Wednesday, December 11, 2013
The imaginary library
No, you are not looking at real books. As astonishing as this may seem, these are aquarelle paintings, done by the German artist Hannes Möller. His “Imaginary Libraries” project features dozens of these nearly-real-looking bookshelves and bookbindings. The top image is so real - with its repaired cut, from which the thread was removed - that it fooled me when I came across it. Check out some on this website and read more about him in this news item (both in German).
Mars Hill’s partial, passive-voice acknowledgement of wrongs, blaming an unnamed researcher, is unlikely to satisfy his critics. The drumbeat of criticism and reporting coming from within the evangelical community shows no sign of letting up. Mefferd, who is sympathetic to Driscoll’s worldview, isn’t satisfied with his silence. “I wanted to behave in the godliest way possible, and I opted to apologize for my tone and approach,” she said. “Why doesn’t Driscoll apologize himself?”
In A Call to Resurgence, Driscoll writes, “I have been hated, protested, despised, lied about, threatened, and maligned so many times and in so many ways I could not even begin to recount them all.” For a powerful leader, he is unusually attuned to his critics, and for a man who promotes the virtues of strength, he is quick to emphasize his victimhood. He tends to wear the attacks against him as a badge of honor, proof that he is speaking the truth that others are afraid to. On Monday, as the Mefferd dispute continued, he tweeted, “No leader is perfect. Actually, there was one…but we killed Him and we still argue with Him.”
Mark Driscoll plagiarism accusations: Janet Mefferd accused the Seattle pastor on air and then backed down. What happened?. Outstanding coverage of the controversy by Ruth Graham.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
There is no guarantee of redemption-through-love: redemption is merely given as possible. We are thereby at the very core of Christianity: it is God himself who made a Pascalian wager. By dying on the cross, he made a risky gesture with no guaranteed final outcome; he provided us—humanity—with the empty S1, Master-Signifier, and it is up to us to supplement it with the chain of S2. Far from providing the conclusive dot on the “i,” the divine act rather stands for the openness of a New Beginning, and it falls to humanity to live up to it, to decide its meaning, to make something of it. As with Predestination, which condemns us to frantic activity, the Event is a pure-empty-sign, and we have to work to generate its meaning. Therein resides the terrible risk of revelation: what “Revelation” means is that God took upon himself the risk of putting everything at stake, of fully “engaging himself existentially” by way, as it were, of stepping into his own picture, becoming part of creation, exposing himself to the utter contingency of existence.
Slavoj Žižek, from God in Pain: Inversions of Apocalypse
Mark Driscoll is a human being, created in the image of God, with great gifts, real limits, and very likely a genuine calling to ministry. But “Pastor Mark Driscoll,” the author of “literally thousands of pages of content a year,” the purveyor of hundreds of hours of preaching, is in grave danger of becoming a false image. No human being could do what “Pastor Mark Driscoll” does—the celebrity is actually a complex creation of a whole community of people who sustain the illusion of an impossibly productive, knowledgeable, omnicompetent superhuman.
The real danger here is not plagiarism—it is idolatry.
All idolatry debases the image bearers who become caught up in its train. Idols promise superhuman results, and for a time they can seem to work. But in fact they destroy the true humanity of both those they temporarily elevate and those they anonymously exploit. Nothing good can come from the superhuman figure presented to the world as “Pastor Mark Driscoll”—not for the real human being named Mark Driscoll himself, and not for the image-bearers who may be neglected in his shadow.
The Real Problem with Mark Driscoll’s ‘Citation Errors’ | Christianity Today. A fantastic essay by Andy Crouch; wise words almost certain to be ignored by the people who should heed them.
Monday, December 9, 2013
Tim O’Neill explains why this is The Most Wrong Thing on the Internet Ever. At his own blog, which is consistently outstanding, O’Neill pursues the probably quixotic but altogether admirable quest to note the ways that Christians and atheists alike cook the historical books to promote Our Side.
Buried alive? No problem!
Patents are usually not very exciting. In these legal documents the government outlines the rights a person has over his invention, while the inventor discloses how his invention works. Patent no. 268,693 from 5 December 1882, however, shown here in its original form, is a lot of fun. It concerns a “Device for Indicating Life in Buried Persons”, which was filed under “Coffins: Life Signals” (see the red stamp). Yes, it’s a machine that shouts “Help, I’m not dead!” for you when you are prematurely placed six feet under. The accompanying description, obtained via Google Patents, explains how it works:
"If the person buried should come to life, a motion of his hands will turn the branches of the T-shaped pipe B, upon or near which his hands are placed. […] The cover E will turn and the index will show on the scale that it has been turned. If the person should turn in the coffin or make a violent motion, he will push the pipe B upward and push the cover off the top of the box. A supply of air enters the coffin through the pipe and will keep him alive till help arrives."
It’s simplicity itself: make a movement in your coffin an a pipe is pushed up, which lets in oxygen and moves a scale on the surface (“above the turf”) so that it indicates that you are, in fact, still alive. Best thing of all? It is recyclable. States the same description: “When the person has been buried a sufficiently long time to insure the certainty of death, the apparatus may be removed”.
Pic: from this government archive; the original patent description is found here.
In general, it is extremely foolish … to suppose it should really be such an easy affair with faith and wisdom that they just arrive over the years as a matter of course, like teeth, a beard and that sort of thing. No, whatever a human being comes to as a matter of course, and whatever things come to him as a matter of course, it is definitely not faith and wisdom.
Kierkegaard, The Sickness Unto Death
One can, of course, and perhaps even should, question Rorty’s account of the various ways in which people are socialized into assuming the existence of non-contingent patterns. After all, it is also possible for one’s socialization to pull the other way – away from a recognition of pattern rather than towards it. I know of no more powerful illustration of this point than the concluding pages of V. S. Naipaul’s An Area of Darkness, a memoir of his first visit to his ancestral homeland. “The world is illusion, the Hindus say,” and Naipaul reflects that while he was in India he had come close to the “total Indian negation”: during the year that he lived on the subcontinent it had very nearly “become the basis of thought and feeling.” But, back in Europe, he can no longer find that “basis,” no longer share that “negation” – yet he is not sure whether he has recovered the proper orientation to his life or lost it: “And already … in a world where illusion could only be a concept and not something felt in the bones, it was slipping away from me. I felt it as something true which I could never adequately express and never seize again.” The possibility that people born and educated in the West in our time might be culturally formed in such a way that contingency is what they “feel in their bones” — so that a belief in the world as illusion, or in the providence of a just God, is at most a mere “concept” — is one that people like Rorty never take seriously, even if their theory obliges them to an acknowledgment of it.
That’s me, from Looking Before and After. For some reason I’ve been thinking lately about this issue.
Sunday, December 8, 2013
Advent calendar 9: book sculpture of ‘A Partridge in a Pear Tree’ by Justin Rowe.
His website, with the paper sculptures for the other eleven days of Christmas, is here. You can buy cards of all twelve (along with other beautiful things) from Cambridge Imprint.
Meléndez, Juan. Tesoros verdaderos de las Yndias, 1681.
Houghton Library, Harvard University