oye vey: 3d creation movie coming soon

mike fleming brings exclusive news in a deadline new york article entitled, ‘god stars in 3d book of genesis bible tale.’
in the story we learn:

Paramount Pictures and former Walden Media co-founder Cary Granat producing with Reel Fx are mounting In The Beginning, a 3D telling of the creation story. The film is using The Book of Genesis as its primary resource. A script has been written by John Fusco (Hidalgo), and directing will be TV vet David Cunningham.

we also learn that:

the $30 million film will use 3-D visuals to transform the oft-told tale into a spectacle that the filmmakers hope will attract family- and faith-based audiences that flocked to The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, that first Chronicles of Narnia installment made on Granat’s Walden watch.

so there you have it. the next great mythological story told in 3d will be the story of adam and eve. and i can’t wait to hear the debates this movie will generate. here are a few just to get us started:

  • will the movie tell the genesis 1 story or the genesis 2 story (or harmonize them into a single creation story)?
  • will the movie give a literal account from the bible or will it embellish the story at all?
  • will the movie be praised by the evangelical christian crowd as much needed in a liberal hollywood climate, or will it be criticized if too much liberty is taken and the script deviates from the biblical account(s).
  • will it be a good script?
  • will it look as good as avatar?
  • will the academic community:
    • embrace it for its portrayal of a biblical story (thereby welcoming a movie based upon a piece of ancient literature)?
    • reject it for propagating a creation myth as historical (if the movie based upon a creation account is marketed as ‘factual’)?
    • embrace it because it embellished a mythological account of creation (and fictional stories should be celebrated as such)?
    • reject it because it feeds a frenzy of fundamentalist religion at a time when we should be critically examining the fundamental stories of various religious traditions over and against our modern, scientific understanding of humanity and the world?

what are your thoughts?

the stupidest thing kierkegaard ever said: a thought on the nature of love

Søren Kierkegaard

Sketch of Søren Kierkegaard by Niels Christian Kierkegaard, c. 1840.

in a recent sermon, i heard a quote by søren kierkegaard that gave me reason for pause. it concerned the eternal and irrevocable nature of love (at least in kierkegaard’s eyes). the quote is as follows:

It is regarded as praiseworthy that love abides, but as unworthy that it does not last, that it ceases, that it changes. Only the first is love; the other seems, because of the change, not to be love – and consequently not to have been love. The facts are these, one cannot cease to be loving; if one is in truth loving, one remains so; if one ceases to be loving, then one was not loving. Ceasing to love has therefore, in relation to love, a retroactive power. Moreover, I can never weary of saying this and of demonstrating it: wherever there is love, there is something infinitely profound. For instance, a man may have had money, and when he no longer has it, it still remains entirely true that he had had money. But when one ceases to be loving, he has never been loving. (Kierkegaard, Works of Love, Vol II, Chap VI “Love Abideth,” (Copenhagen, 1847). See p. 245 in trans. from Danish by David F. Swenson and Lillian Marvin Swenson, Princeton University Press, 1946.)

now, truth be told, i am a fan of much of what kierkegaard has to say. i subscribe to many of the elemental tenents of existentialism. and i try to practice, to the best of my ability, what is good because it is good, and not because i receive some reward for it (even heaven). we are righteous because it is the right thing to do, not for fear of punishment or to earn some prize.

likewise, i completely understand kierkegaard’s proclivity for making broad, sweeping, all-or-none generalizations: indeed, that is the very predisposition of existentialism. however, the above statement by kierkegaard is perhaps the stupidest thing he ever said.

kierkegaard’s claim about the absolute nature of love is fundamentally in err. (extrapolations into areas of faith or hope are likewise in error).

