Friday, 10 September 2010

7 Quick Takes (56)

1. I am a student again. I have attended classes. I did some readings. This is strange, and yet not strange.

2. I am a TA. That means "Teaching Assistant," for those not-in-the-know on university lingo, and Teaching Assistants do things like lead discussion groups and mark papers. As a matter of fact, I hold the grades of 20-odd students almost entirely in my hands. I also have to create a 50-minute environment of collegial discussion about literature each week in the seminars. It was absolutely mind-shrivelling terrifying at first, but I'm already getting a feel for it. As a matter of fact I quite enjoyed the first session; some of the kids were quite willing to participate. (I say 'kids' but they're not kids; some are first years, but some already have a BA. And even the first years are at least 17. It's scary, almost, seeing these kids who are adults, or adults who are kids. And then I remember that at 23 I too am hardly an adult. Certainly in many ways I am not an adult, but in few or no ways am I still a kid.)
Take home message: I like this teaching thing, so long as it's not overly formal.

3. I have explored campus and such a little more. Did I tell you that I visited the Museum of Anthropology on Monday? I was surprised that it would be open. There was a cool documentary playing about a guy from a local Aboriginal community who was part of the totem pole tradition; he went to New Guinea and partnered up with another guy there and then brought that guy to BC, where they both carved things. The New Guinea guy's totem pole, carved in Canadian redwood, is in the MoA.
The MoA is extremely cool. I might do a post about it in the future.

4. On the note of exploring, I visited UBC's Botanical Gardens today. Those are also pretty cool. I did the canopy walkway, which was a little nerve-wracking for acrophobic me. The Asian and forest area was sublime (in the sense in which it's contrasted with the beautiful): there was such a sense of vertical space, tall and high and daunting. The other parts--the alpine garden, the Carolinian garden, the physic herbarium--were also interesting. This deserves more exploration.

5. I am getting to know people. This is a good thing. Today I also visited with someone I know from Queen's who currently lives in Vancouver.

6. I, like virtually everyone else, am watching this crazyman in Florida and his hateful book-burning. I, like virtually everyone else, am hoping he will not go through with it. And I, like at least some other people, am concerned about the radical and hateful reactions in the Middle East (the "Death to the Christians" chants come especially to mind).
There seems to be a question of whether Pastor Jones' sulphuric rhetoric is in fact built logically upon his foundational beliefs; that is, whether burning Qu'rans makes perfect sense in a Christian worldview (Leah, if you are reading this and if you believe I am misrepresenting your claim, please let me know). To me it is obvious that Pastor Jones' behaviour entirely contradicts the foundations of Christian ethics, and I am happy that Elizabeth Esther articulated this far better than I could in her recent post about American evangelicism in general and Pastor Jones in particular:

"It often seems to me that for many of these evangelicals, sending a message is more important than being the message. This is why being a Christian in America isn't so much about feeding the hungry and clothing the naked as it is about voting Republican and attending a mega-church."

I suggest you read the whole post, but the gist as it relates to the logically-consistent question is that Christianity is not supposed to be about publicity and belief-control at all, but about showing love and fighting injustice. As Pastor Jones doesn't seem to be much for either, I can't say that his actions are "really" Christian... but that's a tricky concept anyway.

7. I have borrowed The Queer God, by Marcella Althaus-Reid, from the library. Whether I finish it or not is fair speculation, but I took the first step. So far it is not an easy read. Trying to read it simultaneous to watching Battlestar Galactica cannot help. What will help is that, as a grad student, I do not need to return the book until sometime in November. I'm increasingly unsure I will be impressed. But by hook or by crook I will learn more about non-normative options in the general Christian umbrella...

Alright, all, it's time to head over to Conversion Diary, host of this carnival.


Leah said...

Hi, Christian

I wasn't arguing that burning Qu'rans makes perfect sense in all Christian worldviews, only that it makes sense in his. My main point is that it's hard for outsiders to judge which, if any, is true Christianity and that it's possible for both systems to be internally consistent.

I am frustrated by the idea that all religious extremists are necessarily perverting a true, milder faith (Islam is a religion of peace, Christianity has a god of love, etc). The aggressive sects have theological traditions as well, and both sides never seem to be able to settle what should be an academic question.

It seems like religious moderates prefer to debunk extremists through appeals to secular morality. Obviously, that makes sense to me, but I like the efficient step of using secular morals as moral, rather than the heuristic for judging religious systems.

Christian H said...

Leah, I apologise for misrepresenting your claim.

I have read your comment, and am thinking about it. This will take time, though, so if I seem to be blogging blithely about other things (or not blogging at all), it's because I don't want to respond without having properly processed this. Which is to say you've pointed out something rather valid: while it seems clear to me that Pastor Jones is not being Christ-like in this whole episode, it is far from clear to someone not in my shoes that "being Christ-like" is constitutive of Christianity. What then does one do or think about this? I quite possibly committed a more sophisticated version of one of the errors I discussed in my "Real Christian" post.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin