One of the most important living philosophers has turned his attention to the relationship between faith and reason. In doing so, Jürgen Habermas has continued to fulfil his exemplary role as a public intellectual committed to the practice of reasonable communication as a model for politics. Given what some have called the “return of religion” to the public sphere, Habermas’ contribution is sure to be widely-discussed. It also deserves a wide hearing among North American Christians.
Allow me to simplify Habermas’ ideas and put his project into slightly more mundane terms. He posits that one important way of understanding the pursuit of truth and the good life is as a shared quest. This obviously places a good deal of weight on the nature of human communication. Our ability to communicate with one another cannot hinder our ability to realize the good life, otherwise such a view is doomed. In practice, many of the more extreme voices present in North American society – a good number of which are religious – thrive on obfuscation that undermines communication, however much they pay lip service to objectivity…
We didn’t have to wait long for the reactions from conservative Christians to yesterday’s decision in the Prop 8. They’re predictably hyperbolic:
Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America:
“Judge Walker’s decision goes far beyond homosexual ‘marriage’ to strike at the heart of our representative democracy. Judge Walker has declared, in effect, that his opinion is supreme and ‘We the People’ are no longer free to govern ourselves. The ruling should be appealed and overturned immediately.”
Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary:
“In one brazen act of judicial energy, California’s voters were told that they had no right to define marriage, and thousands of years of human wisdom were discarded as irrational. … The central institution of human civilization suffered a direct hit, and its future hangs in the balance.”
Daniel Blomerg of the Alliance Defense Fund:
“What’s really chilling about this decision is the way the plaintiffs and the judge directly attacked the faith of millions of Americans. They presented doctrinal beliefs about marriage as evidence of bigotry, as unreasonableness.”
Let me first comment on the hilarity of Ms. Wright saying that overturning a ballot intiative is a challenge to “representative democracy.” Ballot initiatives are themselves challenges to representative democracy, as they seek to bypass legislators and allow voters to essentially write law from the voting booth. California is a mess on their account. Prop 8 was the real challenge to representative democracy, and it should have been overturned on that fact alone.
I think we are caught in a vicious cycle. Case and point: a new series over at “Patheos” on the future of Evangelicalism. This particular run of articles and opinions is a part of a larger look at the future of religion, and in the Christian camp they’ve already covered Catholicism and Mainline Protestantism.
The series began yesterday and a new set of essays will be released on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for the next two weeks. Our old buddy Matt Anderson already weighed in on the question, as have other prominent evangelical writers and bloggers like Scot McKnight and our favorite antagonist, Joe Carter. Still to come is insight from Mark Noll, Jim Wallis, Brian McLaren and Rob Moll…
There’s slow food, slow money, and now slow reading. The Guardian recently published an article by Patrick Kingsley on The Art of Slow Reading that has been making its way around the webosphere. Kingsley and other slow readers advocate for finishing the texts we start. They want us to borrow and lend books, to read aloud, to not click blindly from hyperlink to hyperlink.
I’m a fan of slow food, of taking my time in gathering and preparing and eating. I even practice slow money, though it’s due to the size of my paycheck more than any particular ideals. Practicing slow food would mean something different for a chef than for my home cooking. Slow money on Wall Street? That’s truly radical. Slow is a luxury. It balks at demands and bedtimes and to-do lists…
Look at that picture above. Click on it to make it bigger. That’s my iTunes. As you can see, I listen to a LOT of podcasts. And no, this isn’t just a narcissistic moment to seem smart. You see all those blue numbers above each podcast? Well, those are just the episodes I haven’t listened to. Also notice the 320 iTunesU lectures that have also been neglected.
I’m starting to wonder if we have become more able to learn through audio and visuals, rather than writing. I think I have. Admittedly (and I hate admitting this), I have become so ADD when reading books. I become impatient, just wanting to absorb what I need to absorb and move right along to the next thing. I have become, (I fear) a mere consumer of non-stop information overload. In fact, I wonder if we all have…
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