J Walking

J Walking


Meet Thinker

posted by David Kuo

We have all come to love and appreciate Thinker. Now, a bit more about her:

Thinker here.
I went from nursing to teaching theology….figure.
However, I teach in “Catholic” school so the community and administration are one. Not much in the way of politics, but a lot of great friendships in such an atmosphere. I have several friends in the “New Thought” movement and am always intrigued with their way of thinking God through. But Catholic I am and will remain – sometimes hanging on by my fingernails, but convinced that this way of Tradition, Sacrament and Scripture holds the most possibility of understanding for me. Oddly enough – I also came out of an Evangelical adolescence. As I recall – in my adolescent rebellion – about the only thing I could have done to really piss off my parents was become Catholic – so I did that. God does have a sense of humor.
A priest once told me that God comes to us in the way we can understand God. Those without belief simply have not had God named well to them. They have often been hammered with a belief system where there is only literal dogmatic understanding or where “anything goes” and there is no systematic thinking. Literalism makes God very small and mean indeed ( I have found the God that some literalists espouse is the one who hates what they hate and will have vengeance on those they fear) and “anything goes” simply does not work. I am preparing to join the associate group of a group of nuns. This means I will be connected to them by intention and commitment, but will get to avoid being a nun. For some reason people often mistake me for a sister. I quickly point out the vast differences in holiness and life style. However, I apparently have the right haircut for the job. Most sisters that I know have a much greater sense of style than I do. My kids want me to have a makeover before one of them gets married. My husband, however, thinks I’m adorable just the way I am. Of course the kids think he needs a makeover too.
About 15 years ago I discovered the work of Rene Girard and mimetic theory and have been astounded at its depth, its truth and its vast application to all that I do. Currently writing and teaching about mimetic theory and film. I’ve seen almost every movie anyone can think of and use those films to teach the great story of incarnation and redemption. It seems to work.
Before I was a nurse – I was a social worker and before that – a singer. So, I’ve had a long career or several long careers.
Getting a master’s in theology was the integrating of all for me. Recently completed more graduate work in theology and am pretty sure I never want to go to school again and I know for a fact that I never want to write a paper ever ever again. I hope that is clear.
Been married for a very long time to a wonderful man and have three grown children. Have a badly behaved dog (which means I am a bad dog owner), a lovely cat and when I’m not teaching, reading, blogging, cleaning, cooking, or chatting with friends – I watch movies. ADD has its gifts – multitasking being one of them. I’m in the process of adding lots of walking to my list of daily tasks.
David’s book and friendship have been important to me this past year. It’s hard to find people who “seek” and they do seem to come on board here. David seems to evoke that in most of us.



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Doug

posted May 9, 2008 at 3:12 pm


Thinker, you got me with “before that- a singer,” and I’ve been paying attention. I’m a big fan.



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Doug

posted May 9, 2008 at 7:19 pm


I should add my dogs are poorly behaved as well. I think its because we don’t scapegoat. We study Girard and the bible.



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Thinker

posted May 9, 2008 at 7:42 pm


Actually, it’s because she’s a Cairn terrier – I understand the Wicked Witch’s point on view on “and your little dog too.” Lovable but obnoxious.
As for singing – think Joan Baez wannabe with lots of operatic training – just didn’t click. Made my living at it in the early 70′s and then realized you needed rent AND food to make do. Still do weddings and funerals – ok mostly funerals.



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Doug

posted May 9, 2008 at 8:21 pm


Yeah, I don’t get invited to weddings anymore. Just funerals. I think because I’m the culprit.



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Brian Horan

posted May 9, 2008 at 9:01 pm


“But Catholic I am and will remain – sometimes hanging on by my fingernails, but convinced that this way of Tradition, Sacrament and Scripture holds the most possibility of understanding for me.”
Thinker,
I think a great deal myself. Sometimes I have doubts about New Thought. I sympathize with atheists.
If Catholicism works that’s great. And I don’t take a cafeteria approach. We all find our communities that express the desires of our heart and motivate us to the greatest action and state of all: love.
*For some that might condemn the approach, I say if we don’t love, the apostle Paul calls us empty. Paul also pointed out that we love because we were first loved, so I’d gather that love motivates correct action.*
What kind of singer were you? Do you do karaoke? That’s my favorite thing to do. I did a lot as an English teacher in South Korea. I wish it was bigger here.
We have a crazy dog too. My excuse: She just is a wild spirit.
It’s nice to read your posts.



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Brian Horan

posted May 9, 2008 at 9:06 pm


One extra point thinker:
Paul Tillich, my favorite traditional and modern theologian, says that doubt is an essential component of faith, otherwise you know or are deluded. Knowledge and delusion aren’t the same as faith.
I think God wants us to be honest. Doubt can be resolved. Maybe honesty is the first step in resolving it.



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Steve

posted May 10, 2008 at 8:07 am


I sometimes envy my evangelical brother who never left home, our church or our family’s influence. Growing up in a very insular, strict Baptist setting then going into the military during Nam shattered everything for me. Yet, as I have struggled back to faith, I think my faith more genuine for the crucible. Or, is this just rationalization on my part?
Steve



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Donny

posted May 10, 2008 at 8:11 am


If human beings suddenly ceased imitating, all forms of culture would vanish. Neurologists remind us frequently that the human brain is an enormous imitating machine. –René Girard, 1978
Thinker, you are a fascinating person and it is worth the time it takes to read your posts. Testing as I do, all things you represent. My dog, BTW, is very well behaved. That it is a Jack Russell Terrier, the jaw-dropping reactions of people when they see her in public “being so good” is a testimony of the inherent healthiness of good fundamentalism. Truth, of course, is itself a fundamental truth. A law in both nature and the heavens.
Obviously human beings are not imitating chaos to order except in the mentally ill and sociopathic population of our “kind” and evil is also a condition of human being. In fact, it is so rare an incident to find a lone human being desiring to be alone, contemplating the future as being a loner, that to draw a conclusion that human beings came from disorder to complex design is scientifically and mathematically an impossibility. The intense desire to “be” with others “eternally” seems far more than herd instinct in humans. (To develop a science of [humanity] it is necessary to compare human imitation with animal mimicry, and to specify the properly human modalities of mimetic behavior, if they indeed exist. –René Girard, 1978)
Is it an insentive bigoted intolerant statement to wish you a Happy Mothers Day? In all honesty, I do mean it in the “female” mother (biological-DNA evidence/her children biological/man and woman married (like Jesus taught) and or adopted (in a married situation) raising their kids (Christian) kind of way. Whew. Sorry, trying to figure out what is acceptable to a liberal/progressive is virtually impossible, and a trip down convoluted avenue these days.
God* bless you.
(Hopefully it is still allowable to say: May God* bless you. Atheists have a lot of authority these days. Why, I don’t know, but they do.)
*Aye, yi yi. The “God” revealed by the Apostles in the (canonized) New Testament.



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Doug

posted May 10, 2008 at 10:44 am


Donny, I think you did fine. The thought police usually send a squall of frogs before they come to your house and hood you. The weather’s still clear. Happy mother’s day to your wife and to thinker. I mean “mother” in a gender-neutral way. Ribbet.



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yelladawgNC

posted May 10, 2008 at 12:56 pm


Thinker, I read your post after coming home very late last night from my son’s college graduation party. I got so interested in Girard I looked him up (OK, so I only got as far as Wikipedia). “The Mimetic Nature of Desire” sounds like a beautiful title for a poem. I thought my difficulty understanding the theory might have been due to my consumption of beer at the party, but alas, I do not understand it any better today. Can you give us an example of what he means when he talks about subject/object/model and how this works?
“I have found the God that some literalists espouse is the one who hates what they hate and will have vengeance on those they fear.” An important insight, esp. the fear part. I think fear plays a much greater part in people’s attitudes/political stances than we realize. Or rather, we tend to forget that’s what may lie behind them. Fear of loss, fear of difference, fear of uncertainty. In the class I teach on writing fiction, I often tell my students, when they’re dreaming up a character, to think about what the person fears the most. (I also suggest they figure out what the character reads in the bathroom. Almost as telling!)
Steve, I think authentic faith is possible for some people without having been through the crucible; but speaking for myself, it strengthens my own sometimes wavering faith more when I see people who have faced one hell or another–war, prison, serious illness, the loss of a child–and either emerge with their faith intact or “struggle back to it” as you have done.



