Welcome to Theology I: Contructing the what???

Greetings Theology students!

There is a serious desire here at Mars Hill Graduate School to be integrative, so that no discipline stands separate from another, or separate from the purpose or meaning behind, or toward, which we are attempting to learn – for the healing and life of the world God so loves. To that end, it will be expected that you become familiar with some of the ‘terms of art’ that allow us to speak among ourselves in ways that enable serious conversation. Just as some of you are required to memorize terms in the DSM-IV to enable you to use certain terms to speak of a whole cluster of ideas (symptoms, pathologies, diagnoses, treatment), so too you will be asked to learn some terms that allow us to use one word (e.g., soteriology) rather than 27 words about all the implications of and meanings of ‘salvation’. So you will be quizzed so that you will be able to actually begin to use these terms.

You will also be quizzed on certain readings. To try to enter into a conversation, remember what’s been said, what you think about it, what questions you have, etc., when you only have one brief encounter, and then are asked to articulate that person’s thought carefully and charitably, is really hard work. Regular engagement is so much better. Since this term we don’t have that regular engagement in class, the quizzes will help you to read/listen more carefully to these conversation partners so you can represent them well (a critical step to authentic engagement, but not one that is practiced much at present).

We’re reading Newbigin first, a churchman who also happens to think who God is and who we are really matters, in every conceivable way and context - that there is splitting between ethics, the movement toward wholeness, God and our talk/life/understanding of God (theology). He will help you take steps to being more clear about the cultural worldview that has you, hook, line and sinker, and is reeling you in to be conditioned about how you are ‘allowed’ to think theologically. He will call you to resist (something you’re good at!). I pray that you resist the real enemy; real evil seldom wears its name on its sleeve. If it’s too obvious, something might be done about it, or we’d have to acknowledge our complicity. So be open to undergoing the reconciliation of your minds (metanoia – repentance, alternative reality) so that you participate in the real, every day, reconciliation that is the future Kingdom in the present.

We will have a couple of essay exams where you get to put some pieces together and see what the picture actually looks like and tell it in your own words. We are not interested in ‘right answers’ spit back to us. We want to know if you can authentically witness to what is the heart of the only good news there is for the world – that it/we are beloved by God, here’s how we know, and here’s the difference God can make when released among his people. (NOT the difference one’s knowledge about God can make.)

You will write a paper, you will read a lot, you will talk among yourselves and with Dr. Stearns (as well as various other guests), you will wrestle, pray, wonder, want to quit, get excited, and all the other stuff of learning as a community and as a unique person. You come embedded in a story. It’s our hope that we see our personal and corporate story(ies) weave together.

May the Presence of God, the Spirit of the Father and the Son, rest upon and in you all, giving you your lives back by drawing you further into the Triune communion, and empowering you to be the place where God’s Presence dwells uniquely in the world for its healing, justice, beauty and final restoration.

On behalf of Dr. Stearns & myself (you're TA), welcome!

"Real names tell you the story of the things they belong to . . . " - Treebeard

Enough already.

I've had enough of guys like Bush and McCain...

But I'm not yet done enjoying this sort of thing: a faux trailer for a Disney-esque movie about Sarah Palin.

The First Class


The first class of the Theological Mosaic is fast approaching. You should all be in reading groups, busily discussing Newbigin and Hauerwas.

I wanted to encourage you all to be on time, if not a bit early, to the first session. We will start off the class with our first guest speaker. Dr. Bob Ekblad (from The People's Seminary and Tierra Nueva up in Burlington, WA) will be addressing the class. I am excited about what he will bring to the overall dynamic of the class. He is a theologian who has pursued his theological education in the midst of solidarity and ministry to poor. Theology for him is 'hands on' and it shapes and informs the work that he does. Come prepared to be challenged and awakened by his vision and passion for those who seem utterly lost within our culture. His books include Reading the Bible with the Damned and A New Christian Manifesto: Pledging Allegiance to the Kingdom.

I look forward to meeting you all next Friday!

PS Since the readings for the class are a bit in flux I thought that I would post the reading required for the first weekend of class. (This is in addition to the Newbigin and Hauerwas that you are discussing in your reading groups.) Check the school website (e-reserve) for copies of the articles:

Gordon Fee, "On Being a Trinitarian Christian" (e-reserve)
Colin Gunton, The Christian Faith, Part I
Colin Gunton, "Trinity, Ontology and Anthropology" (e-reserve)

The Great Schlep

Plenty of cursing in here -- definitely NSFW. But if you're Jewish and you're planning on voting for Barack Obama -- and if you want to know what you can do to make a difference (and if you like Sarah Silverman) -- check this out.

