Harmony wrote a very complete outline of her paper on her blog: http://harmonysblog.wordpress.com/2008/03/17/week-10-paper-outline/

I think it’s really interesting that your paper will discuss both an anthropological  model for evangelism as well as some methods to address racism.  I wonder if you see those two activities as related and, if so, how?  It seems that there is an implicit connection between the two in that both recognize the fundamental validity of both dominant and marginalized cultural communities.

In progress…

Week 10 – Wednesday

March 17, 2008

I left our last class feeling somewhat discouraged.  While I do feel that we had some excellent discussions on a variety of cultural and theological issues, I still feel rather ill-equipped for applying this knowledge in my ministry setting.  Perhaps completing the final paper will aid in this effort.

Week 10 – Monday

March 11, 2008

The video we’ve watched in class has been very enlightening, and the discussion on the production/text/consumption/every day life has been helpful.  It seems, however, that much of our discussion has been cyclical reflection and theory.  I hope that we continue the topic we addressed towards the end of the discussion: understanding how to respond to and apply what we’ve learned.

The discussion on ghosts in this chaper seems particularly worthy of further reflection. Beavsn summarizes Fei Xiatong’s conclusion that

…ghosts symbolize beleif in and reverence for the accumulated past….when tradition is concrete, when it is part of life, sacred, something to be feared and loved, then it takes the form of ghosts.

I wonder if the critique is entirely valid. What comes to mind in particular is our own religious roots in the Hebrew Old Testament. The Hebrew Bible as a whole seems to say very little about “the afterlife,” and certainly shows very little thought with regard to “ghosts.” And yet, central to the Jewish community is a sense of tradition and connectedness with the past. Perhaps the function served by ghosts in other contexts is fulfilled in the Jewish context through identification with YHWH and the promised land.

Bevans remarks:

Like the prophets of Israel, perhaps the greatest service Christians today can render to humanity is to be a sign of God’s “No” to the world because of God’s deeper word of “Yes,” and to be an instrument and foretaste of what Christians beleive will surely arrive as a “new heaven and a new earth.”

It seems an apt response to today’s tendency toward consumerist, watered-down theology.  Without disrergarding the dangers of this approach (as rightly noted by Bevans), I affirm the place of centrality given to the gospel within this model.  It seems, perhaps moreso than other approaches, to recognize the efficacy of the gospel itself as a transformative agent. 

 I also, however, waiver on Bevan’s characertization of the approach because he so heavily emphasizes Yoder and Willimon.  While much of what these authors assert in Resident Aliens comes as fitting critique of a Christendom mentality, I would also suggest that their approach errs in its tendency to centralize “community” over and above the gospel itself.  (This is not to belittle community as a central part of the Christian life, but only to assert that it is a rightful outflowing of the gospel, rather than its source or its equivalent). 

Week 9 – Wednesday

March 6, 2008

It’s interesting to look at the dynamic between the “mook” and the “midrif.”  The former tells boys: “break the rules, do whatever pleases you, people will like you if you entertain them.”  While the latter, says to girls: “you will be irrelevant unless you are physically attractive.”  The former seems to stress nonconformity, while the latter re-emphasizes stereotypes that have existed for ages.

Week 9 – Monday

March 3, 2008

The discussion on “carnival” today is intimately tied with our reading from Cobb last week. Consider this remark:

In rock concerts we enter liminal time and space, we enter a ritual of anti-structure that has some capacity to cleanse our interior consciousness and enable us to imagine new was of being. The great mix of sounds, images, emotions….that swirl around one at a musical festival can be disorienting in a productive, rejuvenating way.

Like the medieval carnival, the contemporary rock concert represents the temporary triumph of an alternative way of being. And the experience very much seems to meet Tillich’s definition of revelation:

…one has been turned inside out, seen for what one is, then returned to normal consciousness aware that reality is somehow different than one had imagined it to be.

The analysis of the various themes within song was rather insightful. As is the recognition of the power (and danger) of ecstasy as “litmus test” of things salvific. An interesting question in light of current trends might ask how concepts like the recently popular “Secret” relate to confession in religion(3). There seems to be an element of self-trust and hubris in this approach (i.e. I can change my circumstances by how I think about them), and yet at the same time a certain amount of self-distrust (i.e. my normal mode of thinking about things is causing problems and must be changed).

Joe wrote:

Although the argument is logical in its construction, the critique doesn’t hold much weight when you consider that overall every theory is just that, a theory, until put in action. As a wise Jedi once said: “No! Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try!”

I’m all for the Yoda quote, but I have to take issue with your general premise.  While there is some validity to the assertion that theory doesn’t really take form until put into practice, I’d also assert that any theory that remains entirely abstract fails to serve the basic purpose of a theory.  That is, the theory must at some level guide or modify our approach to contextual theology in order for it to be useful.  I wonder if the transcendental model meets that criteria; it seems likely that, given this model, one could justify almost any approach (or lack thereof) on the grounds that one is simply seeking an authentic expression/understanding of one’s faith.