I am now blogging at a new blog: erdman31.com

If you post comments here at Theos Project, please know that I will respond and engage your thoughts in a timely manner.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Maintain an effortless cool this summer

The headline reads "Maintain an effortless cool this summer." Under the caption is Yours Truly - The Erd-man peddling tee shirts by my cool, debonair manner. (eisenbrauns.com)

Apparently I have succumbed to selling myself for the sake of advertising hype and Capitalistic consumption: Trading my "cool" look for corporate profits. Friends, I am now a part of the marketing machine, which I have railed against on this very blog! Have I become merely another Abercrombie and Fitch representative? Selling my sensuality for corporate profit?!!?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Speling kuiz

Wich werd or werds ar mispeled in the folowing Oxferd Univercity Pres Publicashun?

The ferst 1 to get it rite wins!

(Hint: As of now I see two misspellings in the title!)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Meaning vs. Significance

Here is a bit of a clip from Ben Witherington's blog:

When I say ‘what it meant is what it means’ in reference to any text, but especially the Bible, I mean that the meaning is encoded in the complex of words and phrases we find in the text. Meaning is not something we get to read into the text on the basis of our own opinions or ideas. Meaning is not in the eye of the beholder. Meaning is something that resides in the text, having been placed there by the inspired author and requires of us that we discover what that meaning is by the proper contextual study of the text. ‘Significance’ however is a different matter altogether. A text can have a significance or even an application for you or me, that the original author could never have imagined. But the text cannot have a meaning that the original inspired author did not place there. Meaning is one thing, significance or application another. The job of hermeneutics is to help us rightly interpret the meaning of these important Biblical texts.[1]

The basic idea here is that we can get the one, true meaning that is "encoded in the complex of words and phrases in the text" and then proceed to find the "significance" of the text. This is an old notion that goes way back. It was (unfortunately) revived by the Reverend E.D. Hirsch in Validity in Interpretation, and then Kevin Vanhoozer latched on to it as the make-or-break theory for his Is there Meaning in this Text?

I mention this faulty line of reasoning because I am taking explicit issue with it in my most recent essay-in-progress (an essay that I should be working on at the current moment, rather than blogging!).

Here's a big problem: The meaning/significance distinction does not hold in the book of Hebrews. The use of the Old Testament in the book of Hebrews is the topic of my essay. What we find in Hebrews is that the meaning of the text (i.e. the intention of the author "encoded in the text") is blurred together with the significance for the contemporary context. That is, God not only spoke in the past, but is speaking now, in the present. Here's the kicker: God is speaking something new through the old words.

The Word of God is Living and Active

Anthony Thiselton, whom I have praised a time or two on this blog, recognizes the folly of trying to press the meaning/significance distinction dogmatically and actually explicitly takes issue with Vanhoozer on this.

The Meaning/Significance issue is pushed for one, primary reason: Interpretive stability. In this post-Derridean age conservative biblical interpreters are worried primarily about preserving the meaning of a text. It is a reactionist/alarmist mentality. I suppose I can understand this to a point, however, ultimately I think anxiety is a poor foundation for theology.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Easy Rider

I just finished watching the classic, generational film, Easy Rider, with Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Jack Nicholson.

Two bikers (hippies?) turn a big cocaine deal and then head out from the west coast for a cross-country trip to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. On the way they encounter a hippie farm (of sorts), pick up a young and drunk lawyer (played by Jack Nicholson), and encounter resistance from white rednecks and hillbillies.

Jack Nicholson explains the presence of alien life forms living amongst us as well as the reason why those who are truly free represent a threat to Americans for whom freedom is only a concept - a concept that represents a threat when it actually emerges. That is, the word freedom becomes merely a code for maintaining establishment norms.

There is a scene I found rather bizarre, but also quite intriguing. Near the end of the movie Wyatt (Fonda) and Billy (Hopper) pick up two hookers and hit the streets of Mardi Gras. At morning they find a secluded area where they can get stoned and have sex. So, in the midst of the stoned/sex the movie has voice-overs of Catholic catechisms and Scripture recitations. It was very, very strange, and I'm wondering what the movie makers were going for in this scene. For me, there was a contrast between that which was sacred and the "degrading of their bodies" (Romans 1). And yet the movie is obviously not anti-sex or anti-stoned. I don't think the point was to condemn the "freedom" of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. And yet during the mini-orgy there were Scriptures dealing with the judgment of God and the values of morality as espoused by the Scriptures and the Catholic confessionals.

