In his well-known book Christ and Culture H. Richard Niebuhr has this wonderful section early on where he talks about our picture of Jesus, and how our perspectives tend to shape it. Niebuhr writes:
[Jesus] can never be confused with a Socrates, a Plato or an Aristotle, a Gautama [Buddha], a Confucius, or a Mohammed, or even with Amos or Isaiah. Interpreted by a monk, he may take on monastic characteristics; delineated by a socialist, he may show the features of a radical reformer; portrayed by a Hoffman, he may appear as a mild gentleman. But there always remain the original portraits with which all later pictures may be compared and by which all caricatures may be corrected. And in these original portraits he is recognizably one and the same. (Niebuhr, 13)
My question is this: what is a Hoffman? Is it slang for an actor, a dandy, a gentleman… what? Neither the Oxford English Dictionary or the Urban dictionary have a clue–perhaps someone reading this will.
John Keble, c. 1860
“Because that Tyrus hath said against Jerusalem, Aha, she is broken that was the gates of the people: she is turned unto me: I shall be replenished, now she is laid waste: Therefore thus saith the Lord God; behold, I am against thee, O Tyrus.” —Ezek. xxvi. 2, 3.
Tyre of the farther West! be thou too warn’d
Whose eagle wings thine own green world o’er-
Touching two oceans: wherefore hast thou scorn’d
Thy fathers’ God, O proud and full of bread?
Why lies the Cross unhonour’d on thy ground,
While in mid air thy stars and arrows flaunt?
That sheaf of darts, will it not fall unbound,
Except, disrob’d of thy vain earthly vaunt,
Thou bring it to be bless’d where Saints and Angels
In the course of a recent Catholic Herald column attacking entry charges for York Minster, William Oddie indulged in ultramontane triumphalism:
I have had this problem before, getting into Anglican cathedrals built by the Catholic Church and purloined at the Reformation.
In this week’s Herald, the Dean of York Minster – the Very Rev Keith Jones – responds to Oddie and in doing so articulates a generous but appropriately robust Anglican vision of the English Church’s historic relationship with both the English people and the See of Rome:
Read it all:catholicity and covenant: York Minster and the Anglican claim to continuity>.
Jesus blesses the little children
Anna mentioned this to me earlier today. I’m thankful these folks have been sent away. This is a horrible situation, and people need to be warned about this book.
“If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6).
Click below to watch the video/news report.
In his book Lost Icons: Reflections on Cultural Bereavement, Rowan Williams points to the sexualization of children (and the formation of childish adults) as the key in the spread of points of view where adults and children are seen as competitors for resources, for attention etc… This is an extension of that trend.
The issue of the over-sexualizing of girls from an early age has come to the forefront with a recent news story about model Thylane Lena-Rose Blondeau posing suggestively for the cover of Vogue magazine. Over a series of photos, the ten-year-old is shown sprawled on leopard-print cushions, wearing a skimpy gold dress, stiletto heels, and posing heavily made-up, with rouge and lipstick. She’s ten years old, yet she looks scarily adult in the photos.
The question is, should we be so surprised? We’ve had it coming for a while now. After all, we live in a culture where the walls of any Abercrombie and Fitch store are adorned with some dude’s naked torso and skimpily dressed girls, where JCPenney, Macy’s, and Aeropostale’s websites all feature comprehensive selections of lacy G-strings and thongs on their juniors pages. “Aerie,” American Eagle’s undergarments line aimed at teenage girls (According to a press release: “aerie by American Eagle is a new line of intimates and dormwear designed for girls 15 to 25 years of age”), features on its homepage “Drew–Our New Pushup Bra That Adds 2 Cup Sizes,” with the heading “Double Whoa.” Do fifteen-year-olds really need an extra two cup sizes?
via Adora Svitak: Would You Buy This for Your Daughter?.
Slate discusses the discomfort many pro-choice folks express about the increasing request for “twin reductions:”
To pro-lifers and hardcore pro-choicers, this queasiness seems odd. After all, a reduction is an abortion. If anything, reduction should be less problematic than ordinary abortion, since one life is deliberately being spared. Why, then, does reduction unsettle so many pro-choicers?
