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.

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.


Hollywood said...

Thanks for inviting me to go along!

Jonathan Erdman said...

Don't mention it. I'm just sorry you couldn't go.

Hollywood said...

Me too...but thanks for agreeing to pay the next time we hang out!

Anonymous said...

Just finished seeing it. VERY GOOD!! One idea that I thought of after seeing it was "blind" patriotism. It is an interesting topic, especially for those who are in the service of the government.


chris van allsburg said...

Matt Damon now enters studhood.

Melody said...

Just now?

Jonathan Erdman said...

One idea that I thought of after seeing it was "blind" patriotism. It is an interesting topic, especially for those who are in the service of the government.

Yes. The movie explored the political tensions of power. The tv series 24 does the same. Certainly an important issue to consider these days...however, how does one really know whether power is being abused? All we see is CNN.

Jason Hesiak said...

What if the problem is our idea of what politics is instead of the abuse of power within the framework of politics that dictates that politics is by definition a power struggle?

BTW - I just saw it. It was fun, but hard to acutally relate to the characters the way they are supposed to be cast. Like The Erdmanian said, how do we know? Politicians don't really live in glass houses. If they did, they couln't possibly be politicians in accordance with our idea of politics as a power stuggle. Its all smoke and mirrors. Seen "Good Shepherd"?

Melody said...

I haven't but my sisters were watching it when I got home this weekend. They reccomend it.

Jonathan Erdman said...

Yes - The Good Shepherd - that was also a good flick. And starring Matt Damon. Damon is a political lefty, to say the least. At last word he was for Obama in 2008.

Jonathan Erdman said...

Is there any other way to define politics than "power struggle"???

Melody said...

He's an actor, of course he's a political lefty.

Jason Hesiak said...

an email I sent to a friend last night:


on focusing on the local "body politic" first:

"If we are to avoid making justice into another program at our church we must resist the urge to make justice first about national politics, and then second about our own local politic. For inevitably we get caught up in national politics believing that finally now we are doing something. This then becomes an easy program to establish in our churches. Especially if a national television or radio show personality gets involved. Inevitably, the work of local justice becomes an after-thought."

"Because political activism is always easier than living as a presense with the poor. I contend we necessarily should reverse that order of priority: put our local politic first and national politics second. (By 'politic' I am referring to the way the word is used in the common phrase 'body politic' meaning the ethos, the embodied way of living together inhabited by a collective entity). Others will surely argue that they can do both at the same time. I ask in response, can we engage the world with language about justice without a way of life that makes sense of the language we speak? I assert that there can be no 'justice' detached from a social embodiment whereby it makes sense to those we preach."

on machivellian (and john lockean) vs. davidic politics


"The problem is that defining justice as a concept born out of democracy and capitalism (individual rights or equal opportunity, equal distribution of resources and access to economy) too easily enables us to take a holiday on the justice of God in Christ in the body."

"This system then (of democracy and capitalism) is designed to maintain the rights of each individual to pursue self-interest and personal accumulation without killing one another. It is an "ontology of violence."

on politics as more than bickering over self-interest:

"Is politics really nothing more than power relations, competing interests and claims for recognition, conflicting assertions of "simple" truths? No thinker has argued more passionately against this narrow view than Hannah Arendt, and no one has more to say to those who bring questions of meaning, identity, value, and transcendence to our impoverished public life. This volume brings leading figures in philosophy, political theory, intellectual history, and literary theory into a dialogue about Arendt's work and its significance for today's fractious identity politics, public ethics, and civic life."

On Arendt and politics:


"Heidegger in particular can be seen to have profoundly impacted upon Arendt's thought in for example: in their shared suspicion of the 'metaphysical tradition's' move toward abstract contemplation and away from immediate and worldly understanding and engagement, in their critique of modern calculative and instrumental attempts to order and dominate the world..."

"Hence Arendt's explication of the constitutive features of the vita activa in The Human Condition (labor, work, action) can be viewed as the phenomenological uncovering of the structures of human action qua existence and experience rather then abstract conceptual constructions or empirical generalizations about what people typically do. That is, they approximate with respect to the specificity of the political field the 'existentials', the articulations of Dasein's Being set out be Heidegger in Being and Time."

"This phenomenological approach to the political partakes of a more general revaluation or reversal of the priority traditionally ascribed to philosophical conceptualizations over and above lived experience. That is, the world of common experience and interpretation (Lebenswelt) is taken to be primary and theoretical knowledge is dependent on that common experience in the form of a thematization or extrapolation from what is primordially and pre-reflectively present in everyday experience. It follows, for Arendt, that political philosophy has a fundamentally ambiguous role in its relation to political experience, insofar as its conceptual formulations do not simply articulate the structures of pre-reflective experience but can equally obscure them, becoming self-subsistent preconceptions which stand between philosophical inquiry and the experiences in question, distorting the phenomenal core of experience by imposing upon it the lens of its own prejudices. Therefore, Arendt sees the conceptual core of traditional political philosophy as an impediment, because as it inserts presuppositions between the inquirer and the political phenomena in question."

"The work of establishing the conditions of possibility for political experience, as opposed to other spheres of human activity, was undertaken by Arendt in her next major work, The Human Condition (1958). In this work she undertakes a thorough historical-philosophical inquiry that returned to the origins of both democracy and political philosophy in the Ancient Greek world, and brought these originary understandings of political life to bear on what Arendt saw as its atrophy and eclipse in the modern era. Her goal was to propose a phenomenological reconstruction of different aspects of human activity, so as to better discern the type of action and engagement that corresponded to present political existence. In doing so, she offers a stringent critique of traditional of political philosophy, and the dangers it presents to the political sphere as an autonomous domain of human practice."

"The Human Condition is fundamentally concerned with the problem of reasserting the politics as a valuable ream of human action, praxis, and the world of appearances. Arendt argues that the Western philosophical tradition has devalued the world of human action which attends to appearances (the vita activa), subordinating it to the life of contemplation which concerns itself with essences and the eternal (the vita contemplativa)." [which is partially why "politics" doesn't have anything to do with the "body politic" for us anymore]

"In The Human Condition and subsequent works, the task Arendt set herself is to save action and appearance, and with it the common life of the political and the values of opinion, from the depredations of the philosophers. By systematically elaborating what this vita activa might be said to entail, she hopes to reinstate the life of public and political action to apex of human goods and goals."

"The fundamental defining quality of action is its ineliminable freedom, its status as an end in itself and so as subordinate to nothing outside itself. Arendt argues that it is a mistake to take freedom to be primarily an inner, contemplative or private phenomenon, for it is in fact active, worldly and public. Our sense of an inner freedom is derivative upon first having experienced 'a condition of being free as a tangible worldly reality. We first become aware of freedom or its opposite in our intercourse with others, not in the intercourse with ourselves'. In defining action as freedom, and freedom as action, we can see the decisive influence of Augustine upon Arendt's thought. From Augustine's political philosophy she takes the theme of human action as beginning:

'To act, in its most general sense, means to take initiative, to begin (as the Greek word archein, 'to begin', 'to lead', and eventually 'to rule' indicates), to set something in motion. Because they are initium, newcomers and beginners by virtue of birth, men take initiative, are prompted into action.'"

"Arendt's theory holds that actions cannot be justified for their own sake, but only in light of their public recognition and the shared rules of a political community."

"Another way of understanding the importance of publicity and plurality for action is to appreciate that action would be meaningless unless there were others present to see it and so give meaning to it. The meaning of the action and the identity of the actor can only be established in the context of human plurality, the presence others sufficiently like ourselves both to understand us and recognize the uniqueness of ourselves and our acts. This communicative and disclosive quality of action is clear in the way that Arendt connects action most centrally to speech. It is through action as speech that individuals come to disclose their distinctive identity: 'Action is the public disclosure of the agent in the speech deed'. Action of this character requires a public space in which it can be realized, a context in which individuals can encounter one another as members of a community. For this space, as for much else, Arendt turns to the ancients, holding up the Athenian polis as the model for such a space of communicative and disclosive speech deeds. Such action is for Arendt synonymous with the political; politics is the ongoing activity of citizens coming together so as to exercise their capacity for agency, to conduct their lives together by means of free speech and persuasion. Politics and the exercise of freedom-as-action are one and the same..."

one last (more Christian than Arendt's) link on how "church" can ITSELF be "political":


"Cavanaugh's overarching argument is that the Christian practice of the Eucharist offers resources for building of a body (the body of Christ) of resistance to the violence and totalizing designs of the nation-state.

Cavanaugh's argument proceeds in three chapters, 1) The Myth of the State as Savior, 2) The Myth of Civil Society as Free Space and 3) The Myth of Globalism as Catholicity."

