Friday, October 31, 2008

Theology and Speech Act Theory

I just published a article titled Speech Act Theory, Linguistics, Theology and a New Revolution of Understanding. I believe that Speech Act Theory will create a new way of understanding both human language and human experience. Lace did her dissertation of the subject. I few words about hoe Biblical Scholars have used and misused Speech Act Theory. The founding insights of Speech Act Theory are that speakers do action with language and that these actions can be categorized in a limited number of types. Many contemporary theologians have attempted to take up Speech Act Theory such as Kevin Vanhoozer, Richard Briggs, and many others. I say attempted in that they understood the first insight that a speaker/writer does action with language, (though some collapse speaker's action with language and language as agent of action, but that is for another post), but that neglect the second insight of having limited number of categories. This has led to some potholes in the project of using Speech Act theory as a tool for understanding, rather it has led to using it as a tool of defense and Apologitics.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Poem about my wife

Here is a poem I wrote about my wife. I am over come with love for her, and felt the need to express it.

Father’s Day at the Del Coronado Hotel, San Diego

L M

The ocean’s

breath

is muggy

from the water,

the waves,

and the sun.

You stand

with a black

waif-like cell

phone in the middle

of a gaggle

of Sunday tourists.

With one finger

in your left ear,

you call home. The one

finger is not meant to ignore

those around you, but to highlight

a far faint voice in your right

ear, as you say, "Happy.Father's

day." A hundred plus year old

hotel stands witness

as you greet the other.

Around us,

the voices of the famous

phantoms who stayed

at this Hotel are obscured

by the living

chatter,

and by a store-

bought folk singer

performing a set of

recycled old

Bob Dylan songs. I wait

my turn to speak. You gracefully

smile at his humor.

A retired lighthouse standing

on a far off cliff is in our

horizon. This light-

house became a museum

not too long ago. Below it

the replacement modern lighthouse

channels modern steel ships

past dangerous rocks.

Carefully,

you hand me the phone

to speak to your father.

I say thank you for this, his day.

I honor him for his gift and life and... The surf

adds rhythm to the families

loafing on the shag carpet sand.

Your father deliberates

about his barbequing

the perfect pork chops. Today,

he will host two

of his three children. I stand

with you, his second-born, thousands

of miles away. Yet, I can see him

in your flesh, your eyes,

and being.Grateful

for the warm day,

and the natural breeze,

we say good bye. His life gave

you your life. Freedom. Crossing

the threshold

of the hotel’s big

wooden entry, I look for our

future children in your eyes,

and I find your father’s

eyes. I rejoice

in our instant memory

being made. Love, there is

a breath that moves

through our time

together.

And our ancestors have

their share in the blood pulsing

through our veins.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Freedom, Jesus, Life and Love

Yesterday at Bible study we took on John 8:31-36:

31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.

32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

33 They answered him, We are Abraham's descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?

34 Jesus replied, I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.

35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it for ever.

36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

The key to the passage is understanding what freedom is. Many times the definition of freedom is reduced to "freedom from..." or the concept of Liberty. To be free is not to have the shackles of an outside force, whether that be government, church, or other power. Such an understanding underpins much of the libertarian thinking and it is not surprising that such thinking rejects government, church and ultimately God. It is also very problematic. As one member said yesterday, she wants to be free to do want she wants. Does she then become a slave to her wants and also what if her wants go against another desires. She is free only to the extent of her desires and others. In such a system of thinking, the other is only valid in so much as they align. Since most of our desires are fickle, our freedom becomes fickle. The next step becomes adding reason to the mix, and saying we should be free to follow our happiness tempered by reason and the other's happiness. In such a worldview, love cannot exist because the other is the limit of my freedom. Soon, resentment arises about the other, and a human wants to liberate himself. To limit freedom to only "freedom from..." is to create a prison of self and desire under the illusion of freedom. What it ignores is the word, "freedom" comes from the same etymology of friend and love. Freedom main meaning is "free to ..." and the to is love. To be love or to love frees us, and so powerfully that no government or outside force can take it way. With God being Love, the highest form of freedom is relationship with God. This is the truth that sets us free.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ayn Rand and the missing sense

A parable about Ayn Rand.

Once there was an artist, who lacked the sense of smell. She loved the look of red onions. Soon, she would start making beautiful coats out of the onions. She would step back and admired her work. How beautiful, she would claim.

"Only a fool could not see how great a work of art I have created." She said.

