Saturday, March 31, 2007

Earth Hour

Tonight, from 7.30-8.30 pm is Earth Hour in Sydney. Individuals and businesses are encouraged to turn off all non-essential lights for an hour in a symbolic gesture of commitment to reducing climate change.

This campaign (jointly conducted by WWF and SMH (=Sydney Morning Herald, a major Sydney newspaper), with the support of the City of Sydney and the NSW Government) aims to raise awareness of simple ways of reducing electricity usage and has set a target of lowering Sydney's carbon emissions by 5% in 2007. Here are some simple suggestions to get you started.
Twelve points for the location from which this photo was taken.

The Lives of Others


Can people really change?

Last night, Jessica and I went to see an excellent new(-ish) German film called The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen). Set in East Germany (GDR) in 1984, the film follows a loyal playwright and his surveillance by the feared secret police, the Stasi (State Security). It has been estimated that by the time the wall came down in 1989, the Stasi had 91,000 full-time employees and somewhere around 200,000 to 300,000 civilian informants (by comparison, Hitler's Germany had 30,000 Gestapo officers for the entire country). The Stasi's stated aim: "to know everything" - Bentham's Panopticon achieved on a state level. Having recently re-read Yevgeny Zamyatin's original dystopia We (the inspiration for Nineteen eighty-four, Brave New World (though Huxley denied it) and through them, the entire modern genre of dystopias), The Lives of Others resonated powerfully with familiar themes of individuality and conformity, the subversive and liberating role of art, and the question of the possibility and ethics of symbolic resistance.

The film was also a very moving portrayal of the unusual relationship that develops when one begins watching the lives of others. A political thriller with emotional intelligence, the film asks the question: "Can people really change?"

Even if you haven't seen the film (and if you have, don't give anything away, for the sake of all those who ought to go and see it), what do you think: can people really change?

Friday, March 30, 2007

Barth on God's communication options

God may speak to us through Russian communism or a flute concerto, a blossoming shrub or a dead dog. We shall do well to listen to Him if He really does so.

-Karl Barth, CD I/1 (trans. Thompson; Edinburgh: 1936), 60.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

'Being philosophical': Christianity vs Stoicism

Christianity vs Stoicism
Today, upon hearing that I work for a church, a doctor told me that I must be approaching my situation 'very philosophically'. In my experience, this phrase is used to mean that one is being 'stoic' despite bad circumstances. I understood what he meant, but had to disagree. I think that on this score, being Christian is the opposite of being Stoic.

The ideal in Stoicism is to cut oneself off from the world, to avoid making emotional attachments, to experience apatheia (apathy!), to become numb. (In my limited knowledge, this is similar to Buddhism in many respects.) Suffering is inevitable and the healthiest response is to avoid the attachments that will inevitably lead to pain when such transient things pass away. This includes (in fact, perhaps begins with) family members and other 'loved' ones. To be Stoic is to be pessimistic and so to avoid love out of fear of loss.

However, apathy is not a valid Christian response to suffering. Instead, loving God means loving what is good in creation for God's sake, and groaning in hope for its redemption. Because of hope, it is possible - even necessary - to love.
I would offer points for the identity of this sculpture, but I can't remember myself who it is! Instead, I'll offer eight points for the country is it located in. Bonus points if you can give me a convincing answer about the identity of the subject (preferably with a link to an image proving it).

Democracy in action again

On reflection, perhaps parts of my previous post were a little cryptic. When I mentioned Daniel 7, I was referring to the famous vision in which four fantastic and fearsome beasts arise from the sea, only to be condemned by an Ancient of Days, who gives the positive verdict to 'one like a son of man' (i.e. a human). As the vision is explained in the second half of the chapter, these beasts are pictures of four kingdoms that arise against Israel, but the narrative promises that God will remove their beastly political authority and give it to his people. Jesus takes this famous narrative of vindication for Israel, and seems to turn it on its head, claiming that he (not Israel) is the Son of Man,* and implying that those who oppose him (the Jewish leadership) are thus one of the beasts, who will face their day in court with God! This is how I read the 'mini-apocalypse' in Luke 21.5-38 (with parallels in Mark and Matthew, though I've been focussing on Luke lately).
*Or perhaps that he is Israel.

It then seems to me that the various trials in Luke 22 & 23 all illustrate the brutal failure of all other human political authorities (both Roman and Jewish) in the face of the true king, whose rule is genuinely humane.

Of course, the 'democracy' evident in the near-riot in front of Pilate is a far cry from modern liberal representative democracies. Representative democracies are not intended to reflect the views of the majority in any straightforward way. We do not elect politicians who are then to act as conduits of our opinions, or whom we expect to mirror the views of their constituency. We elect representatives, whom we entrust with the task of making judgements on our behalf, even where these may not be the judgements we would make in the same circumstances. That is why poll-driven politics puts the cart before the horse. It is also why a member of a different party to the one I like may still legitimately represent me. The representation does not depend on the coincidence of our views. Furthermore, modern liberal democracies limit the power of these representatives constitutionally in order to attempt to preserve certain basic standards and ensure minorities are not arbitrarily sacrificed on the altar of the majority.

Despite these differences, I still think that Luke 22-23 makes a deeper point about the failure of human authority than justifying certain political reforms.
See here for why elections don't really matter.
Twelve points each for naming the leader who authorised dedicated this monument and the leader whom it celebrates.

Points update

I didn't think it was possible. Once Peter J from Barneys built his enormous lead on the points leaderboard, I thought that no one would bother chasing him. However, another old uni and MTC friend, Anthony, has scored all but five of his 120 points in the last three weeks to catapult into the lead. Now I'll need to offer more points to replace all those that Anthony has been claiming...
If you're new around here, I offer points for guessing various things (usually associated with the photos I post). There is a leaderboard and collection of links to unclaimed points over here. Everyone is welcome to join in.
UPDATE: Peter J has scored five points to draw even. I've also just released another 144 potential points in various places if you can find them. Now is your chance to catch them if you can grab some points before these two take them all.
UPDATE II: There has been a flurry of activity, and Peter J has dropped back into third behind Anthony and Michael Canaris (whom I had the delight of meeting in person for the first time at the State Election Forum).
UPDATE III: OK, new rule. One guess per post per person per day. I know this is slightly different from what I've just said in a couple of comments, but this will help keep me sane.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Democracy in action

Pilate then called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people, and said to them, "You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and here I have examined him in your presence and have not found this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us. Indeed, he has done nothing to deserve death. I will therefore have him flogged and release him."

Then they all shouted out together, "Away with this fellow! Release Barabbas for us!" (This was a man who had been put in prison for an insurrection that had taken place in the city, and for murder.) Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again; but they kept shouting, "Crucify, crucify him!" A third time he said to them, "Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no ground for the sentence of death; I will therefore have him flogged and then release him." But they kept urgently demanding with loud shouts that he should be crucified; and their voices prevailed. So Pilate gave his verdict that their demand should be granted. He released the man they asked for, the one who had been put in prison for insurrection and murder, and he handed Jesus over as they wished.

- Luke 23.13-25

It struck me tonight that this is one version of democracy in action. The many declare their will and it is implemented by the appointed authorities, despite personally disagreeing with the decision.

It is, however, an unmitigated disaster. The mob's irrational hatred* drowns out the one voice of reason and a gross injustice is perpetrated.

Not that the alternatives to democracy fare much better on this dark day. The entire chapter can be read as an unmasking of the beastliness of human authorities (cf. Daniel 7: obviously not a randomly selected passage, given the number of times Jesus refers or alludes to it while in Jerusalem). There is far more to say about a biblical attitude towards authority than Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2 (i.e. "obey!").
*The problem of why the crowd suddenly turn upon Jesus may be solved if it is assumed that this group is largely co-extensive with "the assembly of the elders of the people" (22.66; cf. 23.1). Although this group may have grown a little (justifying the inclusion of "the people" in the list of verse 13), it may well have still be largely those who had tried Jesus the night before. Notice in verse 14 that Pilate can say to the crowd that "you brought me this man", implying a high degree of continuity between the assembly and this group before Pilate. Also notice that the multitudes who had been praising Jesus a week earlier as he rode into Jerusalem were not Jerusalemites, but a rent-a-crowd of disciples (i.e. they had already been travelling with Jesus). Therefore, there is no need to explain a sudden change of mind on the part of the Jerusalem populace.
Ten points for correctly identifying this building and fifteen for briefly explaining its connection to the history of democracy.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Space is finite

"Interestingly, according to modern astronomers, space is finite. This is a very comforting thought -- particularly for people who can never remember where they have left things."

- Woody Allen
H/T Emma

Psalm 137 for modern Jews?


Jerusalem
In the ancient days, we will return with no delay
Picking up the bounty and the spoils on our way
We've been traveling from state to state
And them don't understand what they say
3,000 years with no place to be
And they want me to give up my milk and honey
Don't you see, it's not about the land or the sea
Not the country but the dwelling of his majesty

[Chorus]
Jerusalem, if I forget you,
fire not gonna come from me tongue.
Jerusalem, if I forget you,
let my right hand forget what it's supposed to do.

Rebuild the temple and the crown of glory
Years gone by, about sixty
Burn in the oven in this century
And the gas tried to choke, but it couldn't choke me
I will not lie down, I will not fall asleep
They come overseas, yes they're trying to be free
Erase the demons out of our memory
Change your name and your identity
Afraid of the truth and our dark history
Why is everybody always chasing we
Cut off the roots of your family tree
Don't you know that's not the way to be

[chorus]

Caught up in these ways, and the worlds gone craze
Don't you know it's just a phase
Case of the Simon says
If I forget the truth then my words won't penetrate
Babylon burning in the place, can't see through the haze
Chop down all of them dirty ways,
That's the price that you pay for selling lies to the youth
No way, not ok, oh no way, not ok, hey
Aint no one gonna break my stride
Aint no one gonna pull me down
Oh no, I got to keep on moving
Stay alive

[chorus]

- Matisyahu
H/T Josh

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Williams on the incarnation

“Jesus of Nazareth is the face of God turned toward us in history, decisively and definitively. All this life is God’s act. The church did not invent the doctrine of the Incarnation: slowly and stumblingly, Christians discovered it. If Jesus is translucent to God in all he does and is, if he is empty so as to pour out the riches of God, if he is the wellspring of life and grace, what then? He is God: in infancy, in death, in eating and drinking, in healing and preaching…. [H]e is there for all, because he has made himself God’s ‘space,’ God’s room in the world…. God and humanity are knotted together there in that space of history, those short years in Palestine, so that that history is the sign that interprets all history.”

—Rowan Williams, Open to Judgement (London: 1994), 60.
H/T Ben

Update

I've now finished my two lectures at CASE (one on the Trinity and one on revelation), though in May I'll be teaching a short course with Matheson on the problem of evil. More details to come. Sorry for not advertising the two lectures I just finished, but I'm pretty sure you can download them from the CASE website if you're very keen.

Tomorrow I have my first post-treatment scan.* For the last month I've been recovering from the side-effects of treatment (and while still not 100%, I'm past half-way), but so far we haven't really known how effective the treatment has been. Tomorrow's CT scan will give half the picture, and then I have another scan (a PET scan) in another month to get a better idea. Usually I keep these updates for my other blog, but tomorrow will be something of a milestone, so I thought I'd mention it again here. I plan on writing another update email (which I will post on my other blog) either tomorrow evening or Thursday.
*For those who might have joined recently, see this post and my other blog.

UPDATE: The scan on Wednesday was good.

Forgive one another...

Alastair has been having a series of guest posts during Lent on various pericopes from the Gospels prior to the triumphant entry. Some are closely exegetical, while others use a passage as a launching pad for personal reflections and thoughts. This on forgiveness within the Christian community has been one of the most interesting.

