söndag, maj 29, 2011

Om sekulära liturgier och ateismens omöjlighet

Via denna föreläsning av James K.A. Smith på temat sekulära liturgier hittade jag fram till en fantastisk text av den hyllade amerikanske författaren David Foster Wallace. Nedanstående är ett utdrag ur ett längre tal på temat 'making it to 30, or maybe 50, without wanting to shoot yourself in the head', som Foster Wallace höll för en avgångsklass.

"Because here's something else that's true. In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And an outstanding reason for choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship - be it JC or Allah, be it Yahweh or the Wiccan mother-goddess or the Four Noble Truths or some infrangible set of ethical principles - is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things - if they are where you tap real meaning in life - then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough. It's the truth. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you. On one level, we all know this stuff already - it's been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, bromides, epigrams, parables: the skeleton of every great story. The trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness. Worship power - you will feel weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to keep the fear at bay. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart - you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out.

The insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they're evil or sinful; it is that they are unconscious. They are default settings. They're the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that's what you're doing. And the world will not discourage you from operating on your default settings, because the world of men and money and power hums along quite nicely on the fuel of fear and contempt and frustration and craving and the worship of self. Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom to be lords of our own tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the centre of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talked about in the great outside world of winning and achieving and displaying. The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the "rat race" - the constant gnawing sense of having had and lost some infinite thing."

torsdag, maj 26, 2011

Om bristen på transcendens ...

Om du bara skall läsa en teologisk-politisk recension av en påkostad fantasy-tv-serie i år rekommenderas denna:
"As expansive as fantasy and sci-fi can be, spewing forth know-it-all translation droids and winged monkeys and gigantic worms, it all seems to end in the same predictably doomed battles between factions — armies from the north, east, south and west, clashing in the night. And just a few episodes into “Game of Thrones,” the central thrust becomes clear: after this revolution, there will be peace and then . . . another revolution. And though the years may come and go, the people will slit one another’s throats and covet their brothers’ wives, over and over again. It’s odd, seen this way, to call the genre “fantasy” at all.

“Killing clears my head,” Baratheon says. And fantasy clears ours. It’s strange, then, that fantasy writers would so often take the oddest quirks of the imagination and the loftiest flights of fancy and boil them down to the same pools of blood in the dust. Why invent nomadic tribes, noble kings and mythical creatures from whole cloth, only to doom them to repeat the worst mistakes of human history or reflect the saddest aspects of human nature? Surely, someone, somewhere can imagine an alternative to this endlessly repeated unhappy ending.

Ultimately, this is the worry with “Game of Thrones” — that, like so much in its genre, it will turn out to be all thrones and few games. Sure, the life-and-death, gods-and-girded-warriors gravitas of fantasy explains much of its appeal, but maybe we should try throwing in a gaggle of philosophers, artists, scientists and idealists, who might collaborate to lift us out of the mire of our shared dread, to prevent us from reproducing our own suffering in the generations to come. That way, maybe, instead of blindly fornicating and fighting ourselves to death in a repetitive loop, we might imagine a whole new ending. Isn’t that what fantasy is for?"

onsdag, maj 25, 2011

David Burell om relativism

"... the specter of relativism gains in stature and threat as a function of Enlightenment presuppositions about reason and truth, for they presume a normative set of rational criteria available to all, over against which any claim to other sets of criteria is utterly unsettling. That is what we mean by relativism; that there are no longer any operative norms across human discourse; so power or even violence will have to arbitrate. However, like earlier debates over natural law, there may be other ways of thinking about those criteria that are not so laden with specific beliefs but that have to do with the fact that believers formed in quite diverse traditions can discourse with one another. Once the idol of pure reason has been shattered, and we can learn to accept diverse ways of arriving at conclusions, we will also find that we can employ the skills learned in our tradition to follow reasoning in another. Traditions, in other words, may indeed be relative to one another in ways that can prove mutually fruitful rather than isolating. Those traditions that prove to be so will be those that avail themselves of human reason in their development, and the patterns of stress and strain in their evolution will display their capacity for exploiting the resources of reason. In short, relativism gives way before the fact that all inquiry takes place within a tradition, and the specter that it evoked turns out to be the shadow of our faith in pure reason, that is, in the possibility of human inquiry outside of any tradition. So the discovery of reason that every inquiry employs presuppositions that cannot themselves be rationally justified opens the way to self-knowledge on the part of Enlightenment philosophy itself, which can then take its place among the traditions."
David Burell - Faith and Freedom: An Interfaith Perspective. Blackwell, 2004. s.202

fredag, maj 06, 2011

Heberlein om en teologi för hela livet

Via Arne Rasmussons intressanta text hos Cruciform Phronesis hittade jag Ann Heberleins lysande replik i DN på en insändare i Kyrkans Tidning.
"En teologi måste ta in hela människans existens för att kunna fungera som livstolkning. Teologin måste hantera också de mörka sidorna i människans existens, möta hennes frågor och förtvivlan, se henne fullt ut som hon är: bristfällig. Först då betyder försoning och förlåtelse något."
Från modernismens naiva övertro på människans godhet och rationalitet, bevare oss!