RadarIf the facts cannot be squeezed into a meme the level of attention those facts receive is reduced. Attention to the details is overlooked for what will best attract a view, a like, a follow or a share. Information is seen purely as a commodity.

The problem with this is that when information is seen purely as a commodity, truth is easily compromised.

We don’t need to look any further than the internet. It’s now common place to log on and find someone accusing someone else of being a Nazi. It might have reached the status of cliché, but the real concern hits gravity when you’re confronted with articles about professionals comparing others with that of the 1930s National Socialists, without qualification.

For example: a lecturer from Sydney University this week is alleged to have compared fair-minded conservative opposition to same-sex marriage, to the Nazi treatment of homosexuals. In addition, a student was reported to have been disallowed to present a case they had made linking examples of how anti-Israel sentiment can be linked to antisemitism. [source]

Historical comparisons made between present and past should be measured for accuracy. After all, on balance, responsible self-criticism leads us to ask ourselves whether or not our opponent has a point. However, measuring the accuracy of the claim doesn’t stop there. To be completely fair, the enquiry must also include the consideration of whether or not our opponents are themselves guilty of the very things they’ve accused others of.

One good practice when confronted with being likened to the Nazis is to read those who’ve read the fine print of the actual history. Those who’ve engaged with the primary sources and understand not just what the Nazis did, but how and why they did it.

It’s here that books like Thomas Doherty’s insightful and well researched 2013 book, ‘Hollywood & Hitler‘ shines:

Page 9, citing a PCA[i] report on the prohibition of the movie ‘All Quiet on The Western Front‘, Dec, 18, 1930:
“There is no doubt that this wave of intense national prejudice, which is for now going on, will continue and that any pictures, particularly foreign pictures, which offend the sensibilities of the National Socialists will be a signal for riots and demonstrations.’ [i]
Page 21: ‘Even before Goebbels laid down the law, the Nazi rhetoric on race was being implemented by pumped-up S.A. thugs and zealous party bureaucrats. From Berlin radiating outward, the iron grip tightened over all aspects of film-related culture – artists and technicians, film content and style, trade periodicals and reviewer bylines, theatre ownership and ticket buyers.’ [ii]
Page 97: ‘The Nazis, said Prince Hubertus Lowenstein [an early critic of Nazism], had annihilated all that was good in German culture.”Everything that had made for the glory of Germany has been destroyed in the past three years. The best actors and artists have been expelled. Approximately 1100 scholars and scientists have had to leave, only because they believed in freedom of art, of thought, and of religion.” Jews were forbidden to buy milk for their children, and Catholics were jailed for keeping the faith. The jackboot crushing Jews and Catholics, he predicted, was but a preview of oppressions to come. All those speaking that night urged a united front against Hitler. “We must organise to fight the Nazi invasion before Americans lose their constitutional liberties”‘[iii]

When matched against current events each of these quotes accentuate the existence of a current fundamental political reversal. With descriptions such as, intense prejudice, the iron grip, that which offends the sensibilities is a signal for riots and demonstrations; rhetoric on race by pumped-up thugs and zealous party bureaucrats.

We have to ask: is the radical Left already like the extreme Right?

It’s already suspect, when the adherents of a political platform denounce all opposition as Nazism without any real qualification. It’s already suspect when those same adherents ignore questions, make false claims and turn all fair criticism into “hate speech”. It’s already suspect when this very same ideology backs policies that undermine the humanity of the unborn, democratic debate, diversity of thought, reasoned opinion, expression and faith.

It’s already suspect when some of its most fervent adherents remain silent about the current events in Turkey, or Islamism in general, and yet continue to promote the BDS academic boycott movement against Israel. [source] It’s more than worthy of our suspicions when we only hear the sound of crickets chirping to the tune of double standards, hypocrisy, selective outrage, suppression of faith and reason, political evasion, and propaganda.

It’s ironic that:

“The response of Western academia has thus far been limited to expressions of grave concern for the fate of individual academics who have been subject to the purge.
No organized boycott effort has surfaced on any level. Mere proclamations of solidarity are supposed to suffice in the case of Turkey, while the same organizations agitate for nothing short of a blanket institutional boycott in the case of Israel.
Mind you, academic conditions in Israel are far superior to those in Turkey. Even attempts to portray Israel as hostile to academic freedom are evidence for this.” [iv]

The irony shatters all illusions of superiority. All that’s missing from the trajectory of this ideological radicalism is a figure-head with the power to influence enough people to fanatically fall in line behind them. With the upcoming election in the United States, such considerations should be weighed carefully.

Whether we like it or not, we’re being forced into categories by those who want define us, determine what we think and turn our freedoms into a carrot on a stick. The agenda isn’t about equality, it’s about dominance. The agenda isn’t about rights, it’s about power.  The agenda isn’t about progress, it’s about pride.