So, what is the point? Is it to contrast the freedom of the bikers with the bondage of the church?

My other question had to do with the scene right before the end. Billy and Wyatt are turning in for the evening and Billy begins expressing his excitement at how much money they took in and how they are now in the clear and have all kinds of opportunities ahead of them. But Wyatt doesn't share his optimism or joy. Instead he says that we've done it all wrong, Billy. We got it all wrong. Wyatt then turns in and then they cut to the last scene where our two heroes ride along the highway and are gunned down by two rednecks in a pickup truck.

But why does Wyatt say that they have it all wrong? Throughout the movie Wyatt is obviously the more reflective of the two and seems at times to balk at the freedom that his friend Billy seems to be able to enjoy more easily.

So, is this film something of a middle-road approach? Anti-establishment, yet at the same time cautious about the alternative of a free love and free drugs culture?

Shiny Happy People

I would like to dedicate the following video to American Christianity and organized religions of all ages for whom the inevitable tendency is to use the mask of religiosity as a cover up for true spiritual discovery and as a substitute for authentic worship.

Shiny Happy People
Out of Time

Shiny happy people laughing
Meet me in the crowd
People, people
Throw your love around
Love me, love me
Take it into town
Happy, happy
Put it in the ground
Where the flowers grow
Gold and silver shine

Shiny happy people holding hands
Shiny happy people holding hands
Shiny happy people laughing

Everyone around, love them, love them
Put it in your hands
Take it, take it
There's no time to cry
Happy, happy
Put it in your heart
Where tomorrow shines
Gold and silver shine

Black Hills

Here are a few videos and pictures of my three day hike in the Black Hills. I went with my brother and his wife and we spent our time in the Black Elk Wilderness.

Family Resemblance?

The following two photos are of the sunset at Harney's Peak:

This picture brought to my mind Exodus 13:21

A few more pics of me:

The following is a video clip from the Black Hills. In this clip I am at the top of Harney Peak.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Towers of Babbel - 20th Century Newsrooms

From an article in the New Yorker by Paul Goldberger

Of the old NY Times building:
The building was originally designed around the gargantuan printing presses that filled the basements and the delivery trucks that lined up in front. Writers and editors worked upstairs, in a crowded newsroom with few of the amenities of a conventional office. At one time—when it was filled with metal desks and clacking typewriters, the smell of ink and cigarettes and the yelling of city editors—this might have bestowed the kind of old-time newspaper mystique associated with plays and movies like “The Front Page.” But in the mid-seventies, with the first of a series of awkward attempts to adapt to the demands of the computer era, the noisy, competitive atmosphere began to dissolve. The deadline bells and the shouts of “Copy!” faded, and soon the newsroom felt more like the back office of an insurance company than like the nerve center of a great newspaper.

Of the new design:
Inside, however, the newsroom feels enormous and austere, with a kind of corporate coolness. The interior was designed by the architectural firm Gensler, and it fails to emulate either the unusual quality of the building’s exterior or the amiable rambunctiousness of an old-style newsroom. With its sea of cubicles partitioned by wood-veneer cabinets, it is vastly more sophisticated than any workplace the Times has ever had, but sleekness has brought a certain chill (though the effect will be pleasanter when the birch trees go into the still unfinished courtyard). You also don’t get much sense that anyone has really rethought the idea of the newsroom in the electronic age. Ultimately, it’s hard not to sense that the Times, so determined to have a building that makes a mark on the sky line, had a failure of nerve when it came to the interior.

Of the Bloomberg design:
To see a newsroom truly designed for the electronic age, you have to head across town, to the headquarters of Bloomberg L.P., on Lexington Avenue, which was completed two years ago. If the Times newsroom is an unadventurous space hidden within an architecturally important building, Bloomberg is the opposite: a dazzling work environment tucked inside a refined but conventional skyscraper, designed by Cesar Pelli

And then this little tid-bit:
No one, not even the chairman and the chief executive, has a private office. Instead, some four thousand employees sit in uniform rows at identical, white-topped desks bearing custom-built Bloomberg flat-panel computer terminals. Although the desk of the C.E.O., Lex Fenwick, is larger and is set slightly apart—“I am not wholly pure,” he told me—he sits just a few feet from the young employees who handle customer inquiries and complaints. “I wanted to make the point that we are a customer-service business above all,” he said. Large, flat-panel monitors hang from the ceilings, flashing constantly updated numbers: how many customer-service people are working at that moment, how many calls they have answered, how long it’s taking to answer the average call that day.

