Theopoetics Book Blog Tour

[UPDATE from Callid: The books went fast! Thanks for all the interest and sorry if you were hoping to get in on this goodness. If you’re still interested, drop me a line and maybe there’s another way to plug you in.]

Theology Nerds! It is time for a book blog tour with one of our very own!

Way to WaterThis fall Callid released his book, Way to Water: A Theopoetics Primer with Cascade Books and they’ve been awesome and said they’ll kick in a dozen books for you all to get your nerdy hands on. The book itself is chock full of goodness with chapters on process theopoetics (including Catherine Keller), the intersection of biblical and literary studies, Rubem Alves‘ liberation theology, and the sweet Continental philosophy of John Caputo, Richard Kearney, and Karmen MacKendrick.  All you’ve got to do is commit to blogging about the book and posting it online during the last week of February.  Neat.

So here’s the deal: you sign up in this form saying (1) you agree to read the book  and post a review/reflection on the book sometime between February 23 – March 1 and (2) you’ll put links to all the blog tour posts on the bottom of yours. If you participate you’ll get assigned a specific date to post your review of the book that way they don’t all go up at 3:21 on Thursday. It shall be grand.

But wait, there’s more! On Thursday March 5, the week after the blog tour, Callid and the West Coast HBC Crew will get on to a public Google Hangout and it will be an open free-for-all to grill Callid (lovingly!) about his inconsistencies and theological missteps. Or, you know, say something nice or ask questions about the book and/or theopoetics in general.

So enjoy the blogs, read the book, and send Bo your questions for the Hangout. If you’re looking for a better sense of what this whole topic is about, check this short post Callid did about theopoetics this summer as part of the ABCs of Theology series and/or check out the trailer below.

Bottom line? We want to get a book in your hands and hear from you. Any takers? If so, sign up in this form.


Sign Up Here to Be a Book Tour Blogger

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TNT: Hume on Miracles

2015 starts with a deep discussion of Hume and the much contested definition of miracles. TNT

This is partially in response to the last TNT with Shultz and Taylor and the subsequent blog by Bill Walker that naturalism is not enough. 

Book suggestions from this show:

For the Bible Tells Me So 

Gangnam Style 

Ecstatic Naturalism 

The Secret Message of Jesus

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Unfolded Episode 14 — Penuel by Callid Keefe-Perry

Unfolded_Final-1

Subscribe on iTunes!

Unfolded. It’s not dead, it’s just been in cryosleep.  Sorry to stay away so long. We’re hoping to put episodes out more frequently but, honestly, it takes great skill and a lot of free time to make great podcasts (free or not free). So, we don’t feel that bad.

Speaking of great skill, I’d like to welcome a new producer to the show. A longtime homebrewed deacon, Will Houk, joins the team. Will is a husband, father, teacher and very talented musician. Check out his music on bandcamp, and follow him on twitter for sure.

So, anyway, this episode is very special. It’s a beautiful, poetic and evocative short story written and read by HBC’s very own Callid Keefe-Perry! He really needs no introduction, but for those who don’t know, Callid is a grateful husband and father. He is also a member of the Religious Society of Friends and travels in the ministry within and beyond that denomination. He is the author of Way to Water: A Theopoetics Primer, a founding editor of the journal THEOPOETICS, and of course a co-host on the Homebrewed Christianity podcast. Currently his work focuses on the development of a public theology of public education, but he also juggles several side projects related to creative and critical pedagogies for adult religious education. Follow Callid on twitter if you don’t already.

We think this story that Callid wrote is remarkable. We hope you think so too. Tell us what you think.

Please subscribe to Unfolded on itunes. Non iTunes users can grab the feedburner feed HERE or listen through Stitcher.

Also, please remember to…

Talk to Us
We truly love feedback and dialogue. Please leave comments here on the blog and let us know what you thought of this episode — liked it? Didn’t like it? Why? And be sure to follow Will and Jesse on twitter.

Make Art With Us
If you’d like to submit a written piece to be considered for the show, email me (Jesse).

Subscribe
Please subscribe to Unfolded on itunes. Non iTunes users can grab the feedburner feed HERE or listen through Stitcher.

Read
You can read the Unfolded works here.

*** If you enjoy all the Homebrewed Christianity Podcasts then consider sending us a donation via paypal. We got bandwidth to buy & audiological goodness to dispense. We will also get a percentage of your Amazon purchase through this link OR you can send us a few and get us a pint!***


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Charlie Hebdo, NAACP Bombing, SELMA, and…Naked Yoga?

reconcileNew year, new office(s)… The HBCultureCast crew occupy a new recording space, Amy talks about a big change she recently made, yet other things haven’t changed. 2015 is off to a rough start with the massacre of a dozen people at the French satire magazine “Charlie Hebdo” and a bombing at the NAACP office in Colorado Springs. John Stewart recently expressed hope that this year would see an end to the violence that marked 2014, but will it?.

Our interview is with John Paul Lederach about his book Reconcile. Many of our regular listeners will recall that we first aired this piece back in September of 2014, but the content is so timely we felt it deserved another listen. If 2015 is going to be a year of peace, we must actively work for it. Lederach tells us what that work looks like.

In the Echo Chamber, Amy, Christian, and Andy reflect on the Charlie Hebdo tragedy, the lack of press regarding the NAACP bombing in Colorado, and the timeliness of the film SELMA. As they turn to Amy’s Fear of the Week things get a little ragey and a little weird… naked yoga, anyone?

selma-movie-posterFinally, the crew recommends a couple films that you might wanna check out. SELMA promises to be one of the most important films of 2015 and oh so timely. It was just released nationally in theaters. SALINGER offers an in-depth look at the reclusive author’s life, with interviews from people who knew him or were inspired by him. J.D. Salinger was a deeply troubled man and this film explores the events that shaped him. Christian also lets us know that you can sign up now to receive updates on his Jesus Project – just go to myjesusproject.com

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Naturalism is not Enough: Or, Why Transcendence is not the Problem

There has been a great discussion in the comment section of the latest TNT episode where Tripp talks with LeRon Shults and Barry Taylor, both of whom I admire. Shults defends a form of radical theology and at one point even uses the term “atheist” to describe himself. His ontology is a strictly “naturalistic” one. It reminds me of Kester Brewin’s recent criticism of Rob Bell’s benevolent conception of the universe. Several people commenting in response to the conversation have asked why process philosophy or theology isn’t more attractive to Shults, or why it doesn’t pass the science test. This is a great question and a discussion worth having, but I want to make another observation.

atheismIn the podcast, Shults characterizes religion or traditional theism as basically any belief in an infinite, disembodied agent or intentional force that authorizes an in-group. So for him there is an intimate and intrinsic relationship between “God” and “my tribe.” I think this is generally true, and sociology of religion seems to confirm it.

Because of this, for Shults, religion, or belief in God, frequently serves to reinforce prejudices of various kinds, and so should be rejected as inherently problematic or even antithetical to the advance of anything like the common good for society — or at least that’s how I interpret him. (Admittedly, I have read some of Shults’ earlier work, but here I am drawing only on the recorded conversation, and not from his books, which is probably a little unfair.) Shults does not preclude the possibility that religion can by contrast at times promote the common good, but he seems to suggest that when it does this — whether intellectually, activistically or mystically — the ianti-monotheism1nfinite, disembodied agent or intentional force-dimension to religion remains only superfluous if not an impediment. We can strive for justice, peace, the good, etc., without any transcendent referent, he would say. So Shults encourages us to “go all the way” with our criticism and not stop short at the boundary of “orthodoxy,” “theism,” or whatever. And this is the main part of his position that I want to question.

First of all though, while it was only a brief summary in the podcast, I think Shults conflates Christian mysticism with another kind of Christian intellectualism that simply appeals to mystery when it hits an intellectual wall. That is not Christian mysticism. Shults probably knows this, but this characterization makes sense given how much Shults has studied Pannenberg, who was hardly a mystic. A theologian like Hans Urs von Balthasar, for instance, who constructs his epistemology primarily on the basis of aesthetics and narrative, rather than on modern, foundationalist grounds, does not have this problem (Callid’s interview with Cecilia Gonzales-Andrieu highlights this difference well). That is, for Christians like Balthasar, the truthfulness of Christ’s beauty and goodness neither depends on nor contradicts empirical verification. And with regard to Christian mysticism — not unlike mysticism in other religions — it is about non-dual thinking and union with the divine through transformation of the mind into a less egocentric consciousness. Such a life vision is not some new idea that can be tried on for size until one becomes “post-mystical.” It takes months and years of practicing spiritual disciplines to see any fruit.

Secondly though, as one who tends to fall more into the activistic or liberationist camp in my own thinking, my counter-claim to Shults, or any other atheistic theology, is this: what stands in the way of the common good for society is not humanity’s belief in an infinite or transcendent, disembodied intentional agent. What stands in the way are people in general who want authorization of their in-group in the first place.

Most human beings live with and derive meaning from transcendent or absolute horizons. Pannenberg says as much in his anthropology. This may be too universalistic of a statement, but there’s pretty good evidence for it. The key question then isn’t whether, but what kind of transcendent horizon we are talking about. This insight is not original of course. Tillich and others have essentially said the same thing. Religion is merely the byproduct of the fundamental human tendency to make some-thing an ultimate concern. In other words, what is the ultimate good that informs and directs a people’s living and organizing? That is religion.