It’s ironic that a people’s court stands ready to condemn those who don’t align, agree or pledge allegiance to the Left. Victims who are, as a result branded as Nazis, without trial or just cause.

I’m not big on the Right/Left political metaphors in politics because throughout history, they’ve shifted. The metaphor is limited. We cannot rely on them entirely. I’m even more suspicious of these metaphors when they’re applied to theology. Theology, if it is to remain authentic theology, as Timothy Gorringe states, ‘stands as a critique of ideology.’ [v] To confess that Jesus Christ is Lord necessarily means to admit that Jesus Christ is no human pawn. Christian theology is and always will stand as a critique of all human centred strongholds that claim godlikeness; a challenge to all towers of Babylon. Modern, futuristic, ancient, primitive, material or spiritual.

‘Christianity is the protest against all the high places which human beings build for themselves’ (Karl Barth C.D IV/II p.524).

Just as bandwagon support for hashtag movements or your Facebook activity isn’t the ultimate determiner of the legitimacy of one’s Christianity, allegiance to an ideology cannot justify or earn a place before the throne of God’s grace.

While it may be too early to say for certain that history is being repeated, given the growing list of facts, it’s not an overstatement to suggest it.


Sources:

[i]  Doherty,T. 2013 Hollywood & Hitler: 1933-1939 Columbia University Press

[ii] ibid, 2013

[iii] ibid, 2013

[iv] Kupfer, T. 2016 Where Are the Academic Boycotts of Turkey? sourced 24th August 2016 from nationalreview.com

[v] Gorringe, T.J 1999 Karl Barth: Against Hegemony Christian theology in context Oxford University Press New York

Image: Courtesy of Pixabay.com, Creative Commons

BarthTravis McMaken is a published Barth scholar and blogger. Last week he featured in a one hour interview with Tripp Fuller from ‘HomeBrewed Christianity‘, answering the question: ”Why Go Barthian?

For which McMaken gave these five reasons:

1. Barth’s reform of the doctrine of election. Where the reformers didn’t develop a Christocentric double-predestination (putting Christ at the center of God’s election, electing and who He chooses to elect) Barth does.

2. Barth was not a fan of mixing philosophy with theology. Speculation is the cardinal sin for theologians. Theologians deal in the tangible “what was, what is and what will be”, not “what in ifs?”

3. Barth’s reassertion of the Doctrine of the Trinity and his rejection of natural theology as being another means of God’s revelation.[i]

4. Barth’s anti-nazi theology, as expressed in letters and manifested in the Barmen Declaration.

5. Barth’s early involvement with socialism due to his pastoral experiences in Safenwil, Switzerland, between workers and factory owners.

I agree with the first three of the five points. I am in cautious agreement about the fourth and consider the fifth debatable.

My cautious agreement with point four is justified by the fact that any new anti-nazi theology, if it’s to be true to Barthian anti-nazi theology would have to include a a declaration against,

‘Islamists and their own manifestation of the doctrine of “blut und boden – blood and soil” and Leftism’s selective outrage.
Both of which do violence to classical liberal rights, such as free speech, freedom of religion, and, in the case of the Left, families and thousands of unborn children every day. It’s concerning that academics are falling over themselves to denounce Trump. Yet fail to acknowledge the more pertinent historical parallels, which share a closer affiliation with a Nazified Germany and the compromised Church [and theology] of the 1930s and early ’40s.
Outrage that is often positioned between one selective set of protests and another. The targeted call to inclusion, for instance, shows up as a front for the more sinister goal of picking and choosing those who will have to be excluded; which is potentially those who disagree. It’s not far to jump from this to the assumption that such selectivity could result in the doctrine of “Lebensunwertes Leben – life unworthy of life.” (or in a more milder dosage, people unworthy of an opinion)’ [source]

Such an anti-nazi theology must have at it’s end a solidarity against servitude to any ideology, not in masked conformity to one:

‘From the bullied youth, to the oppressed members of a family, there is a resonance that moves from the suffering of African-Americans out to all the down-trodden. From this resonance comes a basic solidarity of suffering. It’s from here that we arrive at a point, where understanding the pain of others, helps us understand our own.
In recent months we’ve seen the rise of #blacklivesmatter. A cause not without justification, but its presence has always coincided with the caveat from those who’ve read history and heed it. It’s a cause that must have as its inevitable conclusion, #humanlivesmatter.
If it doesn’t, the movement slides into a kind of reverse racism. It fails to mature beyond protest to justice to reconciliation. If this happens, “black lives matter” will inevitably morph into “only black lives matter,” and the positive aspects of the movement’s cause will be lost.’ [source]

These are counter-points that I’m sure Barth would agree with. In his long discussion on the Omnipotence and Constancy of God, this shines through:

‘If we abandon and pay no attention to the question of obedience to God’s Word, but try to seek the limit of the possible in an absolutised system of relationships alongside or in place of God’s Word, we discover and imaginary God and an imaginary world, the fundamental dissolution of all systems of relationships and therefore complete sceptisim and anarchy in the realm of creation, the irruption of a Third Reich of madness.’    (CD.II:I p.537)

Any new anti-nazi theology from Barthians would have to reject the ‘legalistic coercion, control of the narrative, excessive political correctness, excessive shaming, blurred distinctions, a forced allegiance to false ideologies, gods, political systems and totalitarianism’ (source). Subjects that would necessarily also involve the push back against the imposition of new cultural laws such as the redefinition of marriage and the reckless rush into un-democratically erected laws pertaining to the entire spectrum of gender/identity politics.