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Thinker

posted May 10, 2008 at 2:42 pm


OK – I’ll try to give the synthesis of mimetic and know I’ll miss the mark.
The essential idea – the one that came to him in his study of Proust, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Dostoevsky, and a couple of others. Desire – all of it comes from the desire of another. Example: one kid playing in a room full of toys. He’s having great fun with one particular toy and in comes another little boy. Which toy will the second one want? Our desires can be acquisitive ( I want what you want) or it can be the sort of desire we see between rivals – I want to be what you are. Let’s use Obama and Clinton. Clinton is the ultimate politician awaiting the respect and power that should be hers (in her mind and the mind of many). She models a way of being that suddenly is threatened by Obama. He is – in many ways – simply imitating her way of dealing with issues. it looks like acquisitive desire – I want to be president. But as their ideas come closer and closer, the admirers more and more equal, the passion for or against more or less the same – there remains only the conflict. They are doubles of one another. Mimetic desire becomes mimetic accusation or scandal that escalates until something must happen. They are so close to the same that they accuse one another – scandal – and the possibility of sacrifice of even a win becomes lost in the rivalry. We saw it small scale in the Republican primaries, but this one is a doozy. The model has been replaced and resentment is what is left – huge ugly resentment – that can do two things. Clinton can forgive, pray to be released from this resentment or she can do things that destroy them both. Obama is only inches away from being in the same position. One looks like the hero and the other becomes the scapegoat. It is almost interchangeable.
Scapegoating violence is a second part of mimetic theory. All culture is formed religiously according to Girard – a religious energy gathers some and excludes others. This energy is based on scandal – (to define this word would take at least two more posts) must destroy or drive out the one chosen by the group for the group to survive. The group is almost dependent on scapegoating someone. The Nazis were utterly dependent on the presence of Jews – they could not have come to power without a group of people that everyone agreed should be “less than” those in the culture. Democrats are dependent on Bush to bring them together. Republicans have used “the Clintons” for years to keep their very disparate factions together. In a fifth grade class – the “in group” is dependent on finding the one to exclude. You get the picture.
Perhaps the most intriguing part for me is that the very act of Jesus dying on the cross began to bring about the end of this kind of violence. It simply doesn’t work in the grand way it did in primitive cultures. Caiphas truly believed that killing Jesus would save the people from certain violence from the Romans. Jesus saves us at many levels – this is one of them. The way of destroying one single victim did not work. instead there is resurrection, redemption, forgiveness and no thought of cosmic vengeance. Just absolute and complete inclusiveness and forgiveness. Girard speaks in terms of “mythology” where founding murders are hidden in grand language. he points out that both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament fail the mythological test. They are not myths in the sense that many sacred books tend to be. They are truthful about our faults. The prophets – absolutely strange to include one’s fiercest critics in one’s sacred texts.
There is so much more, but perhaps that is a beginning place. It is so large and all encompassing – this mimetic thought – that it is simply a world view that converts us from our violence. Will be happy to recommend a couple of books. I just read this and realize it is completely inadequate, but will post it anyway.



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Thinker

posted May 10, 2008 at 2:47 pm


I just read that you teach fiction – Read “Resurrection from the Underground”: Feodor Dostoevsky by Rene Girard or “The Scapegoat” by Girard. His latest book is wonderful, but requires a bit of background. Both of those books just delve into two parts of his thought.



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yelladawgNC

posted May 10, 2008 at 11:33 pm


Fascinating! Thank you so much for this lucid explanation, which I will need to read again (and again). And for the book recommendations.
Strangely enough, just yesterday morning at the breakfast table I remarked to my husband that it was really strange, when you thought about it, that there is so much in scripture about the poor and how wrong it is of the powerful to oppress them, etc., etc.: the prophetic word. Why should that be in there, when it goes against the interests of the powerful, who presumably were the ones who had the final say about what was preserved and passed down? When I read your comment tonight about the strangeness of including one’s fiercest critics in sacred texts, it gave me a little frisson! Synchronicity.



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Brian Horan

posted May 11, 2008 at 12:14 am


Thinker,
I just read your post on ‘the synthesis of mimetic’. In the grand scheme of things I agree that some folks are defined by the things they claim to hate.
That’s why I like Science of Mind author, Ernest Holmes, statement: “Tell me what you’re for, not what you’re against.”
I’ve watched several Evangelical Crusades against evil since my childhood and they’ve never ended the purported evils. Sometimes they’ve enhanced them.
That’s why I prefer the God-centered approach of “New Thought” to the witch-hunting holy rollers.
‘I have several friends in the “New Thought” movement and am always intrigued with their way of thinking God through.’
Are you familiar with Ernest Holmes and his affinity for Dominican mystic Meister Eckhart? Are you familiar with Meister Eckhart?
In the small scheme of things did Obama imitate Hillary by opposing the Iraq war during his Senate race? Did he imitate her in green lighting another Bush war by labeling Iran a terrorist state via the legislative process? Does he talk about like Iran as if it were an ant hill we could simply “obliterate”?
I think most cerebral lefties, myself included, think Hillary does not deserve to be prez for these reasons. Maybe we can forgive her for getting us into Iraq.
She certainly could have used her political celebrity to prevent the quagmire we’re in now. She and McCain have both admitted that they didn’t read their CIA briefings which didn’t coincide with the rosy Bush scenarios.
The right-wing crusade against Iraq is the perfect example of a witch-hunt that has only enabled an incredibly worse situation.
Maybe Hillary’s a nice lady. I really mean that. But if I was that incompetent on a smaller scale, say as a teacher – then I’d be done professionally.
At this point I’d take a trans-gendered albino that didn’t simply put their finger to the political winds (e.g., gas tax holiday) to scheme for power.



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Albert the Abstainer

posted May 11, 2008 at 10:03 am


Mimetic theory, I am just now gaining some insight into something which sadly I was not consciously aware of previously. I will have to seek out some of Rene Girard’s works and glean a better understanding of it.
Desire, what is it’s basis, and how does resentment enter into it? What aspect is social, cultural, literary, religious and biological?
Basic desires: Food, lodging, and procreation; these are built in at the biological level. We humans, however, being creative and social weave much more complex forms than are apparent when looking at the biological base. Even so, to divorce ourselves from that base, introduces error. We are not above or removed from what we are fundamentally, and that is species, striving to carve out our place, to survive. (I would be interested to see where such things as the mono-myth as espoused from the Jung/Campbell schools fits into Girard’s thinking. Perhaps Thinker would be so kind as to recommend something here, as I am sure she has given it some thought.)
Violence is inherent, it is inescapable. Nature is violent, from the first instance of the big bang, to the fact that life feeds on death and in turn becomes food for life, et cetera. Not surprisingly, early religion deals with appeasing the violent aspect of God, judgment, and trying to accommodate the inherently violent. Also not surprisingly, as societies evolve and the veneer of civilization emerges, the taming of violence at the social level is reflected in literature, myth, law, and religion. As Shakespeare shows, in works such as “King Lear”, and which Akira Kurosawa brilliantly interprets in his film “Ran”, the violence is always present if temporarily held in check. I could go on. (By the way Ran is a superb study of this, brilliant on many levels, and strenuously recommended to anyone. It works on so many levels.)
So where does peace and the emergence of forms that enable us to “play well in the sandbox” enter into it? I would also like to see how we interpret the role of human violence as it pertains to other species, encroachment that threaten overall viability, et cetera. Have we, are we becoming the violent culture, (as in biological), which will destroy its own basis through being to successful at conquering other species. The dangers posed by being too successful as a species cannot be overstated, and it is one we will need to find a way to address.
So those are my wondering thoughts for a Sunday morning.
Have at it Thinker, and direct me to some good reading.
Thanks,
Albert



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Thinker

posted May 11, 2008 at 10:39 am


Since it is Sunday morning – and Mother’s Day – and I have about five million papers to grade -
I’ll just speak to one point. The point that violence is inevitable. It is not. We have the idea that violence begets violence. Vengeance and escalation are the way of the world. They are – and always have been, except in a few key places – primarily in the Scriptures. We are given a new model – one to imitate in leading the life for which we are created. A man/God on a cross – a suffering servant – one who does not return with vengeance – it never even enters the conversation. It is the picture of a loving Father who forgives the son who has spent all his inheritance, the picture of the despised Samaritan being the only goodness in the story, the picture of a God who simply forgives when asked. We have seen it in the Amish this last year. I recall the mast forgivness of Cardinal Bernardin. Occasionally we get a glimpse of the Gospel out here on the mean streets (as Scorsese would call them) The rare newspaper story that tells us of the forgiving victim tells us this redemption thing “stuck”. The scapegoat mechanism described by Girard (well described inRobert Hamerton-Kelly’s “the Gospel and the Sacred”). Perhaps Girard’s second book – “violence and the Sacred” is a good place to start. He addresses the Jungian/Freud theories throughout his work, but particularly in “Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World”. The Girardian Reader is a great intro to all of it. Robert Kirwan’s “Introducing Girard” introduces this elegant theory for those of us without Ph.d’s. I was intrigued with Gil Bailie’s book, “Violence Unveiled” – the most elegantly crafted explanation of Girard to date. I am in the process of reading Girard’s latest book and must say that it is very good so far. Doug is at least as well versed in this stuff as I am. I’ll try to create a synthesis of “sacrifice” and “the scapegoat mechanism” another day.
I must add that I am an amateur at this. Once gave a paper at Girard’s annual colloquium – but I approach it from the point of view of one immersed in popular culture rather than an academic (which I am not).



