Thursday, October 12, 2006

elegant eloquence

Some people have a gift for economy of expression. They are able to say a lot in a little. Far from using complex prose, they express themselves with plain language minimalist elegance. Their writing and speaking has an ‘E=MC2’–ishness about it that is just beautiful to behold. Often, their insights may appear deceptively simple but are in reality, subtle, sophisticated, and masks high octane reasoning – all marks of a supple mind capable of making foundational realities explicit without verbal clutter.

The following is a classic example of what I mean. It, so simply, yet in a sophisticated manner, articulates a framework of unity and diversity that doesn’t flatten one in the in the interests of the other, doesn’t let theological one-ness swallow up biblical many-ness:

“The full text of each gospel is what God says as well as what the Evangelist says. There is no tension here between divine speaking and human speaking, anymore than there is a tension between the fact that Christ’s speeches are God speaking and a human being speaking.

It follows, then, that the very diversity of the Gospels is a divine diversity. God intended that we should hear about the center of redemption in four symphoniously related accounts, not one. God is absolutely at home with this unity and diversity……And so we are driven back to ask what God’s view is of the historical events recorded in the Gospels. The surprising answer is simply that God’s view is the Gospels themselves in their unity and diversity.”
(Symphonic Theology, p. 48-49)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Cognitive Dissonance, Clashing Orientations

This quote is a very good summary explanation of why black and white folks so often do the dance of clashing cognitive orientations:

“[Concerning] the thought processes of people of African descent in Africa, the Caribbean and the United States. According to Matthews, blacks personalize their learning. Knowledge must be recognized as a personal human experience. The black person internalizes his thought. For him, knowledge is not an abstraction which stands on its own outside of the experienced reality. Knowledge passes through the human experience and is processed by the person with his whole being. Black thought is a lived event. Matthews quotes approvingly from the African philosopher, Leopold Senghor, who asserts that the African builds himself into the wholeness of reality by or through affective identification by means of imagery. This is thinking with soul. Hence the unusual manifestation of symbols and metaphors in black thought. According to Senghor we have here to do with the totalized or symbolic all-in-oneness of the African concept which emerges from the immediacy of the black affective intellectual perception. Matthews refers to this as cosmic thinking. He traces his thesis though black literature, especially speeches and sermons. His point is that we encounter a black cognitive process, a way of thinking and perceiving reality which is pan-African. This is to be contrasted with the one-thing-at-a-timeness, the fragmentation of the field of perception and the disruption of the rhythm of movement characteristic of much western analytic thought”.

There we have it. This explains why, for instance, when listening to sermons:

I want to rhapsodize and emote and my white brothers and sisters seemingly would rather rigorously explore the inner coherence of the preacher's arguments.

I feel soulful and want to shout out while many white folks are savoring the silence of introspective analysis.

Do you think the cultural shift to image-based secondary orality has/is changing this in dominant culture?


OK, Apologies (to those who have some interest in the narrative of my existence) for not posting in a while. Life has radically changed, I have virtually no internet access at home, and frankly, I’m not sure what to write or whom to target these days. I’ve lost my blog bearings a bit. Often, I’ve thought about just posting a little quote appended with “Let the reader understand” but drive-by-blogging of that sort feels more lazy than anything and so is often better left unwritten in my estimation. So, I cogitated, “Before I blog again regularly, let me do some pre-cogitating by thinking beforehand where I want to go with this thing.” I haven’t answered it yet but I thought I’d at least let you in on the process.

That said, there have been lots of things theological and otherwise, swirling around in my head:

- Is there explicit theological value in having 3 (as opposed to 2 or 4) days between the Death and Resurrection of Jesus? I sense that there is some simple straightforward biblical answer that I am just totally missing.

- The flack I’ve heard N.T. Wright receive for positing the theme of ‘exile’ as often as he does has always surprised me. Isn’t he just putting sociological meat on the theological bones of ‘alienation’ from God from Eden onward? Kind of like the whole ‘history of redemption’ (abstract-theological) vs. ‘history of Israel’ (concrete-sociological) discussion. In any case, black folks get the whole ‘exile’ thing. We live with it everyday as a sub-dominant group trying to survive in the dominant culture. When a black person asked, “where will you be when the revolution happens?”, he/she was simply giving vent to a sense of social ‘alienation’(a feeling of 'exile') and desire for redress not wholly unlike the Jews must have experienced under Roman occupation. I guess the Sachari were the Jewish Black Panthers of their day.

- What happens when your ecclesiology functions as a subset of your systematic theology instead of the embodiment of it? You talk about regeneration almost wholly apart from baptism and justification without mention of covenant membership. On the whole, you get soteriology disjointed and abstracted from ecclesiology. Is this a new Gnosticism or am I missing something? Doesn’t physicality and embodiedness matter?