As Barth, and even George Orwell wrote:

‘It is only wantonly and irrationally that we can aspire to the statement that two and two are five.’ (CD.II:I p.538)

Barthian theology might advocate protest in true Protestant form, but in and of itself Barthian theology is not a perpetual protest against whatever the Leftist disagrees with.

It’s not Barthian theology that exists as the perpetual protest against politics and disorder, it’s:

 ‘prayer, [which is as Barth states, is] the beginning of an uprising, [a revolt] against the disorder of the world’ [ii]

Such prayer would include a revolt against the oppressive and regressive elements of progressivism, not just that which progressives order us to protest against.

Point five on McMaken’s list is debatable. Barth may have danced to the socialist jive in Safenwil, but his life shows that he was far from a propaganda poster boy for any “Red” movement.

For economic reasons, Barth was a member of the Social Democrats, who opposed the National Socialists. Although he firmly opposed the Nazis, Barth never fully tied himself into the politics of the Social Democrats. Which, just like his (failure) to openly criticize the Soviet Union, annoyed people.

That silence should not be taken as a license to assume he was for the communists. Whether that be Bolshevik, Stalinist, Maoist, or the KPD (1930s, German Communists).

He was not a Leftist and, his very own anti-nazi stance, tells us that, were he  alive today, Barth would push back hard against any attempts to force him into such a box. Just as he distanced himself from being owned by American Evangelicals.

Therefore, I reject Travis’ closing remarks, that

“those Barthians who didn’t support‪ #‎blacklivesmatter‬ or ‪#‎occupywallstreet‬, may want to question whether or not they are Barthian, and even may have to repent”

Overall, Travis is to be applauded for the way in which he communicated the Barthian position on election, philosophy, the trinity and for parts of his discussion on anti-nazi theology. However, the applause should stop there.The remainder of the interview becomes a bitterly sour education in what happens with the Left assert their assumed ownership of Barth.

This kind of muscling shows that at its worst the Left have no problem with overlooking some aspects of Barth’s theo-political action and thought. Bypassing these in order to conscript Barthian’s and Barthian theology into the service of Leftism by way of the modern political trend to argue half-truths against balance, for the side of the story that sells best.

Whilst I recommend the interview, as with most video mediums: if you’re really interested in Barthian theology, check out the book before you see the movie.

For the best place to start reading Barth, I’m with Travis in his recommendation of  Evangelical Theology.


Sources:

[i] A rough summary of Barth’s “Nein” to natural theology: in this sense Barth freed theology from any attempts within science and the theological sciences to undermine and over-rule knowledge about God, that He has Himself given to the world through revelation. That knowledge confronts us. We are faced with only responding to it. Humans don’t determine such knowledge and cannot summon it, or as ideologies can go, build a religion around claims to own special knowledge of God (as in gnosticism); building God in our own image around human knowledge (as in Nazism). Rejecting who God is and has identified Himself as, for example: As father who enters into covenant, in Jesus Christ, through His Spirit.

I’m close to three quarters of my way through Church Dogmatics 2/2 and I’ve got a lot to reflect upon. I can see the big attraction the politically left theologians and left leaning Christians have with this volume. It’s tempting to even say that Barth is ”on their side”, but that wouldn’t be quite true.

It certainly wouldn’t accurately describe the knife edge Barth walks between Christian Universalism and Calvinism, or the scriptural tension between the two that Barth plays like a musical genius. It’d be a premature surrender. Besides, I’m almost convinced that to conscript Barth into Leftism, is to selectively misuse and overlook his warnings about, and opposition to Nazism. Including jettisoning a large portion of his own theological position.

I plan to put together a few posts about this as time permits. It’s a great deal to discuss in one blogpost.

So, for now, I’m just dropping this right here: matching quote with verse; a sketch with both. I’ve rearranged the order in which Barth’s block quote appears in the text. This doesn’t take away from the integrity of meaning. There’s quite a few statements throughout 2/2 that contain the same calibre of that which is expressed here.

