Sunday, March 16, 2008

Week 10--Final Paper Outline

I. General Problems of Religion in a Secular University
A. The Power Structure of a Secular University
1. Hegemony
a. Church and State issues
b. Hyper-rationalism and higher education
c. Prominence and preference of science
d. Prominence and preference of other humanities
e. Other hegemonic structures
2. Deconstructing Binaries
a. The binary of Church and State
b. The binary of Religion and science
c. Other binaries
B. Local Community and Church Community Interaction
1. Local Community
a. CSUN and the needs of Northridge
1. Higher education and Northridge
2. Religion and Northridge
b. CSUN and greater Los Angeles
1. Higher education and Los Angeles
2. Religion and Los Angeles
2. Church Community
a. CSUN and First Church of Christ, San Fernando
b. First Church of Christ, San Fernando and Northridge

II. Crerar Douglas and the Synthetic (Dialectical) Model
A. Crerar Douglas and Religious Education
1. Teaching and Learning
2. Openness to other scholarly disciplines
3. Openness to other religious perspectives
4. Gospel significance
B. Bevans and the Synthetic Model
1. University and universality
2. Is “needing the other for completion” a binary problem?
3. Religion is a process
4. Gospel significance

III. Church Community Response
A. (Place) Church as an Educational Forum
1. Educated ministers are necessary for adequately shepherding congregant through faith struggles related to intermingling with different ideas. Before any in-depth and comprehensive dialogue can take place some groundwork needs to be laid. The church would need to focus on Bible studies, sermons, and other lessons related to:
a. the issue of various religious perspectives within the text of the Bible
b. understanding the family tree of world religions and common elements
c. relevant contemporary discussions about religion and science
2. The church can then once again gain a reputation of being a place for higher learning and on the cutting edge of scholarship by inviting a variety of perspectives, hosting interfaith and interdisciplinary discussions.
B. (People) Church as Humble Learners
1. As the Church we engage the local community and university community with openness. Our ideology needs to be relaxed enough to hear and understand the perspectives of others.
2. Our willingness to be “last” in the discussion is often a more substantive message than our dogmatism.
C. (Community) Church as In-Process
1. In-process means “being-there” and “not-there-yet” tension
a. Humility means we are not there yet
b. A unique teleological (faith) perspective means we are not there yet, but we know where we’re going.
2. In-process means being active, not suspended or stultified
a. The local church’s interest and involvement in higher education reveals an openness that will make (and has made) the larger scholarly world more interested and involved in religion.
b. The local church’s involvement in other scholarly discussions will bring a much needed voice to often overly compartmentalized fields of scholarship (ethics, politics, biology, philosophy, psychology, etc.).

Week 10--Response to Emmet's Blog

Concerning Emmet’s post for the last day of class, I was also thinking the same things about the Christian Canon and secondary sources of “revelation.” Ultimately I think what this class has been about for us as Christians is to recognize that it is through culture that we come to know God and it has always been that way. The question is whether our current cultural setting is less revelatory about God than Jewish/Roman/Greek culture of the first century. The difference is that Jesus lived in that time. But doesn’t Jesus now live in our time as well?


I think we need to be cautiously creative with our sacred texts in ways where they can be adapted to our time and place. Emmet alludes to the way in which early followers of Jesus did this very thing with their sacred Hebrew texts. They took great liberty (spurred on by the creative energies of the Holy Spirit) to make new meanings out of their Hebrew tradition (and some Jewish critics would say too much liberty). I see this kind of liberty as a good thing. In every stage of religious development in human history we see explosions of creativity, vision, and the courage to question tradition.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Week 10--Wednesday Class Reflection

It’s no wonder existentialism and nihilism has thrived in western culture in recent history: we no longer regard our contemporary setting in space and time to be revelatory or meaningful in any ultimate way. We’ve used rationalism to cast out the spirits of our time. There is no sense of this moment in time being valuable. When the past is seen as more valuable and ultimate (mythic times or when the canon was recorded), the present is drab at best, dismal at most, and the future is hopeless (if we extrapolate from the progression from the past to the future).

Monday, March 10, 2008

Week 10--Monday Class Response

Text, production, consumption, and everyday life are not each totally hegemonic, but each one has good and bad contributions for culture. The reaction of totally blaming any one of these categories is easier than carefully evaluating each one. I think it often does more damage to further complicate the problem when we assign one category total responsibility.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Week 9--Response to Aaron's Blog

It’s hard to disagree with the Frankfurt School and all their pessimism after Wednesday’s class. Our culture is certainly “consumeristic” and “controlled by the illusion of finding fulfillment in products and services.” The “cool factor” in pop culture is the power of the idol to control us and the reason we consume the idol. Without this illusion of “coolness” we would theoretically not put faith in these products, at least not to the same extent. I also agree with Aaron that coolness has the power to obscure who we really are deep down inside as spiritual beings. The mystery that surrounds coolness (the inability to define it exactly) is connected to an aloofness and hiddenness that’s not befitting the kind of transparency that’s expected of Christians.

Week 9--Cobb Chapter 9: Life Everlasting

“Ghosts symbolize belief in and reverence for the accumulated past.” I think, as Cobb asks, we do long to be answerable to sacred traditions with deep histories. Our popular culture is crying out for it. We want the psychological fortitude we once had, and can only be regained by once again shamefully reclaiming our myths. This is what pop culture producers are increasingly doing; they are working hard for every scrap of our mythic heritage they can find and piecing together new trial-and-error compositions of ultimate reality.

(additional material...)

In the U.S. most of us are Protestant or some derivation of it, so collectively we have little space for Purgatory. Purgatory and remembering saints were two ways of ordering the present by remembering and revering the past. But our Protestant ways have largely disposed of extraneous spiritual baggage. After all, in Protestantism was found the seeds of all demythologizing and demystification. We’ve strip-mined our religious past for whatever good scraps of truth we can find, and discarded the rest of what we’ve determined to be superfluous. I think one of the ways in which the Church is lacking in staying with the curve of cultural relevance is the fact that pop cultural producers are picking up the scraps that we’ve cast off and using the old stuff.

Week 9--Bevans Chapter 9: The Countercultural Model

This model might require a definition of the Gospel that’s too inflexible. If the Gospel is to be conceived in opposition to culture right out of the gate, a well-defined version of the Gospel is needed. But this is difficult because of what we’ve learned throughout the course in some of our other readings. Although there are certain core elements of the Gospel, there’s still a lot about it that’s highly interpretive. In many ways we’ve seen how different cultures make use of the Gospel and emphasize certain parts over others.