Why Politics? II

Yesterday, I posted the first half of a talk I gave on Friday night at the State Election Forum hosted by my church. Here is the second half.

--------

But there is another way, as hinted at in our language of public servants and commonweal. Politics can be more than self-interest. Leadership can be about more than lining my own pocket, or having my ego massaged. It is possible for us to deliberate together about the common good, to ask what is best for society, indeed, not just for our nation, but for the whole human community. Such questions are, of course, often very complicated and difficult, and we are likely to often, even usually, reach different conclusions about what is the best course of action. Yet it is possible to elect servants who will represent us - not by simply mirroring the desires of every vocal interest group – but who represent us by being entrusted with the task of making wise judgements about what will serve the common good.

This vision of the common weal, the common good, of the greatest leader being the one who serves, is deeply rooted in Christian assumptions about authority and makes most sense when placed in the context of Jesus’ own example of using his power in service of others. I’d like to finish briefly by offering an answer to the question ‘why politics?’ with which we began.

As a Christian, I bother with politics, I put effort to thinking about how I vote, and take my political involvement beyond voting, because of Jesus second great command: to love my neighbour as myself. The decisions made across the road in the Town Hall, over in Macquarie Street* and down in Canberra affect us all in a huge variety of different ways. While I might feel pretty comfortable and have the luxury of cynicism, thinking that exchanging one set of politicians for another won’t make any difference, my many neighbours in need don’t have that luxury. It is because I trust Jesus that I seek to make a difference for my neighbour. Of course, voting, and formal political involvement is only one aspect of doing that, but it is one that we can’t avoid.
*The NSW Parliament is found in Macquarie Street, hence together with the Leichhardt Town Hall and Federal Parliament in Canberra, these represent the three levels of government in Australia.

I hope that tonight, we have a chance to start deliberating together, thinking about a couple of the issues that face our area and our state. As we do so, I’d like to encourage all of us, whatever our background, to think beyond our own preferences and desires and consider the common good: asking the question, how can I love my neighbour through my politics? This may be slightly scary exercise for some, because the danger is, if I don’t look out for myself, who will? The good news is that we are free to take this dangerous step of thinking more about our neighbour’s need than our own because Jesus has served us all. He has provided everything we truly need. If that’s a foreign idea or even ridiculous idea for you, then come and check it out. Try being part of a Christian community for a while and see whether mutual service makes sense in the light of the one who is the true prime minister.

So, as we start to engage with the issues, with the candidates, with one another, let’s keep asking the question: what will be best for all of us, not just me.
Apologies for the lack of pictures recently. Blogger wasn't letting me upload anything for about a week. Now that it seems to be working again, ten points for the historical figure in the statue down the bottom of the picture.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Why Politics? I

Last Friday, I gave a short talk at the start of our State Election Forum. Here is the first half of the talk. Second half tomorrow.

--------

A politician wanted a special postage stamp issued with his picture on it. So, he instructed his people, stressing that it should be of international quality. The stamps were duly released and he was pleased. But within a few days of release of the stamp, he began hearing complaints that the stamp was not sticking properly, and he became furious. He called the people responsible and ordered them to investigate the matter. They checked the matter out at several post offices, and then reported the problem to the politician. The report said, "There is nothing wrong with the quality of the stamp. The problem is people are spitting on the wrong side."

Politician: "Election time has come again! The air will be full of my campaign speeches!"
Cynical voter: "And vice versa!"

Why politics? Why bother?

Traditionally, we Australians are often cynical about those in power. The media loves to run stories of politicians’ failures and indiscretions. And they love to run them, because we love to hear them. Perhaps it adds some drama to our lives. Perhaps it gives us someone to blame for our society’s failings.

Yet the fact that we keep being shocked also reveals that somewhere, we expect more of our leaders than the lies and indiscretions that all-too-often make the headlines.