Karl Barth:

‘Jesus is the One who uniquely and in isolation represents man to God, and God to man […] For as such He is not merely the prophet and proclaimer of the good news of God’s covenant with humanity, nor does He merely call men to hear & receive this news, but in doing so calls them to active co-operation in its proclamation.
When Jesus calls the apostles to Him, He does not promise that He will make them Christians, or even that He will first make them Christians and then apostles; but He immediately promises that He will make them apostles; bearers to humanity of a commission that will be given to them, the commission to seek and gather [in the spheres of world and Church; He chooses them as they are, calling them out from where they are].’ [i]

Jesus:

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” {Matthew 24:9-13, ESV}

 

RL2016_multiple barbs SOLO2

 


(RL2016)

[i] Barth, K. CD 2:2, pp.445 & 444 (parenthesis, Barth paraphrased)

13th August 2016 2 002The theme songs from Ulysses 31 and Star Blazers form part of the inspiration for this new composition.  Both are anime’s from the late 70’s early 80’s.

When I reflect back on both Ulysses 31 and Star Blazers, they hold for me more than just great art or an interesting story.They remind me of a time when my childhood was a lot more stable, and each show had epic theme songs: {U-31} – {SB}.

The theological use of light in metaphor forms the second part. God’s word is presented in Psalms as a light bound up in promise and fulfilment; giving reason for hope, guidance, protection, freedom, deliverance and an equipping for life.

Psalm 18:28-30:

‘For it is you who light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness. For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall.This God-his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him.’

Psalm 119:105:

‘Through Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I will hate every false way. Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.’

John 1:4-5 (speaking in terms of Jesus Christ)

‘In Him was life, and the life was the light of men [humanity]. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’

For those who’ve ever really heard them or even just heard of them, these words bring comfort, conviction and counsel. Through trials, they’re reminders worth reaching out for. The title, ‘Running Lights’, seeks to embrace this. For example: the running lights fitted to a car for use during fog, a lighthouse, or the runway lights at an airport. They all point to a universal human consciousness that sees light as the representation of safe harbour, safe passage, rescue, or home. In sum, Running Lights is about hope and resistance.

Drawing from a melody I created earlier this week, I was able to bring the music together fairly quickly. I sequenced the drums over the raw keyboard melody, then created some rhythm guitar and a bass line. I wasn’t completely happy with the timing of the keys, so redid them. Adding another layer of keys timed at different intervals to create the robotic sound. This allowed me to generate the verse/chorus/verse/chorus pattern. I left out the bridge because I didn’t think the song needed one.

Once this was completed, I looked to the lead guitar. I was tempted not to run any lead, but after a few attempts was convinced that it gave more gusto to the melody. I spent more time working the lead, than any other part of the song (*I don’t quite yet have that perfectionism licked*).

My goal there was to push myself beyond what I’ve already been able to achieve;to learn from the mistakes and improve on what already exists. One of the biggest struggles for most of us, when it comes to being creative is not letting our attitude undermine our ability. Whether that is in regards to being humble with our talent,  feigning humility by putting ourselves down all the time, or listening to the put downs of others.

What I like is the structure. I’m also finding that the more I use Audacity, the more I am getting used to its idiosyncrasies. With that, each song seems to be improving on the production front. As for dislikes, currently I have none.

If you’re looking into checking out Star Blazers or Ulysses 31, be sure to check out the remake (here) and the excellent, 2010 live action feature film, Space Battleship Yamato.

 


(RL2016)

amphitheatre-1004396__180Some academic internet interlocutors recently tried to stick some historical parallels on Donald Trump and American Evangelicals. They were attempting to link the precedent set by the German Christian movement and its support for Hitler, to that of American Christians and their support for Trump.

While I don’t disagree that there are slight similarities within the rhetoric, their conclusions were too easily settled upon.

Hitler was a seducer with a total grasp on the passions and faith of a people. Trump on other hand appears incoherent and at other times inconsistent in his message. To put it simply, he’s proven more to be kryptonite than an advocate for any “Aryan super-race filled with the Übermensch – superman”. As most people would agree, Trump repels rather than attracts.

I wont go into more precise differences because I believe that anyone with a basic education in social etiquette, even before its takeover by the parochialism of the excessively politically correct, knows the truth in the axiom, that “you catch more flies with honey, than with vinegar.”

Hitler put this into practice and seduced a nation. Eventually bending that nation towards his, and his political movement’s libido dominande (will-to-dominate). The German Christian Movement utilised similar tactics in gaining support for the NSDAP, which was in turn used against the remnants of the German Evangelical Church, the Pastors Emergency League and their justly rebellious descendant, the Confessing Church.

There are a spate of more relevant current events to choose from. The loudest of which concerns Islamism and the growing militancy of Leftist ideology.

Both of which do violence to classical liberal rights, such as free speech, freedom of religion, and, in the case of the Left, families and thousands of unborn children every day. It’s concerning that academics are falling over themselves to denounce Trump. Yet fail to acknowledge the more pertinent historical parallels, which share a closer affiliation with a Nazified Germany and the compromised Church of the 1930s and early ’40s.

