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VoL, Live at the 40 Watt

So, I stalked an innocent professor at a local .edu carefully enough he didn't kook-file me (name-dropping can be a good thing!), and I'll get to find out if my latest schemes are pipe-dream quality, or vaguely feasible, perhaps even useful.

[i've decided it's just no good to use innocent bystanders' real names on the 'net, so if this poor sucker^H^H^H^H^H^Hfool^H^H^H^Hfellow ends up taking me on as a student or whatever, i'll have to get him a funky moniker pretty quick]

Apparently, barring some kind of clear signals from God, He's going to let me get away with plunging in way over my head in languages, history, culture, and generally playing catch-up in yet another field where I'm woefully ignorant. He's sneaky and mischevious like that.

and the thing that's yours for free / is the thing i need the most / stifles every boast, stifles every boast / yeah the thing that's hard to speak of / but the secret we all know

Besides my little essaylet (mmm, neologisms!) which takes a principle expounded years (decades, actually) ago by my favorite "dinosaur", Lewis, and transforms it from the simply temporal to a broader application, I've come up with a rather more grim, and probably less popular idea for a chain of essays. First, I should backtrack on the Lewis thing, since I actually started on that one.

Lewis, in an intro to an Athanasius translation, expounds on the utility of reading old books, as their perspective is so wholly different that that of our contemporaries; whatever the differences amongst Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Cranmer, and Erasmus, they are all similar to one another in ways which mark them off drastically from, say, Barth, Brunner, and Tillich, and from my own generation. Assumptions and concerns looming large for those of one age, likely seem side issues or puzzling to another. Shared perspectives of earlier centuries have at least this value -- they are not our own. Whatever errors one is prone to absorb as a 1990's USA Midwest liberal-arts-college graduate, are unlikely to be corrected by reading the books of one's contemporaries and those of one's instructors; however, those errors are extraordinarily unlikely to be reinforced by reading 16th-century Reformers, or even early-20th-century dialectical theologians. Old books are not free from errors, but their errors aren't the same as the ones our peers are inclined to; Lewis points out that books from the future would have the same benefit, however, they are unavailable...

What I want to do is something inconceivable to the venerable dinosaur: re-orient the principle laterally. Whatever biases I as a 1990's USA Midwest liberal-arts-college graduate accumulate, I am unlikely to encounter exactly in a 1990's Kenyan state university graduate, when I read her essays. While Lewis probably never conceived of valuing works from outside the "Western" classics, given his self-confessed status as a "dinosaur", we are not required to confine ourselves to his limitations.

ObMisunderstandingsWarning: This is not a rehash of the 80's-90's doctrine of multiculturalism according to its rather sad pluralistic dogmas. Note that the above is derived from C. S. Lewis's work, and re-read as necessary.

Oh, the other thing is a rather grim thing. Not calculated to get me a shelf at the local Babi-jesu-de-la-PreciousMoments store, the working title is, The Death of Children. It's supposed to be a test case of Kitamori's rather extraordinary ruminations on the selfish nature of sinful loves, including those for our own family -- the selfishness of our grief for our children (Theology of the Pain of God, Ch. 7.II). Other topics to include the suffering of innocents (theodicy, but I'd like to ignore pretty much the entire preceding conversation on the subject), the problem of adolescents dying and given the benediction of innocent children (teenagers, certainly in my neck of the woods, are no longer innocents or irresponsible persons), and the falsity of proclaiming the blessedness of innocence on those in the very point of life where human energy combines with sin ("original" to use that unfortunate English term) to make them some of the most effective perpetrators of interpersonal cruelty and self-directed indulgence left to roam freely in society (if you remember, you know about this). Continuing, I hope to touch on the possibility (necessity?) of analogy in theology, especially when we claim to be speaking as Scripture does -- of humanity, life, death, violence, love, money, lust, honour, pettiness, passion, work, rest, and forgiveness. Bloodless abstractions, and the flight from the struggle for living truth, in the face of the death of children, in the face of the death of the son, are the betrayal of the Gospel, and the living legacy of Judas.

If I'm feeling combative I may propose that we can either be Christ-ians, or Barth-ians. (Which would likely either end my career or syrocket it.) At the last, I'll have, of course, to return to Jerusalem, to the death of the Son. The End must revisit the Mother (Eva) crushing the head of the serpent, the wiping away of every tear, the songs of martyrs to the Lamb who was slain, the drawing of all unto the one who was raised up.

"All will be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be made well."
-- Julian of Norwich

"According to the Christian faith, however, God really entered history and bore real sin. Sin is that which should not be forgiven. The pain of God means the forgiving of sin that should not be forgiven."
-- Carl Michalson, Japanese Contributions to Christian Theology, p. 92 ; Kitamori, Ch. 2.

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