Monthly Archives: October 2006

the self: another shift

“Sartre said, ‘Existence precedes essence.’ We make ourselves by what we choose to do. “

“For Nietzsche the only self worth living was the self of the …Overman, the one who has risen above the conventional herd and has fashioned himself.”

a shift:

premodern” theistic notion that human beings are dignified
by being created in the image of God
to
“modern” notion that human beings are the product of their DNA template, which itself is the result of unplanned evolution based on change mutations and the survival of the fittest
to
“postmodern” notion of an insubstantial self constructed by the language it uses
to describe itself
Sire – p. 181-2

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a pattern of shift in ethics

“premodern” theistic ethics based on the character of a transcendent God who is good and has revealed that goodness
to
“modern” ethics based on a notion of universal human reason and experience and the human ability to discern objective right from wrong
to
“postmodern” notion that morality is the multiplicity of languages used to describe right from wrong
Sire summarizes that “Postmodernism can make no normative judgement about such a view. It can only observe and comment: so much the worse for those who find themselves oppressed by the majority.”
Sire: Universe, p. 183

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knowledge

Sire quotes francis bacon: “Knowledge is power,”

Sire contrasts postmodern thought:

“With postmodernism, however, the situation is reversed. There is no purely objective knowledge, no truth of correspondence. Instead, there are only stories, stories which, when they are believed, give the storyteller power over overs.”

hmmmmmm

then: Sire then tells us that Michel Foucault emphazises this relationship: “Any story but one’s own is oppressive.”

and: Sire states… “To reject oppression is to reject all the stories society tells us. This is, of course, anarchy, and this,… Foucault accepts”

lastly, Sire simplifies with a pattern of philosophical movement:

a “premodern” acceptance of a metanarrative written by God and revealed in Scripture
to
a “modern” metanarrative of universal reason yielding truth about reality
to
a “postmodern” reduction of all metanarratives to power plays

(Universe p. 181)

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a new blog on postmodernity

I am reading about postmodernity… I have started a new blog which I will use to post quotes and thoughts i have about the issue… go to “serving in postmodern times”

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truth?

it seems that one of the names coming up in my reading is Nietzche… James Sire provides this by Nietzsche on “truth”…

“What then is truth? a mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms – in short, a sum of human relations, which have been enhanced, transported, and embellished poetically and rhetorically, and which after long use seem firm, canonical, and obligatory to a people: truths are illusions about which one has forgotten that this is what they are; metaphors which are worn out and without sensuous power; coins which have lost their pictures and now matter only as metal, no longer as coins.”

Neitzsche was to some, a father of postmodern thought…

cited from “On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense, ” in The Portable Nietzsche, trans. Walter Kaufmann, pp. 95-96 in Universe – Sire