The most significant parallel’s being Islamism’s closeness to the doctrine of “blut und boden – blood and soil” and Leftism’s selective outrage. Outrage that is often positioned between one selective set of protests and another. The targeted call to inclusion, for instance, shows up as a front for the more sinister goal of picking and choosing those who will have to be excluded; which is potentially those who disagree. It’s not far to jump from this to the assumption that such selectivity could result in the doctrine of “Lebensunwertes Leben – life unworthy of life.” (or in a more milder dosage, people unworthy of an opinion)

The secular and sometimes Christian left, for example, are  quick to write-off and then propagandise any dissent against its position. Anyone who does is automatically treated with the suspicion, or worse, the accusation, that their questioning is rooted in a “phobia” of some kind. As is well established, the pattern of behaviour is to denounce any disagreement and then shame anyone who raises honest questions about serious social, theological or political issues, that the Left would claim to be the only answer to.

The pattern is consistent. Shame into silence anything that challenges Leftism. Intimidate and then threaten all who speak out against its narratives. Such as, the use of a politics of diversion and evasion, when it comes to the dangers of Islamism and their bizarre placating of those who’s own self-interests lie in controlling the debate over gay marriage; and in controlling those who oppose the Leftist construct of “gender fluidity.”

The pattern is clear. The Leftist will allow all criticism and violence against those things Leftism hates, but will remain complacent in the face of more urgent historical parallels that demand fair attention.

I get the criticisms of Trump, but as far as historical parallels go, only the short-sighted, given the contexts, would be ignoring the relevance of those historical events to the intolerance of Leftism, ISIS, Islamism and the connection of the latter to these more recent developments:

1. Turkey seizes ALL Christian churches in city and declares them ‘state property (Express.uk)

2. Attacks on Christians in Egypt raise alarms (USA Today)

‘Democracy and Martyrs’ Rally’ on Sunday in Istanbul, marks the climax of three weeks of nightly demonstrations by Erdogan’s supporters.
Banners read ‘You are a gift from God, Erdogan’ or ‘Order us to die and we will do it’ […] [i]

If by mentioning the past we seek to passionately avoid its mistakes, we must answer the storms of today, by also passionately mentioning the mistakes that enabled them happen.

As Churchill, C.S Lewis, and George Orwell pointed out in regards to pacifism and appeasement; and for Dwight Eisenhower, complacency:

“The handicaps were many. The greatest obstacle was psychological— complacency still persisted! Even the fall of France in May 1940 failed to awaken us— and by “us” I mean many professional soldiers as well as others— to a full realization of danger.
The commanding general of one United States division, an officer of long service and high standing, offered to bet, on the day of the French armistice, that England would not last six weeks longer— and he proposed the wager much as he would have bet on rain or shine for the morrow. It did not occur to him to think of Britain as the sole remaining belligerent standing between us and starkest danger. His attitude was typical of the great proportion of soldiers and civilians alike.
Happily there were numerous exceptions whose devoted efforts accomplished more than seemed possible.
Despite the deepening of congressional concern, the nation was so unprepared to accept the seriousness of the world outlook that training could not be conducted in realistic imitation of the battlefield.
We had to carry it on in soothing-syrup style calculated to rouse the least resentment from the soldiers themselves and from their families at home. Many senior officers stood in such fear of a blast in the headlines against exposing men to inclement weather or to the fatigue of extended maneuvers that they did not prescribe the only type of training that would pay dividends once the bullets began to fly.
Urgent directives from above and protest from the occasional “alarmist” could not eliminate an apathy that had its roots in comfort, blindness, and wishful thinking.” [ii]

It must be said, then, that the path to the resurgence of fascism doesn’t begin with Trump, or the rhetoric of Trump’s campaign. Nor does it rest in the endorsement of American Evangelicals.

Granted there are small similarities between Nazism and the German Christian movement, Trump and American Evangelicals. That link, however, if it can even be called that, is weak. No more so then when it is compared to the greater examples that appear on the horizon as this century’s very own gathering storm.


Sources:

[i] Erogden Stages Mass Rally In Turkey sourced August 8th 2016 from Skynews.com

[ii] Eisenhower, D.D. 1948 Crusade in Europe: A Personal Account of World War Two Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Ed. (Loc. 251-256;260-262 ).

Solemn Cheers

August 7, 2016 — Leave a comment

Here’s three cheers for the artist, and the writer, who remain uncorrupted by nefarious social and political forces that seek to conscript their ideas;

a cheer for the scholars, who don’t spam social media seeking to impress their peers;

a cheer for those academics who don’t take themselves as seriously as their groupie fanatics.

Here’s three cheers for the politician who refuses to be unreasonably moulded into the ideological conformity of the rest;

a cheer for the dads and stay-at-home mums, who choose to work at making a family, yet find themselves staring down the barrel of angry feminist hypocrisy;

a cheer for the indigenous community who sets themselves free from the chains of activist protectionism.