first, kierkegaard errs in his assumption that love is not quantifiable. while it may be difficult to establish a quantifiable scale of the degree to which one loves, and while there may be no identifiable limit to how much love one can exhibit, it is possible to understand love on a relative scale. one can certainly be said to love lots of people, but that same one can love some more than others, and perhaps love one individual most of all. thus, love is quantifiable in a relative sense. jesus is said to have exhibited this relative sense of love when he asked peter in john 21:15, ‘simon son of john, do you love me more than these?’ the fact that jesus acknowledges that humans can love some more than others demonstrates that love is quantifiable in a relative sense. likewise, when asked in matt. 22:36, ‘teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?,’ jesus did not respond, ‘behold, thou hast asked a stupid question, for dost thou not know that one either loves or does not love, and that all love is absolute?’ rather, jesus responded in matt. 22:37-39, ‘you shall love the lord your god with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ this is the greatest and first commandment. and a second is like it: ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ thus, in jesus’ mind, love is indeed quantifiable, and one can and should love some things more than others.

second, kierkegaard errs in his assumption that one cannot love and hate, accept and reject. however, it is indeed within the nature of both humanity and the divine to both love and hate. individual beings can show mercy to some while judging others; one can both accept and reject. this ability is quite consistent with normal human (and divine) behavior. this paradox explains the statement in malachi 1:2-3, where god says, ‘yet i have loved jacob, but i have hated esau.’ thus, the bible demonstrates that god can be all loving while simultaneously hating and rejecting some of own. one will certainly not conclude that because god ceased loving esau and hated him, that god ‘has never been loving.’

several other biblical passages directly countermand kierkegaard’s claims. god is said to both have compassion and withhold compassion (rom 9:15). god is said to both bless and curse (gen 12:3). yet, we do not state that because god ceased to show compassion on one occasion that he is therefore not compassionate, nor has ever been compassionate. thus, it is possible to have loved and lost. that is, just because one ceases to love does not necessarily mean that one never loved. it means that the love once exhibited is now exhausted. but the fact that one has ceased to love does not nullify that one has loved or is capable of still loving.

as much as kierkegaard desired to laud and aggrandize love, and, as romantic as an eternal, never-ending love sounds, his dichotomy of absolute states of love is not a reality – not even for god. while god is described in the bible as showing tremendous love, he is also said to have withdrawn his hand for a time. he is said to have hated esau. and, if we are to believe the words of jesus, god even forsakes and betrays in a time of need, as he did when jesus hanged on a cross and questioned, ‘my god, my god, why have you betrayed me?’ (mark 15:34) and yet, few would argue that because god ceased to love for a moment, he has never loved.

of course, some might argue that god’s love is beyond our comprehension and not subject to our rules and understanding, or that one can love while still manifesting the outward appearance of rejection. but that is not what kierkegaard argued. kierkegaard argued that one who stops loving has never loved, and this is simply not the case.

likewise, one cannot make an absolute claim of god, and then, in the face of simple refutation, claim that god is beyond the limits of the very human logic that was initially used to make the fallacious claim. additionally, one cannot claim that the use of scripture to refute a claim woven together by scripture is ‘biblicizing’ or a misuse of text. if one makes an absolute claim based upon a canon of text, then the use of that very canon of text to refute the absolute claim is valid.

in the above case, kierkegaard’s argument is not valid. it is a logical fallacy. of course, once defiled, something pure cannot be said to have never been defiled. purity is an absolute state. but love is not. one can love, cease to love, and love again. likewise, one who has ceased to love can still be said to have loved, and can still be capable of loving.

thus, despite kierkegaard’s occasional brilliance, the above quote is one of the stupidest things he ever said. -bc


(p.s. imho, kierkegaard was a jilted lover. he and regine olson professed love for one another, but she married another. one can understand why kierkegaard might want to describe love as an eternal absolute state: ‘you said you loved me, but you’re marrying him. therefore, you never really loved me, did you…’)

god does not have a plan for your life

i’ll get beat up by evangelicals for this, but here goes…

god does not have a plan for your life. not for yours, not for mine. that’s not how god works, and we need to stop thinking that way as soon as possible. there may be some grand design, which by design must have some fixed end, but i am certainly not the center of it, and the decisions i make in between beginning and end are by no means predetermined. we should therefore do the best we can with what we’ve been given, wherever we are.

