Wolfhart Pannenberg on God & Secular Society

A sloppy post on Wolfhart Pannenberg that I wrote four years ago, one which does him no justice, and shows none of the breadth of his thought, while I slog through other projects. I have previously mentioned Pannenberg here, regarding secularization.

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Gagarin and the Seven Heavens (Sketch of an Outline)

In the wake of Yuri Gagarin’s historic ascent into “outer space”, Nikita Khrushchev remarked

As to paradise in heaven, we heard about it from the priests. But we wanted to see for ourselves what it is like, so we sent our scout there, Yuri Gagarin. He circled the globe and found nothing in outer space — just complete darkness, he said, and no garden at all, nothing that looked like paradise. We thought the matter over and decided to send up another scout. We sent Herman Titov and told him to fly around a bit longer this time and take a good look — Gagarin was only up there for an hour and a half, and he might have missed it. He took off, came back and confirmed Gagarin’s conclusion. There’s nothing up there, he reported. [1]

There’s a remarkable concentration in the saying by Khrushchev: it asserts that traditional talk about God “in the heavens” is referring to space that is above the sky. As we saw in a previous post that looked at the older models of the universe with regard to how the outer layers of the sky (or the spheres) were supposed to influence things on the earth, the sky was, at first, conceived of as a dome.

At a basic level, Khrushchev is correct (and this, despite Gagarin’s later religious beliefs). Continue reading

Ben Lerner, 10:04

I’ve just finished Ben Lerner’s metafictional novel 10:04, and I recommend you buy it. Not just because, if you buy through that link I just offered, I’ll get a ridiculously small commission that will pay for about one tenth of one mile of gas on a 24mpg car, but because it has made me think a great deal about a number of themes in my own life: the character of our relationships, our material connections to other people near and far, the character and value (and non-value) of art, the possibility of an individual and a shared future, the overlap between the past and the present (and the future), the ways that arriving futures can affect the nature of the history leading up to them (a history that fails to achieve realization can vanish like Michael J. Fox’s hand in Back to the Future – for which this book is named), and the redemptive possibilities within life and history.

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MacIntyre — Secularization and Moral Change, Some Concluding Thoughts

The previous post summarized the outlines of the course of the arguments made by Alasdair MacIntyre in the first, the second, and the third parts of his Secularization and Moral Change. As with the posts summarizing the individual sections, here I must reiterate that Peter Webster has what is probably the best summary of the book out there. I have offered a set of excerpts from A. V. Demant’s review. I also have asked whether the pre-modern world was the unified moral community that MacIntyre suggests it is.

Outlines and summary completed, a somewhat haphazard collection of my reflections/thoughts on Secularization and Moral Change follows below.

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MacIntyre, Demant, and the Book of Sirach

Here I offer a question about whether MacIntyre’s framework in Secularization and Moral Change (we first reviewed part one, then part two, and finally part three, as well as summarizing the three parts) is entirely consistent with the evidence of previous ages regarding the novelty, within the modern period, of heterogeneous classes generating the loss of a sense of a shared moral community (and, thus, generating the loss of a shared religious community, culturally and sociologically).

I will not presume to answer this question, but I will offer material that will, I hope, allow one to ask it reasonably.

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