You know what? Even if you're not Jewish, if you like Sarah Silverman you should check it out. And even if you don't really care for Sarah Silverman, what the hell -- it's not very long.

The Great Schlep

Sarah Palin -- God Help Us!

Someone please tell me what she is saying. Sarah Palin makes Dan Quayle look like Einstein. Hell, I would take Bush as VP over Palin. Truly the people cannot be so stupid to allow her to become vice president.

Who is this Rosh Hashanah person?

Is it possible there's someone working at DreamWorks who's never heard of Rosh Hashanah?

The whole story is here.

David Letterman Regarding John McCain

This video speaks for itself. I highly recommend watching it all.

We Love the Onion

And this is another reason why.

The Onion

Workplace Harassment

Doing mandatory "workplace harassment" training for my job; actually, it's anti-harassment training -- but let's not split hairs.

The video example in the training involves a "hispanic" woman, an African-American woman, an Asian-American man, and a woman from Canada. Guess which one is discriminated against?

Of course, the Candadian, based on her Canadian heritage -- cuz that's the scourge of the modern workforce: harassment against Canadian nationals.


Punchline from lesson two: "And so the bartender says, 'That's what *she* said!'"

International Talk Like a Pirate Day

This pirate walks into a bar with a big ship's wheel down his pants. The bartender says, "Excuse me, sir, but do you know you have a ship's wheel down the front of your pants?"

And the pirate says, "Aaargh, it's driving me nuts!!"

More pirate jokes.

Holy Peeps, Batman!

I'm not much for Peeps, but I love Batman. (Yes, those are Peeps.)

More peep shows.
[Thanks, BoingBoing!]

Everyone for Obama

First, my assurance: I have nothing to do with this site, no way, no how. But I *love* what they're doing -- whoever you are, there's a button for you.

See them all!

Bush Reassures No One

“He'd offer you an egg if you promised not to break the shell.”
Irish Proverb

Wall Street in Worst Loss Since 2001
Officials Try to Stem Crisis — Fed Will Meet Tuesday
Despite reassurances by the Bush administration, stocks fell 4.4 percent on Monday, dragged by the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and the sale of Merrill Lynch.

The above is the headline from the online version of The New York Times this evening. What caught my eye were the first six words. Who would ever be reassured by Bush? His word and the word from anyone still employed by the administration is worth less than nothing. They have a track record from WMDs to Katrina of promising the world and delivering nothing.

Saturday Night Live Palin

There is hardly any mental misery worse than that of having our own serious phrases, our own rooted beliefs, caricatured by a charlatan or a hireling.
George Eliot (1819–80), English novelist

More of the same...Lying

No man lies so boldly as the man who is indignant.
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900), philosopher

I find it absolutely amazing how many well-informed Republican pundits now say they don’t know what he Bush Doctrine is – only to help out Sarah Palin.

Slowly, similar to how the truth came out about how the Bush Administration lied about weapons of mass destruction, the truth about Palin is coming out, but let’s hope that it’s not too late, again!

Is there anything the McCain campaign isn't lying about?"

  • Sarah Palin did not visit troops in Iraq, a spokesperson for the Republican vice presidential nominee confirmed Saturday, as new details emerged about the extent of the Alaska governor's foreign travel.

  • Palin visited the Iraqi side of a border crossing -- but never journeyed past the checkpoint. Earlier, campaign aides confirmed reports that Palin's time in Ireland on that trip had actually been a refueling stop.

  • The Obama campaign has accused the McCain campaign of deliberately lying about wildly inflated crowd estimates for Palin. The McCain team has twice pointed to law enforcement as the source for those estimates -- but the same officials denied to Bloomberg News that they had provided the numbers cited by the Republican nominee's campaign.

  • The McCain campaign said Gov. Palin opposed the bridge to nowhere, but now we know she supported it.

