Modern Pensées

Reconsidering theology, philosophy, culture, economics, and politics

Archive for February 2010

Mark Driscoll on Avatar

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I have now actually seen Avatar.  Can’t say I really disagree with Mark here on the spiritual side of things.  Spiritually, I would characterize Avatar as repackaged gnosticism having also shades of process theology and pantheism.  The film is not merely spiritual, it is also political and in its politik, it is a full-frontal attack on Western Imperialism and American hegemony.  I would be hesitant to equate Western Imperialism with the cultural mandate (to do so would be wrong and dangerous).  Politically, I think the film is more of an attack on Western Imperialism/Colonialism than the cultural mandate.

Your thoughts?

Written by Michael Graham

February 26, 2010 at 12:08 pm

Best Links of the Week

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Translation Goggles from Google… pretty crazy stuff

Scientists closer to Nuclear Fusion with ultra-high powered military lasers.

Does Nail Polish Cause Autism?

Obamanomics – It looks like the thesis is something like – “Obama Is Making You Poorer—But Who’s Getting Rich? Goldman Sachs, GE, Pfizer, the United Auto Workers.”  Congressman Ron Paul says, “Every libertarian and free-market conservative needs to read Obamanomics.” And Jonah Goldberg, columnist and bestselling author says, “Obamanomics is conservative muckraking at its best and an indispensable field guide to the Obama years.”

Church of Scientology takes aim at St. Pete Times.  Scientology is screwed up on several levels.

Stolen hand-written letters of Descartes found.  I am not a fan at all, nevertheless an interesting find.

Obamacare 2.0

Best Links of the Week

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Planned Parenthood - Eugenics is still alive and kickin'

1.  World Magazine goes undercover at Planned Parenthood.

2.  Some pretty shocking statistics from Mark Driscoll of 18-23 Protestants who attend church at least 2-3 times per month.

3.  Newsweek article on the monetization of privacy:  Google and Facebook.

4.  John Frame’s thoughts on Francis Schaeffer’s thought.

5.  Video Timeline of unemployment figures by county since 2007.

6.  Obama administration pushing for unrestricted and warrantless access to cell phone tracking.  Create fear, expand government, push for less freedom on altar of ‘security’… (Bush did it too).  I’ll take my chances because I don’t worship security.

7.  A scathing and apt critique of George Barna’s ridiculous book Pagan Christianity.

8.  UK’s top climate scientist (and same figure in the center of climategate scandal) says there has been no global warming in last 15 years.

9.  On Friday (2/12/10) 49 of 50 states had snow on the ground.

10.  Potential genetic link between Jews and Taliban – it seems that one of the 10 exiled Northern tribes of Israel/Ephraim went over to India.

11.  Millionaire Says Money ‘Prevents Happiness’ and gives away all money and property.

12.  Atlantic Monthly on What Makes Great Teachers and on the subject of education, Justin Taylor has a nice write up on Fred Sanders book Education for Human Flourishing.

13.  Marine Lance Cpl. walks away from sniper shot to the head.

14.  Pew Research Survey


Why I Dislike HP…

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Every few months I am reminded why I dislike HP.

HT:  Consumerist

Written by Michael Graham

February 14, 2010 at 2:44 pm

Posted in Culture

Tagged with , ,

Excellent Article from Tim Keller on Issues Facing the Western Church

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The Big Issues Facing the Western Church

1.  The opportunity for extensive culture-making in the U.S

2.  The rise of Islam

3.  The new non-western Global Christianity

4.  The growing cultural remoteness of the gospel

5.  The end of prosperity?

As usual, Keller has some prescient and keen cultural insight.  Your thoughts?

Best Links of the Week

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The Danger of an Unconverted Seminary

Which is your favorite?  Did I miss anything extraordinary?

1.  “The Danger of an Uncoverted Seminary” – a very worthwhile read, from a mainline perspective, on thedechristianization of the West and how seminaries ought to be adjusting to this shift.  We’ve never been more like the 1st/2nd centuries – pluralism, syncretism, and a world where the velocity of ideas was ever quicker due to new trade routes.

2.  Very disturbing Gallop Poll showing that 53% of democrat leaning voters think positively about “socialism.”  This is insanity.  People need to read history.  Also included in the poll were voters impressions of:  small business, free enterprise, entrepreneurs, capitalism, big business, and federal government.  Also, 63% of all polled (both democrat and republican) thought Barack Obama was a “socialist.”

3.  Google has been doing lots of stuff this week: “Is Google Planning to Add Storeviews to Google Maps?“;  “Google Creates Experimental Fiber Network…(capable of 1Gb/s)“; they also are launched an offensive on Facebook over their Gmail client – “Google wants to be Facebook and Facebook wants to be Gmail“.

