agree with that, and have posted to that effect before. (Of course, that's no reason we can't make a distinction between Christians we think have fallen into error and those on a better path, while still accepting our erring siblings in Christ as real, authentic members of the Body.) But it also seems to be the case that there might just be more tensions in an Anglo-Catholic understanding of emergence than just whether the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church requires the historic episcopate.
cjbanning: (Trinity)
AnthemAnthem by Ayn Rand

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Rand's description of a socialist/communist dystopia and the story of a man and a woman who somehow manage to regain their individuality within it nonetheless. Is it fair to Marxism? Probably not, but it's true that the theory's weakest point is the vagueness of its eschatological vision, and so I can well believe that this is what Rand took away as believing the "collectivists" were arguing for.

Politics aside, the problem is that as a writer, the premise doesn't really allow her to shine: her best books, like Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead are ones where the focus is on characters which, if not quite fully realized and three-dimensional, are at least fun to read about, like Dagny Taggert and Dominique Francon. Watching these characters debate philosophy while running around like Nietzschean ubermenschen and living larger-than-life lives can be entertaining even if one doesn't agree with the position she is pushing, but here there really isn't anything left but the didacticism.

Rand's misogyny and anti-feminism are in full presence here as elsewhere in Rand's work. The story is told from the male's perspective, with the female character being silent throughut the work, denied a voice of her own. While one of the male's most triumphant moments is when he gives himself a name, this is denied to the female; he names her too. Maybe these are the kinds of things Rand herself looked forward to and saw as providing hope that utopia would rise from dystopia, but I don't think most women would find them so.

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"This is my prayer: that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best."
-- St. Paul's Epistle to the Philippians 1:9-10

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