Friday, September 30, 2005


I finished Kant's Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics today. Surprisingly, it's full of good phrases to use in article titles and so on.

I finally got my old document on how to give someone a "spiritual" (a la giving them a "physical") in contemporary Word format. It's going out to the med school worldviews group.

I also got out two pieces leading up to my speaking at Wilshire church this weekend. One is on the emerging church as a postmodern missions effort. The other is on how I think that the way Barnabas interacted with the new Gentile churches in Antioch in Acts 11 is the best model for how existing churches should interact with emerging churches.

Okay so I want to work. But how to make that workable.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Hey all.

I finished Habermas's big political philosophy book, called Between Facts and Norms. You might remember I got the idea to do Amazon reviews and Wikipedia articles on all of Habermas's stuff. So I did my first ones. I did a review on Amazon for BFN and started a Wikipedia article on it too. I realize that this is not exactly like getting published in a juried professional journal, but it is fun and doable right off.

I'm halfway through Kant's modestly and simply titled Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics. The intro stuff is surprisingly chatty and, um, catty, really. It's kinda funny.

The worldviews group at the med school is going fairly well I think. It's to the stage now where we're going to deal with how to analyze your own worldview, and then how to interact with people of wildly differing worldviews from your own. Ryan and Zach are just so fearless with their questions in there, which is great for the health of the group.

The ethics group has been up and down. Because there was so much turnover from the summer, it's really not a full-on continuation of the ethics and technology group. So the new folks are really more into the ethics per se. That group is moving in two different directions at once: on the one hand, they want to walk through, well, not specific cases exactly, but likely situations: genetic therapies last week, end-of-life scenarios this week. On the other hand, they're interested in the metaethical problems of how to know when to apply which ethical theory--which is to say, how to decide how they are related to each other and to ethical problems out in the world--and similarly, how is all of that supposed to square up with Christian / biblical ethics?

I also spoke at Southwest Christian Fellowship the past two weeks. I spoke on professional versus spiritual identity two weeks ago, and on the implications of the theology of healing on the self-conception of healers this week.

Shannon Hopkins is here as we try to all get ready for the gallery opening of the Doxology art and theology project in Montrose next weekend.

It's a hundred bloody degrees on like the next to last day of September. For that, we should have Ricardo Montalban and Tatoo and girls with leis and palm trees and junk. Nope; we've got Dixie perspiring and garbage ripening. Oh well: a twenty-degree drop alleged for this upcoming weekend.

Steven Brown is in the house for a while. Lots of support coming his and our way, so that is good.

I speak this week at Wilshire Baptist on postmodern missions, having spoken there in August on the emerging church.

Well, I'm very backed up on stuff I've said I'd do for people, so I'd better go.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


Little meestake in the last blog. Meant to say, I have never met anyone that I thought would not be better off with (more) Jesus in their life (than not).

Austin was tiring but good. Oak Grove Abbey is very cool; very much the sort of thing we have wanted to do or promote over the years, but never quite had the space or the critical mass of believers willing to try it or whatever. So it was great to be able to support them and affirm what they're doing. Christian communal living is not, on some Romantic basis, the ideal or the only way we'd really live if we all could--there is real Christian community in living as real neighbors, too, and other ways of participating in each other's lives as well--but it is cool, is a good thing to have around as a good word and a good picture to others, and we're glad to support it because we have a soft spot in our hearts, if not our heads, for that particular way of trying it. I do pray that whether the people who were looking into communal living in Lower Greenville last fall and spring continue with that interest or not, that there will always be people in the Community who are inclined that way and that it would work for once.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


So, went with Kent and Gail to hear Huston Smith tonight at First Unitarian. He's like 500 years old, and stone deaf just about. Yet he's remarkably good humored and good natured about it all. And man he hung in there like a champ: well over an hour speaking and taking questions, and then another hour plus signing books. I should have such equanimity now and don't.