perhaps god has a plan in general. maybe. but then again, maybe not. but that point is moot. christians need to stop thinking of following jesus and christianity as if following some organizational chart or systematized plan. lose the notion of ‘steps to salvation’. there is no ‘sacred path’. and if there is some cosmic order to life, it is governed by physics and the free-will choices we make, and not by some divine plan that controls our mind and governs us.

the bible offers ways to act, ways to serve, and ways to live that bring us into accordance with what the faithful understand to be god’s prescribed way of living. we are asked to make decisions, and to make good ones. we are asked to be loving neighbors and faithful servants, regardless of the circumstances, and regardless of the faith, race, gender, or socio-economic makeup of others.

sometimes, two choices are set before us, and one decision is clearly beneficial, while the other is clearly harmful. these choices are easy to make. but other times, we may be presented with two or three equally good options. in these cases, god does not lead you to make one decision over the other, and he certainly does not choose for you! the choice is ours and ours alone. god only asks that the faithful consider his instructions, namely, to treat all peoples with kindness whatever they decide and wherever they go.

the will of god certainly does not revolve around us. christians need to stop thinking this way. and yes, it is a product of this whole ‘personal jesus’ movement, which focuses solely on the individual consumer christian, and all too often neglects the larger community that jesus specifically asked his followers to serve, namely, the poor, the oppressed, and the neglected.

why do christians do this? perhaps it is to avoid responsibility for their decisions by claiming divine sanction for their choices. that is to say, christians may argue, “i was supposed to change careers because that is part of god’s plan for my life.” or perhaps, “i am supposed to move to a new town because it is a part of god’s plan for my life.”

but this kind of thinking causes a potential dilemma to the “god-has-a-plan-for-my-life christian”. specifically, what happens when the decision ultimately proves to be a bad one? what happens when the girl leaves, or the move is a disaster, or the job gets laid off? did god make a wrong choice? this kind of thinking usually results in the “god-has-a-plan-for-my-life christian” left wondering, “but god led me here,” which is a far less crackpot way of saying, “god told me to do it.”

what is worse, there is often a stubborn rationality that follows a decision that did not go as planned. unfortunately, many “god-has-a-plan-for-my-life christians” attempt to (mis)use their own misguided understanding of god’s will in a desperate attempt to guilt others into doing what they want. for instance, imagine the engaged man whose fiancée broke off their engagement. he truly believed that she was a part of god’s plan for his life. when she left, he tells her, “but god wants us together.” later, in retrospect, the man realizes that he was simply abusing his understanding of ‘god’s will’ to guilt a girl into staying with him.

this is the problem with the misguided notion that ‘god has a plan for my life’. it is essentially a forfeiture of responsibility, a trait so common among christians seeking an excuse for their selfish actions, a pardon their misdeeds, and an explanation for their failed relationships.

stop acting like every decision you make is a right or wrong one, black or white, for there is so much color in the world, and several shades of gray. jump out and embrace life. make good decisions. if you are of faith, bring god’s prescribed way of living into your life. god does not live our lives for us. he is not the micromanaging trail guide telling us which way to turn in the forest. for the faithful, he is more like the compass pointing us in the correct general direction. the individual paths we choose are our decisions, and ours alone. god simply asks that we head the right direction, and help others along the way.

it is not about god’s plan for you. it is about your participation in his world. he asks the faithful to make wise decisions, and asks them to bring him with wherever they go, whatever they choose. he does not make the decisions, he just wants to come along.

god does not have a plan for your life. your life is yours to live. stop worrying about life after death, and start living the life you have now. if you live it well, the afterlife will take care of itself.

%d bloggers like this: