Tuesday, July 31, 2007

...and taking names (2)

Another of Jamie Smith's remarkable achievements is his fine introduction to Radical Orthodoxy (RO). Introducing Radical Orthodoxy is the best overall introduction to the themes and major figures of RO. An added bonus of the volume is the interaction Smith develops between RO and the continental Reformed tradition. One particular aspect of RO with which Smith expresses some reservation from his Reformed perspective is RO's "participatory ontology."

Whether it is best described as a movement, a school, a sensibility, or a book series, RO presents a politics (socialism), based on an epistemology (illumination), funded by an ontology (suspension). All of this is presented as a counter to a post/modern ontology (nihilism), with its faulty epistemology and agonistic politics. In the programmatic volume, Radical Orthodoxy: A New Theology, editors Milbank, Pickstock, and Ward single out the "suspension of the material" as the turn of Radical Orthodoxy. This turn of RO depends on an Augustinian Platonism, filtered through the Cambridge Platonists. In essence (!), RO espouses a view of the material that grounds every instance of immanence in transcendence. Only if the immanent participates in a reality beyond itself can its existence really be guaranteed. Another way of putting it is to say only a Christian (Platonist) can truly be a materialist without devolving into nihilism. While Smith applauds RO's defense of the project of metaphysics, he is not a great fan of the Platonic ontology RO employs (probably in part because he suffers from the Reformed allergy to the analogy of being, on which see millinerd's post).

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Harry Potter month, continued...

...and that's how she ended it. Great book, huh?

Of course I will not tell you how what happens! Of course I will not tell you what parts I found interesting for what reasons! But I will say I loved the book. While I am sad the Harry Potter saga will not continue, I am glad for the very wonderful contribution J. K. Rowling has made to the world. For those of you still unfamiliar with the world of Harry Potter, do put all seven very close to the top of your reading list. I would like to say something about Harry Potter as an incredibly appropriate preparatio evangeli for our culture, but no doubt, without further explication that I will not offer here, the statement would be unjustly attacked or naively defended by some passerby.

So, in the spirit of Dumbledore, I leave suggestions of an idea for you, but my deeper intentions will have to be revealed more slowly if at all.

In the meantime, well done, Ms. Rowling, and thank you for sharing Harry with us!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sorting Hat Says...

The sorting hat says that I belong in Ravenclaw!


Said Ravenclaw, "We'll teach those whose intelligence is surest."

Ravenclaw students tend to be clever, witty, intelligent, and knowledgeable.
Notable residents include Cho Chang and Padma Patil (objects of Harry and Ron's affections), and Luna Lovegood (daughter of The Quibbler magazine's editor).

Take the most scientific Harry Potter
ever created.

Get Sorted Now!

So, as Harry Potter month winds down, I am reconfirmed as a Ravenclaw (I took the quiz two years ago, too). Happy to be a Ravenclaw. Not about to be in Slytherin, and Gryffindor is a little overrated, I think. Just because "The Chosen One," the "Boy Who Lived" is in Gryffindor does not mean it's the best.

Anyway, I did get to see Order of the Phoenix last Wednesday, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Although, since I had just finished re-reading the book, I missed the major portions they had to cut out. I will not offer a full-scale review here.

But this very impractical thought occurred to me recently. In reading back through all of the books, and thinking how wonderful life at Hogwarts would be, my mind wandered into pedagogical climes. More specifically, I found myself wondering, in a move perhaps not far from Milbank's desire to take back the university, what it would look like to have a school of prayer (or spiritual direction, or whatever one wants to call it) just as Hogwarts is a school of magic. Consider ("indulge" is a better word maybe) if you will, a school where those who attend follow a strikingly different curriculum. Where the important science is a science of the Spirit. Led by experienced teachers who practice their art well (well, most of them--I'm sure there would be a couple of Trelawneys in the bunch), students would learn the life of the Spirit. In truth, this is what the churches should be, yes? Now, it sounds impractical, until you consider that the students at Hogwarts are still concerned with such plebeian things as dating and sports and so forth. Just as they cannot separate their magical existence from the mundane, so also, perhaps the students as such a school of divinity would not separate their spiritual existence from the secular.

Now, in theory, seminaries should function this way, but, again in theory, only for ordinands. It is long since parochial schools functioned this way--even here religion is one subject among others, rather than the queen of the sciences, or the lifeblood of education. Admittedly, what I would like to see is something of an actual Christian high culture. I think Milbank and the Radical Orthodoxy crowd have similar fantasies.

Anyway, just a bit of daydreaming. Only seventy-two hours until The Deathly Hallows, and I for one am super excited.

In other news, Portland was fun, although a church closed on July 4th abolished my hopes of communing with the locals. Seriously, when did July 4th become a religious holiday? And even if it were, that would only be more cause to celebrate the Eucharist. I also managed a trip to Columbus, Ohio that was short-lived but fun. And I am now working up my next Jamie Smith post--yes, yes, I'm getting there, I'm getting there.

Until then, Happy Harry Potter month, and blessings be with you all!