Make America Great Again!

Make America Great Again!

A branding predicated on stupidity.

Those of his supporters who stop to think at all—a generous assumption, of course, to believe they may exist—must realize his solutions to the incredibly complex problems we as a nation face are about as intelligent as an underachieving high-school freshman’s. However, rather than being thrown off by this, it’s what they love about him. Like Palin, they fall head over heals for his performance. In it they see someone who’s terrified of the world around him as well, a world in constant flux, but who is, nevertheless, successful. Since we all as a culture continue to live under the illusion that intelligence is necessary for success, they see not a self-righteous, bigoted, megalomaniac who, like them, has lived for so long with his head shoved up his own ass that he’s convinced himself that his shit doesn’t stink. (How else could he stay there?) They see, instead, a man willing to speak the truth; that is, a man willing to give voice to their own worst selves—their anxious fantasies and fears. He thinks like them, and since that means he doesn’t think at all, they have no doubt about whether or not he could lead us.

The Top Ten Reasons Social Media Is Not Lame but Cool–Or, At Least It Could Be by J. Bjornson

Social media is lame man, you know. Like, if you’ve had a terrible long day and you’re laying on the couch all depressed and you pick up your phone and open Instagram and see all your friends, and all the cool people you follow, who may or may not follow you, and other people you sort of know through friends, and all of them are doing fun stuff like sailing, or surfing, or riding dolphins, but not at Sea World, cause that’s not cool man, or kissing their babies, or having picnics, or hiking in parks, or smoking bowls with the girl you’re into, or still posting pictures of Burning Man, reminding you again of all the enlightenment you missed, or doing something else rad like chilling with their cute puppy or doing yoga or something, and all you did all day was work at the grocery store and hang by yourself and try to work on your painting. And you think to yourself, goddamn my life is terrible.

That’s when social media sucks.

But there’s other times that it’s cool, and that I actually dig it, and this post is about those times.

Below I break it down for you in a simple ten part list.

1.) You can turn yourself into a brand.

That’s pretty cool man.

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Love

 

photo

 

 

 

 

I went to see you there.

The place where

I knew you’d

stay.

 

But

there – you’d gone,

I didn’t dare –

the golden absent hair.

 

I thought we had lost

our love.

Above,

a terrible frost,

 

covered me completely.

 

With the alone

I sat,

my home,

my own, gone through.

 

With me, the still inside,

you reside.

Out where we

share.

 

Now

there we go.

Never home,

the golden absent hair.

Exodus International and the Problem of Biblical Interpretation

As the Supreme Court approaches its deadline to make a decision on Proposition 8 and the constitutionality of DOMA, many countries in Africa still have anti-homosexuality laws in place. Life for the LGBTQ communities in these regions is precarious at best. While the U.S.’ culture wars and legal battles make waves that sway the lives of those of us living here, the ripples gain momentum as they travel internationally and the effects become increasingly dangerous and severe.

Thus, when Exodus International — an American Christian ministry boasting a network of “260 Ministries, Professional Counselors and Churches”, all put in place to “help those affected by homosexuality” — shuts its doors it is not an isolated religious, or even American affair, but an international event with potentially huge consequences.

Alan Chambers is the president of Exodus International and a self-proclaimed success story of its program. Though, he has subsequently issued an apology for its practices. While he has apologized for the methods that Exodus has used in the past, he states that,

“I cannot apologize for my deeply held biblical beliefs about the boundaries I see in scripture surrounding sex… I cannot apologize for my beliefs about marriage.”chambers

In his statement there is a trope commonly heard among conservative Christians involved in the culture wars — it’s not that they themselves hate the LGBTQ community, evolution or women leaders, it’s that the Bible, God’s word, constrains them to accept and propagate certain positions that are counter cultural. Sadly, so the trope goes, due to their belief in Scripture and its dictates, our culture construes them as hate-mongerers and backward-thinking bigots. Continue reading

Benjamin and Arendt: Pearl Diving for the Messianic

In his last essay, “Thesis on the Philosophy of History,” Walter Benjamin composes several intriguing juxtapositions: the desire for the future verses the redemption of the past, the oppressing class verses the oppressed, and nature verses labor to name only a few. Of the many, the juxtaposition I wish to investigate here is that which he constructs between two modes of time. Continue reading

Getting Lost in Uganda, Invisible Children, Speculative Reconstruction, and Why Jason Russell is Still a Rockstar, Even if he did Rock Out with His C*#k Out.

If you’re anything like me, you were already beginning to feel a bit of media fatigue by the time you heard about the Jason Russell incident in San Deigo the other night.

Moreover, if you’re anything like me, you may have felt pretty bummed out for the guy. (You may also have made some jokes at his expense at a dinner party last night, and had to admit to everyone there that it was a bit too soon as the conversation stopped, and disapproving eyes shifted in your direction. I’m not saying I did that, but you may have.)

Let’s imagine for a minute what his last couple of weeks have possibly been like. In fact, let’s start a bit further back. Suppose you were a white, Christian, college student in Southern California in the early 21st century. Suppose you were raised in a pretty affluent atmosphere, in an incredibly affluent part of this rotating spaceship we call planet earth. You decided to go to college at USC. While still in attendance there, you took a trip to Uganda and had your world torn asunder by the suffering you saw there.

If this was you, would you have had the courage, patience and vision to co-create and sustain a non-profit like IC? I can’t speak for Russell, since I don’t know him, nor can I speak for all of you. I can, however, speak for myself.

I went to Northern Uganda in January of 2006. Within Evangelical circles at that time, there was nothing more sexy than going to Africa and posting pictures of yourself with African children on your Myspace account (yes, Myspace). There were some other, more virtuous reasons as well, but the important point is that I jumped on the bandwagon. Having done so I wasn’t at all prepared for what my trip would bring me. Continue reading

The Predicament of Belief: Science, Philosophy and Faith by Philip Clayton and Steven Knapp

The somewhat young, not entirely mild mannered, and yet wildly attractive lads over at Homebrewed Christianity were gracious enough to invite me to participate in their blog-tour for Philip Clayton’s new book The Predicament of Belief. This is my post for the blog tour and if you’d like to hear the conversation that insued at Clayton’s house afterwards look no further than right here.

If your unfamiliar with Clayton’s work his introduction to emergent evolution and spirituality found here is worth a watch, or you can just read the review of his and Knapp’s book below. It is my hope that it inspires you to read the book in its entirety.

Paul Ricoeur famously said that his Christianity was a, “contingency transformed into destiny through continued choice.” The fact that he was born into a social location that bequeathed to him his Christianity was a contingent event of history. He could have just as easily been born in India and thus have been a Hindu. However, he made a choice, a decision to live into and live out of his tradition and in doing so it became a part of him and he a part of it. For Ricoeur we lack a criterion by which we can definitively ascertain whether our contingent religious choices are correct or not. This doesn’t mean that there is no investigation into the plausibility of them, but rather that any investigation will necessarily start from and in important ways remain within the throwness of our particular, contingent existence. Ultimately, for Ricoeur, the religious decision comes down to a wager, even if an informed one. I agree with Ricoeur, but I am always curious as to how informed this wager can be.

If you’ve ever found yourself curious in a similar fashion then Philip Clayton and Steven Knapp’s wonderful, accessible, and insightful book The Predicament of Belief: Science, Philosophy and Faith is a great place to start. Continue reading

The Connection Between The Gospel Coalition and (Extra-terristrial?) Terrorists via Richard Kearney

In On Stories Richard Kearney suggests, echoing Benedict Anderson’s notion of imagined communities, that nations always seek to solidify their identity. There are many reasons – juridical, social, economic, etc. – for nations to do so, one being the legitimating of violence. In the contemporary Western world it is the nation that exercises the sole right to violence, and this right is based on the legitimacy of the nation as an internally solidified community of “the People”.

However, Kearney points out that national identities are constantly threatened by internal fractures: whether these are the conflicts between class, race, or religion when internal national unity is examined closely it reveals itself as little more than a vapor. Continue reading

Occupy Wall Street, Prophecy, and Dussel’s Analogical Hegemon

One of the loudest complaints against the Ocuppy Wallstreet movement is that it does not have a unified and coherent list of demands. While clarity of vision is something that every political movement should strive for, it seems to me that the Occupy Wallstreet movement is right where it should be for now: it is constructing what the philosopher Enrique Dussel calls an analogical hegemon. Below I explicate what this term means, why it fits this particular moment in the Occupy Wall Street movement, why Occupy Wall Street should continue down the road it is on and what we can hope for from/in it. Continue reading

Zizek, Pentecostalism and the Inverted Fetishism of the Global North and South

We begin with Slavoj Zizek’s recent comments on a particular form of inverted fetishism,

“Populism is always sustained by the frustrated exasperation of ordinary people, by the cry ‘I don’t know what is going on, but I’ve just had enough of it! It cannot go on! It must stop!’ Such impatient outbursts betray a refusal to understand or engage with the complexity of the situation, and give rise to the conviction that there must be somebody responsible for the mess—which is why some agent lurking behind the scenes is invariably required. Therein, in this refusal to know, lies the properly fetishistic dimension of populism.”[1] Continue reading

Hegel and Original Sin:Consciousness qua human self-consciousness is the Fall itself.

Below is a very short essay considering Hegel’s re-working of the doctrine of original sin. If you are unfamiliar with Hegel the first paragraph may be a bit confusing, but the rest of it should be intelligible. While I don’t entirely agree with Hegel’s reworking, I think it offers some important insights into human subjectivity. Enjoy!

Self-consciousness is the moment of the tautology “I am I.” It distinguishes itself from itself and moves beyond this distinction back to itself.[1]  It is a relation with itself consisting of an existential anxiety regarding its self-certainty. Continue reading

Apocalyptic Dialectics

In this short essay I outline the position of rhetorical hermeneutics – Steven Mailoux’s theoretical stance – and juxtapose it with the position of apocalyptic dialectics. It is a brief sketch of a position that I think holds some promise. Apocalyptic Dialectics organizes itself through Hegel, Heidegger, Gadamer, Badiou and the Apocalyptic tradition within Christian theology.

In the following short essay I want to briefly outline the contours of rhetorical hermeneutics, and then move on to argue why, while being incredibly useful, insofar as it is unreservedly committed to a pragmatic position it is in danger of missing a larger truth; namely, the possibility of a dialectical unfolding of truth within history. Continue reading

Further notes towards the Dissolution of Scientific Realism

It has been argued that epistemological realism is the best, if not the only, way to make sense of the success of science. Larry Laudan is skeptical and seeks to question, “whether the realist’s assertions about the interrelations between truth, reference and success are sound.” (22) To do this Laudan sets up an overarching and flexible umbrella that he terms convergent epistemological realism (CER for short). CER is based on five claims that Laudan believes most realist hold, implicitly or explicitly, in some form: Continue reading

Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (5)

Thomas Kuhn suggests that the problem that Darwin presented to the modern mind was not evolution as such. The idea that man had evolved from preceding forms of more and more primitive life had been present for some time in various modes. In all of these forms, however, there was always a goal, a telos, to the process. Whether an idea in the mind of God or a plan inherent in nature the process of evolution was being directed to a specific end. (171) The novelty of Darwin’s position was that evolution took place through the process of natural selection. That is, Darwin removed teleology from the equation. (172) One could say that Darwin moved evolution into pure immanence. Continue reading