Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Azusa Street as Postmodern Revival @ Azusa Remixed

The Azusa Remixed collaborative blog is now up-and-running with some interesting first posts dealing with global issues, Alister McGrath's take on Pentecostalism, and postmodernism from a pastoral perspective. The blog will be a mix of popular and academic discourse, though all aimed at being thoughtful and reflective. I hope it will become a clearinghouse for engaged discussions of global pentecostalism.

My own initial contribution has just been posted: "Azusa Street as Postmodern Revival." This will be the first of two parts. The second will focus more specifically on pentecostal concerns.

Update: Part 2 is now available.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Who, Augustine, and American Beauty

In my freshman philosophy course, right after we read Augustine's Confessions, we watch and dissect one of my favorite films of all time: American Beauty. Having read Augustine's Confessions as a proto-existentialist text (I've tried to make this case here [Part I]and here [Part II]), we then read the film as Lester Burnham's "Confessions" of a sort. I have found that if the Confessions remained fuzzy for students, after "reading" it through the lens of American Beauty it often "clicks."

One semester I had a student with hearing impairment, so we watched the film with its subtitles. This turned out to be a revelation since the subtitles also reproduced the lyrics of the eclectic soundtrack for the film, all of which is just bang on for the characters and scenes--and unappreciated if you don't listen closely.

Perhaps my favorite is the song that accompanies Lester Burnham on his final jog, "The Seeker," by the Who. Released in the year of my birth (1970), the song is a quasi-Augustinian anthem and I've found myself hooked on it of late. (OK, OK: Guitar Hero did bring it back to mind.) Here's a decent reproduction available for free on YouTube:

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Salman Rushdie in The Guardian

One of our very favourite routines in England was heading out Saturday morning to get "the papers," and returning to curl up with a coffee and the Books section of the Saturday Guardian. Now back in the States, I'm reduced to reading it online (which is a pretty sorry substitute, but I'll take what I can get). A feature this week is an interview with Salman Rushdie. Commenting on fellow novelists like Martin Amis and Ian McEwan who, Hitchens-like, have been ranting about Islam, Rushdie protests:

"I thought the attack on Martin in the Guardian by Ronan Bennett [in an article published last November and condemned by McEwan] was out of order. To say he is racist because of that is wrong. I may not like the things you believe and, by the way, the fact that you believe them makes me think less of you as a person. I may despise you personally for what you believe, but I should be able to say it. Everybody needs to get thicker skins. There is this culture of offence, as though offending someone is the worst thing anyone can do. Again, there is an assumption that our first duty is to be respectful. But what would a respectful cartoon look like? Really boring! You wouldn't publish it. The nature of the form is irreverence and disrespect.

"What pleases me, though, is that at least in Britain there is still the possibility of literary people writing on current affairs. Here [in the US], that's much less true. Who wouldn't have wanted to read Joan Didion's take on Hillary Clinton, or Don DeLillo writing about the US election? In the past, Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal could be public intellectuals, but there is much less scope for that now."

Friday, July 11, 2008

Farewell to Generous Orthodoxy's "Think Tank"

Though signs of its demise have been evident for about a year, I'm sad to say goodbye to one of the better blog experiments I've been part of: the Generous Orthodoxy "Think Tank." Launched by some bright and enterprising graduate students--Steve Bush, Keith Johnson, and Myles Werntz, as I recall--the goal of the blog was to encourage conversation amongst (progressive) evangelicals in theology and ministry. Though many of those who committed to be contributors never did so, those who did participate were thoughtful, creative, and forthright. I found the site to be home to some excellent theological conversations that were generally quite accessible to those outside the narrow realm of theological academe. When it was at its best, I thought Think Tank was a great example of how the blogosphere could really be a space for constructive theological debate that moved the conversation forward. I learned much from it and I'll miss it. Thanks, guys, for all your good work.

(While most readers of Generous Orthodoxy "Think Tank" will already know about it, I would highly recommend Ben Myers' "Faith and Theology" blog as an alternative. It is, hands-down, the best theology blog out there.)

While I'll no longer be able to post at Think Tank, I will be part of a new blog venture being launched by Brian LePort: "Azusa Remixed" will bring together a cadre of pentecostal scholars and practitioners to provide "a compendium of global pentecostal theology, praxis, and history." The site officially launches on July 14, 2008.