The Free Market, for example, is one such transcendent horizon or ultimate good. The difference is, it’s a transcendent horizon claiming a total immanence that nothing else can transcend. This was Tripp’s point in the discussion. So Hardt and Negri make their infamous case in Empire about the triumph of global capitalism, whose “soft” power of capital in contrast to the overt dominance of the nation-state subtly but no less powerfully reigns now in place of modern, national sovereigns. If Karl Schmidt’s Political Theology deified the sovereignty of the state, today we’ve done the same with the Market.

In their book Beyond the Spirit of Empire, Rieger, Miguez and Sung actually argue that the ideology of the Free Market is not transcendent enough. It is actually atheistic. Its utopia is too weak, and so it closes off other options that might imagine a world where sacrificing the well-being of major segments of the population for the benefit of a few isn’t tolerated. For these authors — two of whom are bringing non-Western and post-colonial perspectives to the fore — to renounce transcendence, even in the name of good things, is to be left with no standpoint for a radical critique of history.

Christians confess that Jesus is somehow the immanence and the human embodiment of the Transcendent. Based on what Christians believe Jesus reveals about God, then, the danger is not, I submit, belief about the existence, intention or agency of God, so much as the disembodiment of these beliefs. I’m reminded here of this great Pete Rollins’ bit on denying the resurrection (– by not practicing it!). Because if Jesus is the full embodiment of this infinite agent’s intention, then the manner of his embodiment is always contrary to the “authorization of in-groups.” In fact, it should always un-authorize in-groups. The only thing more potentially empowering than eradicating a transcendent referent is to say that the Transcendent identifies with the excluded and oppressed peoples of the earth. I know this is a bold faith move that sometimes feels like wishful thinking, but unlike imperialistic depictions of God, it has the unique advantage of not being very convenient for the dominant and leisure classes of the world. Furthermore, if Jesus’ way isn’t ontologically authorized, from whence does resistance to in-group thinking come? Preference? Intuition? Reason? Buddhism?

LeRon Shults has obviously thought about his position very carefully and over a long period of time, so I’m not accusing him of reactionary thinking. And again, maybe it all comes back to science for him. I just have a hard time understanding how science makes the idea of an infinite, disembodied, intentional force so necessarily problematic, unless a scientific discourse is either confused with or unduly privileged over a metaphysical one. More importantly, I fail to see why atheism, full immanence, etc., is any more compelling than a transcendent theology that challenges prejudices and calls for an embodied abolition of insider-outsider ideology. This is exactly what a “Jesus religion” should do — abolish insider-outsider ideologies. And we don’t have to stop praying and reading the Bible, or believing in God to do it.

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TNT: Shults and Taylor

Podcast favorite LeRon Shults sits down with Barry Taylor and Tripp in the HBC HQ to chat. tntpcsubad

LeRon has made the infamous migration from Emergent to agnostic. His new books can be found here.

Get his new book Theology After the Birth of God on discount until Feb.  Then Feb. 1 the paperback version of Iconoclastic Theology comes out in paperback!

You can hear his first visit to the podcast here where we discuss Christology.  Then his second HBC podcast here on the Church.

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A.J. Jacobs, Sony, Summer Camps, & Semi-Nude Skyping

A. J. JacobsAfter a, um, hiatus of sorts Christian, Amy, and Andy are back to talk about all things important… like summer camp for asthmatics, Beer and Hymns protests, and semi-nude Skype conversations.

This episode’s interview is with A.J. Jacobs – author, journalist, lecturer and human guinea pig. He has written four New York Times bestsellers, including The Year of Living Biblically. He and Christian talk about A.J’s. new global family reunion project, in which he tries to show that we’re all related, quite literally. The project is culminating in a huge gathering in New York on June 6, 2015, and you’re invited! Along the way, they discuss Christian’s new Jesus project – an ambitious year of figuring out what it takes to seriously live like Jesus lived. A.J. has some great advice for Christian as he embarks on this new undertaking. See more of what A.J is up to at his website: http://ajjacobs.com/

In the Echo Chamber, the team weighs in on some important questions: Is the hack on Sony a blessing in disguise? What did the Pope have to do with making Cuba and U.S. kiss and make up? Is there a difference in saying “Black Lives Matter” versus “All Lives Matter”? What should the response of the White Christian Church be?

The crew then talks about UnTappd, Interstellar, Hawking, Sick, Fat, and Nearly Dead, Disunity in Christ, God of the Oppressed and The Cross and the Lynching Tree in the Recommendations segment of the show. Finally, Amy’s Fear of the Week Last Three Months is a doozy…

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Born Of A Virgin? It happened a lot back then

I posted this 2 years ago today and thought it might be fun to revisit. 

As Christians we confess that Jesus was born to a virgin.  Some people doubt the accuracy of that – but they may not realize that it was not that uncommon back then.

Here are just 10 people born of a virgin in the ancient world: 

  • Buddha
  • Krishna – born without a sexual union, by “mental transmission” from the mind of Vasudeva into the womb of Devaki, his mother.
  • Odysseus
  • Romulus
  • Dionysus*
  • Heracles – Son of a god (Zeus)
  • Glycon – son of the God Apollo
  • Zoroaster/Zarathustra
  • Attis of Phrygia
  • Horus

One theory is that when somebody who led a deeply impactful life died, those who wrote about them later would attempt to say something special about them. One of the ways that they could do that was to say something extraordinary about their birth. It was a way of that there was something significant, even about they way that they were conceived.

Sometimes it was that they were born to people that were really old (past the age of child-bearing age).

Think of Issac born to Abraham and Sarah in the Old Testament or John the Baptist born to Zechariah and Elizabeth in the New (Advent).

Now, If somebody wanted to take the origin of their hero up a notch, they could say that there was no human dad … it was a god!  (like Zeus)

This is why some think that Jesus’ autobiographers took it up even one more notch! Not only did a God not have sex with women … there was NO sex at all!

 Now some say “yeah, lots of people were said to be born of a virgin … but Jesus actually was.”

This is where the problem starts. As best as I can discern, there basically three ways to approach the problem: physics, meta-physics or linguistics. 

Physics:

Some people take an approach that is so certain that even science itself would be proved wrong. This usually comes up around issue like the Shroud of Turin (the cloth Jesus was buried in). I once heard a very confident person say that if we did DNA test on the blood on the shroud it would show that Jesus was fully human with 46 pairs of chromosomes – only instead of 23 from the female mother and 23 from the male father – Jesus would have 46 human ones from Mary.

I find this problematic for the same reason that I do not believe in the super-natural. It concedes the rules of the games to science (reductive naturalism) then tries to fill in the gaps with God.  That is a losing game-plan if ever I heard one.

Meta-Physics: 

Other people try to get around the whole reductive scientific debate by saying “Look, if God could make the world in 6 days out of nothing, then what is to make a virgin pregnant?  God does whatever God wants to do and who are we to question that?”

I am not a big fan of this approach either. It seems to say that revelation doesn’t have to report to reason and that God can not be evaluated on any reasonable standard conceived of by humans.

It seems just a short leap to say that God can elect who God wants for salvation God can pick favorites if that is what ‘He‘ wants to do.

It seems to retreat into the silo of ecclesiastic isolation and unaccountability. I think we have to look a little deeper ask some bigger questions.

 Linguistics:

This is an interesting approach that some in the post-liberal camp or comparable schools of thoughts might take.

The basic line is that it’s not the physics or meta-physics of the virgin birth that matters, its the way that it impacts us as people and forms us as a community. The importance of the language found in the gospels has to do with how it functions for us as a community and tradition.

Some folks don’t like this linguistic approach because it seems like theologically ‘thin soup’ to them. They look at the formulations that are quantified in the early creeds and they make definite and literal assumptions about what is behind them.

I am however nervous that all of this controversy is simply because we don’t know how to read a gospel. It’s like when we get sucked into debates about talking snakes in the garden of Eden or trying to prove scientifically how a man like Jonah could stay alive in the belly of a whale for 3 days and not be eaten by the stomach acid (or something).

It would be the equivalent of people 1,000 years from now arguing that we actually thought there was a place called Mudville and that a man named Casey was literally up to to bat.  It is because we don’t know how to read the genre of literature.

Jesus was born of a virgin – we confess that by faith, it is affirmed in our ancient creeds and it functions in our community to form us as people.    

 

 

* I even found one internet source that claims Dionysus was born of a virgin on December 25 and, as the Holy Child, was placed in a manger. He was a traveling teacher who performed miracles. He “rode in a triumphal procession on an ass.” He was a sacred king killed and eaten in an eucharistic ritual for fecundity and purification. Dionysus rose from the dead on March 25. He was the God of the Vine, and turned water into wine. He was called “King of Kings” and “God of Gods.” He was considered the “Only Begotten Son,” Savior,” “Redeemer,” “Sin Bearer,” Anointed One,” and the “Alpha and Omega.” He was identified with the Ram or Lamb. His sacrificial title of “Dendrites” or “Young Man of the Tree” intimates he was hung on a tree or crucified.

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Theology for the People: Publishing, Emergent and God

Tripp sits down with Tony Jones to chat about the new series with Fortress Press: ‘Theology for the People”. 10653370_807752369288009_1575330671555985864_n

HBC-1024x1024They chat about everything from the publishing industry to the emergent church – from theological education to the death of God.

If you have not heard part 1 of the AAR live event featuring Catherine Keller and John Cobb, make sure to subscribe to the HBC stream on iTunes or Stitcher.

Enjoy listening to two friends chat about some current and future issue that have grabbed their attention. 

 

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