Our members of parliament are called public servants, and the leader of our nation is its prime minister, or first servant. Somewhere, embedded deep within our language, we know that our leaders ought not do what is best for themselves, or those like them, or even just for those who elected them, but they are to serve the public good. Even our nation is the Commonwealth of Australia, a nation set up on the ideal of the common weal, the common good.

It doesn’t help that many of us think about elections as times to vote for those who will best serve our interests - or perhaps more accurately, best serve our interest rates. With bumper stickers proclaiming, ‘I fish and I vote’, ‘I drive a 4WD and I vote’, ‘I practice origami and I vote’, our attitude is to threaten to vote for someone else unless our desires are met. We organise ourselves into political pressure groups to get our voice heard, to put our issue forward, to demand my rights and those of people like me. In doing so, we lose sight of the common good, and instead imagine that it is each interest group for itself, grabbing as much of the cake as possible. In this way, our attitudes swing between cynicism and pragmatic selfishness.

UPDATE: Please see comments for relevant discussion of the language of "public servants" and "ministers". My post is not an accurate reflection of the connotation of these words, but I will leave it as is so that the discussion below makes sense. You can read the second half of this talk here.

Friday, March 16, 2007

State Election Forum reminder

Tonight is the State Election Forum at All Souls, Leichhardt (cnr Norton and Marion Sts). See you there at 7 for 7.30-9.30. More details back here.

UPDATE: Well I thought the night was quite a success. At the last minute, the Labor candidate decided to show up after all (earlier, her office had said that she would send a representative). All three candidates behaved themselves (more or less...). There were a few visitors who walked in off the street and had a great time and many visitors from around the traps. Look out for a bigger, better organised and even more exciting Federal version of the same event later in the year. I might post my intro talk on 'why politics?' sometime in the next couple of days. Thanks to all those who came.

UPDATE #2: It was interesting that the final question of the night was about Scripture in schools* and whether the Greens would get rid of it if elected. So far off their agenda was the issue that for the only time in the entire event, the candidate didn't know what to say because she wasn't aware of her party's position on the matter (which can be read here - and doesn't involve the abolition of Scripture). Tim (the MC) had to jump in and help her by telling her what her own party thought on the matter. And this is the Greens candidate with the best chance of making it into the Lower House.
*For those outside NSW, this is an issue that has a lot of traction in Christian circles. Many Christians have been given the impression that the 'pagan' Greens are set on revoking this privilege as soon as possible. It is simply not true.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Voting Christianly

Recently the Sydney Anglican Media website (and in the print version, Southern Cross) has published a number of articles on politics and voting in the lead-up to the NSW state election next weekend.

In particular, this article by an old friend of mine started off so well, criticising an individualistic approach to voting in which I threaten to vote for another party unless my needs are met. This attitude is expressed in the well-known bumper-sticker (with endless variations): "I hunt/fish/drive a 4WD/practise origami and I vote".

The author then goes on to assert: 'A better attitude is “I am a member of society and I vote for its good.”' With this I wholeheartedly agree. This generous attitude is implicitly linked to Christianity's critique of selfishness: 'I want you to vote Christianly rather than for self-interest.'

Unfortunately, these excellent points are then somewhat undermined when the article goes on to articulate how to 'vote Christianly': 'I implore you to make your vote count… not necessarily along your party lines but on the basis of how the policies will affect Christians.' Why just Christians? I realise that we are to especially do good to those of the household of faith (Galatians 6.10), but let's not forget the first half of the verse: 'So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone.' Why restrict our deliberations on social goods to Christians? Isn't this just a slightly expanded form of the very selfishness criticised at the start of the article? 'For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?' (Matthew 5.46-47)

At the heart of voting Christianly is love for neighbour. I care who is elected because I care for my neighbour.