Here’s three cheers for that community who chooses to carefully utilise Government programs in order to build a way out of poverty; willing to empower discussion about complex social issues.

a cheer for the teacher and the preacher, who, though faced with uncalled for adversity, stays true;

a cheer for all the homeschoolers that don’t blog, because the little time that they have is better employed elsewhere.

Here’s three cheers for the police officers, who, by the very nature of their job, pay in some way for others crimes.

a cheer for the volunteers who keep on giving when they’ve already given enough;

a cheer for all the good dads who stand firm, but forgiving, in the face of mistreatment by unbalanced systems.

Here’s three cheers for the responsible renters,

who still work towards home ownership, even though they’re stuck paying more each week to investors, than they would on a loan for a home of their own.

a cheer for those parents who understand the truism, that a house doesn’t make a home.

Here’s three cheers for the husband and wife,

who buck against the new cultural trends and instead, happily call each other so.

And…

Here’s three cheers for the repentant sinners,

may their sighs defy the world;

and their new life speak loudly of Jesus Christ.


RL2016

mountains-768459__180Having been embedded in the online Barthian community for some time now, I’ve come to observe three tiers of online Barthian “scholarship” and engagement:

First there are those who think that they own Barth. The elitist, who knows everything, and anyone who questions their particular position on Barth, are simply “ignorant and intolerant” religious right-wingers and therefore, wrong. The message carried being: “after all, you’re a peasant who couldn’t possibly understand Barth, let alone what I’ve actually written about Barth. Besides, my ivy league credentials, well-established, tenured academic life, and level of social media influence over-rules yours.”

The second tier supports tier one. The Barthian scholarship fanbois. Giving approval, and whipping up support to the labelling, in order to use it to further their own Left-wing preconceptions and prejudices. Most recently seen in the recent rise in anti-trumpism (or to borrow from left-wing phobic labelling lingo, “Trumpophobia”) within the Barthian theoblogosphere.

The general argument, if not spoken loudly, quietly inferred:“Barth was a leftist [he wasn’t]. He would have considered Trump to be like Hitler and anyone who supported him, a Nazi” – any Christian who doesn’t agree with this assessment is a “German christian”, and is to be brought to judgement before the people’s court of tier one.

Those who question the fanbois silence about what Barth would say about Clinton, or the direction, behaviour and politics of the Democrats in general, are likely to find themselves standing alone. Not without a shunning or whip statement thrown at them, of some description, for good measure.

Anyone who seeks to show that the greater parallels, to 1930s Germany, doesn’t primarily [note, I said primarily] exist in the rhetoric of Republicans, but in the growing list of left-wing “social justice causes”, needs to, “get off your high horse.” As was suggested to me when I congenially questioned the responses to Calvinists by Barthians on the very public, Facebook, Karl Barth Discussion Group.

Tier two lays down the unspoken law: don’t question us, provide an alternative perspective or speak about the more concerning, already existing historical parallels. Such as the increasingly one-sidedness of the black lives matter movement, the increasing pseudo-militancy of “social justice” warriors, Islamic terrorism; widespread abortion, gay marriage – and the selective misuse of the bible to justify it, pride flags and its associated ideology being forced on churches, total ideological indoctrination of our youth via control of schools and Universities, the hostile opposition to questions, the imposition of new cultural laws and a lean towards universal antisemitism in the left’s association with anti-Israel movements (et.al).

It goes without saying then that anyone who dares to question any reckless misplacement of historical parallels, in regards to what Barth might have said or thought, is either conveniently ignored or ridiculed into some form of submission. Real community involvement is only welcomed if it’s conformist involvement.

The third tier exists of two sub-groups. Those who speak up and those who silently disagree with tiers one and two.{The former consists of those who seek to do theology with Karl Barth, not use it to feed self-interest or police by selectively apply it, such as, conscripting his theology into the service of an ideological position. In part, the first sub-group pushes back against this, putting into praxis one of the consistant themes of Barth’s theological approach, identified by Tim Gorringe, in ‘Barth:Against Hegemony, 1999‘ that ‘all theology worthy of the name is a critique of ideology’ (see pp.71, 99, 115; et.al)}* The latter sub-group sees the fallacies and the diversions caused by misplacing historical parallels, yet say nothing about what’s actually going on.

The positive to all this is that third tier Barthian scholars are in the majority. The negative is what can perhaps be considered as the rise of Barthian Gnosticism and the hijacking of Karl Barth.

The relevant caveat:

‘The nature of a thing cannot be changed; whoever tries to “alter” its nature destroys the thing.’
(Voegelin, 1968) [i]

Barthian scholarship, in its online format, is yet to exceed the superiority of its face-to-face counterpart. For Barthian scholarship to survive in its online enclosure, it will need this third tier, with all the prayer, patience, humility and moxie it can muster.

