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

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 that it, at the least, 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