To Write Love On Her Arms

I Bet You Five Are Not Alive That Do Not Know His Name
So because I’m the kind of guy you want to be, I saw Citizen Kane in the cinema this week. How sweet is that? I love the IFI. I don’t care that you think it is a den of pretention and wanky European film that replace plot with “erotic symbology”. It sells food and beer at reasonably reasonable prices and shows some class movies. I think my compadré Janovich put it best when he summed up Citizen Kane as the most pop-culture reference laden 2 hours he ever had. Every episodes of the Simpsons needs Citizen Kane to be understood.

Then I got thinking about how much fodder there is for Douglas Coupland or Chuck Planhiuk-style navel gazing about how we consume cultural artefacts to feed the consumption of cultural artefacts. We watch the Simpsons and that encourages us to watch Citizen Kane and that encourages us to re-watch the Simpsons. Our art is product, man. Our creative expression is commodity. Then after my sub-Adorno waffle, I could kick in with some Christian waffle from Jim Wallis or Brian McLaren or someone like him who would point out that in all of this I was the watcher, the receiver, the passive servant. What I really need to do is cross modulate across redefined paradigms to actualise my Christian faith in interactive intertextual modes of creativity. Then I would realise I had written a whole paragraph deconstructing my first paragraph and now I was truly the paragon of post-modernity: Mimi Smartypants.

By the way, I didn’t see this scene in the movie.

The Brain Work-out
I’ve been reading NT Wright again. I know that it makes the Zoomtardage incomprehensible and I apologise to you, the reader. I have embarked on the most ambitious reading plan of my beautiful, marvel packed life. I am planning to read the 2nd and 3rd great Wright works and then Calvin’s Institutes (one must if one is working for the Presbies) and then I hope to read all those words written down by Martin Luther King. So get used to me writing tiny fragments other people can understand inside huge tracts of words only I can grasp. Remember that Zoomtard was called A Theological Sketchpad.

Here is one such sketch. There have been times when I offer my amateur opinion on the merits of the New Testament as a historical document and it is met by the response, “Well, you would say that since you are a Christian”. The assumption behind this response is that there might be some band of people who can assess historical questions from a pure or neutral point of view. No such people exist. This has been one of the major strands running through all of the Enlightenment era. We have squandered a lot of time trying to free history from the chains of the pre-modern mind which confused myth and history, imagination and real events. The real myth is that this pre-modern mind which didn’t have the wherewithall to distinguish reality from fiction ever existed. All fiction finds its source in reality, (which is why truth is stranger than fiction, since “fiction is the creation of the human mind and therefore congenial to it”- G.K. Chesterton) yet the pre-modern mind could still figure out what was myth and what was just literature. When people imagine that there is such a thing as a neutral viewpoint from which to examine history, they are buying into this great myth. The reason the myth lasted for so long was that it was disguised as objectivity.

When I tell Neuro that the bad weather won’t last, maybe it is because I am an optimist. Maybe it is because I saw an accurate weather report. When a mathematician tells you that 2 + 2 = 4, it would be preposterous to dismiss his proposal with, “You only say that because you are a mathematician”. There are some areas where being a Christian should entitle you to a hearing on matters of Christianity. A clear example of this is the historical arguments in favour of belief. For most people to become believers of Jesus, they must be convinced to some degree by the historical arguments. Few would dispute that all historical texts, before they are anything else, are evidence for the circumstances in and for which they were composed. If someone is a Christian, it (should) means that they have investigated the evidence for Christianity and found it compelling or even convincing. They are no more biased towards the evidence as someone who believes that God is a figment of our imagination or that Christianity is made irrelevant by the obvious truth of Rael.

The Christian perspective on historical sources shouldn’t be discarded. Instead it should be evaluated by the same means as any other historian. How much of the data is included in the proposed solution? How coherent is the system proposed? How does the proposed system fit in with what we know from other disciplines? These are the questions that need to be asked. Trying to measure who is more affected by bias is a mythical game pursued only by those, ironically, biased towards Enlightenment Naturalism.

Unloading The Chips From My Shoulder
There is a Christian writer who has a lot of influence within the circles I move called John Eldredge. He wrote a book called Wild At Heart that encouraged the kind of retrograde masculinity that smells like Burt Reynolds’ armpits. Then he wrote this book called Captivating that had certain colleagues of mine in raptures. Its all about how women are beautiful dainty things with clearly defined roles and nicely subservient roles at that. It is a mystery to me that people could study Jesus and then think that tablecloths have something to do with womanhood, but then there is all kinds of crazy in the drinking water of churches.

I have neither the skill nor the patience to disassemble the flaws in Eldredge’s girly book. Maybe I can do it for Wild At Heart some time. But thankfully, Agnieszka Tennant has done my work for me in this month’s Christianity Today. If Wylie is reading, you must click on that link. Eldredge is wrong. If God has a more interesting plan for men than that they mimic late 20th Century mid-Western American ideas of what masculinity is then you can be darned sure he has something better in store for women than that they all tick the boxes of what passes for a placid, prettifying presence in the same era. The first and final lines of that article are true gems.

Your Correspondent, maybe he’s not brutal, he just does brutal things.

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