  • McCain's campaign released a television ad, titled "Disrespectful," that accuses McCain's Democratic rival of launching desperate attacks and smears against Palin. In the McCain ad, the announcer says the Obama camp had "lashed out at Sarah Palin" and dismissed Palin as "good-looking" as the Democratic nominee's face appears on the screen. The announcer also says the Democrats had said Palin was doing "what she was told" and had "desperately" called her a liar.“How disrespectful," the announcer says. "And how Gov. Sarah Palin proves them wrong, every day."Obama never made any of the statements the McCain camp released to support the ad, and the comment that Palin was "good-looking" was made by the Democratic vice presidential nominee, Sen. Joe Biden, in a self-deprecating joke when he was asked what the obvious differences were between the two vice presidential nominees. Biden repeatedly has said on the campaign trail that he respected Palin and that he thought she was qualified for the vice presidency. FactCheck.org pointed out the quote from an Obama adviser that Palin was doing "what she was told" was taken out of context. The quote is taken from the response of Obama's chief strategist, David Axelrod, in which he said Palin had misrepresented Obama's legislative record. "Maybe that's what she was told" about his voting record, Axelrod said.

  • When there was a vacancy at the top of the State Division of Agriculture, Palin appointed a high school classmate, Franci Havemeister, to the $95,000-a-year directorship. A former real estate agent, Ms. Havemeister cited her childhood love of cows as a qualification for running the roughly $2 million agency.

  • Throughout her political career, Palin has pursued vendettas, fired officials who crossed her and sometimes blurred the line between government and personal grievance, according to a review of public records and interviews with 60 Republican and Democratic legislators and local officials.

  • Interviews show that Ms. Palin runs an administration that puts a premium on loyalty and secrecy. The governor and her top officials sometimes use personal e-mail accounts for state business; dozens of e-mail messages obtained by The New York Times show that her staff members studied whether that could allow them to circumvent subpoenas seeking public records.

  • Rick Steiner, a University of Alaska professor, sought the e-mail messages of state scientists who had examined the effect of global warming on polar bears. (Ms. Palin said the scientists had found no ill effects, and she has sued the federal government to block the listing of the bears as endangered.) An administration official told Mr. Steiner that his request would cost $468,784 to process.When Mr. Steiner finally obtained the e-mail messages — through a federal records request — he discovered that state scientists had in fact agreed that the bears were in danger, records show.“Their secrecy is off the charts,” Mr. Steiner said.

  • The Wasilla High School yearbook archive now doubles as a veritable directory of state government. Ms. Palin appointed Mr. Bitney, her former junior high school band-mate, as her legislative director and chose another classmate, Joe Austerman, to manage the economic development office for $82,908 a year. Mr. Austerman had established an Alaska franchise for Mailboxes Etc.

  • Democrats and Republicans alike describe her as often missing in action. Since taking office in 2007, Ms. Palin has spent 312 nights at her Wasilla home, some 600 miles to the north of the governor’s mansion in Juneau, records show.

  • During the last legislative session, some lawmakers became so frustrated with her absences that they took to wearing “Where’s Sarah?” pins.

What to expect from a McCain Presidency

He (McCain) will make Dick Cheney look like Gandhi
Pat Buchanan, pundit, former Nixon speech writer

Hat tip to Godless Liberal Homo.

Listen to This: Brad Sucks

If you like experimental pop music, you might like Brad Sucks. You can buy his new album ("Out of It") or just download it for free -- he leaves it up to you.

Palin On The Hunt

No, wait -- it's not Sarah Palin after all. But if you have any interest in seeing a mom teach her son to hunt squirrels -- AND THEN MAKE HIM A SQUIRREL SANDWICH FOR AN AFTER-SCHOOL SNACK -- watch, this.

Motek, don't watch it. I already wish I hadn't.

Thanks again, BoingBoing.net!

12 Monkeys: Why You Must See It

Just watched "12 Monkeys" (1995 - Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, Brad Pitt) on cable -- been meaning to see it for years. It's a must-see for one reason alone: Brad Pitt plays the most convincing crazy guy I've seen in a long time. First, in a mental hospital, then six years later in a tuxedo at a fancy dinner, and then in guerilla terrorist mode.

Seriously -- you may not care for dystopian scfi-fi, time travel, and viruses, but Pitt's performance is worth your investment of two hours.