‘Repentance will lead us to watch and not to sleep; it will guide our steps to life and not to death. It follows that silence, which has certainly much to commend it, will not be a mournful silence, but the natural and fruitful self-restraint of those who have privately too much to do to indulge freely in talk. It follows that prayer will not lead us away from political thought and action of a modest but definite kind, but will rather lead us directly into purposeful conflict. It follows that the new public spirit will be not only a goal, not only the subject of all kinds of teaching, pastoral work and discussion, but, above all and at once, a beginning— the spirit of a Christian repudiation of defeat, the spirit of a Christian approach to a new and better resistance, the spirit of Christian hope which is not disposed to leave the field to the demons.’
(Barth, 1940′ [ii]

[i] Voegelin, E. 1968 Science, Politics and Gnosticism:Two Essays Regnery Publishing

[ii] Barth, K. 1940 2nd Letter To the French Protestants in Loconte, J [ed.] 2004 The End of Illusions: Religious Leaders Confront Hitler’s Gathering Storm p.179

Image: courtesy of Pixabay

*updated for clarity 2/8/2016

GB 1Ghostbusters along with Star Wars IV, is one of the movies, that as a kid, I remember watching over and over again. I’d fast-forward the VHS tape past the opening scene in the library and go straight to the title. It was part “skip-the-scary-bit” and part, just get me to the Ray Parker Jr, theme song.

As far as the remake goes, each of the main actresses were convincing enough, but they had big shoes to fill. The pressure on them to meet such a high standard would have been enormous. Taking all this into consideration it’s not a really bad film.

Best expressed through the general response of my daughters: “the movie was okay. I liked the gadgets, but there was not enough guys, and they made Chris Hemsworth look dumb.”

Or best summed up by Richard Lawson in his review for Vanity Fair:

‘Ghostbusters is a flat, occasionally charming disappointment. While certainly funny in parts, Paul Feig’s much-debated reboot can’t find its groove…There are brief highlights [but the] film is largely an uninspired slog, everyone doing their best to get to the end without screwing things up too much’ (source)

I had my own thoughts on it, so here’s a short, 16 point review:

1. Cerebrally effortless, fun movies, do exist.

2. Ghostbusters can fit all genres. If you liked The Golden Girls this one’s for you – (minus the humour of Estelle Getty)

3. If you’re obsessed with the Ghostbuster movies, then this is an edition that’ll uniquely sparkle in any pristine, shrink-wrapped, for-display-only, collection.

4. If you like to see men, particularly Australian men, portrayed as dim-witted buffoons, then you’ve picked a winner.

5. If you’re ideologically bent towards supporting the emasculation of a classic, it’s for you, but in answer to the question “who ya gonna call?” – perhaps, first, call a therapist, not Ghostbusters. #justsayin

6. Crude statements about how a woman’s anatomy works, no matter how subtle, doesn’t communicate well for any actor selling a story to a wider audience, outside the teen angst bracket.

7. The storyline was strong enough to withstand the small amount of innuendos.

8. Overreaching in order to empower feminism disempowers feminism (and almost squeezes the life out of everything it touches).

9. Outside the Gilmore Girls, I’m not a big fan of Melissa McCarthy’s later work. (You deserve better, you can do so much better because you’ve done so much better).

10. Hollywood peaked in 1984. It’s been on a slow downward slide since. It seems to have literally run out of really cool, original ideas.

11. Bill Murray is still one of the coolest comedians alive, and Ernie Hudson must be part Vulcan, he’s hardly aged at all.

12. Chris Hemsworth, Australia thanks you for Thor, but we’re pulling faces and scratching our heads over this one, mate.

13. Hollywood is still capable of making a comedy without copious amounts of swearing or sexual innuendos [thumbs up]. It’s the genius in the legacy of Dean & Jerry, the Dick Van Dyke show, Mchales Navy, and Hogan’s Heroes.

14. Ecto-1 remains one of the coolest pop culture cars to have ever been created. With the ban on the General Lee, Ecto-1  moved into the number 4 slot, just under the A-team’s GMC van, KITT & the Delorean.

15. It doesn’t matter how awkward a movie might seem, gizmos and gadgets always make it better.

16. The modern liberal quest for what it, and it alone, determines to be tolerance and equality, creates inequality. In well-timed humour, on screen chemistry and one-liners, this reboot of Ghostbusters is not even close to being equal to its predecessor.

Does the movie speak to it’s audience and Ghostbusters fans? Yes, sometimes.

Does it do anything for feminism? Yes, however not in the way I suspect that it might have been intended. It shows that the frown of feminist idealism is kryptonite. That it’s misandry and overshadowing hypocritical disapproval of men, is toxic. Feminism is fundamentally about empowering women to be as equal-in-value as men. Any medium that betrays this platform rests not on talent, wit and moxie, but on a destructive ideology that perverts feminism, and clouds its positive achievements.

The absence of Ivan Rietmann and Dan Ackroyd is noted. Although, Ackroyd, Hudson and Murray make a cameo appearance, they’re not credited as being directly involved in the remake, which might explain the movie’s awkwardness. The brilliance of the first film was its disciplined balance between the serious and the silly. The retake barely seems to attempt to do the same. Paul Feig (Director/Writer) and Katie Dippold (Writer) could have made the story line deeper and tapped into the tension Reitmann maintained. It’s not clear why they didn’t choose to go in this same direction.

