Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Week 10 - Wednesday

Great course. Loved it. Todays class on the cycle of how consumers interact with producers and the text they create is fascinating. Consumers tend not to have the power to produce their own original product but often must use what is supplied by the producers to remix products into forms that become the consumer’s identity. This is not unlike reader response theory in hermeneutics. The power of meaning ultimately lies with the reader/consumer and not with the producers/author’s intent. At the material level of remixing music and clothing, I think this is fine. However, when this practice overflows into the way people work out their spirituality, which it inevitably does, it makes for some big problems. I believe that words matter. The meaning of the words we find in the Bible matter. If we disregard what the original meaning of those words are, are we not disposing of true meaning? We can never arrive at perfect meaning but this is no excuse for blatent disregard of the text and exalting reader response.

Week 10 - Response to Harmony's "Week 9: Response to Annie: Wednesday"

While I agree with Harmony that Junior Highers are more exposed to sexuality in media and therefore they know more than we did about the mechanics of sex at their age, I cannot agree that they have a clearer understanding of themselves as sexual beings. In fact, quite the opposite is it at work I believe. The nature of our consumerist, marketing driven culture has obscured the reality of true identity and generated an absurd substitute built upon suggestion and the preponderance of 'cool' and sensuality. Sex has been overly glorified as something that is intrinsically fulfilling and empowering. How can we say that junior highers of any culture have a mature or balanced view of their sexuality yet? How can we make such a claim in a culture such as our's when many adults have a skewed view of sexuality?

Week 10 - Revised outline/draft

I. Describing Naturalism and how it plays out in my world and church.
According to Webster’s dictionary, naturalism is understood as, “The doctrine that the world can be understood in scientific terms without recourse to spiritual or supernatural explanations.”
Naturalism originated in Europe and was popularized in the 18th century as a philosophy built upon the empiricism and objectivity of the Enlightenment. Furthermore, naturalism has used Darwinian evolution as its main argument in that the origins of the universe can be explained without the agency of intelligent design. This ideology has had great success in the West because the cultural climate was already primed by the empiricism and objectivism of the Enlightenment. The hopeless message of naturalism has created a void of meaning in our culture. In turn, consumerism has helped lead Western culture into filling that void of meaning with absurdity. However, I believe many are convinced that science is incapable of answering the ‘why do we exist’ question. Therefore, many are comfortable with science and faith coexisting without conflict. On the other hand, the Church’s reaction to naturalism has been predominantly one of fear. A dominant belief has been that any concession with naturalism would lead to the demise of theism.

II. Using Bevans anthropological strategy to express the Gospel in Naturalism.
Bevans anthropological model is the best strategy for contextualizing and expressing the Gospel in the culture of naturalism. The anthropological model is useful because God’s work can already be seen in the naturalist’s culture of cosmology, physics, biology etc. Pointing to evidence of God in the physcial universe and asking good questions allows the faith seeking naturalist to "play back" what he is hearing from the missionary into a scientific world view.

III. Ways the Church can address naturalism's impact internally and externally.
Churches can bring in authors and leaders in the Intelligent Design community to give seminars and presentations to their congregants. Churches could also implement curriculum for small groups and Sunday school classes that would study concepts like Darwinian evolution, cosmology, geology and how the findings in these fields can be compatible with a Biblical world view. Churches can also encourage that the schools and universities within their tradition have robust physical science courses and degree programs. This in turn would do good things for the Church’s world reputation and thereby its witness. Subsequently, this could have a large impact on the global community because students from colleges and universities go on to effect change in a variety of different fields.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Revised outline for paper

I have decided the basic sub headings for the paper they are: Intro: The history naturalism. Naturalism’s impact on my culture. Naturalism’s impact on the Church. Strategy from Bevans that the Church can implement. Direct actions the Church can take. I have also decided that I will focus primarily upon Bevans anthropological model for contextual theology. I thought that this was the best choice because it takes seriously the scientific issues that naturalism has. Naturalism focues on the concepts of energy and an eternal creative force. This is not inconsistent with the Gospel. There are parallels to these things and the idea of an eternal creative intelligence. I will develop this further in my paper.

Week 9 - Response to Todds week 9 wednesday reflection

I really liked what Todd had to say about youth culture and how the future of the Church is dependent upon them. As a youth pastor, I believe that teens are a pivotal ministry of the Church. The facts are, most people who come to Christian faith do so at this age range. And many who do, remain Christians for the rest of their life. Youth pastors need to be more trained and given more resources then they typically are. They are on the frontlines of ministry and often in the trenches, so to speak. The issues that youth pastors deal with are just as difficult as with adults. The teen age range is so fragile and impressionable. The video about marketing cool revealed just how impressionable teens really are. All churches must take this kind of ministry seriously or risk not carrying on the faith into the next generation.

Week 9 - Bevans 9

I liked what Bevans has to say about being countercultural and not being anticultural. We need to be calling people away from these things in their culture that stand in contrast to the Gospel. However, we cannot call people out of their culture entirely. In fact culture is a good thing too. I also liked how the countercultural model was inclusive. As Christians we should be looking for examples of Christ in other traditions and not seeking to distill everything down to an exclusive rigidity that other religions and cultures have nothing to add. This does not strip any authority from Christianity. In fact, Bevans says that its the "Christian fact" that remains the standard for morality and God's standard, not the surrounding culture and varying traditions.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Week 9 - Wednesday

Today's class was very enlightening. I felt like the hidden power of what drives our culture was revealed. After seeing this, I doubt that anyone would argue that our culture cannot be typified as consumeristic. I was saddened to see how easily we are controled by the illusion of finding fulfillment in products and services. The 'cool factor' and the power it has over us is undeniable. The PBS documentary demonstrated in alot of ways who we are and what we value. That scares me. But the 'cool factor' is getting more and more elusive. 'Cool' is both an ideal created by the consumer and the producer but both are having a hard time defining what it is and is not. Perhaps the 'cool' illusion will come to an end and all we will be left with is who we really are: Spiritual beings that cannot fill our voids with products and the false identities they bring.