Tuesday, 4/15/14

    1. A monotheistic religion of the book?
    2. Parsing ledes
    3. The new food culture
    4. Secularist, womanist, celibate
    5. Pop Imperialism

1

But why is Christianity not really a monotheism, nor a religion of the book?

According to Brague’s latest book, On the God of the Christians (And on One or Two Others), the simple answer is that both of these phrases came into existence very late. They appeared only around the 17th and 18th centuries and were used by polemicists againstChristianity (plus Judaism and Islam). They are not part of, if you will, the natural self-identification of these groups.

Now If we were serious about how Christianity understands itself then it would make much more sense to call it a trinitarianism rather than a monotheism … the label “monotheist” is so wide and useless that it obviously applies to both Aristotle’s lonely introvert god and the watchmaker god of the deists …

Brague also dismisses the label “religions of the book” for much the same reason. It completely ignores the incompatible understandings of what the book means for each one of these religions. Plus, there are plenty of other religions with books (Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Mormonism, pretty much every religion has its own sacred text).

Here’s Brague’s succinct formulation of the key differences: “The religion of Israel is a history that led to a book; Christianity is a history recounted in a book; Islam is a book that led to a history.”

(Arthur Rosman, Christianity Is Neither a Monotheism Nor a Religion of the Book (Remi Brague))

2

A man and his grandson were among three people who were fatally shot Sunday at a Jewish community center and a retirement home in a Kansas City suburb, authorities said.

The press (not excluding the Wall Street Journal) has become so tendentious that one must check to see whether “Jewish community center and retirement home” is coincidental or central to the story.

Sadly, it appears to be central to this shooting, thought to be the work of “an outspoken white supremacist and [former] ‘grand dragon’ of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.”

3

So, not all is lost, America! For in the desolate landscape of your food culture, many green shoots are popping up … It’s actually quite the little renaissance … there is now a vibrant American food subculture, which recognizes the value of good produce, preparation, taste, and so on.

Is this an unalloyed good? As Christians, we must answer: no. Because there’s one problem with this new food subculture, which is that it’s become a class marker. In America, obsesity is pretty thoroughly connected with class, and our overclass has glommed on food culture as a way to differentiate itself from its well-off brethren. In America now, to care about food is to say “I am not one of these people.” For the Church to simply lean into this trend unquestioningly would be to reinforce class narrative and class privilege, it would be to move away from, rather than closer to, the solidarity with the poor that the Gospel calls us to. It’s not enough to say “Take the time to make home-cooked meals”–the single mother working three jobs will say with good reason, “What time?”

(Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, A Ministry of Food) PEG starts off by blaming Protestant-inspired Prohibition for the descent of American food into pure crap. Interesting, but underdeveloped. Maybe if I had time to follow his link it would be developed better.)

Sounds plausible, and overall I think it is, but there are some surprising people discovering how not to eat crap.

4

Celibacy raises eyebrows because it is an act of rebellion against the sacred cow of sexual consumerism. This is a consumer society. An assumption built into it is that we should all be eager consumers of sexual activity.

(Sally Cline in Women, Celibacy and Passion, via Aaron Taylor at Ethika Politika) Aaron Taylor’s title is Celibacy and Sexual Capitalism, and the quote just struck me as a particularly apt summary of an article rich in perceptive secular and “womanist” quotations.

Equally subversive of our sexual consumerism, it seems to me, is limiting sex to marriage and recognizing that unchastity is possible even within marriage.

5

On the spread of American pop culture across the globe:

[S]ince the Internet ensures that barriers are transgressed with impunity, the lowest forms of human life will in due course dominate the screen in every living room, and the blame for this will fall squarely on America. Of course, that will be unjust. The blame for watching destructive images falls on the person watching them. The problem is that people are sorely tempted beings, unable to protect themselves from their own worst desires without the help of a culture that backs up their efforts.

Roger Scruton, Pop Imperialism.

(Mark L. Movesian)

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“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.