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Donny

posted May 11, 2008 at 11:00 am


I’m as common a man as a typical rubbernecker at a traffic accident. I have used the reporting of the failures, the sinners and the losers as the heroes and leaders of “God’s people” as a comeback against the anti-Biblical, the Bible’s myth, metaphoe and allegory fanatics for a very long time. University and college employees shouldn’t be hailed as any more exceptional than King David killing off Uriah as a cleverly conceived plan to come up with an answer to a dilemma. All current day weapons of mass destruction are invented by very intelligent college educated people. The greatest aspect of the Bible is the voices of losers calling out thousands of years into the future: “I told you so,” and being so very correct. Ain’t no way that is not supernatural.
It’s Mothers Day Thinker. Have a happy, happy, day. “Biblically.” (It’s what we literalists have to caveat.) And, all that entails “politically,” was pointed out to us thousands of years ago “in the Bible.” For good reading on that subject, look up the letters written by Peter, John, James and Jude. (All individuals with an opinion.) Also, in keeping with the reality of following God, mmmm, correctly !!!!????, since you like to read, read what the Spirit had to say to the Seven Churches in the beginning of the book of Revelation. Sounds eerily like 2008 all over again. There is truth and then there is something that may look a lot like it. In reality, there is just one truth, and the opinionated individuals writing throughout the compiled booklets of the Bible did a good job holding firmly onto it, no matter the cost. And the truth always comes at the same price.
Gosh, I wish being a Christian was as easy as it was when the Church was united by the way the truth and the life of Jesus, and not all the . . . ah never mind. Have a good day.



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Thinker

posted May 11, 2008 at 11:41 am


Donny – my favorite throw away line from Rene Girard. Girard was raised in an intellectual – semi Catholic – home. His intellectual journey has not been a popular one because in a world where faith is often seen as a bias – he chose to embrace his Catholic faith. When asked about it many years ago – he said,” I am a practicing Christian – with all that “practicing” implies”. He rarely speaks outside his academic world, but once several years ago he spoke with a large group of South American bishops. When he speaks, you sense something alive and brilliant in this man. After that particular speech he was commended for his “immense intellectual holiness”. I suppose many believe you can’t be intellectual and holy in today’s world. Girard is the immense example of the fallacy of such an idea. You and I are both – “practicing Christians” – and as my mother used to say about the violin – you gotta practice to play it well.
My kids are in the kitchen making breakfast for me. I’m on the computer talking to friends here and all in all – it’s a good Mother’s day.



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Thinker

posted May 11, 2008 at 12:08 pm


Hey Donny – I hope your wife has a wonderful Mother’s day – have a good time!!



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Thinker

posted May 11, 2008 at 12:19 pm


Brian – the key is – of course Hilary’s a nice lady and Obama is a man of integrity and McCain has always been one to say the truthful thing – when we need for one of them to be the bad guy – we know we are completely immersed in the mimetic thinking that drives much. when we need a loser, a bad guy or woman, a terrorist, fundamentalist, leftist, right winger etc, etc to define ourselves as an opposite – then we’re in the midst of the mimetic crisis that must have violence of some sort. And easy – it is so easy to see the “other” as the bad side. I fall into it at least a dozen times a day. But, the awareness that this need for scapegoating violence has nothing to do with Jesus has been a turning point in my religious thinking. I’m not good at what I consider – real Christian thinking and being – but once I’ve seen it – I have something to imitate, something to follow. Honestly, I can take all three candidates and make them an “other” – seriosly in need of expulsion or humiliation. To seriously examine their positions and simply vote for one without needing a demon from the other – then – I’m beginning to examine the world a bit like the Girardians. To disagree without needing the other to be a monster – can you imagine a world like that?



