Thursday, August 18, 2011

Postmodernism and its effects on art, culture and just about everything else. (How Universal Truth really exists)

This word Postmodernism has had a great many definitions attached to it, from the ideas of architecture, literature, music, art and philosophical thought. Many have taken the term to attempt to describe themselves in a pious and intellectual “I’m smarter than you, so deal with it” mentality.  C. Boundas defines Postmodernism as “a particular set of philosophical, intellectual or epistemological allegiances, positions and strategies, or, most generally of all, as a periodising concept akin to ‘postmodernity’.” [1] This still really doesn’t tell us what it means. Breaking it down we see two basic words, “Post” and “Modernism”. To truly understand what a Postmodernistic perspective on the 20th century looks like we really need to have a grasp on what Modernism itself is, then we can move to the “Post” portion of the era.
 Going back prior to the Postmodernism movement we see Modernism which is a name given to the movement that dominated the arts and culture of the first half of the twentieth century. This was found in response to the Enlightenment that caused a great scientific revolution during the 16th and 17th centuries. Great thinkers of that time like Kepler, Newton, and Galileo just to name a few began to study the natural world and in its studies found various scientific truths like the Law of Gravity, the rotation of the earth in relation to the sun.

Nietzsche, for better or for worse, is one of the most influential philosophers of the last 100 years.  He railed both against the traditional morality of religion especially that of Judaism and Christianity and against the morality based upon a purely rational foundation, especially the morality of Immanuel Kant.  Kant believed that both sets of morality limited the individual.  He believed in pure freedom, the freedom to express one’s self no matter what the cost is to others.   In later Meditations Descartes attempted to rationally deduce [sic] the existence of God from his own existence as a thinking thing and to show that God is perfectly good and hence no deceiver.  ‘So what?” you say.  Well, if we can be certain that we exist and if we can be certain that God exists and if we can be certain that God is no deceiver, we can also be certain that our sensations must truly represent an external reality.  If they did not, we would live in constant error and ignorance, like Plato’s prisoners in the cave, and this, surely, a good and gracious God would not allow.

The open-minded 18th-century thinkers believed that virtually everything could be submitted to reason: tradition, customs, morals, even art. But, more than this, it was felt that the ‘truth’ revealed thereby could be applied in the political and social spheres to ‘correct’ problems and ‘improve’ the political and social condition of humankind. This kind of thinking quickly gave rise to the exciting possibility of creating a new and better society. [2]

Jumping ahead to the 20th century finds the period of high modernism stretching from 1910-1930, we see great literary giants like T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Virginia Woolf, Gertrude Stein, and Franz Kafka. Amidst this era of literature a new mindset was being explored by many of these writers. Including a movement away from apparent objectivity, a blurring of specific literary genes, becoming more poetic, and prose-like, a great example being Edger Allen Poe, there was a moving away of clear-cut moral positions. This type of literary mindset however fell out of favor until the 1960’s due to the tensions generated during the decade of the 1930’s with the political and economic crisis therein. 
The distinction between Modernism and Postmodernism is summarized in this way; Modernism gives great prominence to fragmentation as a feature of twentieth- century art and culture, by a deep nostalgia for an earlier age when faith was full and authority intact. Postmodernism by contrast found the fragmentation an exhilarating, and liberating phenomenon, sympathetic of our escape from the claustrophobic embrace of fixed systems of belief. In a word, modernists lament fragmentations while post modernists celebrate it. [3]

