Month: March 2007

Daddys and Daugthers …

John Mayer gets Daddy-Daughter relationships. His song "Daughters" has been a favorite of mine since I first heard it played. Tommie reminded us prom is just more than a week away. Graduation draws ever closer.

I read Kathleen Parker’s op-ed piece in the Oklahoman on March 1 titled, "Calling dads: Save the girls." (In the Orlando Sentinel – "Calling all fathers: Save the girls.") For a number of years I have been cajoling Dads to do just what Parker says is missing in the APA report,

Although the task force urges "parents" to help their daughters interpret sexualizing cultural messages, there’s little mention of the unique role fathers play in protecting their girls from a voracious sexualized culture.(italics mine)

The issue for me is countercultural. Someone does need to give young girls a different message than what they see in all forms of media. Parker concludes her piece with some solid advice.

    Fathers, after all, are the ones who tell their little girls that they’re perfect just the way they are; that they don’t need to be one bit thinner; and that under no circumstances are they going out of the house dressed that way. . . . The APA is calling for more education, more research, forums, girls groups and Web zines to tackle girl sexualization. But my instinctual guess is that getting fathers back into their daughters’ lives and back on the job would do more than all the forums and task forces combined.
    Ultimately it is a daddy thing.

Jack Bauer and Political Theology …

250px24tvJerome Eric Copulsky, Assistant Professor and Director of Judaic Studies at Virginia Tech, submitted an article to "Sightings", published by the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago Divinity School, titled, "King of Pain: The Political Theologies of "24."" At issue is the moral conundrums Bauer faces. His decisions often place him outside of "protocol." Those who question his tactics face either "trust me" or are made to feel they just don’t understand and hear, "I will explain it later." The matter is one of moral decision making and the "sovereign self."

Along with Copulsky I am a 24 nut. We took in five seasons since Thanksgiving weekend last year thanks to Blockbuster and then Charlie who found it cheaper to buy the seasons rather than rent them. Most of our musings have been on the surface with questions like, "When does Jack stop for a restroom break?" "How is it that is cell phone never dies, except at the most inopportune moment?" "How is it that in the same weekly episode Jack is near death and then gathers enough Sampson like strength, along with a deft eye and handy gun, and disposes of his captors?"

Copulsky probes deeper. He points out the "sovereign" Jack becomes episode in and out." He, Copulsky,  uses the piece to work through what he asserts is the show’s secret, controversial jurist and political theories of Carl Schmitt. He quotes from Political Theology, Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty (translated by George Schwab (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2005), "Sovereign is he who decides upon the exception."  Copulsky offers something of a summary of Schmitt’s "illiberal concept of sovereignty,"

To have this power to stand outside the law, to decide upon the state of exception, when normal rules do not apply. If we follow Schmitt’s claim that "significant concepts of the modern theory of the state are secularized theological concepts," the human sovereign is the political analogue of the omnipotent God.

Schmitt wrote Political Theology in 1922. Could we look further back to the concept of "inalienable rights" granted by our Creator? The problem seems to come when we "sovereigns" come into conflict. Whose rights’ trump? In developed communities rights must be subjugated at some point.

It has been too long since I took a couple of political history courses in college. Admittedly some will wonder what a pastor is doing thinking about secularized theological concepts. Reading this piece, I began to wonder about faith communities and "rights." How often does conflict arise out of the exercise of the "sovereign self" wherein one asserts the exception beyond the norms of the community. We tend to assert the role of romanticized individualism the culprit. What are the connections between these two – the "sovereign" as noted by Schmitt and the intensity of the individual often referred to as "rugged individualism?" Do we come to think of ourselves as the analogue to an omnipotent God? Just how is it we are to navigate authority when it comes to shared life in the community when any person moves sovereignly above the community suggesting the need either for trust or an explanation to come later?

Willard seems to be helpful here when he notes the conflict between the kingdom of the self and the Kingdom of God. Our attempts at sovereignty, ruling our own lives, do seem problematic. We lose sight of the ethic of love central to the Kingdom and replace it with an ethic resembling selfishness. We then become the framework for understanding and our perspective then turns myopic. The way of Jesus does seem to run "countercultural" to the sovereign self as well as the rugged individual. Witness Jesus who illustrates the norm in the Kingdom over against those who think they have the norm of God’s Kingdom in both mind and hand.

Copulsky closes with,

It’s not necessarily a bad thing to detect the strains of political theory or to be confronted with somewhat heavy-handed religious symbolism in a popular television series. But after we spend an hour in the thrall of Jack Bauer, Schmittian sovereign and secular savior, we should be sure to remind ourselves that entertainment which exploits our fears and strokes our hopes of simple solutions will not provide the means to our salvation, political or otherwise.

Those were the days …

Last evening local CBS affiliates aired, "Life Together Centennial Celebration." I have it recorded to watch this evening. We were downtown feeding the homeless in OKC. I received a reminder with the following ending paragraph,

Oklahoma Baptist history began when one Native American, two Caucasians and three African Americans founded the first Baptist church near Muskogee, Okla. Through the years Oklahoma Baptist churches have increased to more than 1,700 congregations and 750,000 members worshipping in nearly 40 languages.

Re-reading this before pitching it in File 13, I thought of Paul’s post from today. He quotes Ron Sider to offer some perspective on just how we should understand ourselves in a global context when it comes to following Jesus. What would our perspective be were the make-up of Baptist churches in Oklahoma comprised of multi-ethnic congregations?

Breath … could there be something to pausing before reacting? …

Parents of teenagers will readily identify with,

"But it really is a mood swing where things seem fine and calm, and then the next thing is someone’s crying or angry," she added. "And I think that’s why people have used the term ‘raging hormones.’"

A couple of weeks ago Reuters reported, "Hormone paradox may help explain teen moodiness."