Monday, November 23, 2009

Deconstruction to Construction as Critical Thinking

It is important to look at the intrinsic value felt "within" systems of belief par excellence. Too often our convictions and persuasions are presented as hand-me-downs free from evaluation, e.g., political vantage, religious conviction, educational theory, etc. It is when these raggedy presentations are blindly accepted that one becomes irrelevant and dis-credible to conversation. Only when these "gifts" are handled and examined does one find true value, i.e., hidden value. Rhetorically speaking, do we take the time to taste, touch, and smell "conviction?"

Deconstruction is the process in which the particular ideology is gracefully taken apart so that each piece gone into its construction is opened up and made vulnerable. Here in this nakedness of thought the inner being and formation of belief can be adequately assessed. Even if the ideology is put back together the way it was "handed down" it is still a vital part of the process that goes into understanding why it "is" the way it "is." It is here that I am now able to understand and communicate what it is that I "believe."

However, if I find that I disagree with a number of the "parts" that are under examination then I have become responsible for either finding replacements or simply discarding the bits and pieces that are simply irrelevant. This type of territory comes with the need for discernment and critical thinking. One cannot violently rip open an orange and expect it to remain undamaged and able to be re-constructed. It takes soft touch and commitment to do this properly; it is an art to be discovered.

Without critical thinking one can not make "right" decisions; decisions that necessitate an understood context for the choice to be judged thus decided. I use the word "decide" not to represent finality but to symbolize movement in any direction. Thinking is traveling and to travel we must be aware of our surroundings and the relationships held between existing entities. Critical thinking is one of the most important tools needed to traverse the landscape of judgment. Otherwise, one is left holding the end of a rope as its dragged along in an unknown direction.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Ghost of Tom Joad

Men walkin' 'long the railroad tracks
Goin' someplace there's no goin' back
Highway patrol choppers comin' up over the ridge
Hot soup on a campfire under the bridge
Shelter line stretchin' round the corner
Welcome to the new world order
Families sleepin' in their cars in the southwest
No home no job no peace no rest

The highway is alive tonight
But nobody's kiddin' nobody about where it goes
I'm sittin' down here in the campfire light
Searchin' for the ghost of Tom Joad

He pulls prayer book out of his sleeping bag
Preacher lights up a butt and takes a drag
Waitin' for when the last shall be first and the first shall be last
In a cardboard box 'neath the underpass
Got a one-way ticket to the promised land
You got a hole in your belly and gun in your hand
Sleeping on a pillow of solid rock
Bathin' in the city aqueduct

The highway is alive tonight
But where it's headed everybody knows
I'm sittin' down here in the campfire light
Waitin' on the ghost of Tom Joad

Now Tom said "Mom, wherever there's a cop beatin' a guy
Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries
Where there's a fight 'gainst the blood and hatred in the air
Look for me Mom I'll be there
Wherever there's somebody fightin' for a place to stand
Or decent job or a helpin' hand
Wherever somebody's strugglin' to be free
Look in their eyes Mom you'll see me."

The highway is alive tonight
But nobody's kiddin' nobody about where it goes
I'm sittin' downhere in the campfire light
With the ghost of old Tom Joad
-Bob Dylan
Inspired by "The Grapes of Wrath"

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I am, you anxious one

I am, you anxious one.

Don't you sense me, ready to break
into being at your touch?
My murmurings surround you like shadowy wings.
Can't you see me standing before you
cloaked in stillness?
Hasn't my longing ripened in you
from the beginning
as fruit ripens on a branch?

I am the dream you are dreaming.
When you want to awaken, I am that wanting:
I grow strong in the beauty you behold.
And with the silence of stars I enfold
your cities made by time.