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Brian Horan

posted May 11, 2008 at 2:19 pm


Donny & Thinker,
I’d like to challenge Donny & don’t mean to toot my own horn too much. I’ve been waiting for a response to the following which I posted 2 days ago.
Donny,
Why don’t you tell me what you disagree with point by point and give detailed justifications for your stances? I think most people would tell you your current approach only allows you to preach to the choir and not the unconverted.
I’ll break down some of my beliefs and you can respond point-by-point.
(*I’m really interested in knowing what the entire Kuo-Community thinks of the following points, even canucklehead in his speedos!*)
1. The primary mission of Jesus was love in this mixed up world expressed via forgiveness. Jesus didn’t follow the written law tit for tat and was persecuted by religious authorities as a result (e.g., performing miracles on the Sabbath).
2 Cor. 3:6 states “The Spirit gives life, but the law kills.” Interestingly enough the apostle Paul didn’t advocate physical circumcision nor a strictly kosher diet, both of which were in accordance with the written law.
2. My favorite books like the Bible – Science of Mind and A Course In Miracles – are uncompromising in that GOD IS THE ONLY REALITY THERE IS. Illusions decay and change.
As the book of 1 John states, “God is love and those that abide in love abide in God.”
LOVE IS THE ONLY THING THAT MOTIVATES CORRECT ACTION. As the apostle Paul states, “We love because we are first loved.”
SPIRIT is unconditional love given and received regardless of background, opinion, race, etc. Any requisite to give or receive love cancels it’s unconditional aspect.
See 1 Corinthians 13 about how empty things like prophesying are without love.
3. Jesus implored us in Mathew 22 to love, and said that love fulfills all requirements of the Law.
We’ve had the written law, which preceded Christ, for thousands of years now and it’s never solved anything on a grand scale. 2 Cor. 3:6 states “The Spirit gives life, but the law kills.”
4. All the Jews I’ve ever met (it’s not a wide sample) believe the Old Testament is full of midrash (i.e., allegory/metaphor). Being that the Jews are the forefathers of our Monotheistic faith, it’s very worthwhile to consider what they think.
5. I believe the Bible was inspired. I also believe the official Biblical New Testament cannon was politically motivated by the Romans.
As I don’t fully accept the Holy Roman Church today, it seems like a leap of faith to believe Constantine wasn’t just trying to unify the Empire via creeds and an official Biblical cannon that is lacking (much like George W. Bush used people like Dobson, Robertson, Bob Jones III to get himself elected).
Unfortunately we can see how nasty politics is in our own time and what a corrupting influence it is on the Body of Christ.
6. I firmly believe the Gospel of Thomas should have been included in the Biblical Cannon. Have you read the Gospel of Thomas?
7. I’ve heard people say the Bible’s been changed significantly. I disagree because the Gospel narratives have several contradictory points the Church fathers left in (See modern authors like John Shelby Spong, A.N. Wilson, Karen Armstrong, Paul Tillich, etc.).
The vast majority of Biblical scholars do not think that any of the Gospels were eye-witness accounts, but were handed down orally and were colored by the needs and perceptions of different people.
Church fathers deserve credit for keeping the integrity of the documents.
I go back to points 1 and 2: Even the Beatles knew that all you need is LOVE.



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Brian Horan

posted May 11, 2008 at 2:31 pm


Thinker,
I agree with you that we shouldn’t be making monsters out of our adversaries. Like I said, Hillary may be a nice person… and I’ll say the same about McCain.
In the grand scheme of things our life here is only a parentheses in eternity. We live in a world of relativity. Many times notions of good are dependent on condemned evils. Our experience here is ambivalent.
Relatively speaking, I am still curious about Hillary imitating Obama when it comes to Iraq. I wasn’t saying Hillary’s a monster. I am saying that it’s time we have competence in the White House.
Iraq is the biggest foreign policy blunder in my lifetime. It also seems Hillary falls on the wrong side of the theory when she says that we can simply ‘obliterate’ Iran, as if it’s an ant hill.
David’s made some incredibly good points about the fact that human politicians will likely let us down. I certainly don’t think Obama is perfect.
Personality cults are idolatry and are as counter-productive as condemnation.
If I had to vote on issues solely without considering the elect-ability factor, I’d be voting for Nader, and not Obama.