This postmodernist celebration of fragmentation also came with a rejection of ‘high’ and ‘popular’ art that was praised in the modernist view, in favor of more excessive and gaudy art like that of Andy Warhol, or M.C. Escher and Salvador Dali. This view was put in vogue when Jean-Fran├žois Lyotard published The Postmodern Condition: A report on Knowledge (Manchester University Press, 1979) Lyotard’s view was that “metanarratives” like Christianity, or Universal narratives such as “truth”, “knowledge”, “right” or “wrong” have no basis, and that the best we can hope for is “mininarratives” which are provisional, contingent, temporary, and relative, and which provide a basis for the actions of specific groups in particular local circumstances.[4] In this type of thinking we are opening ourselves to the idea that there is no solid universal truth, and that truly the idea of truth itself is fluid, Lyotard’s attitude focuses on the banality as he sees it of “the dialects of Spirit, the hermeneutics of meaning, the emancipation of the rational or working subject or the creation of wealth”. He goes on to make statements in the same piece of writing delegitimizing notions of Enlightenment rationality, universal progress, objectivity of science, and political and intellectual programs such as those of Marxism and psychoanalysis. These stories are often described as ‘totalizing’ – in the final line of his book Lyotard declares ‘let us wage war on totality’[5] Fredric Jameson argues that the beginning of the early 1970’s witnessed another reemergence of postmodernism in literary and cultural production, as well as in philosophy and in everyday life. Its affect has weakened our sense of historicity, as well as the rise in small group politics and a new centrality of the image and information technologies. He also notes that within postmodernism the modern ‘self-autonomy’ of the aesthetic, something that was spoken of greatly in the work of Immanuel Kant, as well as the modernist dichotomy of high and mass culture, have come to an end.[6] While many may disagree with his perspective it has become one of much debate in philosophical circles.

The perspective of a neutrality or apathy in universal truth is self evident in the perspectives of recent news stories about legal issues like same-sex marriage[7], and abortion funding from the federal government.[8] Weather the news stories are true or not is not of importance, since as we have established within postmodernism the truth is a relative thing to begin with. But the fact that these are even thought of as potentially ok is a statement as to where we as a country sit in the eyes of divine truth.

When we lose the idea that there is an ultimate reality we then must be forced to wander about in a center-less universe guided by moral relativism. The real question here is does moral relativism really exist, or are their truly absolutes, example is it always wrong to lie? Well some may say yes lying is always wrong, but what if you are lying to a robber when he asks if you have a gun in the house and where is it. But to have a moral law there must be a moral Lawgiver that is an ultimate authority that has the power to decide or direct that which is right all the time and that which is wrong all the time. In terms of ultimate right or wrong I have to say there are many times where there is a gray area, this is not to say that all things are relative but there are many situations where we must chose what is the “right way “in that situation, it is not wrong to lie to the robber to protect your family but it is wrong to lie to a teacher to protect your grade.

I think that we must be open minded to certain amount situational relativism, and realize that sometimes we focus too much on the action that we lose the context of the matter. However I believe there is a moral yard stick that some people measure in feet and some people measure in centimeters, meaning that the greater good must be measured and that sometimes there are situations along the way that take place that may not be “right” but they get us to the greater good at the end of the stick. Murder is wrong, if we murder one man we are called a murder but if we murder a group who happens to wear a different uniform we are called a war hero.  It’s the greater good that must be measured, now the ends do not always justify the means as Machiavelli thought, but we do need to see that even in scripture God called for the murder of troops or even one man to fulfill His call on this earth (the greater good). Ethics in definition is the study of the “Higher Good”; the biggest problem with Ethics is that we are trying to place a Higher Good on a world that has fallen and lives in a state of “lower or lesser evil is the best route.” This leaves us with the need to differentiate between what could be good or not, good however is a varying term that can’t be quantified. It may feel good to take a drug that alters your mind like Huxley did in “doors of perception” but we also know that he didn’t view God as the ultimate good. He viewed Humanistic good or pleasure as the judge. In this same light we see that rape may cause pleasure for one but not for the other in that we view it as wrong or bad. So again it comes down to the “greater good” and our reasonably to that situation.
While this method of thinking has some of its roots in Postmodernism there has to be a greater good or ultimate law giver to be able to see the need for laws to begin with. Or for reality to have real meaning, but Lyotard’s perspective is that language is a self-contained system and that the ‘disappearance of real’ nullifies this and when we claim that something is true we are not measuring it against some external absolute standard, but by internal rules and criteria which operate only within that designated sphere and have no ‘transcendent’ status beyond that. He goes on to explain that they have restricted applicability, just like the rules which govern moves in a game. Thus, “Knight to King’s Rook Four” might be a winning move in a chess game, but would carry no weight at all in a football game.[9] Since as Postmodernist agree we all live in a ‘language game’ there are no transcendent realities but rather self-validating social identities that we seek or live in.