911 (TM) A Brand Republicans Trust

“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.”
Mark Twain (1835-1910), author

Lie to Me Baby

Every violation of truth is not only a sort of suicide in the liar, but is a stab at the health of human society.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82), essayist, poet, philosopher

This is apparently the moto of those who vote Republican:

"Lie to me"
Song and video by Tom Waits

Goats Chewing Up Downtown Los Angeles

Goats in downtown Los Angeles? Yes, 100 of them. L.A.'s Community Redevelopment Agency trucked them in to chew up the brush and weeds on the hill just below my office on Bunker Hill. Here are a few shots -- my building, a composite panorama, and an alternate view showing part of the crowd that gathers to pet the goats. Click the pix to see 'em bigger.

[Want more words? The Los Angeles Times managed to open its eyes up and take note of this phenomenon.]

Empty Suit with Lip Stick

"In the United States today, we have more than our share of the nattering nabobs of negativism."
Spiro Agnew (1918–96), vice president under Richard Nixon

Here are a list of questions from Maureen Dowd column in today's NYTimes, she suggested that ABC's Charlie Gibson should ask the potential vice president who is skating passed the media because they are afraid of being called out by the right wing. Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew started that ploy with Agnew's famous quote, see above. And it continues to work today, hell even Hillary Clinton used it.

Questions we hope Sarah Palin answers:

What kind of budget-cutter makes a show of getting rid of the state plane, then turns around and bills taxpayers for the travel of her husband and kids between Juneau and Wasilla and sticks the state with a per-diem tab to stay in her own home?

Why was Sarah for the Bridge to Nowhere before she was against the Bridge to Nowhere, and why was she for earmarks before she was against them? And doesn’t all this make her just as big a flip-flopper as John Kerry?

What kind of fiscal conservative raises taxes and increases budgets in both her jobs — as mayor and as governor?

When the phone rings at 3 a.m., will she call the Wasilla Assembly of God congregation and ask them to pray on a response, as she asked them to pray for a natural gas pipeline?

Does she really think Adam, Eve, Satan and the dinosaurs mingled on the earth 5,000 years ago?

Why put out a press release about her teenage daughter’s pregnancy and then spend the next few days attacking the press for covering that press release?

As Troopergate unfolds here — an inquiry into whether Palin inappropriately fired the commissioner of public safety for refusing to fire her ex-brother-in-law — it raises this question: Who else is on her enemies list and what might she do with the F.B.I.?

Does she want a federal ban on trans fat in restaurants and a ban on abortion and Harry Potter? And which books exactly would have landed on the literature bonfire if she had had her way with that Wasilla librarian?

Just how is it that Fannie and Freddie have cost taxpayers money (since they haven’t yet)?

Does she talk in tongues or just eat caribou tongues?

What does she have against polar bears?

Family Values

"Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in."
Michael Corleone, Godfather III

The 17-year-old father of Sarah Palin’s daughter’s baby (already this sounds like a Jeff Foxworthy redneck joke) has a MySpace page that flaunts his readiness to be a father and all the responsibilities that come with raising a child.

I wonder who will pay all the expenses of raising their child since both parents are just high school students? My guess is he’ll get a Republican-crony type job making a couple of hundred thousand with some oil company. Here without further ado is Levi Johnston’s profile from his MySpace page:

“I’m a fuckin’ redneck who likes to snowboard and ride dirt bikes. But I live to play hockey. I like to go camping and hang out with the boys, do some fishing, shoot some shit and just fuckin’ chillin’, I guess. Ya fuck with me I’ll kick ass.”

He is going to be one heck of a good dad.

Regarding the kids privacy, baloney: it's okay for the pregnant daughter to have a right to privacy even if mother Palin believes it's okay to have the government intrude to police the reproductive choices of all other women.

I suspect the Palin and Johnston families are already aware of this:

Oh, Misanthrope, where art thou?

Join me, o loyal readers, in beseeching our beloved Misanthrope to return to these hallowed digital halls. My fingers grow weary from posting political pieces in his stead, and I long to return to the green fields of nothing that you've come to expect from me. But I canst whilst no one is waving the political flag out here. Back to us, return, o Misanthrope.

Palin's Positions

BoingBoing.net again; thanks, guys.

Sarah Palin: War in Iraq is "God's Plan"

Thanks, BoingBoing.net, for pointing this out to me.

Sarah Palin, would-be banner of books

Time Magazine says that when Sarah Palin took office as mayor, she approached the town librarian and asked how to go about banning books from the town library.


Shameless plug

(But if I don't mention it, how would you know? And if not now, when?)