Putting the apparent hi-jacking of Ghostbusters by feminist idealism aside. Dedicated fans of the franchise might not be as thrilled as the fans of Batman were with Nolan’s trilogy, or Bay’s Transformers, however, they’ll probably be more forgiving. This is because Ghostbusters, the reboot, isn’t just a remake. Its in-part, an interesting retake on the whole Ghostbusters story.


Note: Thoughts expressed here are my own. I received no payment of any kind for this review.

Trailer: Ghostbusters, 2016 Sony Pictures

Truth RL2016I like to read a book, then read what that author read before writing that book.

One thing we’re big on in theology [we have to be] is literary criticism:part of this scientific process is taking a statement back to its original source through questions, analysis, research and faith-filled dialogue about our reasoned conclusions.

It’s a sure guard against deception and ignorance. We want [or rather need] to be as sure as we can be that when and where God has chosen to speak, we are able to clearly hear and discern that Word.

A good reason for our focus on this is highlighted by Eric Voegelin in his 1968 book, Science, Politics & Gnosticism:

‘The deception of the reader occurs when a text or citation is separated from its context and is used in isolation from it’s original intended meaning.’ [i] (paraphrased)

Voegelin had just gotten through explaining how Karl Marx in his doctoral dissertation of 1840–41 misrepresented the statement, “In a word, I hate all the gods” , from Prometheus in Aeschylus’ ‘Prometheus Bound.’

Stating that, “anyone who does not know Prometheus Bound must conclude that the quoted “confession” sums up the meaning of the tragedy, not that Aeschylus wished to represent hatred of the gods as madness.”

‘In this confession, in which the young Marx presents his own attitude under the symbol of Prometheus, the vast history of the revolt against God is illuminated as far back as the Hellenic creation of the symbol.’ [ii]

From Genesis to Revelation on into Church History, the lesson is clear enough: not everyone who claims to speak for God is actually of God. We need to ask faith-filled questions, have a well-informed BS meter and in humility come to a conclusion about what is and is not genuinely of God. We do this by first establishing the what, where and to whom God has revealed Himself; what God has consistently revealed about Himself to humanity from outside of humanity.

Bonhoeffer, in his lectures on Genesis, recorded in DBW3: ‘Creation and Fall‘, substantiates good reasons for this process. According to him, in the Garden, God’s Word was used as a weapon against God. The result being a catastrophic fallout between the creature and its benevolent Creator.

The power to decree that which is right and wrong, good and evil, is now considered to have been taken up into the hands of humanity. Rather than a new day dawning [enlightenment], darkness descends [truth is hijacked] and humanity descends with it. The source that determines what good and evil is, is relocated; reassigned by, and lowered down to a Creatorless humanity. Humanity in its abstraction from God devours itself. Burdened with lust for dominion and power it seeks to overthrow God – “they want the kingdom, but they don’t want God in it” [iii]; which as we’re told in the Biblical accounts, is ultimately destined to failure and the overbearing governance of unjust, corrupt rulers.

‘Thus for their knowledge of God human beings renounce the word of God that approaches them again and again out of the inviolable center and boundary of life; they renounce the life that comes from this word and grab it for themselves. They themselves stand in the center. This is disobedience in the semblance of obedience, the desire to rule in the semblance of service […]’ [iv]

But this doesn’t happen without a decisive response from God. He isn’t wounded outside His own choosing  [e.g.: as He does for our sakes in Jesus Christ]. Neither is He killed off. Instead humanity is found to have mortally wounded itself.

However, God shows compassion. He acknowledges this and graciously intervenes, providing covering for nakedness, discipline (when necessary), direction and posterity. Despite its new rebellious claim-to-godlike knowledge and power. Its misuse of the divine-human relationship to oppress, deify self, murder and deceive. His creature is not abandoned. God remains God for us, even when He disagrees and takes a stand against us.

“Blessed is the man or woman who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. They are like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when the heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7-8)

God chooses not to jettison His creature and instead chooses to heal and save it. Even though His creature is now so fused with, and consumed by the maddening effects of the primal Human act that deceptively puts God’s Word to use against Him.

‘That is the ultimate possible rebellion, that the lie portrays the truth as a lie. That is the abyss that underlies the lie—that it lives because it poses as the truth and condemns the truth as a lie.’ [iv]

Sources:

[i] Voegelin, E. 1968, Science, Politics & Gnosticism: Two Essays, (paraphrased). Kindle (Loc.492)

[ii] ibid, 1968

[iii] Johnny Cash, U2 ‘The Wanderer’

[iv] Bonhoeffer, D 1937, Creation & Fall, Fortress Press (pp.109-116)

[v] ibid, 1937