And another:
The workers are in much closer quarters than those at the Times, and you might expect the atmosphere to be one of a sweatshop, but sweatshops don’t usually have rotating displays of contemporary sculpture or the tanks of tropical fish that are a feature of Bloomberg’s bid for corporate cool. All in all, the Bloomberg newsroom is one of the most exhilarating workspaces I’ve ever seen, with both the high energy of a trading floor (where the Bloomberg products are consumed) and the buzz of the newsrooms of old. And, as with those newsrooms, visibility is key to the effect. On every floor, there are glass-enclosed conference rooms, couches for impromptu meetings, and even a series of small, glass-walled rooms for private one-on-ones—but you are always visible. Or almost always. Tucked away on a lower floor are a pair of tiny windowless, fabric-lined rooms where employees can retreat, presumably when the pressure of visibility becomes too much for them. With soft, glowing lights set into the floor, the room is a reminder that all this exuberance has its price, even if the snacks are free.

article from The New Yorker

Here are a few of my thoughts...

Despite Goldberger's praise for the Bloomberg approach/design it strikes me as a bit of a bait-and-switch move by the Corporation. The promise is of a kind of corporate socialism, and yet it would appear to be an obvious hoax. After all, we all know that the errand-boy is the "least of these" in a Corporation - and for good reason. Everyone is not equal and the perception that "every opinion is valid" simply strikes me as disingenuous.

Furthermore, the setup reminds me a bit of Best Buy's image of "good customer service" that ultimately just takes you through a labyrinth of bureaucracy. The result is that even though every customer service rep has a function no one ultimately knows what they are doing or how to handle problems that deviate from the template, i.e. problems that arise out of the real-life usage of products.

And what about breathing room?

How can you breath at Bloomberg (or any other contemporary Corporate-model) with all those people???

How about this for a take on the 21st century Corporation:
No thought is original, anymore. Everything belongs to the group consciousness. A new matrix of the corporate making - The individual is swallowed up in the Corporate identity under the pretense of equality. And yet, pay scales still differ.

And who is ultimately in control, anymore? Is there really a collective consciousness? Or is this just groupthink on steroids?

Who, for example, is responsible for my debaukle at Best Buy? The blonde is following orders, the Geek Squad has no real expectations for competance (hence the name), the online follow up has no real ability to override. The real freedom-threatening matrix is self-imposed. An endless line of signs without signifiers - people filling positions that ultimately do not completely connect.

Is this happening in pop-Christianity? To an even greater degree?

Pop Xianity may be the greatest culprit - churning out more material (literature, multi-media, etc.) than ever before in her history and all in a completely sterile and uniform manner that reflects the general groupthink of the Xianity Matrix.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Theos Love

I began thinking a bit about love for God recently.

I estimate that I have heard several thousand sermons in my as-of-yet still pre-30 years old lifetime. These sermons have come from church, Christian education (high school and college), surfing online, and a few other sundry sources. I have been in countless more classes and Christian teaching settings, as well as "gee, how could I ever begin to remember" number of informal/casual conversations about the love for/of God. All of this exposure has been on a wide variety of levels: From theoretical to base-level, from intellectual to emotional, from philosophical to psychological to scientific to theological: The spectrum has been wide.

Is it possible to strip it all away?

Is it possible to unclutter one's mind of all the "teaching" and "learning" and "advancements"? To start afresh?

Probably not. In fact, if one were to strip away everything and have a reference point of zero then how would one even begin to think?

And yet from an experiential standpoint that is what I desire. Not even desire, but crave.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? (Ps 42 NIV)

I truly believe that to learn I need to unlearn. To grow I need relapse. This is one reason why I cringe at so much of Christian literature. An endless stream of how-to manuals prescribe to me what is needed to love God, or "grow spiritually" (whatever that means), or attain "spiritual discipline", or have greater faith. There are as many answers as there are self-proclaimed prophets.

But in the end there is God. And there is something called "love of God" that resonates within me. A connection? A feeling? A desire? Actions of fidelity? A romance? Submission? Transcendence?

