Kristina Stoeckl, "The Theology Blindspot" The Immanent Frame - http://blogs.ssrc.org/tif/?p=40240
Stoeckl provides an interesting summary of the problem of looking at religion and secularity without care and attention for theological discourse. It's a mistake rightly pointed out by this author in much of the literature, and one we are also trying to redress with Newcastle's Religion in Political Life in Australia volume forthcoming in 2015.
"A God-Shaped Hole," America Magazine - http://www.americamagazine.org/node/157753
I had the pleasure of seeing the opening night performance of this rendition of the play with Patrick Steward and Ian McKellen in the lead roles at the Haymarket Theatre in Edinburgh.
Anonymous Academic, "Teaching Religion: My Students Are Trying to Run My Course," The Guardian - http://gu.com/p/3mhhf
I remember teaching religion and theology at a Russell Group University in the UK some years ago in a similar way to this academic's experience, i.e. open-minded, diverse, curious. It is sad to think that this is being eroded.
David Lyon, "Surveillance and the Eye of God" Studies in Christian Ethics 27, 1, 2014 - http://sce.sagepub.com/content/27/1/21.abstract?rss=1
I wrote about this some years ago and plan to return to it soon. Glad to see some of the main writers on the area continue to make this obvious connection between surveillance and theology.
"Why Quants Don't Know Everything," - http://wrd.cm/1aqjvdj
As I get ready for another year of metricized higher education, it's always nice to remind myself that social psychologists have already documented how policy metrics are quickly counteracted by the corrupting effects of the measure used. In the HE case, we get measured on student feedback, citations indices, and a range of other Key Performance Indicators (I was once advised to cite myself and colleagues to increase our H-index). In any case, given that the problems with this kind of thing are relatively well known, here's hoping that some wisdom may also filter into the system, as this article suggests. Campbell's 1976 paper can be found here: http://bit.ly/LZ2WcS.
Catherine Byrne, who visited Newcastle last year for one of our Religion in Political Life research seminars, has recently published a book on her research, Religion in Secular Education - what, in heaven's name, are we teaching our children? with Brill Press. Byrne's sociological work is important because it documents the outcomes of segregated religious education. A recent Guardian newspaper article cited her work as follows:
"State Students Fear 'burning in Hell' after Religious Instruction" - http://gu.com/p/3m7kd
Politifact recently checked a claim that the founders of the American republic thought religion only referred to Christianity. They deemed this a pants on fire lie based on the following:
"Fundamentalist: When Founders Said Religion They Meant Christianity," Politifact - http://bit.ly/1leHdc5
I find it odd that Christian people today seek constitutional rights to oppress other religious groups. It is equally absurd that radical secularists seek to exclude religious groups from all public reason. The form of secularism the founders seem to have had in mind in the above quotations generally promotes the State's even handed-ness towards different groups rather than their total exclusion. The aim seems to be the best way to promote freedom as broadly as possible. That it has turned out to be rather difficult to figure out the best way to foster a reasonably fair expression of religious difference in a practicable manner over the past few hundred years, is beside the point. As it happens, the founders did not say that the task of balancing freedom with equality and fraternity would be easy. Charles Taylor's A Secular Age provides a lengthy recent contextualization of these matters.
It is the strange world we live in where a brief comment on an obscure website such as mine can connect people, however tangentially, around seemingly simple questions in philosophical theology. A few months ago I was reading again on whether Heidegger read Barth in his early formulations of the relation between theology and metaphysics. I posted notes on this website that although oft cited that Heidegger read Barth, the specific citations did not substantiate the claim, e.g. no one cited the point at which Heidegger says he read Barth, what of Barth he read, nor what impact it had upon him. This led to a question from a student in Cambridge, which forced me to follow up in October. Then, again in November 22, where the smoking gun was found. My email response was as follows:
I am at the AAR in Baltimore this week and just walked downstairs to Oxford Press's stand. They had one display copy of Judith Wolfe's book, Heidegger's Eschatology: Theological Horizons in Martin Heidegger's Early Work, which I couldn't buy until the end of the conference. So, they kindly let me stand there and read chapter five where Wolfe discusses the precise issue of what of the early twentieth century protestant theology Heidegger read. More to the point, after sifting through this material it turns out there is one citation from a letter from Heidegger to Bultmann where Heidegger dismisses Barth as a "lightweight."
So, we finally have something from the pen of Heidegger saying he read Barth. I'll retract my statement, therefore, that there are no citations that indicate that Heidegger never seems to have actually read Barth. Rather, it seems he never read him very well. In any case, now I have to write about this more formally as this is a helpful way to summarize the relation between them. A few further notes may be relevant while this is fresh on my mind.
- Wolfe's chapter 5 focuses on the 1920s and Heidegger's letters to and from Bultmann. She then corroborates Bultmann's letters to and from Barth. She also cites some notes by Gadamer. The chapter is mainly driven by Bultmann's attempt to draw Heidegger into his dialectical theology project as he saw it (which Barth later breaks from). Whatever Heidegger knows of Barth seems to be on the basis of those conversations.
- I'll have to go to the Briefwechsel to see if there is any more on what precisely Heidegger read, but it is likely that it was the 2nd edition of Barth's Roemerbriefe. That is what Wolfe implies. Again, most of Wolfe's chapter is on Bultmann and reads the relation through Heidegger's letters to Bultmann and then cross references with Bultmann's letters with Barth.
- Heidegger's dismissal of Barth seems rooted in the line Heidegger was drawing between philosophy and theology at this time. I'm in strong agreement that this is what Heidegger gains over the 1920s, and it's why he ends up parting with Bultmann, and why I think Bultmann later misread Heidegger on these matters, i.e. in an existentialist mode. It is likely that Heidegger would not have found much help understanding Barth through his debates with Bultmann.
- However, Wolfe briefly notes that she thinks that Barth also totally separated philosophy and theology. This is predicated on an acceptation of McCormack's thesis that Barth's thought is fixed from 2nd Roemerbriefe onwards, and that it is essentially anti-philosophical throughout.
- My own contention is that Barth also found the Roemerbriefe inadequate, and that his mature work does not separate theology from philosophy, but inverts the relation, i.e. he develops a theological ontology in a way utterly contradictory to Heidegger. This happens in the Church Dogmatics, after his work on Anselm.
- This is just me being fussy, but although there is now a substantiation that Heidegger read Barth, and that there is better reasons to think that it is dialectical theology that Heidegger is thinking of in his lecture on Luther and sin in Supplements, it seems that it is still Bultmann that is primarily in Heidegger's mind. So too, the note on Barth in particular is so cursory that it should prove why Heidegger was not influenced by Barth (i.e. he is a lightweight), rather than that he was. In other words, the aspersions derived from this cursory note really annoys me, e.g. Barth and Heidegger were kindred ships passing in the night. Although focused on the 1920s, Wolfe still links the McCormack readings of Barth as anti-philosophical with the Heideggerian post-onto-theological readings. My main point is that this is a misreading of Barth and his value for contemporary continental philosophy's theological turn.
- On the positive side, for my own argument at least, Wolfe's chapter does enhance my contention that Bultmann's letters to Barth did intensify Barth's sense of the seriousness of the Marburg ontological critiques of those like Heidegger. It would add further weight to my contention that Barth was highly attuned to rethinking the question of being in the late 1920s, and explain why Przywara's lectures inspired him to write on Anselm. That is, Barth was well aware of the way these ontological questions were hanging in the air, and the Church Dogmatics is, in part, a response to them.
It seems to me that our current digital situation does not signal the end of codex books so much as the convergence and regurgitation of all forms of communication at once. Pulp is maybe a better metaphor to understand what is going on. A recent case in point is the Wipebook. It's a notebook which you can wipe clean when done, something like a whiteboard in a classroom.
What's interesting to me is the way this wipe-able book echoes the way authors used parchment drafting pages in the past. Centuries ago, around the time of the birth of the codex book, authors would use parchment to draft their notes before penning the final version on papyrus or a more formal format. Parchment was a polished leather page, and writing on it was something akin to writing on glass. Once satisfied with your draft you could wash or scrape the ink off the parchment and re-use it. A slight echo of your past writing or palimpsest might remain after cleaning. It is in this sense that I think St. Paul would have written, "now we see in a mirror dimly" in 1 Cor 13.12. He'd very likely have drafted the letter to the Corinthians on a relatively shiny parchment page, with the palimpsest dimly behind his newly inked metaphor. Layer upon layer of letters shining dimly as he wrote.