-Rainer Maria Rilke

"How can we expect not to be anxious, Rilke implies, if we do not feel a greater presence, cloaked in stillness, with us in our days? Yet that same anxiety is the fuel for our longing, itself a sign of the presence we thirst for" - R. Hudsen

"for lovers of god everywhere: Poems of the Christian Mystics" by Roger Hudsen

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Dead Prez "The Police State"

We need to generate and distribute more honest representation like this in order to create solidarity, which in turn, creates relationships for change.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

"Obvious Failure" as "Ultimate Success"

The great Liberation theologian, James Cone, addresses the "State of the Black Church" and consequently provides an important message for all to hear.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Holy Spirit in the World

I recently finished the book entitled, "The Holy Spirit in the World," in which Kirsteen Kim sets forth a compelling assessment of a few different pneumatologies present within Western theological construction, Greek Orthodoxy, India, and Korea; all of which are used to complement each other in some fashion. She addresses the question of "mission" or missio dei, i.e., how is God at work in the world? We live among a plurality of faith preferences which presently color the earth with social and contextual differences that, unfortunately, have been silenced and kept out of the global theological conversation, furthermore, labeled "demonic." Not until recently has the term "reconciliation" risen to the surface of local Xn theologies, but now the recognition of the Pauline introduction of katallaso (reconcile) and katallage (reconciliation) has started to create waves in the pool of private and exclusive ideologies.

If we are to have a balanced Trinitarian theology, we must continue to affirm the Spirit as an individual within the hypostatic union of the Trinity and also capable of acting on its own behalf contra creation's demand. The Spirit doesn't hear ABRACADABRA and 'poof' onto the scene in Acts 2. Rather, the Spirit participated in creation and must be given credit. The Holy Spirit is the ‘divine power’ that is the cohesive force perpetuating the creation act and maintaining its dependence and sustainability (Gen 2:7; Job 33:4; Psalm 104:30). We must travel the Scriptures from beginning to end while looking for not only explicit evidence of the action's of the Spirit, but we must also acknowledge the active presence of God as the source of all.

"...A biblical theology of the Holy Spirit involves more than a study of the passages in which "the spirit" is explicitly mentioned. The theology of the Holy Spirit is a study of God's involvement with the world. The Spirit represents the presence of God, which is throughout the whole creation (Ps 139:7), and the mighty involvement of God in earthly affairs (Isa 63:10-14; Job 26:12-13). The New Testament also bears witness to God's involvement in the world by the Holy Spirit. This involvement is focused in Jesus Christ and those who are in him, and yet it holds out hope for the whole creation, as the Spirit bears witness (Rom 8:1-27)."
-Kim, 16

"Now the earth was a formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters." Gen 1:2

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Fake Bonanza

"Hip hop, modern time, flossy and raw so self-absorbed, immature
I can't remember being this bored
Fake bonanza, become real wars
Bullets burn through the candy on the driver side door
Long investigations and no firm lead,
billion dollar flow and black life is still cheap
Where rent skyrockets and job prospects plummet
Ten murders, ten days, this summer
Talk about today's mathematics,
a eighth, an O, a key and the caliber on your ratchet
The inmate number, a centerfold's measurements
As close as a cold cell come to some tenderness
I heard them say it was all about the Benjamins
I don't believe it now, didn't believe it then."

-mos def

Saturday, April 4, 2009

"Christ the Eternal Tao"

"In Christ is the fulfillment of the expectation of the ancients. Christ does not abolish what came before Him; instead, He brings it to fulfillment by disintegrating the false and upholding the true in the Light of His ultimate revelation. The truths in all ancient religions and philosophies shine forth in this Light, but they are not this Light, nor are they equal to it. If seen with the eyes of faith, they can bear witness to the Light of revelation, just as can the souls of today's seekers when, through the eyes of Lao Tzu, they find and behold the Undistorted Image of Christ, shining with all His brilliance in the ancient Christian East."
-Hieromonk Damascene

Since finishing a paper that compared Augustine's "original sin" with Andrew Park's "original han," i have been fascinated with Eastern religions and their profound impact on culture, specifically within Korea. Through my research I stumbled upon the reflection of a living "theology":

"In the beginning was the Tao, and the Tao was with God, and the Tao was God."
John 1:1

Just as the author John affirmed and unveiled the fullness of Heraclitus' "Logos" so does Lao Tzu with his introduction of a glimmering philosophy, the Tao Te Ching, which is inspired and assumed by Christ. Tao describing "the Way, Path or Pattern of Heaven, the Course that all things follow. The Way is the Uncreated Cause of all things," (Christ the Eternal Tao) represents the path of creation in the universe and colors the eternal active presence of the Trinity throughout the world. Instead of marginalizing the contributed glimpses that peer into the eternal presence of God, depth and solidarity grow throughout the beautiful shimmers of truth as humanity opens up its heart to divine actions in different contexts which desire to connect all of creation with the eternal reality.

"There exists a Being undifferentiated and complete,
Born before heaven and earth.
Tranquil, boundless,
Abiding alone and changing not,
Encircling everything without exhaustion.
Fathomless, it seems to be the Source of all things.
I do not know its name,
But characterize it as the Tao.
Arbitrarily forcing a name upon it,
I call it Great..."
-Tao Te Ching (ca. 1500bc)

"I am the way and the truth and the light." John 14:6

"About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way." Acts 19:23

"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands...For in him we live and move and have our being." Acts 17:24ff.

Friday, March 20, 2009

the local

I visited an independently owned CD store today for the "experience." I have been becoming tired of purchasing music on itunes; yea its fast and somewhat endless, but I was revitalized today with the option of sorting through cd's and coming across the rare ones that i had once purchased in 7th grade, lost, and haven't seen since. As i was sorting through cd's like "The Herbaliser," "A Tribe Called Quest," "The Cure," with all of their rarities and b-sides, i noticed the prices were a bit higher than usual with an average of $15. Typically, we look to get the most out of our dollar, the best deal but when we use that as our goal we overlook the struggling businesses that make our neighborhoods...our neighborhoods. In the future we have potential to go completely digital and online which is a scary thought. You won't have to leave your house for music, groceries, books, clothes...everything.

Regarding, we should continue to support our local independent businesses as best as we can. I definitely want to get better at this as the economy is getting worse for those struggling businesses that need to provide community needs for survival. The prices may be a bit higher than the cheapest deal you can find, but long-term "experiences" and local economic strength should encourage us to spend the extra few dollars for a stable community. Our goal is to keep the financial resources within the community without the corporate interference that tends to overlook the resident's best interest. Big businesses are obsessed with control and profit, characteristics that are available to the local business as well, which should discourage the people from supporting profit hungry networks. Rhetorically speaking, are the *best goods worth sacrificing a healthy neighborhood?

Today I supported a local business and i walked away with The Cure and John Legend; a good day.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

equation #1

question + no answer = truth

This equation may seem counter-intuitive due to its lack of an answer, but in fact it is quite revealing. This 'lack of an answer' reveals the complexity of life with all of its experiences which are interpreted in a number of different ways. This is how *individuality* remains consistent even though we might live within the same cultural environment, i.e. each of us look at a situations in an objective posture. So, the lack of an answer promotes individuality by allowing each "self" to interpret a particular insight on their own without interference from another. Systems of power fight against ambiguity because of fear; fear that is caused by an interpretation that is in disagreement with the *one that is promoted top down. The equation above fights for organic truth with its "from below" approach and its value for freedom.

Each human self acquires a bit of its own truth which naturally becomes personally ingrained. Is it possible to continue community in the midst of contextual truths at work? Systems and structures would most likely say "no," but I continue to promote a loud "yes!" In order to live alongside one another in a healthy fashion we must develop a type of belief transcendence. In other words, I must be able to treat my brothers and sisters exactly the same way no matter the differences between us. Otherwise, our agenda is disguised with conversation and judgment disguised with "stance." Power structures are only concerned with outcome, specifically personal gain. The 'lack of an answer' truncates power structures by literally taking the power back which consequently silences cheap talk and empowers the marginalized.

Personal truth is ingrained in life per se and individuality is necessary for equality.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Religious Peace

Usually when i am studying in the library I'll browse the books and pick out something that catches my eye. Today i picked out the book Global Responsibility by Hans Kung, and in it the topical sections are entitled as follows:

A) No Survival without a World Ethic
B) No World Peace without Religious Peace
C) No Religious Peace without Religious Dialogue

I focused my attention on C) No Religious Peace without Religious Dialogue because of its importance in my own life right now. I am extremely concerned with persons who find it necessary, or even more meagerly, their duty to "trash" other religions/religious expressions based on cultural presuppositions and ignorance afforded by limited Western thought. In other words, to remain in one's own culture and context without any openness to another is short-sighted and destructive. No matter the religious conviction, there is still room to speak peace with one another and in fact it is necessary. Too long has the world been a place of self-righteous theology which seeks to moralize individuals at any cost. It seems as if this disease of exclusion disguised as love continues to be held in high favor among religious groups as well as other stances, be it politics, education, etc.

There needs to be an awakening among us all that seeks peace between religions through personal reformation. Personal reformation means that instead of finding perceived faults in the other that spur contrast between us, we look within ourselves and ask God to help us acknowledge the bits and pieces in our own hearts and minds that are at enmity with the other; the bits and pieces that cause "duty" and "responsibility" to outweigh peace and love. Once we find these locations of exclusion we must pray that the Holy Spirit change us from within and give us the grace to allow peace to be amidst conversation and perspective as we create trusting relationships that would have otherwise sparked conflict, e.g., war. This is not a call for pluralism or absolutism, it is a call for peace.

Hans Kung writes:
(c) the ecumenical horizon
The aim can only be a critical or self-critical differentiation which measures any religion critically by its own origin and by a humane ethic, without claiming it for itself. We do not arrive at peace through syncretism but through reform of ourselves; we arrive at renewal through harmony, and at self-criticism through toleration. So what is being fought for here is a theology of peace which finds the way to peace not by bracketing off the question of truth but by incorporating it and responding to it, and which above all discloses and helps to work out those conflicts and points of unrest in the world of which the religions themselves are the cause. (GR)

I understand the complexity of this but we must also understand the concreteness of it. Specifically, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are the three most prominent "prophetic religions" which are based upon truth, justice, and salvation; all three are based on the Abrahamic origin and have a future hope. For this religious peace to transpire it must come from all sides at all times. We must move beyond the common opinion of "this won't work" thus replacing it with a simple "this will work". Optimism is what sparks progressive development whereas pessimism poisons the efforts of love and justice. It is not 'giving in' to the other, rather it is 'opening up' to the other which is the right thing to do.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Peter Rollins

check out a couple great Peter Rollins videos...

and more at

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The stuffed attic

The more i read the more i realize i don't know. Sometimes i feel like i have pulled down the attic ladder found on the second floor only to find myself trampled by thousands of books, i.e., knowledge. Books on history, philosophy, religion, psychology, political economy, ethics, trade, profession, animals, and name a few. Not only are there an endless amount of topics but there are an endless amount of perspectives that are imposed upon these topics. My take on non-Marxist socialism in a modern setting might be different than Jurgen Moltmann's interpretation, although they are somewhat connected. Each of us are pulled in different directions by knowledge, be it your job, education or relationships. How do we function as if we hold some level of understanding when it sometimes feels as if we don't know much about anything?

I would assert the conclusion that 'knowing nothing' is a constructive concept to internalize if we are to move towards trusting relationships that bring purpose and depth to life. Tempting as it is to hold a certain perspective high above the rest, it is counter productive, even in light of possible truth. Dependent on our socio-cultural exposures, every single individual brings 'truth' to the interaction. The range of global exposure colors the contours of information with such precision and difference that it causes someone to step back from a particular vantage point and listen to someone who might see the same thing very differently. Why is this important? Globalization.

Globalization refers not just to leaving a specific continent, it also refers to each of our home towns. Think of the amount of friends you have and how each of them is different from the other. Cross-cultural relationships stress the point of globalization, i.e., Korean-American, Urban/Rural, Muslim, Straight, Gay and Lesbian, Atheist, Factory Worker, Iranian, Student, get the point. Not to affirm and accept the differences within our relationships is to not respect them, furthermore to discredit them. Is this loving? Is this building trust? Is this unconditional? For me, coming from a Christian persuasion, I am convinced of the joy in affirming my acceptance of the 'other' whoever it may be. This acceptance is not conditional upon their interpretational approach to 'truth' as if it should be like mine, rather this affirmation comes out of my interaction with God as I am transformed by such. Just as God sees each person with their created beauty, so do I. Whether an individual believes this to be true or not does not limit my capacity to love.

Love one another. Listen to one another.

"My heart is not proud, O LORD,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.

But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother,
like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, put your hope in the LORD
both now and forever more."
-Psalm 131
Song of Ascents