I heartily applaud the efforts Glenn (the author) has gone to in his local area to engage the local candidates and try to get his congregation to think about their political involvement, but the very limited range of questions he asked them implies that Christians are an interest group just like any other.* Someone may say: 'everyone else looks out for their interests, why can't we look out for ours?' Because we follow Jesus. The interests of others are more imporant than looking out for ourselves (Philippians 2.4). I would rather vote for a party that was going to create a society in which the poor were cared for and Christians persecuted, than one in which Christians were given priviledges and the poor oppressed.**
*I picked on Glenn's article because his was most explicit about this approach, however, the assumption is implicit in a number of recent pieces.
**I realise that the freedom to proclaim the good news about Jesus is a great blessing, not to be lightly lost. However, in defending this freedom, I think we should be arguing that the freedom to persuade others of what is true is an important aspect of the common good, rather than trying to stand up for 'our rights' as a minority group. O'Donovan even argues that the Western value on freedom of speech arises out of the Christian imperative to proclaim the good news.

Dawkins

I haven't read the book. I've barely read any secondary discussion. But this was still amusing. H/T John.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Barth on heaven

“Heaven" in biblical language is the sum of the inaccessible and incomprehensible side of the created world, so that, although it is not God himself, it is the throne of God, the creaturely correspondence to his glory, which is veiled from man, and cannot be disclosed except on his initiative.

- Karl Barth, CD III/1 453
H/T MPJ

This summarises very nicely the first four posts of my heaven series. All that he needs is the negative correlate: heaven is not the goal of the Christian hope. We hope for the return of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, the final judgement and the renewal of all things.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Jensen on postgrad theology

Since my blogging is largely quotes and links these days,* I thought I'd add another one: MPJ (aka the blogging parson) offers twelve tips for anyone contemplating (or currently undertaking) postgraduate theological study. As a bonus, most of his tips apply to other fields too.
*I hope to return to more substantial posts when I get through this little patch of busyness in a week or two.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

O'Donovan on schism and unity

Every approach to resolving disagreements may turn out to fail. In the end God may have so hardened our hearts that we can see no way through our difficulties and simply find ourselves apart. God may in his judgment scatter a church that lacked the common will to search for its unity in the truth of the Gospel. And then there may come a point at which this situation has to be given some kind of institutional expression. Nothing can exclude a priori the worst possibility that certain persons or groups, or even whole churches, may be declared to have left the communion of Jesus Christ. But it must be a declaration, a formal statement of what has obviously come to pass. It cannot be an act to produce a result. The problem with the notion of separation is its expressive, self-purifying character. It will not wait for God to purify his own church in his own time. Schisms may come, but woe to that church through whom they come! There is no right, or duty, of schism. As unity is given to the church as a gift, so it is taken away as a judgment. But on no account can disunity be a course of action that the church may embrace in pursuit of its mission or identity. The only justified breach is the one we have taken every possible step to avert, the one that lies on the far side of every conciliar process that can be devised.

- Oliver O'Donovan, Ethics and Agreement: Sermons on the Subjects of the Day (2), final paragraph.

I'd love to hear some reactions to this quote. It may help to also read this paragraph from a little earlier in the sermon:
In the view of the New Testament, what grounds justify a deliberate breach in communion within the church? Two contradictory answers press themselves on us, each with apparent inevitability. On the one hand, we are never justified in breaking communion within the church of Jesus Christ, for schism is sin; on the other hand, communion implies and requires fundamental agreement in the Gospel. Those who "go out" from the church of Christ declare that they were not of it (1 John 2:18). Yet disagreement is not something we are free to relativise or set to one side. So unity in the truth turns out to be a commitment that may pull us in opposite directions to opposite conclusions: there is no communion-breaking moral disagreement, on the one hand; on the other, any disagreement is potentially communion-breaking. The one answer we cannot find is the answer we set out to find: this, rather than that, is the specific cause that will justify a breach.

Friday, March 09, 2007

O'Donovan on moral agreement in the church

Communion is both a moral practice and the idioma* of the third person of the Trinity. It would be hard to image a morally pluralist Christianity that had not lopped off the Third Article of the Creed - which would mean lopping off the church, lopping off the common life in the harmony of God's will which is better than toleration. Civil societies are necessarily tolerant to a degree and intolerant to a degree; they punish what they cannot afford to tolerat, tolerate what they cannot afford to punish. But the communion of the Spirit is harmony; and a church that understands its identity embraces the gift and task of moral agreement from the start.