For some, the issue seems to be a consumer mentality in assisted reproduction. For others, it’s the deliberateness of getting pregnant, especially by IVF, without being prepared to accept the consequences. But the main problem with reduction is that it breaches a wall at the center of pro-choice psychology. It exposes the equality between the offspring we raise and the offspring we abort.
via Twin reduction abortions: Why do they trouble pro-choicers? – By William Saletan – Slate Magazine.
For the record, I don’t think this sort of thing is less repugnant to pro-lifers–at least not the ones I know, or myself. The author seems to be overlaying a rather utilitarian view onto why people are pro-life/anti-abortion. Since many pro-life folks have problems with the consumerism that equates the willful termination of a human life with (for some even laudable) choice, there’s no reason they would be any less keen on challenging these procedures–indeed, I think many folks in the pro-life movement would place such procedures on par with late-term abortion, which are seen as being less necessary in difficult cases (i.e. health of the mother, rape, incest, pregnancy at a tender and biologically difficult age).
Here are some random things I’ve been reading/discussing online lately:
- The Lead: Study explores educational level and religiosity. Note: the results aren’t what you’d likely expect.
- Bishop Pierre Whalon on “What is Anglicanism”
- Preaching to their own Choirs: on how folks didn’t change their minds about heaven or hell after reading Rob Bell or Francis Chan
- Education needs a digital age upgrade (NYT)
- A National Debt of $14 Trillion? Try $211 Trillion. (NPR)
- Why Bank Bailouts haven’t led to jobs (Harvard Business Review)
- Stuff on Adam & Eve, evolution etc… (seems like this has been a popular topic, so I have a few links: Hermeneutics, Origins & Ethics (JD Kirk), Evangelicals Question the Existence of Adam and Eve (Jesus Needs New PR), The Search for the Historical Adam (Christianity Today)
- About Original Sin being the only empirically provable Christian doctrine
- The Brain on Trial (The Atlantic)
- Bert and Ernie will not marry, despite the efforts of signers of an online petition (BBC). Money quote: A statement from the show’s makers said: “They remain puppets and do not have a sexual orientation.”
- Harry Potter and Running from Death (Front Porch Republic)
- Why Hospitals in Portland are Banning Early Births (The Atlantic), how inductions and c-sections are actually harming the health of mother and baby.
- The Least Pivotal Time in American History (The Atlantic)
- Why bother with Marshal McLuhan? (The New Atlantis)
- What Neuroscience cannot tell us about ourselves (The New Atlantis)
- Place and Placelessness in America (The New Atlantis)
- Happy Birthday Herbert Hoover: The Lost Legacy of a Hated President (The Atlantic)
- The New America (Church & Culture): “It’s now official. The United States is ‘bigger, older, more Hispanic and Asian and less wedded to marriage and traditional families than it was in 1990.'”
- Anglicanism’s Magisterial Authority (The Creedal Christian)
- Speaking of Hoover. At the end of the campaign, when he arrived in Palo Alto, he opened a telegram that read “Vote for Roosevelt and make it unanimous.” (Google Books)
- Europe’s Conservative Confusion: nearly every government on the continent is center right. So why can’t they get along and figure out how to get along and save the EU economies? (Foreign Policy)
- What isn’t behind the London Riots (Called the “Shopping Riots” now by some) (The Washington Post)
- Can Motherhood be Criminalized?
- Where have all the Girls Gone? It’s true: western money and advice really did help fuel the explosion of sex selection in Asia. (Foreign Policy)
- The Kids Aren’t Alright: What’s really behind Britain’s wave of youth violence? (Foreign Policy)
- The Sons of Brixton: Cameron’s Failed Politics of Austerity (Foreign Affairs)
- Bearing the Cost of War: Why the U.S. Should Raise Taxes — Just As it Has in Previous Conflicts (Foreign Affairs) “Most Americans have made no sacrifices at all for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The burden should be shared. It’s long past time for Congress to enact a wartime tax, something it’s done in almost every war in the past.”
- GetReligion talks about the various Adam & Eve and Evangelical stories out there recently–and who should have credited who…
- Augustine’s Origin of Species: How the great theologian might weigh in on the Darwin debate. (Christianity Today)
- Two Churches that closed down the show (Internet Monk)
- Peter Berger talks about the accusation of being “On the Wrong side of History.”
- The Fading Shadow of the Habsburgs
- The Progressive Crisis
Well… there you have it. Let me know what you think of any of these pieces.