I’ve finally moved Half Past Noon to a new host home. The site should exhibit a little more pep, now. I also gave it a new look, and hope to re-add the post box for contributors at the top. I hope you like it!
Just a narcissistic link to a post of mine at Theopol which has a remote chance of interesting my HPN co-conspirators: A theology of suburbs.
Today, this strikes me as terrible reasoning. I now understand that love is a rare and valuable thing, and you don’t get to choose its object. You just go around getting hung up on the all the least convenient things—and if the only obstacle in your way is a little extra work, then that’s the wonderful gift right there.
“It’s unfortunate that what people believe to be the most important things about themselves, their innermost truths and secrets – the real you or me – that we dish up when somebody looks sympathetic, is very likely to be the driveling nonsense that we generally have enough brains to forget about. The real you or me that we conceal because we think people won’t accept it is slop – and why should anybody want it?”
I attended Wheaton College’s N.T. Wright conference this past week, and had a great time visiting my old western suburban backyard. Wheaton put on a good show, with a great supporting cast to back up the imposing performances of the bishop from Durham. I only wish some of my Moscow friends could’ve joined me. After hanging out with a number of Canadian Reformed ministers over the long weekend, I began to slip “eh” onto the end of my increasingly Kuyperian-inflected sentences.
Somehow, I was unaware until a few days ago that another noteworthy conference was underway at the very same time down in Louisville: Together for the Gospel (T4G). Names such as Sproul, MacArthur, Duncan, Mohler, Piper, put together what I think may have been the first massively organized assembly of neo-Reformed figureheads. Over at Christianity Today, Brett McCracken writes about his experience last week attending both events. The whole review is worth a read. (McCracken is right to highlight Vanhoozerâ€™s talk, which was one of the best parts of the weekend for me.)
For the T4G folks, protecting disputed doctrines against heresy is where good theology is born. Clear thinking comes from friction and protestation, from Hegelian dialectics (R.C. Sproul spoke on this), but not from compromise. The Patristic Fathers got it right whenever they were ironing out disputed doctrines and fighting against heresy, said Ligon Duncan in his talk. But on matters that were not disputed, he said, their thought sometimes got muddled up.
The exact opposite point was made at the Wheaton Conference by Kevin Vanhoozer, professor of systematic theology at Wheaton, who suggested that theologians like Wright (and, presumably Christians in general) are more often correct in matters they collectively affirm than in matters they dispute. This statement reflects the contrasting spirit of the Wheaton Conference as regards unity: Itâ€™s what we affirmthat matters. Are we on the same page on the core issues? Can we agree on the claims of the creeds? Yes? Then letâ€™s hash out the details of theological minutia (which is definitely important) in a spirited, friendly debate as the people of God exercising the renewal of our minds (Romans 12:2).
a quote from Burke: “There are a set of writers who work hard every day trying to create a framework where the only right answers can be some kind of dogma, who will never for one passing second acknowledge the legitimacy of evidence which contradicts their own pet doctrines, who are never even momentarily in any danger of being persuaded by any countervailing viewpoint. For these writers, all online discussion is a colossally elaborate manipulation.”
The idea of private property universal but private, the idea of families free but still families, of domesticity democratic but still domestic, of one man one houseâ€“this remains the real vision and magnet of mankind. The world may accept something more official and general, less human and intimate. But the world will be like a broken-hearted woman who makes a humdrum marriage because she may not make a happy one; Socialism may be the worldâ€™s deliverance, but it is not the worldâ€™s desire.
Chesterton, What’s Wrong with the World
Early in his career Wendell Berry wrote for the Whole Earth Catalog (motto: “Access to tools.” Later: “Stay hungry, stay foolish”). Steve Jobs considered the Whole Earth Catalog to be a “conceptual forerunner to Google”. It was a catalog of sustainable products and information sources. And it was the product of two of my hippie heroes: Stewart Brand and Kevin Kelly.
This week, Stewart Brand talked about the dangers of underpopulation.
Kevin Kelly talked about the Shirkey principle, which states that institutions can become so dedicated to the problem they are the solution to, that often they inadvertently perpetuate the problem. He uses the example of unions, and their codependency with management. His conclusion is brilliant – relevant to the food discussion, concern for the poor, and more:
In a strong sense we are defined by the problems we are solving. Yin/Yang, problem/solution, both sides form one unit. Because of the Shirky Principle, which says that every entity tends to prolong the problem it is solving, progress sometimes demands that we let go of problems. We can then look to marginal solutions and ask ourselves, what marginal problem is this solving that might be a more appreciated problem later on?
Public TV Broadcasting
Public Weather Service
Public Food System
Public Financial System
And then libertarians tell me I’m crazy or leftist to want local food, rain barrels, solar power, and a local currency! Where is the disconnect?
We have been trying to remember humanity; to re-member humanity in the rigorous liturgical sense–to exercise anamnesis, the heart of the Eucharistic command and privilege: When you do this, remember me. Which is to say, Stay with history, Make something of it, by falling within its main line of action, the breaking of bread, the sharing of wine. Make a community whose life will also be available to history.
Daniel Berrigan, America Is Hard to Find