At times he is far away when he should be near at hand. At other times, when he should be far away - when my own infidelity would seem to demand it - I hear the echoes of mercy and whispers of love.[N]

How Hesiak got religion

When I saw this I couldn't help but think of our friend, whom the ladies refer to as the Hesmaniak Heart Attack.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Metaphorical Ripley

I wrote up a review of one of my favorite movies, The Talented Mr. Ripley over at amazon.com. I have reproduced it here:

The movie is an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's novel by the same name. The story line follows Highsmith, but there are notable departures. I find the movie adaptation to be brilliant. It is a psychologically complex movie that continues to probe deeper and deeper into issues of identity and moral conscience right up until the closing scene. Seeing the movie for the first time one might have the feel that director/writer Anthony Minghella is walking one through a tour of a grand old castle where rooms and corridors upon up into more rooms and corridors even more intriguing than the first.

The film seems to divide into two movements. The first is the "age of innocence" for Tom Ripley. He is a boy with an opportunity and a hope for a better life: to escape his boring life of normalcy in New York for a life of beauty and taste. Where else, but Italy!??!

While in Italy he is charged with bringing playboy Dickie Greenleaf back home to his wealthy father in the States. Dickie, however, has no interest, and Tom quickly realizes this and chooses to cast in his lot with Dickie and become fast friends. But Dickie is too fickle for the "brotherhood" that Tom craves. Hence the tension leads up to a moment of dramatic tragedy that forever changes the course of Ripley's life and ushers in the second movement of the film.

There is now a turn towards suspense and intrigue as Tom uses his "talents" to gain a life of privilege and beauty. The narrative unfolds the suspense of Ripley trying to maintain multiple "worlds" and "realities" of deceit that Minghella describes as a myriad of "spinning plates," and Matt Damon creates a character who skillfully holds all of these false realities together in a grand score that somehow makes sense to all the players despite the glaring inconsistencies that the audience can see.

Holding this labyrinth of duplicity together would not have been possible without an absolutely incredible cast of actors and characters who come in and out of Ripley's life at every turn. The classical scenery also provides a setting where Damon can create his character of complexity.

Ripley is desperate to escape the social and aesthetic "basement" of life, and for a while he seems to have succeeded. Yet despite his achievement he is left wondering whether he has not simply constructed another basement of moral and spiritual darkness. This is a character who begins a journey of discovering identity and finds himself trying to attain a new life through any means possible. But the events of Ripley's life play out like a tragedy and the grip of irony becomes tighter and tighter for Ripley as the road to his self discovery leads, as Minghella says, to "the annihilation of self."

I find it ironic as I watch this movie that often times the things we pursue the most wind up out of our reach because of the means by which we pursue them....or sometimes we fail to achieve what we desire simply because we desire it so much. It is this type of irony that I see in Qohelet (crf. the book of Ecclesiastes): Life is a "chasing after of the wind." The metaphor of pursuing what ultimately cannot be caught. And yet this is the metaphor used to describe life, leading Qohelet to conclude in chapter 8 that anyone who is able to appreciate one's position and status in life that this is commendable. After all, life is complex and no one can claim to understand all that God has done!

1-For various muddleheaded interpretations of the film/book please see Ktismatics and his dialogue with Parody.
2-If you compare the translations of 8:17 you will notice the NIV adds the word "meaning", as in "no one can discover its meaning." This is a terrible move, and one of many translation/interpretive moves made by the NIV that have enormous and in my opinion devastating philosophical/theological consequences for the book. It provides the setting for theologians to transform Qohelet from someone standing in awe at the mystery and irony of life into a Modern apologetics evangelist preaching about how having God in your life can make it more meaningful. Tragic!)

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Writing Forgotten

Mark Cuban is the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, a graduate of Indiana University, and a frequent blogger. (His greatest accomplishments having just been listed in reverse order.)

Cuban recently confesses to writing forgetfulness:

I believe it was Socrates who expressed fear that writing would relax the mind and it would not have to recall.
Humanity was once a culture of oral communication, and then gradually writing became mainstream via technology.
Now technology has reached a point where our stream of consciousness can be recorded with little thoughtfulness.
Thought translated straight into the electronic format of your choice.
Thought into text.
In the blink of an eye.

21st Century writing:
Thought disappears as soon as it becomes.