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canucklehead

posted May 11, 2008 at 8:49 pm


Brian – please don’t speak lightly of me in my Speedo. Especially on Mother’s Day. There’s a distinct spiritual connection, at least in my stunted mind, between Speedos, Mother’s Day and my wounded inner child. Details to come in my forthcoming best-seller.



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Brian Horan

posted May 11, 2008 at 9:06 pm


canucklehead,
I have my own issues. Heck, this blog has become a magnet for me while I do chores around the house. My inner child must crave validation.
I hope David profiles you. Your humor brings fond memories of a Vancouver dude I worked with in South Korea. That dude had style.
Me, I go Comanche when I’m at the hot springs.
I’d also like Donny to be profiled with a picture. Donny: the man, the myth, the legend.
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TO THINKER, DONNY’S WIFE, etc.
I see that Donny can throw down the LOVE. He wished a happy mother’s day long before I thought of it.



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yelladawgNC

posted May 12, 2008 at 10:44 am


One reason I support Obama is because he seems to embody to some degree the kind of freedom from mimetic thinking that you describe, Thinker. More than once I have been startled by his reaction to statements by people with whom I vehemently disagree and with whom I want HIM to vehemently disagree, to strike at, squash, “obliterate,” (to hate those that I hate, in other words) and instead he responds in his characteristically even-handed way, refusing to demonize, honoring whatever might be justified in the other’s critique or point of view or, at the minimum, presuming that the other person has given their position at least as much thought as he has given his. Every time this happens I realize something along the lines of “oh, yes, there IS another way to be.” I think to many this looks like weakness on his part but in reality, he is modeling a way of responding to those with whom we disagree that may be the only way for us to move forward as a country. I know that many people would say he’s simply being civil, and maybe civility in the public sphere has become so rare that it is indeed startling, but I think it goes deeper, or is rooted in something deeper (maybe his being black AND white, maybe his temperament, maybe his Christianity).



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Brian Horan

posted May 12, 2008 at 11:04 am


Amen yelladawgNC!



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Thinker

posted May 12, 2008 at 12:33 pm


Yeah, I suspect that’s why I was drawn to him. It’s not about rhetoric, it’s about an essentially different way of doing things. I suspect that I began to understand Christianity in a different way when I began to take in mimetic theory. Raymond Schwager wrote a book “Must there Be Scapegoats” (addressed Scripture) pretty early in the theory that is excellent. James Alison has written many books of theology around this. Girard’s book on Shakespeare is one of my favorites. My husband said – “I can’t even order fast food in the same mindset before Girard.” I understand that totally. Just changed my worldview on a daily basis.



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yelladawgNC

posted May 12, 2008 at 1:17 pm


Well, I’m heading to the university library this afternoon to check out some of your Girard recs. I’m generally allergic to theorists (most current literary theory, for example, is either so opaque as to be impenetrable or so condescending toward the originators of “texts,” i.e., the poor dumb artists, that it leaves me cold in the first instance and hot in the second), but Girard intrigues me.
It is a great intellectual (and possibly spiritual) gift to discern what is so familiar that it is invisible to most of us. And of course, once it’s pointed out, once you place that lens in front of your eyes, you DO see everything in a different light. I’m not a Marxist (or I wasn’t, the last time I looked) but when I learned about the concept of “commodification,” how virtually everything in the world and human life (motherhood, the idea of “authentic” experiences or locales, spirituality & religion, etc.) is made into product, packaged and sold, that had something of the same effect, though it was more depressing than exciting.



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Elvis Elvisberg

posted May 12, 2008 at 2:15 pm


Thinker, thanks for spending time on these boards. Your tone and always thoughtful substance have earned the universal respect you’re seeing on this thread.
Thanks for doing this, David. What a fun series. One fun thing about it is that it sparks very respectful discussions. Respectful, rationally argued disagreement is just about the greatest thing in the world.
(Oh, hey, here’s a nice, shallow point for you, Thinker: the only thing I can think of that would make me like your posts more would be if you used “return” to separate paragraphs more frequently).



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Thinker

posted May 12, 2008 at 4:31 pm


I look at blogs as – stream of consciousness writing. Thus – little editing. Those of us with ADD – we don’t do paragraphs unless forced to do so. I will, for Elvis, make the attempt in future outpourings.



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