She took her work to the market place. Most who saw her coat, quickly left as they could not stand the smell. Angry at them, she would yell at them yjay they were fools lacking artistic and rational understanding. Soon, she gathered a small group of disciples who also lack the sense of smell. No matter how much people kept tell them her work reeks, they would wrap themselves in her coats of red onions and their anger. They became angrier and angrier. Everyone who can see the beauty are fools.

"Fools, fools, fools." They would chant. "Why won't see the masterpiece of coats?"

Since they would not listen to anyone but themselves, they could never understand why most people could not stand the beautiful coats. They were left alone with their coats. The artist never understood why most held their noses when they are around her coats.

What is the lack of sense: A is A, a hatred of Altruism and Compassion, and finally misunderstanding of Freedom. Freedom is more the freedom from... it is freedom to...

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Jesus represents the true Power

The power of Love
  • God as the God of Genesis-Power as the power of Creation
  • God as the God of Exodus-Power as the power of Freedom
  • God as the God of the Cross-Power as the power of Reconciliation
Two days ago, I preached on Matt 22:15-32. I wish I would have been able to preach after last night. Last night I was privileged to be invited by Rabbi David D’Auria to attend a Sukkot service at Kehilat HaMashiach. I am grateful to Rabbi David, and the rest of Messianic synagogue of Spokane for a better understanding of power and Jesus. I my sermon, I made the point that Jesus viewed power differently from those who aimed to trap him. Jesus distunguished between the power of Ceasar and God. Looking at the trap, The power of Ceasar is the powers of Reputation, Ecomonic, and Politcal. God's power is the power of Creation, Freedom, and Reconcilation, as seen by the Scripture. What I learned by the worship, dancing and joy of last night was that God's presence sustances us. Freedom comes from love. The warm congregation swarmed us and made us welcomed, as our church does every Sunday.

It is in community that life is at its fullest. Yet, one cannot know this until one experiences community. I realize many of the people I talk to (including the Objectivist I have communicated) with recently have never experienced it. That is sad. When we stood under the homemade Sukkot and experienced the power of the L-rd, and when our church has rallyed around us, I experienced the power that comes when two or more gather in Jesus name, he is there. When I have help others in my community, I have also felt the glory of Grace. The etymology of the word Freedom comes from a system of words that mean love, friendship, and peace. These words that are relational. The difference between mobs, groups, crowds with community.

Part I
Jesus answers the Public, Economic, and Political powers
Part III Principalities and Powers: Our addition to Hollywood, Wall Street, and Washington

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Jesus answers the Public, Economic, and Political powers

What Jesus view of POWER?
  • Public oppinion?
  • Economic?
  • Political?
  • None of the about
The last answer pushes to understand the nature. I am preaching this Sunday on the text:

Matthew 22:15-22: Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?" But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, "Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax." And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, "Whose head is this, and whose title?" They answered, "The emperor's." Then he said to them, "Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's." When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.

What I love about the text is how relevant it is to what is going on with our markets. The passage is about power. What is power? The trap set for Jesus was simple. By asking him about taxes, they set him up for what they thought was a no win proposition. Either he says yes to paying Roman taxes and undercut his power with the people, or he says no, which would be treason punishable by death. Their problem was they fundamentally misunderstood the nature of Jesus' power. It would be a mistake to think Jesus answered by thinking about how to get himself out from under this trap. Rather, he answered by understanding what true power is.

The first part to understanding power as Jesus understands it is to look at what the Pharisees though of as power. Their trap comes from seeing Jesus' power as based on his popularity. They thought if they undercut this power, they would undercut Jesus. They go about it by using their next belief about power, the power of money. Should I pay taxes, or should I give away my hard earn money to the state? The question would put Jesus in conflict with a third and fourth power, the power of the state and the power of the military. The power of the Military as Israel was under the control of Rome was thought to be last word. Jesus answers their question of power by pointing to the real power, the power of God.

I will post on what Jesus meant by power and God tomorrow. Right now I want to show how nothing has changed. We still view and engage what we think real power is: Public, Economic, and Political. Public is what others say about you both in Macro and Micro. The economics is the stuff you have or potentially can have or in short hand your money and your stuff. Political is your ability to make others do your bidding or how you are force to do others bidding. They are very observable power but ultimately powerless. The test is death and time. With death and time, all three fade. The best proof is Rome itself. The greatest power of that generation became history. We will see these powers also fade in our current crisis. We will be told how we all should seen it coming, and how the current collapse puts us in dire straights. If we understand power as the above three, then that is true. But what if their is another power that is larger than the three?

Part II Part III

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ayn Rand, Illogical Nonsense and the Market meltdown

I got response from my last post from a supporter of Ayn Rand. It claimed that Atlas Shrug was a work of genius and had I read it. I am familiar with Atlas Shrug, and my mistake was to think that most intelligent people would see through its glarying emotional irrationalism. While I don’t have the space to go through most of its internal logical flaws, I will give one of the most obvious one. First, I do have to admire Atlas Shrug as a masterful work of rhetorician appealing to emotionalism, but it is exactly that that precludes it from be a work of genius. Brothers Karamazov, Marcel Proust’s work, and Moby Dick are works of genius, and by that standard, Atlas Shrug fails miserably.

The bookshelf of polemics as novel next the work of Upton Sinclair rather than bookshelf of great novel is a better place for her work. Upton Sinclair's work is very similar to hers as both are very Manichean in their worldview. The only difference being that he chooses the workers to be the Children of Light and capitalists to be the Children of Dark, while Ayn Rand chooses the opposite. They both still suffer from simplistic view of human beings divided by Good guys and Bad guys. Contrast these works with Brothers Karamazov’s view of human nature is enough to refute any claims of genius about Atlas Shrug.

Saying this, let's back it up by exposing just one of the illogical flaws (of the thousands I might add) in Atlas Shrug. One of the major forces, if not the major force is her character John Galt's dislike of the collective, or any collective movement. He is the hero standing for the power of the individual. He gets tired of being pushed around by the "looters" and "moochers" (her shorthand for those who are for the power of the collective), and decides to do something about it. He will pull out of the world and watch it fail, because without his genius, world will fall apart. If that premise were followed through to its logical conclusion then novel would be about a Ted Kazinsky type character, but a crackpot out in the middle of Colorado would be a honest, yet boring novel. What Ayn Rand has John Galt do is to gather and convinced other rugged individuals to join him in his strike, and then when the world collapses, they would come and take over the world. The famous gesture of making a dollar sign at the end of her novel is her exclamation point. So where is the flaw? John Galt gathers the power of the collective to battle the collective. It is not Galt who has the power, but his movement that does. And how do you join his group? You recite a creed against becoming part of a group and your belief in the individual and join the anti-group group.

His creed: I SWEAR BY MY LIFE AND MY LOVE OF IT THAT I WILL NEVER LIVE FOR THE SAKE OF ANOTHER MAN, NOR ASK ANOTHER MAN TO LIVE FOR MINE.

Huh? You stay on the good side of individualism against the power of groups by joining a group and losing your own individuality to the mass agreement spewed by John Galt. Again, Huh? You join John Galt's movement for the sake of John Galt in order to prove you stand for yourself and not another even if it bennifits john Galt and not yourself. (Long live double think, would have been a more honest creed for Galt) Galt is only powerful in the novel for violating his own creed. Only by joining the anti-group group can you fight the power of the group with … (You guessed it) the power of the group. We have entered into an Orwellian world where war is called peace, poverty is called wealth, and illogical nonsense is called Reason. So goes the Circus world of nonsensical thinking that Ayn Rand pass off as Reason, which would be funny entertainment if her views was not taken seriously. We are in middle of largest Randing experiment when Alan Greesnpan fought for and won the principle of no regulation for the derivatives markets. It is this market and its underlining greedy irrationality causing the meltdown. Who is John Galt? A fictional character who embodies illogical double speak.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Ayn Rand - How bad romantic fantasy took down the Global Economy

Back in the late nineties concern grew about the Derivatives markets. You can read about in this NY times article. What is shocking to me is how we Christians allowed ourselves to be so hoodwinked into supporting a Godless and clearly unbiblical as unfettered Free Market System. Do not misunderstand me, I am not a socialist in the least. The picture that is now emerging is Alan Greenspan, influenced by his Randian philosophy, push for Derivatives Market like Credit Default Swaps and the rest to remain unregulated. Consistant with his philosophy, which values greed in the form of "rational self interest," he argued and won. Both Democrates and Republicans joined in an unholy allience. So the Biblical passage of 1 Tim 6.10 came true. The derivivate market grew to dwarf the stock market, bond markets, and securites market combine. Thnk about that for a moment. The prymid scheme grew larger that actual production. Now the biggets problem is the vipers don't trust each other (imagine that) and the economy is sinking faster that Titanic. Greed kills. In the next few days, I will be taking apart Ayn Rand's philosophy.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A Christian respone to the market's meltdown

Jesus offers us away out of the madness. We Christians have forgotten that we are not to be comfortable with this fallen world. If the heat on Wall Street the last week and the Christian response has proved anything, it is how much Christians in America have turn away from our classical theology and gone to one formed more by Adam Smith and the promise of Wealth. I have heard in the past day that the problem was caused by the banks being forced give mortgages to the poor who are irresponsible. So, these voices say, the problem is the poor.

The prosperty Gospel both in its obvious and sublte forms are not the Gospel of Jesus. Christ was and is about the freeing the world from its oppression spiritual and econmic. Jesus calls us today to repent and turn back to him. We have witness the how deep human sin in this grand Ponzi scheme that has been the financial world in the last four or five years. Yet, it looks like the banks, Hedge Funds, and the large financial institutions were selling to each other the same insurance securities over and over. They insured to the tune of $45 tillion dollars assest worth about 4.4 trillion. They created a pile of false money that was only a matter of time before it collapsed taking all of us with them. 1 Tim 6.10 and the Bible again prove to be write. As Christians, we have to repent, pray, and get into action.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Sin and the Markets: Another Frightening Show About the Economy

These are crazy times. The Markets are imploding and their looks like hard times ahead. The question is how did we get here? Being a Christian, I understand the problem in terms of my faith.
Listening to This American Life (It was a very good a explaining the greed that us in this mess) last night, the Spirit prompt me into seeing the problem has been what 1 Tim 6.10 always warned us about that the "love" of money is the root of evil. We have see a loss of one of the founding principle of this country. We are all taught the notion of Checks and Balance in civics class or High School. Government works best when you split up power. What most people are unaware of is that it is based on the Presbyterian Church, which in turn derived it from Christian Anthropology. Christian understand the all humans are sinners and as such we always need to watch over each others shoulders. The Market philosophy of trust in greed and self-interest to do the job of self regulation is anti-Christian. Does that mean I advocate a socialism. Of course not, for the same reason, you can't trust Government because it is full of Sinners. You can't trust Markets because it is also full of sinners, as the headlines are now making all to obvious. We have to set up a series of Checks and Balances because the markets will follow the way of any institution and become corrupt.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Psalm and Spirituality

Here is a psalm I wrote for a class on Tanak (The old testement) Spirituality
Such an Account of My Soul in Time…
Lord, I have been hurt
again.
I need to hide, need to cover my face
from the others. To hide this hurt for I fear
and I am ashamed. To be with you
is too painful. I hide from you.
Come into my being. Protect me
from the good intentions of others.
Come,
Lord,
come to the place

of your hurt child, your servant.
I am mad at you
Lord.
Why have you not broken through
to their hearts that oozes out blood of hate,
pointing fingers at me as I point
at them. I join them in the wasteland
of wild shrubs, afraid. Where
in hell can we go? Punching each other
in the underbrush.

Lord,
I need you to seek
me. I need to be told. I need to be
untold—past my blackness. In the
dark places, it hurts
more, but fear of comfort, fear of power,
fear of my own weakness conceals my
right and my wrong, keeping me. Lord,
Cradle me in your damaged palms
lullaby me to peace, stay by my side,
keep me save don’t go, don’t you go,
find me, call me back
to your new singing in others. Lord,

take my bruised blue hand from under
the wild black rose undergrowth. Call me to your lap,
from I am too weak. May the grace of your gestures cross
and offer me a place back in the light of your sun, your
day,
again. Your are my only hope
Again.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Mary's pregnancy

Luke is the only Gospel that gives us what Mary's experience of her pregnancy. Her pregnancy story is tied so much with the Holy Spirit that it can be thought of as a pneumatically event. She is pregnant by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit fills her cousin Elizabeth upon seeing Mary. Her song tells of her great love for the God, who would bring up the humble, and raise the lowly. All of this as her own social position is very precarious, being unmarried woman pregnant with child not her betrothed. She is aware of the social order as her song celebrates how God breaks the human social order with her pregnancy. New life seems to break down human oppression and the corrupt social order. The Holy Spirit turns man's world upside down. The experience of the Holy Spirit gives her a certain aliveness. She spirit rejoices for her God. This is how the Holy Spirit moves in our world.