Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Reality Check, or a Rant on my Hatred for Abstract Thought

I can't do abstract thought. There are philosophers and theologians whose ideas and arguments are based in thought so abstract and intangible that I cannot begin to conceive it. I'm sure that their ideas are valuable, I'm sure they're extremely intelligent and well-argued. However, their ideas are so far removed from reality, people, and life that I have no framework for conceiving of them. For example, Karl Barth's main argument, so far as I can tell, is that God is the ultimate unknown, that which we cannot know, and Christ came merely as an arrow that lets humanity know that God is unknowable.

I am a practical person. I love studying the way people and societies interact, I adore history, sociology and psychology. It's not that I insist on concrete ideas, I'm fine with mystery and ambiguity, but I need to be able to relate those things to some form of reality. If there is no basis in reality, what is the purpose of devoting time and energy to thinking about it, anyway? I am grounded in reality, in society, in time and history, in identity. No matter how hard I try, I can't imagine absolute void, I can't conceive of that which is wholly other, and I have no framework for thinking about that which is completely unknown. Furthermore, how is it helpful for people to spend time and energy attempting to contemplate things that are wholly unconnected with reality and life? How does thinking about God as "that which is unknown" help ministers to preach or provide pastoral care? How does that help Christians relate to the deity or grow in their faith?

I have trouble finding the value in ideas and studies that are disconnected from life. To me, what's most important is how we live and how we relate to others and God. I'm most interested in studying people, life, reality, and how those things shape our understandings of God. Maybe I'm too steeped in experience, maybe I'm too human-centered or don't have high enough Christology. But if I have no experience of something, if I cannot even relate it to something that occurs in the world, how can I have any understanding of it? Anything that has no connection with reality is a play of the imagination. And, don't get me wrong, I love using my imagination, but this is not how I choose to use it, and I have trouble playing logic games in the realm of imagination.

This problem with abstract thought occasionally makes me discouraged about my education and future career. I know that I need to be able to understand and explain some pretty abstract concepts. I am constantly told that they're important and valuable. But I'm more of a practical theologian. My gifts are in sociology more than philosophy. And I hope, with God's help, that'll be enough.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

I'm a Geek

You’re St. Justin Martyr!

You have a positive and hopeful attitude toward the world. You think that nature, history, and even the pagan philosophers were often guided by God in preparation for the Advent of the Christ. You find “seeds of the Word” in unexpected places. You’re patient and willing to explain the faith to unbelievers.

Find out which Church Father you are at The Way of the Fathers!

I'd like to know which church father I would've been if I'd hit the co-worker with a mallet and questioned his masculinity...

Please share your results in the comments section of this post!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

I'm Just Saying...

I want to write an entry about wisdom, my desire for it, and my lack thereof. I want to talk about all the truly wise people I have met and how their gifts go far beyond just knowledge.

I also want to introduce the inspirational people in one of my small classes and tell you not only about the diversity of the group, but also about the wonderful blessing that each person has been on my life this year.

I'd like to tell you about my excitement for the end of the semester and my incredible dread of my summer activities that will include not only paying to work full time, but also business attire and pantyhose, which make me cringe at just the thought of it.

I want to describe the absolute insanity of the pollen in this city in the springtime, but the way it is counteracted by the profusion of gorgeous flowers.

I could tell you about my recent visits with friends, or the craziness of studying with classmates for five hours over a beer and a pizza, or my frustration with the lack of straight single men in my world at the moment.

I'd even like to share with you about the ridiculous amount of stuff I'm facing in the current 2-week period, including 3 tests, a paper, the deadline for my research, 2 special worship services, registration, and the preparatory stuff for my summer work.

I'd like to tell you about all that, but I'm simply too tired. I have no more brainpower left for explaining this to you, so instead I'll apologize for this short, content-less interruption of your day and promise to someday share all that. In the meantime, my pillow is calling.