Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Martin Luther on Evil

This morning, I'm working more on my lesson for youth group tonight.  We've been doing a series on Ezekiel, and to help me with preparing my lessons, I've been reading Robert Jenson's commentary on Ezekiel from the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible series.  I enjoyed a paragraph I just read in which Jenson comments on how Christians should view evil (especially the comment about Luther):

"Augustine said that evil is the darkness where being has run out; the shadow that lies over our lives is the gloom that deepens as the light dims.  Karl Barth said that evil is what God eternally leaves behind him and that the shadow is the trace of his doing this.  But perhaps the shadow's sheerly negative reality is best acknowledged and exorcized by doing what Martin Luther famously did, throwing things at it" (115).

Monday, March 28, 2011

William Cavanaugh on Production

"As I write this, I stop to look at the clothes I am wearing: my shirt was made in Indonesia, my jeans in Mexico, my shoes in China.  My undershirt, whose label instructs me to 'have a nice day,' was made in Haiti, where a nice day for most people is a day when there is enough food to eat.  Most of us would never deliberately choose our own material comfort over the life of another person.  Most of us do not consciously choose to work others to death for the sake of the lower prices on the things we buy.  But we participate in such an economy because we are detached from the producers, the people who actually make our things.  Not only are the people who make our things often a world away, but we are prevented from learning about where our products come from by a host of roadblocks.  And so we inhabit separate worlds, worlds that have entirely different ways of looking at the material world.  The 'happy meal' toys from McDonalds's that we easily discard reveal nothing of the toil of the malnourished young women who make them.  We spend the equivalent of two days' wages for such women on a cup of coffee for ourselves--without giving it a second thought.  We do so not necessarily because we are greedy and indifferent to the suffering of others, but largely because those others are invisible to us."

William Cavanaugh, Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 2008), 43.

Monday, March 14, 2011

"Naming God"

I love these opening lines from Hauerwas' sermon, "Naming God," which comes from Working with Words.

"'God is whoever raised Jesus from the dead, having before raised Israel from Egypt' is the hallmark sentence of Robert Jenson's Systematic Theology.  This elegantly simple but dauntingly deep sentence took Jenson a lifetime of theological reflection to write.  To write such a sentence requires that the grammar of our faith discipline our presumption that we know what we say when we say 'God.'  For it turns out that we are most likely to take God's name in vain when we assume we can know what we say when we say 'God'" (79).

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

"Working with Words"

Yesterday, I received my copy of Stanley Hauerwas' new book Working with Words: On Learning to Speak Christian, a book I've been looking forward to for months.  I love Hauerwas' opening paragraph:

"In Hannah's Child: A Theologian's Memoir I suggested--or is confessed a better description?--that I write because writing is the only way I know how to think.  That is not quite true.  I am able to write, or I find I feel I have to write, because I read.  Reading is one of the ways I learn how to think.  I am often asked how I have written so much.  The only explanation, and it is not clear to me that it is an explanation, is that my writing is determined by my reading.  Which means that I hope others will write about what I have written about about because they have read what I have read" (ix).