This moved its way into the educational system through the theories of the “open classroom” with the inclusion of different voices and perspectives in understanding as a moral and politically correct goal. Clayton Dumont Jr. of San Francisco State University put it, holding to an “unquestioned correctness” of epistemological desire, one acts as impediments to viable multiculturalism.[10] However the real question then must be brought to the table and that is to what reality or lack of reality if you will are we to all look to in order to find this “politically correct goal”? Therein lays the big question that swirls in the minds of philosophers every day. To whom do we base or reality? The humanistic Atheist says that we base our reality on ourselves and what we think is right, as is stated in the Humanist Manifesto II: “We affirm that moral values derive their source from human experience. Ethics is autonomous and situational needing no theological or ideological sanction. Ethics stems from human need and interest. To deny this distorts the whole basis of life. Human life has meaning because we create and develop our futures. Happiness and the creative realization of human needs and desires, individually and in shared enjoyment, are continuous themes of humanism. We strive for the good life, here and now. The goal is to pursue life's enrichment despite debasing forces of vulgarization, commercialization, and dehumanization.” [11]

In actuality what we see is the core of a belief that attempts to put man as the center or in the place of God, by attempting to take out the core idea of a supreme or master designer of not just our universe but also our lives. Postmodernism is a never ending sidestep of responsibility, the view that morality may be true for you but not for me, and always based on perspective makes for a judge free society. But also makes for an anarchist worldview.

Fortunately there seems to be a bit of a light at the end of this tunnel, in that we have had some thinkers that have come along and with the writing on the wall have seen what moral relativism leads to as well as a need for more globalization, we seem to be coming to an age marked as “post-postmodernism” thinkers like Alain Badiou, Michael Hardt, and Antonio Negri. While they are attentive to the central lessons of postmodernist thought, their work is distinctive in that it marks a return to many of the categories stigmatized by postmodernism, including totality, universalism and truth.[12] This move while not a complete reversal of the ideas of postmodernism nor an attempt to revert to prior ideas of Modernism is a step in the right direction, at least in the minds of many in the current field of Continental Philosophy.

The moral side of life has always had a problem with this type of apathy, in that we can’t have our cake and eat it too, while still yet denying that the cake belongs to us, or that it is in fact a cake at all. This is the postmodernist view, but to those who can clearly see, smell and taste cake it is most certainly cake, regardless of the language used or even the type of frosting. In the real world of life, there are situations that just seem to defy the need for relativistic thought patterns, and these types of logical thoughts are what seem to be making a comeback.
So as with many ideas that flourish for a time and then seem to be let go, Postmodernism is as it started, a mindset that was desiring to break itself from the mold of its predecessor and attempt to spread its wings and fly, much like one sees a child move into adolescence and attempt to pull away from the ideas of Mom and Dad, trying to say “I know more than you, and I can do this on my own.”  From that point they look at good as though it is bad or stifling, they look at right as though it is only “right for right now” and they look at truth as “someone else’s” truth. Only to later in life return to the ways they were taught before, understanding that in the end there really is a “reason” for the order of life, and there is a plan if we just open our minds to the idea that God really has a plan for us, and walk in it.
Postmodernism is that angst filled teen, but praise God he is on his way into young adulthood and again returning to his senses.

[1] Protevi, John. A Dictionary of Continental Philosophy. New Haven: Yale UP, 2006. Pg. 458-459 Print

[2] "Modernism." Christopher L. C. E. Witcombe. Web. 17 Mar. 2011. .

[3] Hawthorn, Jeremy. A Glossary of Contemporary Literary Theory. London: Arnold, 1992. Print

[4] Barry, Peter. Beginning Theory: an Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory. Manchester : Manchester UP, 1995. 86-87. Print.

