Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Ferrets Deny Stinking Allegations

Local ferrets on Thursday denied allegations that they stink. "My clients have been tested repeatedly in the past two years, and have never tested positive for anything," said a spokesman for the ferrets. "We are all tired of the rumors, innuendos, and outright lies. Please respect the privacy of my clients at this time." The ferrets proceeded to deny any knowledge of shoes which have recently turned up missing.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Journey Towards Truth

When I first started this blog a couple of years back my hope was to create a kind of Christian conversation around political, cultural, and social issues, using in particular the resources of the so-called "theological turn" in French phenomenology and Anglican theology. I don't think that conversation ever really got off the ground at least in part because I was too preoccupied by the soap opera of Bush-era scandals to make my central thesis understandable, which is that the errors of modern political movements are the result of fundamental failures to reason clearly, and especially, to reason clearly about matters of faith. What I really meant to be writing about from the beginning was the way in which philosophic wisdom can work together with Christian faith to shed much needed light on the causes of evil and injustice in the modern world, and to provide an alternative to the dominant discourse of global capitalism. It has always been my conviction that politics is, like theology, an art of interpretation, which simply means that to exercise power is to express one's attitude towards truth. Behind every public policy and every political action is an epistemology, a theory of what constitutes valid judgments and beliefs, of what counts as evidence, of what can be proved and what must be taken on faith, of such fundamental concepts as recollection, anticipation, discovery, conjecture, proximity, testimony. All of these concepts are the unspoken content of what is reported in the news on a daily and hourly basis. Even more profoundly concealed from our sight is the relationship between politics and ontology, which means the relationship of visible icons of power to a perceived invisible order, which may be variously located in the cosmos, the intellect, the will, or in the categorial structures of a priori reason. Thus, it is my contention that the seemingly intractable shortcomings of our present political and cultural situation, which we are all aware of to some degree, can be traced back to their source, and once exposed, can be overcome. In that sense what I am trying to develop might be called a "journalistic philosophy," or to use the language of phenomenology, an eidetic analysis of political and cultural discourse. Yet this is only one half of the problem. We have only focused on the possibility of using phenomenology as a resource for placing political actions in their proper context. The other half of the project is to show how Christianity - both natural theology and revealed truth - may also provide such a resource. This will be the subject of the next post.

It's Not Going To Stop Till You Wise Up

That pithy line from Aimee Mann has always spoken to me of generational conflict, the way in which one generation hands to the next in almost ceremonial fashion its failures, burdens, unresolved traumas, addictions, superstitions, divisions, prejudices, and misunderstandings. It is a kind of inverse of education, a shrinking from responsibility, a failure of parenting. Such handings over can take place in small ways or large, in the intimacy of family life or on the overexposed surface of the world stage. Of all the painful rites of passage kept alive by human beings, surely the most grievous of them all is war. War is passed on like a curse from generation to generation, like a loathsome possession which clings to us despite our efforts to get rid of it. And it is part of the irony of war that it is so frequently propagated by those who fail to comprehend its uniquely awful burden, its plague-like symptoms, its sapping of human strength and possibility. These are the politicians with blood lust in their eyes, those who crave the trappings of credibility and moral purpose which accrue to public officials in a so-called "time of war." They seek nothing more than to enhance their own power by inflicting suffering and death on the innocent. Their appearance in positions of power marks the beginning of cultural and psychic decline, of a widespread failure of the ability to distinguish what is true and good from what is false and evil. This Memorial Day I am grieved by the thought that my brothers and sisters from the post-Vietnam generation, most of whom are younger than I am, are even as I write this being scarred by the psychic and physical wounds of war, inflicted upon them by a generation whose own moral failures continue to reap the most horrifying of consequences. It is the dates that mark the beginning and end of their truncated lives that startles me the most. These are children of the 1980's and 1990's, too young to remember the Reagan years, Iran-Contra, the Challenger explosion, Mikhail Gorbachev. They were raised on Bill and Hilary, on Bob Dole and Newt Gingrich and Monica Lewinksy's blue dress. Their graduation dates begin with "20." They arrived in this world barely two decades ago, and now they are already gone. Those that survive will live to bear the burden of their own damaged lives, to tell the story of the war they did not choose for themselves. I thought of this today while I was reading this article on the booming grave-stone industry in the Boston Globe. Read it and ponder what it means on this Memorial Day that these children are being sent to their deaths.