A Religious Liberal Blog

This site hopefully can provide some vehicle by which I can comment, complain, and once in a while praise the state of religion in this country and around the world from a liberal protestant perspective.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Martin Luther King Day

A few things worth noting for Martin Luther King today. Here's a link to some MLK quotes which highlight his thought. And here's a piece which situates King within a complex set of relations on the left, in the social gospel, and in the work of Reinhold Niebuhr.

The only thing missing is the personalist tradition which King picked up from at Boston University. Personalism, has much of the same metaphysical commitments as process theology does but it takes God's personality, our own, the universes' as central to defining not just what should be but what is.

Admittedly I'm apt to think that this is an over extension of the term. Much of the universe strikes me as "indifferent" if not an obstacle to the development of personality. Personal consciousness is quite an unusual thing which has developed in the history of our planet.

Thus I can see the ethical import that King and other personalists derived from importance of creating the conditions by which persons can develop but I'm not sure I can share the metaphysics behind it. I'm too much of a hide bound naturalist on that score.

But I think as a tradition it's worth noting, being attentive to, and drawing what resources we can from it as well from the social gospel movement, the democratic left, etc. Otherwise all we'll have is a sanitized King that fails to challenge our society. And that would be the worst response to his legacy.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

I'm a "sort of" Calvinist

This is to say that there are themes in the writings of John Calvin, a French Reformation leader, that I take as my own while leaving other parts behind. I thought I'd highlight what some of the themes I've taken.

1. The natural world tells us all of God that we are in a position to know. That's a robust natural theology! Special revelation is not new information beyond our world. It illuminates something already at play in our world.

2. Theology starts with anthropology. To know something of God is to know something about ourselves and our relationships to each other and our wider world.

3. Sin, pride, impiety is an over (or under) estimation of ourselves in relation to one other and our world. Any number of cruelties (to use Niebuhr for a moment) against each other and nature occur when we ignore those relations.

4. Sin and grace are bigger than individuals. They both indicate significant features of a world that draw us either to inordinate self regard or other regard. The ambiguity is living in a fallen world that yet gives signs of God's redemptive purposes.

4. Calvin was just as able to draw from Seneca as Scripture. As a French Humanist he saw the Christian tradition as a wisdom tradition, a philosophy almost that could draw from the best, including non Christian resources.

5. Like Augustine, Calvin also believed that all knowledge was from God. Science, literature, philosophy, any field and discipline was a gift not something to be wary of or at war with. In fact it can set us on a path to discern our proper place in our world and relations.

6. God's redemptive work is for the whole of creation. So there is no way to cut off some part of the world, the secular, or some area of life as not religiously significant.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

More Updates

I'm torn between closing this site or revising it. But as one can tell it's in a holding pattern. But I've updated the links and the picture Unfortunately yahoo killed geocities which is where I was held my posts that I had written while I was at blogstudio.

And the Church World Service page which has updates on the relief work being done in response to the earthquake in Haiti. It's in those stories of responding to the disaster that one finds evidence of God at work. As for Pat Robertson, the only response that can had is satire.