Jesus and Godel’s Theorem by Richard Bledsoe (Re-blog)

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Here is a thought provoking article written by Richard Bledsoe on Theopolis Institute….

Jesus and Godel’s Theorem

“Religion” is an attempt to create or build a tower with a top, or to build a temple that is self-contained. The story of The Tower of Babel in Genesis 11 is the story of mankind’s attempt to create a world that is self-contained and does not need God. All ancient pagan temples were renewed attempts to complete the Tower of Babel. These were termed “ziggurats,” and were viewed as connecting points, or umbilical cords between heaven and earth. Heaven and earth were in the ancient pagan cosmology, part of one eternal entity.

The Temple in Israel was purposely built with a similarity to the ancient ziggurat, and as an answer to the ziggurat. It was built on the top of a mountain, and was a “connecting” place to the God of Israel. But the God of Israel was not encompassed or contained within it, nor was His liberty compromised by it, as were pagan gods by their temples. Never-the-less, Israel was constantly tempted to believe that their temple was like the temples of the nations. The destruction of Shiloh, the capture of the Ark in Samuel’s time (1 Samuel 4), and the destruction of Solomon’s Temple (2 Chronicles 36:15-21) contradicted Israel’s constant temptation to “religion”. The theology of Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark is quite accurate. The Nazis, like Israel at Shiloh, believed that possession of the Ark entailed possession and control of Jehovah. In this they were wrong.

Arend Theodoor van Leeuwen says that the destruction of Herod’s Temple in 70 A.D. was in principle the destruction of all temples. The last 20 centuries of Christian history have progressively undone one temple after another. But, Christians themselves are tempted to new temples. Byzantine was an attempt to recreate on a Christian basis, at least a partial “ontocratic” or self-contained church/state, to use van Leeuwen’s terminology. The Roman Catholic Church has constantly been tempted in this way, and Protestant sectarianism is guilty in these ways as well.

Hopefully, it is increasingly clear that there is no top to the towers of this world, as we saw demonstrated in the 20th century when we saw all of the great ideologies fall. This opens the door to nihilisms, but also makes more clear than ever that it is only the Sovereign Triune God who is the I Am that I Am, and I Will Be that I Will Be. Only He is self-contained.

The modern city, and indeed, the modern world as a “global village,” is a “tower without a top.” Religion is done for. Bonhoeffer glimpsed this possibility in what he termed a “religionless Christianity. The story of The Tower of Babel sets the theme for all of God’s redemptive work in history. Fallen man’s idolatrous desire is to make for himself a self-contained world of complete adequacy.

When Carl Sagan says, “The Cosmos is all there is, or all there ever will,” he is stating the sentiments of the builders of the Tower of Babel. For them, the upper emporium was the realm of the gods, but it was by human effort and construction, a reachable realm, and that was itself a part of one cosmos. As one moved up the tower to the realm of the gods, one’s own being could also be “divinized”. Man’s being was potentially divine, given the right techniques and methods, amongst which “tower construction” was foremost. But God frustrated them and left them off with an incomplete tower, a tower without a top.

Click here for full article (2400 more words)

Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy Quotes #15

“If the land is not to be lost to hordes from outside, we in all the Western World shall have to recover the power to build communities. It is quite worthless to map out programs of rehabilitation or resettlement since not one of the individuals thus resettled or rehabilitated has the stamina to partake in the revival of the community. First of all, before any planners can carry out any plan, we shall have to create opportunities in which men recover their power to found or re-found communities. This power is lost. The modern mind has lost the recipe.”

~from The Christian Future, page 198

‘The Medium is the Message’

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If you were living in Canada in the 1990′s you would have been subjected to the “Heritage Minute” historical messages seen on TV and in movie theaters. As I have not actually watched TV for several years, I don’t know if these “Heritage Minutes” are still being produced. One that I remember well is the one about Marshall McLuhan. I thought it was stupid, and I didn’t understand what was being said.

Take a minute to watch the clip…

I hadn’t given any thought to this guy, McLuhan, until I was studying on the web about media in today’s world. He is most famous for his phrase: “The medium is the message”.

What he means by that phrase is basically this:

Media is an extension of ourselves. The device we choose to convey our message to others will determine the content of that message. And so the device, or the media, becomes the true message.

Tim Challies makes a good point in his book The Next Story that when any new media technology is created it is created for a specific environment, and even though the technology can be taken out of that original environment and be used in an entirely different type of environment, it will always take with it, where ever it is used, elements of the original environment. Power Point, for example, was created for the business board room. It is a great tool for making presentations using charts, graphs, and bullet points. But it didn’t stay in the board room. A lot of pastors use Power Point when giving their sermons. And so, when a pastor uses Power Point in delivering his sermon, he creates a business board room type of atmosphere in the church. The use of Power Point in the church brings with it elements of its original environment.

I remember when I was living in Canada attending my home church. The pastor at the time always used Power Point. He delivered his sermons using bullet points, and sometimes charts and graphs too. I once asked some new attenders, who had to drive for an hour each Sunday morning, why they decided to come to our church. Their answer was that they loved how the sermons were delivered in such a way that it made them feel as though they were at a business seminar. They didn’t comment on the content of the messages (although that was important to them too), instead they commented on the medium: how the message was delivered. The medium, then, is in itself a very powerful message. Some churches will never use Power Point. Some will have wooden pews and built in pulpits which would require a crane if anyone ever wanted to move them. In some churches the pulpit is just a glorified coffee table. These are all mediums which, in themselves, deliver very strong messages, perhaps even stronger messages than what is spoken by the preacher each Sunday.

You can also look at Christian television. What was TV originally created for? Entertainment. Therefore any TV show that isn’t entertaining will not last long. In fact the only place where you’ll see an unentertaining TV show last an undeservedly long time is on either public TV or Christian TV–where ratings don’t matter. All too often Christian TV programs simply consist of 50+ year olds sitting around a table discussing the theory of how to live life like they live life. Who finds this entertaining? Anyone under 40? I suppose the only people who do find these shows entertaining are other 50+ year olds who take comfort in that there is a show on that holds to the same values as they do. But even then I imagine that they only turn on the show so that there can be some background noise while they clean the house or something. Even the guys obsessed with the “End-Times” watch the programs that are obsessed with the “End-Times” for entertainment. They don’t watch the shows for education or information. They get a thrill from the idea that they are getting the inside edge on some secret knowledge as to when the world is going to end. And so when the maker of a Christian TV show says he doesn’t want to entertain, but rather just use TV as a tool to get his message across, then I’d say he’s chosen the wrong medium.

So with the medium being a powerful message in and of itself one cannot simply focus on the content. One has to choose the correct medium to use as well. One has to ask the right questions about what one is trying to get across to the viewers.

Here are four questions which McLuhan himself asked…

1) What does the medium or technology extend?

2) What does it make obsolete?

3) What is retrieved?

4) What does the technology reverse into if it is over-extended?

Good questions for any media producer to ask.

Media these days is a huge subject to look at, and it is very complicated. It is also a very interesting subject to study. I myself am just getting started. When I look at the questions above, and I think about how quickly technology is advancing, I wonder how things will look in ten years. Will McLuhan’s theories even apply anymore?

photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/theilluminated/5161779163/in/photostream/