[5] Protevi, John. A Dictionary of Continental Philosophy. New Haven: Yale UP, 2006. Pg. 459-460 Print

[6] Jameson, Fredric. Postmodernism, Or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Durham: Duke UP, 1991. Print.

[7] "Poll Majority Favors Gay Marriage." Politico. 18 Mar. 2011. Web. 18 Mar. 2011. .

[8] "Taxpayer-funded Abortions in the Federal Health Care Bill?" PolitiFact. 17 Mar. 2011. Web. 18 Mar. 2011. .

[9]Barry, Peter. Beginning Theory: an Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory. Manchester: Manchester UP, 1995. Pg. 92. Print.

[10] Clayton W. Dumont Jr. Toward a Multicultural Sociology: Bringing Postmodernism into the Classroom.
Teaching Sociology: Vol. 23, No. 4 (Oct., 1995), pp. 307-320

[11] Humanist Manifesto II. [S.l.]: British Humanist Association [19--. Print.

[12] Protevi, John. A Dictionary of Continental Philosophy. New Haven: Yale UP, 2006. Pg. 461 Print

Bibliography page:

  • Barry, Peter. Beginning Theory: an Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory. Manchester : Manchester UP, 1995. 86-87. Print.
  • Dawkins, Richard. The God Delusion. Boston [Mass.: Mariner, 2008. Print
  • Dumont Jr., Clayton W. Toward a Multicultural Sociology: Bringing Postmodernism into the Classroom. Teaching Sociology: Vol. 23, No. 4 (Oct., 1995), pp. 307-320
  • Geisler, Norman L. Christian Ethics. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1989. Print.
  • Hawthorn, Jeremy. A Glossary of Contemporary Literary Theory. London: Arnold, 1992. Print
  • Hitchens, Christopher. God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. New York: Twelve, 2007. Print.
  • Hitchens, Christopher. The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever. London: Da Capo, 2007. Print.
  • Humanist Manifesto II. [S.l.]: British Humanist Association [19--. Print.
  • Jameson, Fredric. Postmodernism, Or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Durham: Duke UP, 1991. Print.
  • McGrath, Alister E., and Joanna Collicutt. McGrath. The Dawkins Delusion: Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2007. Print.
  • Politico. "Poll Majority Favors Gay Marriage."  18 Mar. 2011. Web. 18 Mar. 2011. .
    • PolitiFact. "Taxpayer-funded Abortions in the Federal Health Care Bill?"  17 Mar. 2011. Web. 18 Mar. 2011. .
    • Protevi, John. A Dictionary of Continental Philosophy. New Haven: Yale UP, 2006. Pg. 458-459 Print
    • Witcombe, Christopher L. C. E.. "Modernism."  Web. 17 Mar. 2011.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

It's the end of the world and we know it..... So how do you feel?

It's the end of the world as we know it.... Michael Stipe was a bit ahead of his time with the '80's hit....
Six o'clock - TV hour. Don't get caught in foreign towers.
Slash and burn, return, listen to yourself churn.
Locking in, uniforming, book burning, blood letting.
Every motive escalate. Automotive incinerate.
Light a candle, light a votive. Step down, step down.
Watch your heel crush, crushed. Uh-oh, this means no fear cavalier.
Renegade steer clear! A tournament, a tournament, a tournament of lies.
Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives and I decline.
It's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.

So the end didn't come like the billboards said it would, I can't say I'm not surprised. And I know what some are saying, see there goes those crazy Christians again. I think that even in many of the staunch atheist circles, this is recognized as loopy.
The question that is raised through all of this is kind of interesting however. If we look at this situation from a sociological experiment perspective, we have to ask what does the world think of the idea that the Rapture may one day take place? It would seem that many don't care or hold it with loose conviction. Another question would be, are the quips out there pointed at Harold Camping and his idea or at the general thought of the rapture itself? 
So I pose this question:

Do you believe that the Rapture is real? 

And a follow up, 
Do you think it will happen in your lifetime?

Now this perspective brings another idea into mind, while the Bible does say that we may not know exactly when it will take place, it could happen soon. Knowing the way God works sometimes, it would be just like Him to send the rapture sooner than later. Just to spite those naysayers who are laughing. Hear me out I'm not saying God is spiteful, he just has a sense of humor that is not to be trifled with, just look at the duckbill platypus. 
With such thoughts of end times in mind, we really need to seriously think on the condition of our hearts. It may be illogical to try to think you can figure out the time through numerology or timelines but we do know that the Bible says be prepared both in season and out, for it will happen when we don't expect it. So I encourage the dialog to change from when will the rapture happen to a more introspective thought line of if it really did happen next week or next month or in a year from now will I be ready and if not, what can I do to change my life?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Say it again Sam

So what's the deal here, I mean we see all this press about the New Atheists, which I have to say is a bit of a misnomer, considering most of what they are spewing are old rehashed or outdated arguments. 
Take Hitchens book Portable Atheist, it's a mashup of clips from men of old that spout the antiquated musings of premodern England. Now there are a few that have a bit more current statements but still nothing that really changes the course if you will. Dawkins book God Delusion really was nothing more than sophomoric belly aching, and whining that even most right minded Atheists said wasn't worth the paper it was printed on. Stenger while a bit more scientific in his approach still lands himself in s bit of science fiction with his view on   "life force" referring to ESP and chi (not chai) along with psychics (listen I can't make this stuff up, read for yourself in God: The Failed Hypothesis- pg 85) keep in mind all these guys endorsed his book too.... 
I really was hoping for a bit more from Sammy Harris, but when he makes comments like, "If I could wave a magic wand and get rid of either rape or religion, I would not hesitate to get rid of religion." as well as this gem: Saltman: Are you a Buddhist practitioner?
Harris: I’m a practitioner, but I don’t really think of myself as a Buddhist. Buddhism can be distinguished from other religions because it’s nontheistic. But I think Buddhists have to get out of the religion business altogether and talk about what the human mind is like, what the potential for human happiness is, and what are some reasonable approaches to seeking happiness in this world.
Saltman: How did you come to Buddhist practice?
Harris: I came to it initially through a few drug experiences. I had a brief psychedelic phase around twenty years ago that convinced me, if nothing else, that it was possible to have a very different experience of the world. I began reading about mysticism and contemplative experience, and it led me to Buddhist practice — Dzogchen practice, in particular.
Saltman: So you see Buddhist meditation not as a religious practice, but as something that can yield results.
Harris: Clearly, there are results to any religious practice. A Christian might say, “If you pray to Jesus, you’ll notice a change in your life.” And I don’t dispute that. The crucial distinction between the teachings of Buddhism and the teachings of Western religions is that with Buddhism, you don’t have to believe anything on faith to get the process started.
(note the key is Harris has a clear opposition to faith, but he is cool with mysticism, just don't call it religion)
  If you want to learn Buddhist meditation, I could tell you how to do it, and at no point would you have to believe in God or an afterlife.
(Buddhism teaches reincarnation, and that seems plausible to you?) 
Whereas if you’re going to be a Christian and worship Jesus to the exclusion of every other historical prophet, you have to accept that he was the Son of God, born of a virgin, and so on. 
(but to follow the path of Buda to the exclusion of all other prophets is ok.??.)
And I would argue that those beliefs are unjustifiable, no matter what the results of Christian practice are. 
(yes he did say "no matter what the results are", some scientific method at work there, for sure)
The fact that you prayed to Jesus and your life was completely transformed is not evidence of the divinity of Jesus, nor of the fact that he was born of a virgin, because there are Hindus and Buddhists having precisely the same experience, and they never think about Jesus.
(I know of no Hindu or Buddhist who has had "precisely" the same experience as Christians, each religion is so diametrically different from one another there isn't the same experience, there is no salvation, through faith in either of those, or trust in an eternal everlasting life.... So no Sammy you're wrong)
(Parenthetical statements are mine)

I have to say Sammy seems really conflicted! 

Bottom line here at least at this point, and don't get me started on Dawkins and his incredulous meme theory. I mean really let's think logically about this, for him it's ok to have memes, bodiless, essenceless, little mental critters that can infect someone and create a belief system in them, like a virus but to him the Holy Spirit is complete fairy tale stuff..... Ya sure.... 
Dawkins is a nominal scientist but a horrible theologian, but I said don't get me started, so I'll stop.

Bottom line, while we see all these supposed great thinkers, these "brights" as Dennett calls them really seem to think as long as they shout loud enough and try to sell enough books, which by the way I have to say the fact that one can get a book on the best seller list needn't prove it's accuracy, remember Joel Osteens been there, and currently Chelsea Handler is there (twice). But the evidence I want to ask them is, what good are you doing by all this whipping in the wind, have you built any wells in Africa lately like Bloodwater Mission, have you feed any orphans like Compassion International, have you pulled underaged prostitutes off the street like my friends in Myanmar? By the way all in the name of this as Dawkins put it, "oppressive, violent, degenerate god." and really Sammy you would choose rape over religion.... It pains me to think you would say that to a woman who was raped, but look into her eyes and see if you really truly still believe this, then look in the eyes of that little child who never had fresh drinking water and take that from him, who wins in your world?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Biblical Einstein...

I'm reading A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking, again, and my mind is being blown away by the Biblical/Scientific idea of relativity.
Einstein’s theory of general relativity gives us an interesting perspective of space-time and what is called geodesic, basically the view of the earth is curved and if we were to view an airplane in the sky, while it looks like (from the perspective of the earth) that the plane is flying in a straight path it is actually  flying in a geodesic curve following the earth. Hence the reason that it may appear to fly over the curve of a far off mountain, while in the plane one still feels the sensation of straight line flight, but the farther from the earth you move the more evident the geodesic curve becomes.
Light rays follow the Geodesics in space-time. Meaning that as gravity diverts or bends the rays of light when they pass by the sun it may appear that ray is moving in a straight  three dimensional line when really it is following a two dimensional curve.
Time likewise slows the closer to a great mass like the Earth you are. If you look at the earth from the plane cars on earth appear to move slower than if you are sitting the side of the road.  There was also a test done called the twins paradox that states if two twins were to go and one lived at sea level while the other moved to a high mountain when they met again the one at higher elevation would have aged slower. It would be very small but if one were to be sent on a spaceship for a long trip, when he returned he would have aged much slower.
In this same perspective we are able to confirm Einstein’s theory of general relativity, by seeing the rays of a distant star while appearing to be in a straight line actually curve as they travel closer to the gravitational pull of the sun. Therefore the perspective of the star we see is really only a past representation of the light that has passed the sun. We don’t see the star as it appears today, but rather the light that originated many years prior due to the speed of light and the distance traveled.
If we were to look therefore at the earth from the perspective of a definitively far off distance then what would look to us like a day would rather appear in a shorter time frame. Therefore the Biblical “a thousand years is as a day in the eyes of God” Psalms 90:4 would be a scientifically accurate biblical perspective of the portrayal of Einstein’s theory of general relativity.  

Time and again we see science match what has been spoken of in the Bible, for so many years people have attempted to “outsmart” it but only to walk directly back into its truths. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Can we REALLY trust the Resurrection Story?

Basically the story of the resurrection of Jesus has some major flaws from our modern believability perspective and commercial appeal. The Gospel writers had the idea all wrong,  if they were going to make up this story about a resurrection it should have looked totally different if they wanted it to be easily accepted by everyone.
There are 7 basic points raised by New Testament Scholar and historian N.T. Wright as to the perspective of the Christian Resurrection story verses the Jewish traditions. Remember the people of the time of this situation were Jewish and this idea of Jesus as the Messiah was not only THE single most radical thing to happen in their history, this includes a burning bush, parting of the Red Sea, world-wide flood, plagues of  hemorrhoids (1 Samuel 5 look it up) but it was also challenging everything they had believed up to this point. Their heads must have been swimming at this new idea of a Resurrected Savior.
Here they are in short (I recommend reading the entire book noted at the end of this)
 The 7 points:

  1.  No first-century Jew, as far as we know, believed there would be one person raised ahead of everybody else. So this is a radical innovation that the Christians believed this.
  2. The early Christians believed that the Resurrection would involve the "transformation" of the physical body, but of within the Jewish perspectives some thought it would be the exact body we have now all over again others spoke of a luminous body like a star. But Paul tells us of a solid substantial yet transformed body that would never feel pain suffering or death. This was QUITE new. (not the Resurrection of Judaism)
  3.  The early Christians believed that the Messiah himself had been raised from the dead. The Jews never thought the Messiah was going to he killed.. So this was definitely different.
  4.  In Judaism the idea of "resurrection" was thought of as a return from exile (Ez. 37) Christian documents view it quite differently.
  5.  Early Christians thought of it as something that we could contribute to. So we can anticipate His new world. Clearly not a Jewish custom.
  6.  In Jewish custom the resurrection was not a "main" doctrine, but it is for sure in Christianity. So it's move to the focal point is of particular interest to historical scholars 
  7.  Early Christians had no variance on the belief of what happened after death, Jews had a few, pagans had many but Christians held only to the resurrection.

These specificities make the Christian claim unique. And in so doing put more validity to their authenticty.

So what do we say from here, if the Gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) wanted to make it easy to believe the resurrection they would have changed a few things.

  1.  They wouldn't have written their stories from such different angles. While they all tell the same story they present it from compellingly different perspectives. Different words are used but the heart of the story is still the same, so it is evident that they didn't simply copy each other. Their stories were genuinely seen from the perspectives of 4 different Writers. 
  2. There is almost no allusion to the Old Testament in the resurrection narrative, its common in other areas of the Gospels but not here. This would indicate that the story went back much further to a time when it was simply told without postulating or reflective glorification, basically  it stood on it's own.
  3.  The fascinating inclusion of women in the narratives.Hear me out I'm not being sexist (its history folks) If they were to have made this up, they would have NEVER used women to discover the empty tomb. At the time women were not allowed to even give testimony let alone the confirmation of such a great key piece of doctrinal truth. The writers would have had some other much more respected individuals find the tomb empty. Maybe Timothy or better yet James, his brother comes across the empty tomb as he goes to pay his respects to his brother. (see I could do this) ABSOLUTELY NOT a woman with such a scandalous  background as Mary Magdalene. But thats what happened and yet this is common in ALL four gospels. They would have been fools to make that part up!
  4. From a pastoral perspective, we want to draw in our audience and make it relevant to the listener so in all other resurrection thoughts it would have been logical to make this allegorical and refer to our own future resurrection,  that would have fit with the literary and poetic writings of the time. Yet when this was written it was simply put in all four gospel accounts that "Jesus is raised- therefore He really was The Messiah!!" 

So in all of this we see such apparent lack of a good publicist, and bad customer research to make this story more palatable, what can be said to defend why it has lasted as long as it has?
Beyond saying "well because Jesus is who He said He is." We see two very evident things that must have historically occurred:

  1. There MUST have been an empty tomb that had to be accurately identified for people say "yep thats where he was, those people are telling the truth", beyond what we simply read about in scripture many more people must have visited it for the story to continue to propagate, and think, this tomb wasn't hidden or far off so many must have come, towns folk, leaders of state, "doubting Thomas's" of all types must have seen it. this would have been "THE site to see". for that matter it really still is, people from all around the world visit the spot every year. 
  2. There MUST have been appearances of the risen Jesus. Though it says there was in scripture, many people had to be able to corroborate this fact otherwise it never would have taken off.  let me give you an example. If I said hundreds of people were at my house last night all you would have to do is ask my neighbors and they would tell you "no there was no one here last night" and you would know I was lying, but if hundreds of people said "ya, I was at his house" and not only that but they all could accurately describe specific events that took place then there is credibility to this story. 

The thought that it was mass hysteria or visions of a ghost was easily put to rest by simply visiting the empty tomb. Plus remember in Jewish culture they had NO REASON to believe that one would be raised from the dead so to see a risen Jesus would have to contradict their root system of belief and had to be so evidently factual and obviously really HIM for 1000's to believe it and change their lives and history forever.

Based on the evidence historians from both religious and secular backgrounds (how one still could be after this I'm not sure) agree that the evidentiary historicity of the Resurrection is accurate.

During this season, when so many people go to church to get their yearly Jesus fix, but remember that when He came here, He came not to just give us another day to do something special but he came to change the hearts of man for all time. This is a time to do what many of the Jews of that time did, think long and hard about the evidence before you, they were challenged they had questions, remember this was literaly the SINGLE GREATEST CHALLENGE to their faith they had EVER seen, Jesus was claiming to be THE Messiah, the one they had all been waiting for, if he was that would change everything FOREVER, and it really had,  there is clear evidence that this is true, and it can be backed up and verified by men much smarter than I, has to this date stood the test of time. If you still have questions or want to know more read your Bible, and to get the full historical textual evidence  read The Resurrection of the Son of God, by N.T. Wright.

Have a blessed Easter,
Randy Chase

Based on:
N.T.Wright's dialogue with Antony Flew.
   Flew, Antony, and Roy Abraham. Varghese. There Is a God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind. New York: HarperOne, 2007. Print.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Over thinking and Rabbit trailing

So I have always wanted to be a blogger, you know the glamorous life of the elite, the name in lights, notoriety, the fame, the fortune, all this and more that comes with being a blogger..... or was that being Charlie Sheen?? Winning!!!
I never can remember, but until then I will attempt to make this happen, you see my problem isn't that I don't have really interesting and engaging things happening all around me, or that my life is such a wreck that I can't seem to find the front door. Really what it boils down to is that I just don't think to type it all down, you know so that the huddled masses can linger and awe over the revelry of my life. Plus I just think I "over-think" it a little to much. Now not in the same way that my wife does, see she will think and think about a situation and may end up worrying about it (but only a little... love you hunny) but then when she does whatever it is she has thought about it turns out spectacular (check out her blog and you will see what I mean ).... me, well I just over think things and then it just seems to get lost in the abyss of my mind.... what was I saying??? oh ya, back on track, I think that may be another problem, I rabbit trail more than Peter cottontail. It ridiculous really. Maybe its a good thing I am typing this stuff down that way I can look back and get myself on track.

Its like when I speak somewhere (rabbit trailing as we speak) I rarely use notes, for the most part I will think and pray about what I am going to share and then I will just get up and deliver, now in my mind it normally comes off pretty well. There are the few occasions that I listen to myself afterward if someone taped it and think.... "Where was I going??" And other times that I have listened to myself and gone "wow that was really good"

So now that I am going to work a little harder on FOCUS and try this blogging thing again, since I have had this blog for like 2 years or more.. and rarely use it.

(in my best super hero voice) I will use this space for GOOD, not evil. For lifting up not tearing down, and hopefully one day when I am gone, they will look back on my life and say...... where was I again... oh well.... till next time. 

here comes randy cottontail... hopping down the bunny trail.......

Check out my other blog, (its a blog about tea, I have posted a bit more on it)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!!

Dear 2011,
So I will be honest, I thought your predecessor 2010 went by WAY to fast, do me a favor and lets try to slow things down a bit. Now I know some others are probably saying just the opposite but this conversation is between you and I, so you can deal with them later. I would like to see some changes in my life this year, I am trying to lose weight, I have done a good job so far but I am not able to get into my 195 fighting weight that I wrestled at in 8th grade, I would like to get back to that, (but without all the other 8th grade drama).  I also am going to be graduating this year (super excited about that) with that comes some plans of teaching more. As you know I have been teaching now for 2 1/2 years and I love it, but I really want to teach more in the field that is dear to my heart (not that CPR isn’t… there are many jokes to be made here). My heart is to teach on the subject of Philosophy, World Religions, and Apologetics.
I look forward to the fun that is going to happen this year and plan on having a very eventful 2011, this blog will follow me all the way so don’t forget this conversation, I will come back to it at the end of the year and see how we have done.

Until then,
Live Well, Bless Better