"In his first chapter, Cavanaugh chronicles the rise of the modern nation-state against the historical backdrop of the "wars of religion". He shows, against the common perception, that the modern nation-state arose, not in order to police the violence of religious wars, but actually created the existence of religion (defined as an inner faith that has no direct political implications). The "wars of religion" are thus a misnomer, as they were not, as Cavanaugh shows caused by doctrinal zealotry, but by the political designs of rising nation-states. Cavanaugh shows how the state passed itself off as an "alternative soteriology to that of the church", purporting to save to world from the church as peacemaker. However, as the last four centuries have testified, the state has turned out to be a false soteriology, breeding more violence than ever before in history. Thus, Cavanaugh argues, the path for the church to follow is not to attempt to wrest the sword of Christendom from its rusty sheath, but to cultivate forms of resistance to the violence of the state through the communal practice of the Eucharist, which is a profoundly political act, as it relativizes the boundaries drawn by nation-states and declares the fellow members of the body of Christ are our true fellow-citizens. As such, the church, through the Eucharistic practice resists the violence of the state and offers a political alternative to it.

"Cavanaugh concludes that "civil society" does not offer a free space of dialogue in which the church has ground to speak. He thus moves on to argue that the church itself is a space for such dialogue. Against the hegemonic designs of the state, which represses and controls the public square, the church itself is irreducibly public through its proclamation and liturgical practice, which form the church community to be a body capable of resistance to the designs of the totalizing state."

(Radical Orthodoxy link)

"Most importantly is the robust manifesto that peals large over the postmodern, nihilistic terrain: it is a call, in the first place, toward a radical alternative of a people that can no longer be defined by the vulgar liberal/conservative categories. These people--the mystical body politic of Christ--can be prescribed as a movement toward and into a Trinitarian de-centered body that resists captialist strategies of control and opens out acts of anarchic charity--the life giving participation in God."


Jason Hesiak said...

Oops...the link on Cavanaugh was as follows (a book called Theopolitical Imagination):


Jason Hesiak said...

I'm an artist, and not a lefty.

Lindsay said...

he's a hotty!

Melody said...

Actor, Jason, being an actor means he's a lefty.

I'm an artist too and not at all on the liberal side of politics. Although if the republicans can't find anyone better to put on the ballot than McCain or Guilliani there practically won't be a point in making the distinction.

Jason Hesiak said...

A) Artists are actors.
B) What's so particular or essential to those who participate in the profession of "acting" that causes them to be liberals?

Melody said...

A) Actors are artists. Not the other way around.

B) It is a requirement on the job application.

Jon, I'm not telling you how to run your blog, but I'm pretty sure Jason and I shouldn't be allowed to converse with each other.

Jonathan Erdman said...

Actually, I quite enjoy the banter.

I think I agree w/ Melody on the fact that actors are artists (for the most part!) and that being an artist does not, of course, mean that one is an actor....not quite sure anymore what the point is of that, though......

Melody said...

Well, I felt the need to make the distinction, since Jason seemed to be using the words as synonyms.

Jason Hesiak said...

How do you make any piece of art if you do not vicariously imagine the "audience's" reaction? And how do you not "act" if you do not vicariously imagine the audience's reaction. That its even possible points iconcially to the fact that we are are all made essentially the same in the image of God. That doesn't change in acting or in architecture.

Addditionally, to be able to imagine and control going from Matt Damon to Jason Bourne isn't so different from being able to imagine and control going from a tree to the mask of an ancient god of some native aboriginese indian cheif doing a fire dance. But Matt Damon is an "actor," and Jason Bourne is a "character." Whereas whoever made that mask is a "sculptor," and whoever put it on becomes a "god." But - Matt Damon is like a god to us, too!

Jason Hesiak said...

"It is a requirement on the job application."

That doesn't make it "essential." If anything, that just reflects what Aquinas called a "corrupt custom."

Jason Hesiak said...

on "corrupt customs",from:

"It is a consequence of this natural law ethics that the difference between right and wrong can be appreciated by the use of reason and reflection on experience. Although Christian revelation may supplement this knowledge in some respects, even pagan philosophers such as Aristotle could understand the essentials of virtuous living. One is, however, likely to err when applying these general principles to the particular cases one confronts in everyday life. Corrupt customs and poor moral education may obscure the conclusions of natural reason. Hence, societies must enact laws of their own to supplement natural law and, where necessary, to coerce those who, because of their own imperfections, are liable to do what is wrong and socially destructive."

Melody said...

Jason, they're different. Yes an actor falls into the larger catagory of "artist", just as an apple falls into the larger catagory of "fruit". However, the terms are not any more interchangable than that.

It's like saying "An apple is red, therefore fruit is red"

If you can't understand the distinction step back through the looking-glass or go into politics.

We do not, cannot make distinctions of someone's activity based on their thought process we base it on their actions!

Next lesson, humor...

Jason Hesiak said...

On the humour front...gotcha. OK. Apparently we are on the same page there. Actually that is kinda funny.

On the idea of artists being actors...I'm afraid my point is being missed. "All the world's a stage," eh?

"We do not, cannot make distinctions of someone's activity based on their thought process we base it on their ACTions!"

A) Again, listen to yourself. "We base it on their ACTions." Would that make "them" ACTors?

B) Additionally, I'm not just "basing it in" our "thought process." I'll repeat myself: "That its even possible points iconcially to the fact that we are are all made essentially the same in the image of God. That doesn't change in acting or in architecture."

Jason Hesiak said...

And what looking glass do you want me to step "back through." I don't plan on going back to the one that is pre-reflectively given by society, which, as a conceptual and descriptive lable of what people habitually do, would dictate that actors and architects (and politicians) are in totally separate categories.

Melody said...

All people act, yes, but not all people are paid to perform a role in a drama for film or stage. That is the type of acting to which I was refering, you knew it, why, why are we needing to redefine this word merely to make an observation about the tendency of people of a particular walk of life to have a certain political view?

You are calling all actions alike because which involve the cognitive process of imagination and ignoring the actions themselves which vary widly.

The fact that you are doing this has very little to do with our being made in the image of God and much more to do with your apparent desire to redefine the english language so that no communication can be had.

The looking glass of Lewis Carrol.

Jason Hesiak said...

The presupposition that "this has very little to do with our being made in the image of God" is precisely why I brought it up, rather than "[my] apparent desire to redefine the english language so that no communication can be had." I don't have to screw with the meaning of the universe to make communication difficult or impossible. Everyone else has already done that. That people don't think of themselves as actors is why they don't think of their actions in terms their having an essential SACRA-mentality.

Jason Hesiak said...

Is Carrol's looking glass meant to help us connect with reality or to escape from its daily burdens? What about that of Andrei Tarkovsky's "Andrei Rublev"? What about "American Idol"? Or "Bourne Supremacy"?

“You can’t depict faith on film, so the whole film is about what cannot be shown...”

Jonathan Erdman said...

Very Wittgensteinean.

Jason Hesiak said...

Which part? How?

Jason Hesiak said...

The following part?...

"I don't have to screw with the meaning of the universe to make communication difficult or impossible. Everyone else has already done that."


Jason Hesiak said...

...or the mystical-sounding part...about Tarkovsky...about "what cannot be shown"?

Jonathan Erdman said...

This one:
“You can’t depict faith on film, so the whole film is about what cannot be shown...”

Although, on second thought, W. might believe that faith was something that could be shown (i.e. through the actions of the faithful), but it could not be "spoken." All attempts at speaking faith were nonsense.

Jason Hesiak said...

That sounds to me like more of a structural demonstration than a "show" :) On top of that, Hannah Arendt would say that speech is the very basis of political "activity". And those at Radical Orthodoxy would probably point out that speech is how God created the very universe in which we "live and move and have our being." To me its almost as if action is a kind of speech that makes a world.

Funny...I'm reading "Divine Conspiracy"...Willard refers to "The Sermon on the Mount" at one point as "The Discourse on the Hill." Its kinda' funny to me. Made me giggle.

Jason Hesiak said...

But I'd guess you're right about W.

Jason Hesiak said...

"To me its almost as if action is a kind of speech that makes a world" is kind of Wittgensteinian too, isn't it? I'm kind of borrowing from Wittgenstein's idea of what speech does anyway.

Jonathan Erdman said...

But this idea of action over and above speech has a great deal of support from James chapter 2:

But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds."

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

Here priority and privilege is given to deeds over and above so-called faith. I think it is implicit that the "faith" is a spoken commitment.

Jason Hesiak said...

Good point. But I think that's meant in a certain context in which folks were or might be talking but not walking.

Lets propose that one is talking and walking, like Jesus. Might we be able to say that one's actions is like a demonstration of the Truth as spoken by God? "I do what I 'see' my Father 'doing' in heaven."

Jonathan Erdman said...

If one is doing as Christ did, then what's the point of speech?

Jason Hesiak said...

A) No one IS.

B) Neither is anyone else.

C) But Christ was/is "the firstborn." And to me, then the model of how all this riggamarole goes together. Like my old: "The mistake is fuel for the truth that always was before the mistake." Was THAT truth SPOKEN or ACTED OUT? THAT'S the "arche" "word." And thus, to me, the one that "rules."

Jason Hesiak said...

I commented on your comment at my blog, BTW.

Melody said...

Jason, Wonderland is a nonsense world. Everything is what it is isn't and contrariwise whatever it wouldn't be it would?

I just meant that you weren't making sense. No grand allusions.

For someone who believes communication is impossible...you sure use a lot of words.

Jason Hesiak said...

On Lewis Carrol: "The beginning of philosophy is wonder." - Aristotle. "Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom." - Solomon. "Fear of God means woderous awe." - Brennan Manning.

The point isn't that everything is the opposite from how it looks, but that the point is what it points to. Which is often the same or different in situations in which we usually think it is not. Like how political ACTion isn't so different from theatrical ACTion on a very very fundamental level. And because they aren't so different in their beginnings, its is many of the same things about humanity that "govern" both! But we think of them as separate. Why? As a conceptual and descriptive pre-reflective categorization of what people habitually do. Althogh such categorizations can probably still be helpful, no doubt!

As far as making sense goes...my whole goal is to make some sense, as opposed to the pre-reflective CONCEPTUAL/descriptive categories which are our habit.

And I didn't say that I believe that communication is impossible. I do believe that we live after the fall of the Tower of Babel, which I have not mentioned in this conversation; but I do believe that communication is still possible. It just requires translation, love and a recognition of Sameness.

Melody said...

But I wasn't talking about politicians or sculptors or you.

I was talking about a group of people professionally known as "actors".

Here is the thing, all people, at some level, have some commonality. We make distinctions between them. It aids the flow of conversation. That isn't a bad thing.

For example, Jon mighth have headed this "A Movie"

He might have said, "Someone saw a movie at a theater. This person enjoyed it and recommends that other people watch a movie and have deep thoughts on it."

However, I very much doubt that any of us would read his blog nearly as frequently as we do...or at all.

Jason Hesiak said...

"I was talking about a group of people professionally known as 'actors'."

Melody, you said long ago: "Actors are artists. Not the other way around." Which would presumably suggest that politicians too are not actors. I am saying that there is no politics without ACTion.

"Here is the thing, all people, at some level, have some commonality. We make distinctions between them. It aids the flow of conversation. That isn't a bad thing."

Not a bad thing, no. But the way we do it now reflects how screwed up is both our politics and our art. There is a presupposed meaning behind our labels "actor" and "politician." And because of what they have in common, what we usually mean when we say "actor" is not helpful to what we mean when we say either "actor" OR "politician." Same goes for "politician"; what we mean when we say "politician" is helpful for neither politics nor art/acting.

I would go so far as to say there is no more art nor politics anymore. Partially BECAUSE of what we mean when we say the terms.

Melody said...

None of which has anything to do with my original statement.

Jason Hesiak said...

Your statement that artists are not actors would seem to indicate otherwise.

Melody said...

All it indicates is that there are differences between the terms.

Anything more is your overactive imagination.

Jason Hesiak said...

For you...

Is politics about actions/deeds performed before an audience that will remember them and that knows the actor well enough for the actions to have meaning and for the actor to gain the immortality that he seeks? Or is it about arguing with the other political party and making laws about contemporary hot button issues?

How about a movie. Are movies about contemporary hot button issues like "power" or "diamonds" or "drug companies" or is there something else going on in a good film (like Tarkovsky's "Andrei Rublev"?

Melody said...

Ultimately it is about making decisions with/for a group of people.

Movies tell stories. The stories vary in content and reception so I would really feel uncomfortable saying what all movies are about.

Jason Hesiak said...

Those decisions aren't part of a story?

And if God's story is true for all of us, then all those Hollywood movies are telling His story.

This is precisely why I brought it up, BTW.