- Oliver O'Donovan, Ethics and Agreement: Sermons on the Subjects of the Day (3), paragraph 2.

I am really enjoying reading these lectures that O'Donovan wrote for the Fulcrum website in response to the recent crisis in the Anglican communion. He has a way of laying out and navigating the divisive issues that is both clear and uncompromising, yet which avoids unnecessary extra conflict. I find particularly helpful his analysis of how Rowan Williams turned a polarity (revisionist vs anti-revisionist) into a quadrant (with conciliar vs non-conciliar members of both camps).
*idioma = specific property or task

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Full yet? III: Christ, the fullness of God

Genesis records God's first command to humanity: be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. Is it full yet?

When I first raised this question, it generated many comments, among which Frank suggested: I think the challenge of our day is to start with the reality of our situation and then turn to the scriptures. If we start with the scriptures then we have a command that will destroy us, at least the way we are interpreting it.

I want to suggest that rather than starting with Genesis or our present situation, we ought to start with Christ. In him, the fullness of deity dwells bodily (Col 2.9). It is from here that we ought to garner our concept of 'fulness'.

...Or at least so I thought late at night a couple of weeks ago when the basic outline of this series came to me. I intended to look at the language of fulness as it applies to the Trinity in order to shape the rest of of my posts (where I would deal more directly with the question of population and reproduction). However, in my semi-conscious state, I took some notes that now make little sense to me and which fail to answer the question of how fulness language regarding the Trinity might affect the discussion. This is (part of) the reason for the delay in this series. I've been trying to remember my thoughts from that night, or come up with new ones and have drawn something of a blank.

So I thought I'd throw it over to you: how might fulness language as it is used in reference to the Trintity* be relevant to a discussion of understanding how humanity is to fill the earth? Or is it simply a theologically trendy way of distracting us from what Genesis 1 says?
*e.g. Col 2.9; 1 Cor 15.28; Eph 1.23; 5.18; Hab 2.14
Series so far: Series so far: 0; I; II; III; IV.
Ten points for the city in the picture.

Monday, March 05, 2007

State Election Forum

If you will permit me a brief ad for those around Leichhardt...

On Friday 16th March at 7.00 for 7.30-9.30pm, All Souls, Leichhardt will be hosting a State Election Forum with candidates for Balmain electorate in the upcoming NSW state election (24th March). This will not only be a chance to meet the candidates (or in one case, a representative), ask them questions, and hear them discuss local and state issues, it will also include a chance to reflect a little upon the 'why' and 'how' of our political involvement. The event is not intended exclusively for Christians, so feel free to bring family and friends. It will be held in the All Souls café, next door to the main church building, which is on the corner of Norton and Marion Sts, Leichhardt. There is no entry charge and a light supper will be served. BYO wine. For catering, it would be helpful if you let me know that you're coming.

Here ends the ad. Normal broadcast will resume shortly.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

New peak oil trailer

This one is worth watching for the great opening line.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Barth on theology

To put itself in a systematic relationship with the other sciences, theology would have to regard its own special existence as fundamentally necessary. That is exactly what it cannot do. It absolutely cannot regard itself as a member of an ordered cosmos, but only as a stop-gap in an unordered one.

-Karl Barth, CD I/1, 9

Barth doesn't really explain this claim. I assume that what he is getting at is that theology is the church's critical reflection upon its own speech and action undertaken in order to seek to make them conform to the foundation, aim and content of its own existence, namely, Jesus Christ. In an ordered cosmos, there would be no need for such critical reflection, since speech about God would not be problematic. However, I wonder whether it is not simply the disordering of the cosmos due to sin that makes speech about God difficult. Isn't such speech also difficult (though not impossible) because of our creaturely finitude?