4.  Ligonier has a huge compilation of links on the New Perspectives on Paul, from Turretin to present.

5.  Proposed Obama 2011 budget cuts could drastically reduce charitable giving from taking away line item deductions for those in 28% and higher tax brackets.

6.  A fascinating piece on First Things entitled, “Vampires and the Anthropic Principle.”

7.  First Things has an interesting info-graphic and analysis of the 210,000,000 Facebook profiles and friend networks:  “The Localism of Facebook Nation

8.  “The Government Has Your Babies’ DNA

9.  Steven Pearlstein of the Washington Post writes on the fallout of the Amazon v. MacMillan.

10.  Only 4 men have been to all 44 Superbowls, here is their story.

11.  “Physicist Discovers How to Teleport Energy“:  infinite possibilities here.

12.  A very scary article from GQ about cell phone radiation and brain cancer.  The writer talked to several investment bankers in their late 30s/early 40s who have been using cell phones since the brick days… and have brain tumors.  This is not a tin foil hat, conspiracy theory article, it is cogently written.

13. Awkwardfamilyphotos.com – self-explanatory, hilarious, and definitely awkward.

14.  “The Beauty of Waves“:  series of photos from LIFE Magazine of beautiful waves.  Photography done by Clark Little.

15. Several people in the Philippines have been murdered by singing the triumphalist Frank Sinatra song, “My Way,” read the NY Times article.

16.  12 really random things you can buy on the internet (I fancy both the tanks and the giant floating hamster balls).

17. NY Times article on the ‘Shortage of Men on College Campuses.’

18.  Foxnews on proposed new government administration to study climate change.  File under:  big government and waste of money.

19.  NY Times Op-Ed chilling story on “The World Capital of Killing.”

20.  “Will the Baby Boomers Bankrupt Social Security” – CNBC article

21.  Ed Stetzer on potential upcoming shifts in pastoral ministry.

22.  Low intelligence second most important indicator (behind smoking) as predictor of heart disease.

Implications of the Incarnation on the History of Philosophy, Part 1: Plato vs. Aristotle

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Plato's Allegory of the Cave

I have been teaching a class at the Encore Program of NC State University contrasting the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche with orthodox Protestant Christianity.  The class has been a real delight so far and I will do a series on it here in the coming weeks.  Something struck me though both as I was lecturing and then later during some further over lunch…

Background and Introduction

…There are some remarkable implications of the Incarnation to the history of philosophy.  By way of introduction and background, the history of (western) philosophy can be summarized as an ongoing debate between Plato and Aristotle.

In short, Plato (428-348 BC) put forth the idea that the metaphysical world is more knowable than the physical world.  Following Socrates, Plato illustrates this idea through allegory of the cave, where there is a group of humans chained in a cave, facing a blank wall, where a fire illuminates shadow puppets on this blank wall (see illustration above).  The idea is that this physical world we reside in is merely a shadow of a more real and more knowable world that is not physical but metaphysical.    From here Plato posits the idea of the Forms.  Take for example a chair that is sitting in front of you.  Plato asks you, ‘how do you know that his is a ‘chair’?’  You might say something to the effect, ‘well, it has more than three legs, has a place to be seated, armrests, and backing… is it not obvious that this is a chair.’  Plato would tell us that we know that it is a chair because there exists in our minds an ideal chair and the reason we know that the thing before us is a chair, is because of its resemblance to the archetypal chair.  That archetypal chair is the Form of chair.  In short, we have knowledge of physical things here and now because of the resemblance of these physical things to their ideal metaphysical Form.

In contrast, Aristotle denies that the Forms exist way out there in the metaphysical realm – the Form of the chair is actually residing in the chair sitting in front of you.

So, the battle lines are drawn for a 2400 year long conversation/debate/dialogue in the West (the reason Immanuel Kant is so revered in philosophy is for his attempt to synthesize Plato and Aristotle).  Is knowledge of a thing transcendent (Plato) or is it immanent (Aristotle)?  Is the nature of all things Being (Plato) or Becoming (Aristotle)?

Implications of the Incarnation

The Incarnation solves this dichotomy, not with words, logic, or an argument… but with a person!   Jesus is the God-man, one person with two natures (Hypostatic Union).  Jesus bridges the gap between the physical and the metaphysical.  In his person, he is both transcendent and immanent simultaneously.  Jesus is the divine logos united with a real human body.

So, is God near to us or is He lofty and far away?

Yes.

ps.I think Kant could have saved a good deal of time if he had just looked for the answer to philosophy’s greatest question by looking at his first name, Immanuel.  God with us.

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