Reading the various debates about the recent spoken word about Jesus and religion has been a surreal experience because I am in the midst of teaching a class on Karl Barth, a 20th century theologian who coined a rather famous (or infamous) line regarding religion, “religion is unbelief” he would eventually say in his magnum opus,Church Dogmatics.
But re-reading his Commentary on Romans, I am not sure Barth’s quip is so easily applied to the present resistance to “religion” (re: institutions and doctrine) in favor of Jesus. Barth writes, “Religion is neither a thing to be enjoyed nor a thing to be celebrated…” (258) Barth wrote this in the midst of an extended reflection on religion as a refusal of God and of our creatureliness. Some might take (and have taken) Barth to mean that instead of religion we need Jesus rather than these man-made edifices of institutional power. » Read the rest of this entry «
It is the day after Christmas. If you are anything like me this day feels as empty as boxes and tumbleweeds of wrapping paper surrounding a still nicely decorated, but significantly dry conifer. We have waited, longed for, and anticipated Christmas Day–the 25th of December. Anticipated the Advent of Christ, the coming of Emmanuel. But, now on the the 26th, Advent and our waiting has come and gone. It seems that Jesus too has come and gone. Now what?
Much of advent is about waiting. But what are we waiting for and what were people waiting for before the first Christmas?Are we only waiting for that day to finally come when we can unwrap the presents under the tree celebrate the birth of God in human flesh. The day when God becomes with us. Emmanuel, God is with us. What does this mean that God is with us? What are the implications of God living among us? How should Christmas change our lives?
What Would Jesus Buy? is a 2007 documentary produced by Morgan Spurlock, who directed, wrote and stared in Supersize Me. However Spurlock does not make an appearance in this documentary, as the clear headlines are Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping. The documentary focuses on how our nation has moved from individuals being producers to only being consumers, particularly around the holiday season. In fact now is the first time since the great depression that American household have no money in their saving accounts. Furthermore, Americans today tend to spend only 1 hour a week on religion and around 5 hours on shopping. Christmas is no longer a time of anticipation, but of dread.
American’s shopping grows exponentially worse at Christmas where many people go into debt to ensure that their families, especially children, receive the best gifts. Christmas is a wonderful selling opportunity for cooperations because it combines consumerism with the feeling of love and affection for friends and family. In America children are socialized to see the material goods given at Christmas with love. » Read the rest of this entry «
*Note: This was originally posted on Dr. Leong’s personal blog at davidleong.info. Watch for more guest posts from SPS Faculty and students, soon!
Henry Suzzallo, after whom the famous UW library is named, said that universities should be “cathedrals of learning.” Anyone who has visited the graduate reading room (I studied–and napped–there on occasion as an undergrad) should note the silent sanctity of knowledge in that place. The cathedral-college metaphor also evokes the distinctly theological origins of most institutions of higher education in the U.S., from the Ivy League on down.
But the more I become solidly entrenched in the institution of academia, particularly theological academia, as a Christian and aspiring scholar, the more I sense a deep-seated skepticism growing within me about the endeavors of the Christian academy. I returned from AAR about a week ago, and while I am still processing some of the stimulating conversations and ideas that were presented there, I am also struck (perpetually, it seems) with the glaring discontinuity between the academy and the “real world.” » Read the rest of this entry «