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story part three

miss the beginning? click here

After what seems like an eternity, the guy that he had talked to came back with the papers in his hand and asked “Where is medicine?” The policeman began to rummage around in the trunk. The medicines were all in German packages so he could not read much, before long they had emptied the trunk, taken his bag and emptied it on the hood of the car and were searching the passenger compartment. Scott could do nothing but wait watch and pray. He prayed against fear most of all. He remembered Jesus’ words, “Greater is he that is within you than he that is within the world” “Lord,” he prayed, “give me the strength to not appear fearful, please don’t let the Enemy prey on my fear, please give me an additional dose of the fruit of self control I need in this situation.”
The vehicle search was complete. They handed Scott his papers and phone, said good bye and left. Just like that. Scott watched them drive away and then realized that the contents of the car were all over the sidewalk. He began to load his personal stuff first and threw it into the passenger seat and then reloaded the medical supplies. When he was finished he got in the car and turned on the phone, there was a new SMS from Marton, “Don’t stop in Beograd!”
“Yeah, I guess” he said aloud.
He got in the car and drove out of Beograd at the speed limit.
At three o’clock Scott came into Kovin. The day was waning and he needed to find the camp before dark. As he drove through town he noted a hotel that actually had the word Hotel in English, he noted it but thought it odd for a town like this to have a hotel with an English sign, but then who knows? His fuel gauge was near empty so he pulled into the town filling station and told the attendant to give him 40 liters. The custom is to tell them how many liters you want and then to go pay. They pump the gas and look your car over for you.
Very loud European techno blasted from a television in a corner near the counter. A girl in her twenties was reading a magazine. The store was hot inside and she was dressed like it was summer.
“Forty liters and this” he said to her placing a coke and a sandwich on the counter.
“You English?” she asked.
“American.” was the reply “Do you know where the refugee camp is here?”
“Yes, go down this road ten kilometers and you will see it on the left, old Army camp, Dinars.”
“Where did you learn such good English?” handing her 100.
“American students used to teach in my home town, then I learn from MTV and Cartoon Network” pointing to the satellite dish outside,” She handed him the change.
“I see,” he smiled “keep studying, thank you.”
“Don’t mention it.” and she turned back to her magazine.
Outside, the car was ready, he put his lunch in the passenger seat and drove off.
Turning right from the gas station he headed down the road as the clerk directed him. When he checked the road to his left he noticed a car with two guys who seemed to be watching him. As he straightened out on the road, he looked in the mirror as he reached for his Coke and saw them pull out behind him. It only took ten minutes to get to the camp but he must have checked his mirror a dozen times to make sure they were still there. They were. When he arrived at the camp, he didn’t signal, he didn’t slow down much either, he just pulled into the driveway and kept going until he arrived at the gate. The car passed by slowly; the passenger was taking a picture.
The guard came out to meet him. He asked Scott for his papers and his purpose for being there. Scott told him that he was bringing medicine and handed him his passport. He got out and opened the trunk, the guard saw the trunk, radioed something and told Scott to close the trunk and wait in the car.
In a few moments a woman came walking down the road. She introduced herself to Scott as the social worker on duty her name was Sara. She was a Brit working for the government.
This camp she explained was one of many in this part of Europe funded and overseen by the UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees). She got in and told Scott to drive up the hill.
“I am familiar with this type of camp, there are several in Hungary with residents from all over the world wait for entry to the EU.”
“Yes,” she said “but our camp is different, we have only ethnic Hungarians here who have fled the central part of Serbia for fear of retaliation by the Serbs like that of the nineties against the Kosavars. The Serbs will not let them go to Hungary and they will not let them go to Vojvodina either.”
They were approaching the crest of a hill.
“How are conditions?”
“See for yourself” she replied as they topped the hill and Scott saw what was once a Serbian Army camp turned into a refugee facility. Single story concrete prefab buildings stretched from the top of the hill down to the edge of the forest which was certainly two kilometers away and the width of the camp was nearly as wide. Scott stopped the car and took it all in.
“There are twenty-three buildings with as many as twenty-five people in each building.“
Scott just sat there for a moment taking it all in. The sun was setting at their back and the lights of the camp were becoming more prominent in the encroaching dusk.
“Let’s take these supplies to the clinic, we’ve been expecting you all day.”
“Yeah, it’s been a long one, busy too.”
“Will you stay here tonight?” She asked, “There are spare beds and a shower in the male guard dorm near the clinic.”
“That would be great. I’ve not slept in a couple of days and could use a good night’s sleep.”
“That’s settled then, I’ll ask that you get the duty officer’s room so that you will not be awakened.”
“Thank You”
They arrived at the clinic and as soon as they pulled up there were four teenagers waiting to unload the trunk. Scott opened the trunk; the boys unloaded, Sara had his bag and indicated for him to follow her. Someone would take care of the car. She took him to the officer of the day, another Brit named Clive. Clive got him set up for the night. Scott showered and shaved, when he finished someone had left a plate of food that he couldn’t exactly identify and a warm beer, he thanked God nonetheless, ate, said prayers and within fifteen minutes was sound asleep, it was just after seven pm.
Sometime during the night, unknown to Scott, there was a visitor who looked through his bag and examined his papers. Scott slept soundly and never knew of this visitation.


the next episode

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experience and the Bible

N. T. Wright invests some thoughts about postmodernity in his book about the authority of Scripture… here are a couple of quotes that I am thinking about…

on experience as authority
“… though this has never been accepted within official formulations, many church leaders now speak of “scripture, tradition, reason and experience” as though the well-known three-legged stool had now been upgraded by the addition of another leg of the same type as the other three.” (Last, p.100)

then…

“Adding a fourth leg to a three-legged stool often makes it unstable.” (p. 101)

then…

“Indeed, the stress on “experience” has contributed materially to that form of pluralism, verging on anarchy, which we now see across the Western world.” (p.102)

then after all that, he offers a different approach…

“We could put it like this. “Experience” is what grows by itself in the garden. “Authority” is what happens when the gardener wants to affirm the goodness of the genuine flowers and vegetables by uprooting the weeds in order to let beauty and fruitfulness triumph over chaos, thorns and thistles. An over-authoritarian church, paying no attention to experience, solves the problem by paving the garden with concrete. An over-experiential church solves the problem of concrete by letting anything and everything grow unchecked, sometimes labeling concrete as “law” and so celebrating any and every weed as “grace.” (p. 104)

finally, I add this quote…

“When, through letting scripture be the vechile of God’s judging and healing authority in our communities and individual lives, we really do “experience” God’s affirmation, then we shall know as we are known” (p. 105)

quotes from The Last Word

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