Posted by: HAT | February 27, 2010


note the windows

. . . remains in use . . .

So far behind schedule now that I will once again need a new schedule again to get behind.

On the other hand, feel like it would be a good idea to say something I actually think is, well, true, in a dissertation. That would be old fashioned, but consistent. The problem with this thought is that I keep being unsure about precisely what that is.

This morning, read this, by Brian McLaren:

I thought to myself, ‘What can change this vicious cycle of viciousness?’ I switched the radio off as a I drove along in silence. I remembered the famous quote from the 19th-century British statesman, Edumund Burke: ‘All that the forces of evil need to win in this world is for enough good people to do nothing,’ or something to that effect.

I thought, ‘Somebody should start an organization that would mobilize people — recruit them, train them, support them — so they could be good people who do something so that the forces of evil don’t win in this world. This organization would need to accept people just as they are, infuse them with hope, give them a vision of a better world, give them a vision for themselves becoming agents of making that better world a reality. It would need to both practice and preach. Why hasn’t somebody started an organization like that?’

And, of course, about a quarter mile down the road I realized that somebody had done just that. In fact, it had cost him everything to do so.

But that organization can become so preoccupied with lesser things — including its own institutional survival — that it forgets why it’s really here: to recruit people to switch sides and opt out of the vicious cycle and join a cycle of healing, to infuse them with vision, to send them out as change agents, to help them experience transformation and sustain them so they can be lifelong catalysts of transformation, to give them good news to share to counter the bad news that is being reported every hour on the hour.1

I agree with this, on the whole, in spite of the many well known problems with the organization — McLaren presumably referring to the one institutionalized by Paul, author of the epistle to the Romans. Apropos of which, just finished reading this:

If, in Luther’s time the danger to any authentic religious stance could be construed as self-justification, the usual slogans need to be reversed today in order to combat the same stultification, or for Paul to be heard. In our time, we must recognize, it is the (politely and privately) ‘justified’ who need to be shocked back into reality, as it is precisely this sense that ‘it is well with my soul’ even if no one listens to my moderate pleas to be more humane which simply is Christianity functioning as the salving conscience of an imperialist barbarism that implicates every aspect of our lives.2

“Wrong life cannot be lived rightly,”3 as we know, but this does not absolve us of the responsibility to find ways to resist, and to make the resistance as effective as possible.

(Apropos of which, also just finished reading a superb [SUPERB] article on precisely this resistance by James Gordon Finlayson, “Adorno On The Ethical and The Ineffable”, which argues that Adorno provides a sufficient normative basis for such resistance in the notion of the ineffable.)

I keep trying to practice what I preach better. It’s not enough, but I am hoping that it at least helps.

1 Brian McLaren, “Afterword,” in Martha Grace Reese, Unbinding Your Heart: 40 Days of Prayer & Faith Sharing (St. Louis: Chalice Press, 2008) 162.

2 Ward Blanton, “Disturbing Politics: Neo-Paulinism and the Scrambling of Religious and Secular Identities,” Dialog: A Journal of Theology 46, no. 1 (2007): 3-13. (available on JStor)

3 Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia trans. E.F.N. Jephcott (London: Verso, 1974), 39.


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