Where does thought go?
It becomes an electronic trace.
Where is the trace?
On some server, somewhere. Or on a harddrive. Or in a phone.

Thoughts are then shared with the world.
An endless process of each person recycling thoughts and manufacturing new thoughts.
All thoughts disappearing nearly as quickly as they are formed.
We are building a matrix of thoughts - a tapestry of communication.
But who is in charge here?
The thoughts of the people?
Or the communication matrix?

Is there even a difference, anymore?

And who is responsible for this post, pray tell?

Cuneiform Erdman

Best Buy Warranties are Great!

"Would you like to purchase the Best Buy warranty? If you buy the Best Buy warranty you can have the peace of mind to know that if your product fails you, for any reason, we will fix or replace it," says the typical cashier at Best Buy.
"For any reason"? I ask.
I am given the positive affirmation and assurance - yes, for any reason.
"Well, yes, then. I would like the warranty."
Thirty bucks is steep to pay for a 2 year warranty on a product like the ipod nano that should be the best on the market and really shouldn't give me any problems at all. But I want to have a no hassle experience. I want the nano for my runs, and when it comes to my running I want no inconveniences. I don't want to constantly have to mess with technology. I want shoes and clothing that work, and technology that doesn't give me issues.

No hassles when I run. I guess that's my credo.

But my ipod has been absolutely horrible for me since last November. Yes, yes, I know - your ipod works fine for you and you can't understand why mine doesn't work as well as yours. Whatever. I don't understand it either, and that's why I tried to take it back last night. Here is my experience, related in an e-letter to Best Buy:

I purchased an ipod nano from your store last November. Ever since then it has given me nothing but problems. I purchased the ipod nano for the express purpose of running, and yet this product frequently malfunctions when I use it during my runs. The problems with the ipod are many - it will skip songs, the buttons will not function properly, the hold button will often simply not function, the buttons will sometimes stick (if they work at all), the ipod will freeze up for no conceivable reason, and a host of other problems. As they say in my area of the world, I bought a lemon. I needed a new product.

I purchased the 2 year warranty for the purpose of peace of mind. Last night I traveled 50 minutes to the nearest Best Buy store and went in to get an exchange. I am not someone who will manufacture a dramatic scene or make an ass of myself. So, I simply explained my situation.

"If we can't reproduce the problem in the store we can't do anything," says the blond girl probably working her summer break from college and interested in anything but helping me.

"But," I say, "the problems usually occur on my runs. Sometimes they happen with regular usage, but to be honest with you the ipod is very sporadic and most of my troubles happen on the road. And I need a rock solid ipod that is going to work while I run. The nano was manufactured for that very purpose."

Then I ask the most obvious question:
How can I "recreate the problem" when the ipod breaks down while I am running? I can't simulate that for you right now.

The blond girl can't process this. So, she shuffles me off to something she calls a "Geek squad".

So, I wait for the "Geek squad" to assist me. I wait. I wait. I wait. Blond girl doesn't think it necessary to touch base with me, or check in with the "Geek squad", or even to make eye contact.

As I say, I am not one to make scenes. So I leave the store when it is obvious that no one cares.

I purchased my product from Best Buy for one reason: Peace of mind. I wanted to know that I could walk in to a Best Buy store and have my product replaced if it did not properly function. End of story. It is that simple.

If your company wants to staff teenagers and call their technical assistance team a "geek squad" then that's your business. If I were running a company the size of Best Buy I would make sure that I staffed a professional customer service team with qualified individuals. But the point of this electronic message is simply to use my last recourse to try to get a product that works. My ipod is unreliable and I want it replaced.

I should not have to wait for a bunch of kids to finish chatting with their friends in order to get my ipod replaced. I shouldn't have to be put on trial by a blond girl trained to say, "We can't help you unless we can recreate the problem." I shouldn't have to take my personal time to write an electronic letter that goes to Who-Knows-Where in the desperate hopes of making things right.

I buy from Best Buy for peace of mind - that you stand behind your products. If you do not stand behind your products then I might as well purchase from a less-expensive online retailer. These purchases entail more risk. But at this point the guarantee of your company and the warranty I purchased for an additional thirty dollars (on top of the over-priced $200 ipod) is worthless. At this point I might as well use my receipt and warranty as toilet paper because it's only value to me is the paper it is written on.

Jonathan Erdman
Winona Lake, Indiana

My encounter last night was at the following store:
Fort Wayne IN (Store 228)
737 Northcrest Shopping Ctr
Fort Wayne, IN 46805

Corporations are great....when they are truly functioning for the consumer. But I fell into an unfortunate niche. Unlike most user my ipod is junk. And on top of it I can't get Best Buy to honor their warranty. (Most assuredly the above email will wind up absolutely nowhere.)

I guess it could be worse. After all, I'm only out two hundred and thirty bucks. What's the big deal, right? As they say (in various forms): "It happens"

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Barry Bonds stands alone

Bonds gets #756 and passes Aaron for all time home run slugger.

Notice when he crosses home plate. Kind of an awkward moment with his son, who tries to embrace Barry, but Barry is honoring his father by looking up to the sky.

Is it a "tainted" record? Yea, probably. But that's life. Someone will brake his record, anyway, in the next generation of athletes. Alex Rodriguez, so they say, will probably be the next home run king.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Does silence speak?

What would be the ramifications if all Christians no longer were able to speak of their faith? I don't mean in the worst-nightmare-of-James-Dobson sense or the our-nation-is-losing-its-religious-freedom crowd. I mean something like in the movie Liar, Liar where the lying lawyer no longer has the capacity to lie. He can only speak if he is speaking the truth.

What if those who considered themselves Christians all of a sudden found themselves unable to communicate anything religious? No God-talk.

How would society change?

What would then be the various factors that determined who was a Christian and who was not?

Let us discuss what it might mean for Christians to cease from speaking. I kind of like this idea....

Monday, August 06, 2007

Erdman rides on

Son, run to first base like you've got a bear on your back

Cycling on the back roads and corn fields of Indiana is always something of a communion with the beasts; the young deer flex and try on their developed new muscle as they playfully bound along the road and flash their white tails before disappearing into the chest-high corn stalks. The cattle give me a brief look of curiosity as they raise their heads and chew...well, chew whatever it is they chew...I also collect insects on my helmet, glasses, and sometimes carry a few irritating buggers in my eye lids until I can blink them away.

And, of course, there are the dogs....

2/3 of the way and I know they are ready for me. Eight fresh legs ready to pounce upon their prey. It is a prime location for the mangy beasts: the last in a series of three hills that progressively climbs higher and higher. There is no "running start" in this game. The stupid canine are my antagonists. They are the villains in the narrative of this particular cycling route. But I like this route, and my course changes not an inch for these hairy fools.

The darkness is closing in on this evening, but I have motivation. The sound of Rossini's "Feeeeegarooooo" is ringing in my ears as the ballad nears it's conclusion. Another motivation? Ah, yes, I must also ride for my life.

Suddenly the hounds are upon me.

It seems a bit early this time. But never mind, the fatigue is gone and I am pushing up the hill. I am gaining speed and summoning all my powers - we need energy and force. More. Faster. We need power.

Ha! The fool broke too early and came too strong. I'm by him. He is gone.

And all that at the outset of the hill. No other beast in sight. The partner in crime is probably out eating his own vomit or chasing the scent of some possum or rabbit - too absorbed in the distractions of the day-to-day farm life that occupies the attention of an animal so historically despised and scorned. The dog: An animal subject to ridicule; the object of cursing in the ancient world. "You dog!" they would say with particular contempt towards a particularly heinous example of a human being. The soldier might curse and spit the name of his enemies who have ravished the land, "Dirty dogs...filthy beasts...."

Then in an instant the hound emerges from the darkness at full speed, and I sense my doom. I had relaxed even just a bit and so it is now the ride of my life. The creature broke late. One early. One late. Damn those crafty canine!

But I am near the top of the hill! If I can just make it over I'll be home free with gravity pulling me to top speed. If I can only make it!

I summon all my powers.

The dog is literally at my heels. The chase is on. I'm over the hill, but all four of my adversary's fresh legs are now at top speed. So, I fumble to shift, nearly catching my fingers as they slip past the gear controls and into the gap between the tire and the breaks. Pull back. I quickly get my hands back into position as I ride for all I'm worth.

It's over now. And all in only a matter of seconds.

It is perhaps the closest encounter yet with my foes. Hero and villains. Destiny pairs them together, but destiny leaves only one side to ride away with the sweet lady of victory. And so I extend my arm in triumph. First back to acknowledge the efforts of the defeated, and then upward - and now onward.

