It has become somewhat fashionable again to claim that Paul ruined the Gospel of Jesus by making it all bloody and such, for getting that Christ came proclaiming the Kingdom of God, not some atonement theory (yes, I’m referring to the Brian McLaren’s new book).
Well, this afternoon I came across this and thought it worth of spreading around. It is from Albert Schweitzer‘s “The Mysticism of St. Paul.”
The inner character [of Paul’s thought] is determined by the fact that Paul has thought out his concpetion of redemption through Christ within the sphere of belief in the Kingdom of God. In Paul’s mysticism the death of Jesus has its significance for the believers, not in itself, but as the event in which the realisation of the Kingdom of God begins. For him, believers are redeemed by entering already, thorugh the union with Christ, by means of a mystical dying and rising again with Him…, this state being that which they are to possess in the Kingdom of God. (p. 380)
Is the alternative “Jesus or Paul” a real alternative, or should the phrase run, for us, “Jesus and Paul”?
Paul Preaches the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and of Jesus as the Coming messiah in the form which it must necessarily take in consequence of hte death of Jesus having already occurred, and of the assigning to this death of the significance of the initial event of the Coming of the Kingdom. In the mystical redemption-doctrine of Paul the Primiteive-Christian faith discharges the task it had been set of bringing the belief in the expected kingdom, and the redemption which goes with the Kingdom, into logical connection with the belief that Jesus who had died was the Coming Messiah. (p. 390)
Schweitzer connects the death of Christ with the eschatological atonement through which the Kingdom of God comes. Anyway, it just seemed like coming from a non-evangelical, German scholar, that at least we should be a little more thoughtful about how Paul and Jesus relate to each other, not assume a corruption or disjunction too quickly between the two.
So this summer I read A Canticle for Leibowitz, and loved it. It is a post-apocalypic novel about the monks of St. Leibowitz who preserve the “memorabilia” of the previous (our) lost civilization, destroyed in a nuclear holocaust. The novel works its way through three different time periods as new generations grapple with the lost sciences and their eventual recovery. It is just brilliant. When Walter E. Miller wrote the novel in 1960, the threat of nuclear war was on everyone’s mind. But now, are we really going to blow everything to kingdom come, or will world end in a different manner?
I have a sense that it will end differently, and not out of fear of other humans. It no doubt will still be motivated out of fear. But fear of what?
Here is my idea. What if we immunized ourselves to death out of fear of some pandemic? Really, what if we, in trying to create a vaccine, for say the swine flu, we ended creating some killer strain that wipes out 3/4ths of the world population. I’m talking about the scale of 12 Monkeys (great movie!) or 28 Days Later. I’m just wondering because I have heard rumors that we are headed toward the possibility of forced vaccines if the swine flu truly does escalate (here, here, and a video here), and what if it backfires or instead causes the pandemic.
To add fuel to the fire, below is a hip-hop version of an anti-vaccine announcement. it is pretty fun and somewhat informative (well, maybe). But it still makes one think. Also, if you are interested, you can choose your own apocalypse (at least for America).
But let me know how you think the world will end. Or rather, what do the bowls and scrolls of Revelation contain?
I just finish a great book, and now I’m reading one that is blowing my mind.
The book that I recently finished is KojinKaratani’sTranscritique: on Kant and Marx. There is just too much to go into here. In fact I will probably spend much of the next month posting about it. His understand of the interrelation between the trinity of Capital, Nation, and State true open up helpful ways of understand globalization and individual states, as well as possible resistance to exploitative capitalism. Very philosophical. A tough read.
The one I’m currently reading is Wendell Berry’s Art of the Common Place: The Agrarian Essays. It is honestly the most refreshing commentary on American life I have ever read. It is very accessible, written in a journalistic style rather than a academic one. He just pulls all these threads together. If you are at all concerned about ecological issues, the local economy, body and the earth, or if you read (or want to read Crunchy Cons, which is quite good also).
Thankfully, most of Berry’s essays you can find online (I love the internet). Here are some that I found and that I strongly recommend: