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September 26, 2006

Comments

"At the same time, I tire of the continual straw men."

Brett, this is my beef with all church beefs, that any church is going to have a certain number of idiots that attend and people leaving EC to go Emergent doesn't do anything to reduce the idiot factor...you just end up with PostModern idiots (redundant, I know).
The nerve to start a new denomination or-ahem- conversation that thinks it will rise above the formula of previous denominations because of a cultural shift, instead of changing the church's DNA to better and wholely follow scripture.

When I hear Emergent art-types talk about why they left the stale old church it's because they want to baptize their religion into modern cultural norms like piercings, worship style or art ministries. They want church to look and feel a certain way and you can achieve this look and feel without addressing the scriptural starvation of most armchair Evangellicals. It's out of the pan and into the fire, though they don't talk much about "the fire" in emergent circles.

>When I see this I think, "That's not me...or my family...
>or my church...or the community of believers I associate
>with...or any evangelical I know for that matter."

*sings*

But you see, it's not me, it's not my family
In your head, in your head they are fighting
With their claims and their truths
and their truths and their pews
In your head, in your head they are crying...

What, you want the whole song? Here you go.

Another head hangs lowly,
Church member is slowly taken
And the tolerance caused such silence,
Who are we mistaken?

But you see, it's not me, it's not my family
In your head, in your head they are fighting
With their claims and their truths,
And their truths and their pews
In your head, in your head, they are crying

In your head, in your head,
Emergent, emergent, emergent,
Hey, hey, hey. What's in your head,
In your head,
Emergent, emergent, emergent?
Hey, hey, hey, hey, oh, dou, dou, dou, dou, dou

Another pastor's breakin',
Heart is taking over
When the tolerance causes silence,
We must be mistaken

It's the same old theme since nineteen-sixties.
In your head, in your head they're still fighting,
With their claims and their truths,
And their truths and their pews
In your head, in your head, they are dying

In your head, in your head,
Emergent, emergent, emergent,
Hey, hey, hey. What's in your head,
In your head,
Emergent, emergent, emergent?
Hey, hey, hey, hey, oh, oh, oh,
Oh, oh, oh, oh, hey, oh, ya, ya-a...

In your head, in your head,
Zombie, zombie, zombie!

Doug,

"you just end up with PostModern idiots (redundant, I know)."

Yes, it is better to simply dismiss them with name-calling (name-calling that then obliviates any possibility of genuine dialogue) than address the real issues. Please don't make the mistake of thinking that any genuinely intelligent person must come to the same conclusions you do...

"When I hear Emergent art-types talk about why they left the stale old church it's because they want to baptize their religion into modern cultural norms like piercings, worship style or art ministries."

Much like Christianity did with Aristotelian/Neo-Platonic thought so it will be 'intellectually respectable' to its pagan peers? Bowing to "cultural norms" is quite common in Christianity's history. The question is to what effect: you will claim that Christianity's assimilation (and mutation) of Arostotelian/Neo-Platonic thought (without which much of traditional "orthodoxy" would be unintelligible [if it is not with it as well]) was good, that it got us closer to "the Truth." I believe that so-called postmodernism has something to to offer, even if I think that the EC (from what little I've read) misunderstands many of its key thinkers as much as most traditional Evangelicals do (i.e. the claim that postmodernism is inherently relativistic, as one prominent example, often while explicitly speaking of [and sorely misunderstanding] Derrida).

Kevin,
I've seen you make the claim that many Evangelicals misrepresent the ideas of postmodernism's key thinkers (often citing Derrida) before, particularly by rejecting the labeling of PM as inherently relativistic. My understanding is that the defining move in philosophical thought from modernism to postmodernism came with Wittgenstein's linguistic turn (language, specifically the language group, constructs reality, abandoning the idea that there is a real world "out there" that our senses may or may not be able to access or give us reliable information on). If this is a fair representation of the crux of postmodernism (and if you don't think it is, then please show me why), then it seems fair to me to say that as a system of thought it is indeed inherently relativistic. You seem to have done more reading of PM thinkers than I have, though, so if you could substantiate your objection with some specifics or at least an accurate summary, I would find that most helpful.

P.S. I know you're into Heiddeger - what is your opinion on the contrast between his earlier period of thought and his later?

Aaron,

The linguistic turn is an important point, so I'll take some time on it. As I have not done much with Wittgenstein, I will focus on Heidegger. For Heidegger, language and interpretation deal first and foremost with beings; not 'inner' constructs/representations, but with elucidating beings. But beings are only intelligible in a given context. For example, the mathematical formula 3x+5x=15 is only intelligible (and can be proven false) only within the world of mathematics with its norms, rules, motivations, etc. Similarly with a Rook: a Rook is understood as a Rook (its being as a Rook) within the world of chess: without the other pieces, the chess board, and the norms, rules, and motivations for the game it could not BE a Rook (and our current understanding of the Rook would be unintelligible). This is the "hermeneutic" understanding of being/beings, which is the central aspect of the "linguistic turn".

It should also be understood that these various ways of bringing beings to light, though called "interpretations" (hence hermeneutic), really do tell us something of the being. A Rook can indeed be moved in various ways, the baseball bat indeed is useful for hitting balls, the mathematical equation does have meaning and utility. Thus, to call something an "interpretation" is not to see it in a subjectivistic sense. To interpret beings is to make them appear in a particular way by bringing them into a context. Furthermore, we cannot do anything BUT put them in a context; contextualizing is not an optional and, hence, contingent thing we may or may not do. Beings are intelligible only by being placed within a context.

Thus, beings are intelligible (AS a Rook, AS a mathematical equation, AS a baseball bat, AS anything whatsoever) only when they are illuminated within a proper context. But what, then, does this say for the being? A baseball bat, for example, can be made intelligible in a pratically (if not wholly) infinite number of contexts where, within each context, different aspects of the bat will become salient (whether it be different uses, different 'properties' [which is another fun topic], or what have you). Not only can we, as human beings, make salient certain aspects of the baseball bat by bringing it into various contexts (within a baseball game, within a museum, within the need to prop open a door, etc.), but we are completely unaware of how other non-human beings may bring the bat to light. What of a race who see in a different wavelength? Or a race that is 10 times our size? Or a race who's bodies are composed of an incredibly dense material? Or a race who is much weaker physically than we are? Because of these existential modalities, the bat would appear very differently. And, again, there are a pratically (if not truly) infinite number of contexts with an infinite number of possible existential modes of being of entities who could come across this baseball bat.

So, again, what can we say of the bat? First, we cannot give a description of the bat as THE truth, as THE exhaustive description of what the bat is, because any given description we could give would be inherently finite, not only because we would not understand the bat fully (as in ignorance), but because any description would be given from one context (that of science or art, for example) that would bring the bat to light only in ways that are pertinent to that context. When the baseball player is using the bat in a game he doesn't care at all about its aesthetic value or about the particular scratches and marks on the bat that it has gained in its history. Similarly, when someone is walking through the Baseball Hall of Fame (say it's Babe Ruth's bat) the bat is not seen as something that they can take up and use as that would be against the norms of museums and art, though they WOULD see the particular scratches and marks on the bat because such become salient in that context.

The above is the foundation for at least the Heideggerian (and, I would argue, Derridean) rejection of claims to THE truth. If you say that a physical description of the bat in terms of mass, volume, density, etc. is THE correct understanding of the bat then I would argue that seeing the bat in the context of art (where mass, volume, and density are not ways of discussing works of art) ALSO tells us something about the being of the bat, even though such is not permissible within the context of physics (they are dealing with two very different questions and modalities of being).

From here you might say: but what if we said that the being of the bat is REALLY just its set of properties that are inherent in a substance and that it is from THIS basis that we discover the other aspects of the bat (within art or keeping doors open). Ah, but even that is intelligible as a way of speaking of beings in a particular context: that of 'scientific philosophy' (if there is such a thing). But when I'm hefting the bat the question of its properties does not come to mind; my only question is, "Will it work for what I am doing?" I can be completely ignorant of masses and volumes and densities or of the substance/property metaphysic with its abstractions, but I can still heft the bat, which hefting does tell me something about the bat. Not only that, but it tells me something about me too: that I am someone with the capacities and coordination to heft bats (as 'heftiness' is a 'property' that is intelligible only with the man-object conjunct and cannot be reduced to either). I do not need an understanding of mass or substance/properties to have a good understanding of bats.

But this has already gone long enough for now. I have discussed these in (what I think is) a more cogent way here, , and .

As for your last question: I don't see much of a break at all between the "earlier" and "later" period. Heidegger is still raising the exact same question, that of being. I see much of the later Heidegger in his early works, so I see more continuity than discontinuity.

Aaron,

The second-to-last paragraph didn't quite come out right. Here are the links:

http://heideggerian.blogspot.com/2006/06/presencing-and-essencing.html

http://heideggerian.blogspot.com/2006/07/essences-again.html

http://heideggerian.blogspot.com/2006/07/being-positive-nothing.html

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