Erdman rides on. Into the night.

Friday, August 03, 2007


If you have followed the Bourne series of movies, as I have, then you will find the third installment very satisfying. Like the first two movies it is very intense - the movie wastes no time and begins in action sequence, picking up where the second movie left off....well.....sort of....

After watching this Bourne movie I get the feeling that Jason Bourne (aka David Webb) is a some sort of combination of Ethan Hunt, James Bond, and Jack Bauer all rolled into one. I think it captures the best elements of all of those films. The plot lines are sophisticated, but not so complex as to become completely irrelevant (Mission Impossible), the action is incredible and the film explores the ramifications of power - the tension between the freedom to strike the enemy quickly against the dangers of abusing absolute power.

It is much of the same as the first two installments, only it is ratcheted up a notch. The action sequences are even more intense, believe it or not. The plot line would be somewhat difficult to follow without knowledge of the first two. But the ending is very satisfying.

The interesting question at this point is whether movie makers could possibly provide a fourth movie. It is the same question that the writers and producers of the 24 series are asking themselves. I'm sure there will be another movie or two on this series, but whether or not it will be satisfying is another issue. As I remember, this series started slow and then picked up momentum as it went along. I loved the first Bourne movie, but I don't remember it being hyped all that much when it first was released. Anyway, if you are a fan of Jason Bourne you will enjoy the movie. In fact, you may just want to turn around and watch it again.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Truth about Bottled Water

A series of fun facts and blind water taste testing!

"It's all in how you sell it."

As I have argued on this blog, "selling" is not just about products, anymore, but about marketing a meaningful life. Attaching significance to products within the context of cultivating a more meaningful lifestyle.

If America has been sold so easily on bullshit bottled water products what else are we being sold on? What is the corporate vision for religious significance, for example?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Thiselton cites Hodge on propositional and non-propositional language

The following quote is taken from Anthony C. Thiselton's essay "Can 'Authority' Remain Viable in a Postmodern Climate?" This is taken from his Thiselton on Hermeneutics: Collected Works with New Essays (2006).

In context the discussion is on language and the power of language to shape the world. That language is multi-functional and multi-layered. Thiselton suggests that "a number of the more traditional discussions of the authority of the Bible have suffered impoverishment through inadequate and simplistic understandings of the nature and function of language."

Although I pray the day will never dawn when I procreate, if indeed I am entrusted with a young mind to shape and form you can bet that Thiselton will be required reading. For those of you not familiar with Thiselton let me simply say that he was the most brilliant biblical hermeneutical mind of the 20th century. Without him Conservative biblical hermeneutical scholarship would be even more in the dark corners of anti-intellectual thought than they already are.

But Thiselton is not a postmodern advocate, by any means. I mention that to say that the following quote does not represent a hasty attack on Evangelical or Conservative thinking.

The terminology "propositional" and "non-propositional" sets the discussion off in unhelpful directions, but what those who use this term generally seek to express is that some genres within the Bible authoritatively declare the truth of certain states of affairs. If such terms are useful, distinctions of genre must also be borne in mind. For it would be patently absurd to claim that poetry or parables are "propositional" in the same sense as historical assertions within the Passion narrative that record the facts of the crucifixion. This unfortunate terminological misunderstanding may well have been set off by the reaction of the conservative Charles Hodge of Princeton (1797-1878) against the liberal Horace Bushnell of Yale (1802-76). Bushnell earned the name "father of American Liberalism", and his theology of the atonement fell short in ways that provoked Hodge. But Bushnell appealed to the role of metaphor in the Bible in ways that in principle would seem almost axiomatic to most biblical specialists and to virtually all literary theorists today. The problem was not that Bushnell appealed to metaphor, but how and when he did this. To call Jesus a "sacrifice", he urged, is the same level of metaphor as to call him a "lamb". Rather than debating the scope and function of metaphor, Hodge reacted by claiming the whole of the Bible was "propositional" and "cognitive". The Bible "is a storehouse of facts". He had no interest in the creative power of metaphor. In 1870 after fifty years of teaching he declared as praise for Princeton: "I am not afraid to say that a new idea never originated in this seminary." The consequences of this dreadful polarization have devastated American theology and hermeneutics for about a century, and the damage remains in terms of extremism here and there on both sides. (p. 631) (Bolding is mine)