He's a happy universalist. I think the only universal I can find is Jesus. I've never met anyone who wouldn't be better off than Jesus. And it seems like I can with an utterly good conscience say to anyone, without making any decision about whether they're Christian or not, that they'd be better off getting closer to Jesus than they are. That applies to Kim Jong Il and Billy Graham equally. So to me any universal salvation would have to be rooted in the atonement of Jesus. It's obvious that one of the reasons people don't like the hell discussion is that it seems a little inappropriate for hell to have an advocacy group. I mean some of us evangelicals trying to defend hell end up sounding like not only do we believe that it exists, but we're glad it does, we hope a bunch of people are going there, and we have some candidates in mind to recommend just in case God's not sure.

Yet ultimately I don't think hell's a huge problem theodicy-wise. I totally agree with Calvin that there are at least many people whom God is perfectly well justified in "putting" there. And I totally agree with Lewis that most of the rest of 'em there are there by choice, by which Lewis means that, although by our standards they are good enough people, there is something they would rather have than God. Which brings up, well, just how bad is it to live (or die) without God if you have the other things you want in life? But that's another blog.

Of course, as I explained to Akins one time, Origen had a better idea than Smith. Origen said No, other religions were not equal or even adequate different paths to the one God. People who don't believe in Jesus will go to hell. But then he said that hell lasting forever would deny the power and glory of God. So he said that God would ensure that grace would triumph over evil in the end. Not by saying that everybody is really okay, because they are not. But rather, by saying that God is not willing and will in the end not allow anyone to be cut off from Him. So according to Origen, he thought God would, purely out of his mercy and grace, gradually save everybody in hell--not because, as in purgatory notions, they had suffered enough or paid back their debts, and not according to their being closer to or further from the truth in whatever (ir)religious views they had, but just out of pure elective grace, in the name and power of Christ and his crucifixion and resurrection. At the very end, since Satan hates God's presence and glory more than anything, God would finally empty hell and win his victory over evil, and at the same time, enact Satan's final punishment, by saving him.

I don't think that that is true or how it is going to be. But I would not complain if it was--whereas I would complain about other kinds of universalism, because I don't think that they take hell seriously.

Smith was also coy about whether he was a universalist per se--everyone gets saved in the end--or a pluralist--people can get saved many ways, but not everyone in any religion does. I went up and passed him a note asking him about John Hick's Kantian theory of world religions. He told a story about a conversation he had with Hick one time, wherein Hick ended up telling him that he thought that the only difference between them was that Smith was less of an agnostic than Hick was.

I'll be in Awstin tomorrow. Back blogging on Thursday.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Teaching philosophy

I've been looking at picking up mo' better teaching opps. el centro is fun, but sadly is also decidedly unremunerative. glad to have any job in my field, of course, but...a better-paying gig would be nice.

so most places want you to have a dossier that includes your resume, professional references, writing sample, and so forth. part of the so forth is a statement of your philosophy of teaching. so in getting my dossier in order, i gotta do these bits. so i did a draft of my teaching philosophy early this morning. i was going to do it last night, but when I started with "it's solid waste management, basically; we're just moving product through", Dawn protested.

shannon the wonderful hopkins is in the house from england for a few days, so that's cool.

did yall see doonesbury this Sunday? about the president's vacation schedule? funny, and critical, without the viciousness of a lot of political criticism. that's a model way of doing it, I think.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Seeing signs of revival in hell

Hi again, to the few the proud. I suppose that for someone who has a life, I don't do too badly in my blogging. Nevertheless I'm clearly not keeping you all up on things. I don't imagine that that crushes anybody's day, but here goes an attempt to catch you up with me. As you may know, the title of today's blog is one of the ways I state Dawn and my job description as postmodern missionaries--it's a phrase from faculty mocking of the historian of revivals Richard Lovelace at Gordon-Conwell back in the 1980s.

A. For the life of me, I cannot figure out how to add links--despite the careful, code-riddled instructions in blogger, which I followed to the letter--to people I know and love on here. This blog will remain a backwater until I can do such. I take it that free blogger is remedial, and has been progressively stripped of features--and I can't see that I can subscribe to pay blogger any more. I guess google is getting out of that, or doing it some other way. yes I could go to typepad or squarespace or whatever, but geez louise, i just want a nice little blog on the corner, not a blogomarket.

