Thursday, January 29, 2009

New Rorty Biography

We ought to see him [Rorty] "not as a being spinning out ideas on the basis of a transhistorically rational consideration of their objective merits or as someone pushed this way and that by his personality or character, but as a social actor embedded over time in a variety of institutional settings. . . . [W]hat is true of Rorty in this regard is true of all other intellectuals: they are persons no less impinged upon by social mechanisms and processes than any other."

It seems a little weird that Gross would bother to point this out.

A new philosophical bigoraphy of Richard Rorty, one of my all-time favorite philosophers, has been written - and is given an engrossing review. At some point, after my seminary reading blows over, I'll want to read this. In the meantime, this review (and the reviews of any of my readers!) will have to do.

(Thanks to blogger Jon for the heads-up!)

Labels: ,

Currently Listening: Ray of Light

Famous faces, far off places, trinkets I can buy
No handsome stranger, heady danger, drug that I can try
No ferris wheel, no heart to steal, no laughter in the dark
No one-night-stand, no far off land, no fire that I can spark

The face of you, my substitute for love
My substitute for love
Should I wait for you, my substitute for love
My substitute for love

(You see)

And now I find
I've changed my mind

This is my religion
(from "Drowned World/Substitute for Love")

So, am I totally behind the curve here? I've just "discovered" Madonna's Ray of Light as a work of Christian devotion, and some great meditation music.

You only see what your eyes want to see
How can life be what you want it to be
You're frozen... when your heart's not open

You're so consumed with how much you get
You waste your time with hate and regret
You're broken... when your heart's not open
(from "Frozen")

I must own that I've always been sort of down on Madonna, thinking "pop" music largely beneath my enlightened, spiritual, erudite tastes. But I'm slowly discovering the wealth of insight I've been cutting myself off from.

So, for what it's worth, Madonna - if you ever read my blog - I'm sorry. I underestimated you. And good work here. Not just because it's "Christian" (because it isn't at all Christiany or self-important like that), not just because it is great meditation music (you could also dance to most of it, I suppose), but because you surprised me, and it takes a lot to get through my pride to genuinely surprise me. Thanks.

Labels: , , , ,

Grace in the Face - A Confession

By Flannel Christian

We are going to have a baby, my wife and I. A few months ago, though, I wasn’t sure I wanted one. There were lots of reasons, of course – I like my free time, I like the money I don’t have to spend on a baby, I don’t like dirty diapers, and so on. There were deeper reasons, too. Perhaps part of the reason I have been hesitant to have children is because I don’t want to fail – especially at something so important.

Having a child is an enormous responsibility, even when you’re ready for one. I don’t feel ready: I don’t know enough good stories and songs, I haven’t read the latest books on discipline and encouragement, I don’t know if I will have enough time from my job to spend with my family. When I was ten years younger, I felt more or less emotionally prepared for raising children – but perhaps I know myself better now. I know my faults, the things I don’t know, my personal weaknesses; and I know a little more now how difficult it really is to raise a healthy, dynamic, bold, caring child. At the very time in my life when I feel least prepared to raise a child right, that’s when I find myself becoming a parent.

Now I have no choice: I will have a child – and I will surely fail. I will not be the perfect parent. I will not do everything right. (And, surely, my child will not be perfect herself.) This little life will depend on me, and I will let it down. I will not always be there at the right time, or say the right thing, or be able to solve the problem. And, probably, it will love me anyway, even though I won’t entirely deserve it.

That is really the kicker – it will love me, even though I don’t deserve it. That thought kills me. In addition to me failing as a parent, heaping coals upon my head, it will probably love me as if I never failed at all. It won’t even think about the possibility (probability… certainty) of me failing again in the future. With the love of the innocent, it will probably forgive me even before I’ve done wrong.

This is what grace is to me – being loved despite my failings, being hoped in and relied on despite the certainty that I will fail again, being forgiven even before I do wrong. The grace of God is a lovely idea, and as long as it remains God’s grace, I can handle the concept. But having a child, and being forced every day to face my unpreparedness, and being loved in the face of it all, having that forgiveness right at hand, seems too much to bear.

My guilt and disappointment in myself is so much a part of me, I can’t imagine it going away, having to give it up. To tell the truth, I don’t feel like I deserve to give them up, to be free from my sins.

But at the same time, I don’t want to pass on to my child this burden of mine, pass on the weight of my sins. If I am going to be even the best parent I can be (far from perfect), I will have to let my child love me, and perhaps even accept some forgiveness. I have to be the best parent I can be, despite whatever failings I had yesterday, despite whatever failings await me tomorrow. To some degree, I have to set aside my sins, love myself as if I had never sinned, love myself as if I were capable of never sinning again.

Perhaps having a child will help me learn to forgive myself for failing as a parent. And that may start me forgiving myself for failing at most things. And who knows where this path of grace will lead.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, January 19, 2009

Deliver us from amnesia

God of peace,
God of justice,
God of freedom,

We give thanks for your cadences of peace, justice, and freedom,
Cadences that have surged through the lives
of Martin,
and Ralph,
and Rosa,
and John,
and Fred,
and Hosea,
and Jesse,
and Andy,
and all that nameless mass of risk-takers who have been
obedient to your promises
and susceptible to your dreams.

Deliver us from amnesia
concerning their courage in the face of violence,
their peace-making against hate,
and their hunger for you in a devouring economy.

Deliver us from amnesia:
turn our memory into hope,
turn our gratitude into energy,
turn our well-being into impatience.

That these same cadences of your will may pulse even among us.

-Walter Brueggemann
prayer after Martin Luther King Day, 1999

Labels: , , , , ,