Sunday, July 26, 2020

Some thoughts on today.

Prod after prod comes into my view from reading various things. Bart Ehrman for example has a post on why many (Biblical Studies) textual critics are fundamentalist evangelicals. This is a BS carnival outtake. I suppose I could include it, but I already have examples of his work this month and I generally follow the rule to share the carnival among as many sources as possible in the month. He is certainly a coherent author and I am occasionally prodded by his work. But I am still questioning his apparent certainty of his own position. Some things are unknown even to ourselves, the knower.

I have no 'certain' position on the matter of faith. I am more likely to catch on to the idea of faithfulness and trustworthiness. When years ago, I asked Bruce Pullan what he looked for in a soloist, he replied with one word, reliability.

The problem with my position with respect to the Bible is that I know much of it was written with an axe to grind, ... but I wouldn't mind a sharp axe occasionally if only to clear away some of the broken and tangled branches in myself. Those that stop me from being reliable. Could I get an axe somewhere else? I don't think I could. I don't have time. The Bible has a sufficiency of conflicting voices to be humanly credible for me. But I must hear the voices separately and not conform them to a single voice. All things are more complex than their soundbites, e.g., sola scriptorum, sola fide, sola gratia. It all takes hard work even to find the value in the process. If we had no divisions to see and hear, we would not have any choices to make.

On a different tack, I read the three-page folio in the Globe and Mail from yesterday this morning. I have a paper copy but you may be able to read at the link. It describes the dismantling of Canada's early warning system for pandemics. It outlines stupidity and bureaucratic face-saving behaviour no different from other countries that we sometimes criticise for the practice. Why would we dismantle the very part of our governmental work that has a chance of uncovering the unknown and a chance of overcoming our natural inertia? Why having done that, would we muzzle our civil servants? We are not told the failures until they are exposed. Is that not a deception that should be avoided by a capable government, whether communist or capitalist, corporate or individual?

It occurs to me that we can be too open. There are some things my mother said we don't talk about. Smile now, for we talk about everything. My parents silence was disastrous for them. That's as far as I will go along these lines - hearing with sympathy the levitical instruction about not uncovering the nakedness of others. We are fortunate for death and the covering of memory.

2017 article on the praetorian guard
About bullying others into one particular position, we are now and have been for longer than we might like to know, in the presence of a new Praetorian Guard in all governmental entities. In particular, in the US today we see the use of Homeland security as a personal political tool of POTUS. From Wiki:
the first emperor, Augustus, founded the Guard as his personal security detail. Although they continued to serve in this capacity for roughly three centuries, the Guard became notable for its intrigue and interference in Roman politics, to the point of overthrowing emperors and proclaiming their successors. In 312, the Guard was disbanded by Constantine the Great, as he oversaw the destruction of their barracks at the Castra Praetoria.
Do we want three centuries more? Dark ages can last longer.

What value am I looking for that would give sense to the abundant life that we still can see around us? Even with our transitory nature, life is, as the film says, beautiful.

There's another word like 'God' - beauty, the opening scene of Room with a View, or quality, the stuff of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I often think of life as a complex programming problem. Somewhere in its bootstrap is self-preservation. Such a motive is necessary for temporary survival and gives ongoing momentum, the positive aspect of inertia. But the real mystery is why anything should be beautiful and why our sense of that beauty is marred. We have to work to find, preserve, and enjoy beauty. This is the value of the arts.
Paper bunny  (Life, it's all done by folding.)

I came to the Bible with fear and intellectual arrogance. This was not faith even if I called it that. Faith is there in us all but with what integrity will we pursue such trustworthiness? And is it even possible?

I keep going because of programming, music, and finding new things in the ancient sources that have a real relevance for us - to stop us from destroying ourselves. It is part of my self-preservation algorithm to care for others.

But so much of my life is not 'preserved'. I, for one, have forgotten a great deal of it. I was supposed to have a one-word conversation on Facebook today, and it turned into a memory from over 60 years ago stimulated by a friend of my deceased brother that made me recognize how much I forget. I had no idea that this friend married my favorite first cousin. I had lost touch entirely with this side of the family tree. I am distantly preserved in the minds of some of my friends. But this nice surprise for me contrasts with the dismal surprises we have daily in the news.

In a similar way, I had not been in touch with many of my graduating classmates from 60 years ago. Now I have been with a collected mailing list of about 20, but while I am glad to have made contact, the school memories are not of the best days of our lives. Yet it is partly those old days of my childhood that gave my life its trajectory, its love of music, and its flirtations with and radical reactions against fundamentalist Christianity. Yet retaining an inarticulate hope and a serious respect for the love of the texts that have touched billions of lives, and a recognition that 'our knowledge in in part'. There is something reliable here even in the face of bad governance.

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