B. Stephanie and Dave got married last weekend in Louisville. It was fun. It was, not very significantly, but interestingly, the largest group I've spoken to outdoors without amplification since Zambia, about 250. It was, quite importantly, the largest reunion of Dawn's family in I don't know when. I hope that Dawn got that her family is not going to leave her to her responsibilities with her mom by herself. I think Dawn's aunts and cousins will gladly pitch in as they can. It was good to be in Louisville; Dawn likes it okay, but I just love the town.

C. I am nearing the eye-glazing, head-knocking end of Habermas's Between Facts and Norms, which despite the title is his political and legal philosophy. I just couldn't face reading its 515 pages during the run-up to my dissertation, but as I read it now, I think that by and large my critique of his secular modernism stands. There are specific corrections I will have to make to stuff before publishing--it's scary how many points of view Habermas anticipates, how many criticisms you think you'll bring in to trump him, only to find that he's already considered and responded to that--but on the whole I think I get the guy. And I still just think both that there are human universals modernist thinkers are hesitant to acknowledge, and that since everybody has a worldview or religion, some theoretical accommodation will have to be made to them that is not merely patronizing.

D. E. B. Brooks is retiring from the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Waa. He's been the most consistent supporter of postmodern / emerging church stuff in general, and Dawn and I in particular, ever since we came to Dallas.

E. Dawn is now a registered nurse clinician--the nursing equivalent of a 'board-certified' doctor or lawyer. Yay, Dawn!

F. 32 weeks til graduation for jonathan. FAFSA, here I come!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

I Left My Driveshaft in Ole Kentucky

Beloved reader(s)

Broinlaw Keith and I are off to Louisville for Dawn's sister Stephanie's wedding on Saturday. So I will likely be mostly incommunicado. Nevertheless, I still think that 'levels of fecal material' in south Mississippi water systems is one of those categories, like 'acceptable rat parts per unit' of restaurant meat, that you'd just rather not know about.

In the mild disappointment category, however, which is entirely too populous, the worldviews group didn't happen today at the med school because the new dean was under assault from the students at a big conflab they were having to discuss the new grading system there. The dean, being a genious, decided that a bell curve should be imposed on all grades, so even if everyone in the class really earned a 90 or above, they'd still curve it out where 90-93 is a C, 94-97 a B, and so forth. Hm. Seems like in a practical discipline like medicine, there is an amount you need to know that is actually concretely related to prevailing standards of care. And if you master that info, then you do. But I'm not dean.

Rather, I am done.

Monday, September 05, 2005

My Two Bytes

I'm not exactly Mr. Techie. But Jonathan and I installed a 256MB RAM chip in his desktop to double his memory. First time I ever did that. So that was okay.

People often think that those who are confident in their relationship with Jesus are therefore also somehow doctrinnaire about everything else. The fact is, for me, what Jesus proves is that it is personal beings and their relationships that are the most important thing in the universe. And so all the other stuff is downgraded in its screaming-at-me priority. And so I feel okay considering myself an agnostic about tons of stuff, especially historical stuff--agnostic either in the sense that I have not yet heard compelling arguments or evidence to make me make up my mind, or in the sense that I'm dubious about all the options currently on offer, maybe about any possible answer being forthcoming this side of heaven, and so on. It's not that it makes me cavalier--I'm going to heaven so nothing else matters--it's that I don't feel internal angst and stress and get my pantyhose all in a knot over stuff like macroevolution or intelligent life elsewhere in the universe.

Dawn is off with her sister Julie to Kentucky to help their sister Stephanie get ready for her wedding this upcoming Saturday. My brother-in-law (and -in-grace) Keith and I will head up with the kids Wednesday night. I suppose we'll come back Sunday.

I finished Habermas's On the Pragmatics of Communication, and so will now start on Between Facts and Norms, his theatrically-named tome on political and legal philosophy.

Re-reading Confederacy of Dunces for fun is especially poignant with New Orleans destroyed. But Ignatius (and John Toole) would feel that irony deeply. How about we rebuild New Orleans without a hopeless, uneducated, underclass bludgeoned into passivity? How about that?