Just a Question

i think that this cartoon is highly illustrative of the problem we face in america as Christians. Everything is economics, from health care reform to senate agendas, to everyday life. The phenomenon of the cultural american mind is that it is one of price and benefit, business ethics and the absence of any other ethic from all discourse. The only language our society speaks together anymore is not philosophy, music or even science, literature or politics, it’s economics. The prevailing talk in the whole health-care debate has been economical, because our society has lost the ability to speak publicly in any other terms in so many areas.

So, is it rape or shoplifting? while a jury might vote rape, it would seemingly make no sense in a society that carried to its logical conclusion would obviously vote shoplifting.

America is a heap of contradictions, slowly crumbling from the inside, protestant piety and subjectivism established on the grounds of an unlimited market which has had immense cultural influences and an impetus towards ever greater tolerance all lead to make a society where this question even becomes a possibility. Our culture is radically obsessed with the economics of the body, rather than its meaning.

As Christians our task is to invalidate this modality of thinking. The body has meaning, real meaning not as an object of economic inquiry, but as a living person, someone to be respected and cherished as an individual life.

This cartoon merely reaffirms Jenson’s point in His Systematic Theology II, chapter 6 Sex and Politics

7 thoughts on “Just a Question

  1. Hi again, Eli,

    (It’s Nancy from the blog you commented on today– http://saradode.wordpress.com.)

    I just wanted to say that I’ve been looking through your posts, and I’m really impressed by the originality and the compassion (and the great deal of good sense) of your ideas, as well as by your writing. I don’t consider myself a Christian or anything else–just a lover of God and Yeshua, and someone who would like to learn to practice the things that Yeshua was really trying to teach us on a consistent basis. But I was raised Catholic, and some of your points (especially regarding nationalism and war being so intertwined with American Christianity) seem to me to be right on target.

    I hope that you get to get back to college, and then to a place where you can put your ideals into action, soon; it sounds as if you have a lot to offer.

    Take care,


    • I very sincerely appreciate you taking the time to comment back, and to read a few posts as well. I appreciate your sincerity, and originality as well.

      I really enjoyed your alternate reading of peter, it was an imaginative leap i’d never taken before.

      I’m also glad that you as a Yeshua follower like my work. I try through my work to embrace and redeem the name Christian, making it something other than what people see it as by being faithful to Yeshua, this Jesus, whom we worship.

      I wasn’t raised catholic, but found a broken beauty, majestic and inviting in the power of a confusing, at times seemingly convluted history. But it was there I found answers, and it was there I found a lot of the influences on my theology, though I’m not catholic at the moment.

      I’m glad that my little series on nationalism and american Christianity has been right on. I have hoped to be clear, and i feel that my writing style has developed as i’ve worked on the project.

      I hope i get back into college soon too. I may not be in school, but school is definitely still in me.

      Thanks for taking the time to write back, i’ll pop in from time to time, let you know what i think. It’ll be fun.


  2. Thanks, Eli (SUCH a great name, for obvious reasons!). The blog is not a work of imagination, but, as I said, I wouldn’t expect anyone to take that at face-value, and it’s fine with me if someone reads it like that, particularly if they’re able to take away something useful from it.

    I no longer ascribe to Christianity, or any other organized faith, because of my belief that doing so has a way of limiting the limitless in people’s minds, and creating divisions that I believe go against everything God wants for us. I also don’t believe that Yeshua was looking to create a church institution; rather, he was a man who opened and emptied himself so that God could speak to and through him, and work through him and demonstrate how God would be if he lived among us–loving, compassionate, inclusive. I don’t think that this happened only one time in one form in one place. God has walked among us in many guises at many times. The message, however, is always the same, if people choose to hear it.

    I’ve often noted that Christians (not all, but some, and particularly the more conservative) very rarely quote Yeshua’s words or deeds beyond the eucharist and the crucifixion/resurrection of the Bible. More often, they choose the “wrathful God smiting His enemies” parts of the O.T., or the judgmental and apocalyptic sections of the N.T. post-Yeshua. Things tend to get put into terms of sin and suffering, when (as I see it), Yeshua’s message was that the greatest (and perhaps the only) “sin” is to withold love, and that we are meant to find joy and beauty here on earth–also a part of God’s “kingdom”.

    Well, that was long-winded! I’ve put you on my Blogroll, and will definitely check back as well.

    (I envy your being in Florida right now! I’m up north, but my son and I will be moving the FL in the summer…can’t wait!)


    • I don’t blame you for not ascribing to Christianity, I was an avowed atheist until a few years ago. Of course I liked Jesus, he’s always been a loving and compassionate person, and I think you understand Him better than many in many faiths. And for that, I commend you. Although, I would question your take on deity, but that’s neither here nor there. I know how you feel about conservative Christianity, and while considering myself a conservative, I’ve chosen to show my friends and people around me that Christianity is not heartless.

      I think you’re right about one thing though, he was self-emptying to allow God to work through Him, and i do think it’s sad that many of the conservatives remember to quote rules and guidelines more often than they remember to love their neighbor.

      I’m glad we’re getting to be friends, I’ll return the blogroll favor. And, Florida is wonderful sometimes, but it’s kinda sad not seeing at least a little bit of snow, I got used to snow when i lived in Tulsa. And on another note, I have a book recommendation: I think you’d really like this book called Surprised by Hope. it’s really great.

      Surprised by Hope

      just a quote to let you know what he’s like: “…We see the biblical portrait of YHWH come to life: the loving God, rolling up his sleeves (Is 52:10) to do in person the job that no one else could do; the creator God, giving new life; the God who works through his created world and supremely through his human creature; the faithful God, dwelling in the midst of his people; the stern and tender God, relentlessly opposed to all that destroys or distorts the good creation and especially human beings, but recklessly loving all those in need and distress. ‘He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; he shall carry the lambs in his arms; and gently lead those that are with young’ (Isa 40:11). It is the OT portrait of YHWH, but it fits Jesus like a glove.”

      -N.T. Wright in his book The Challenge of Jesus

  3. Atheist to youth pastor–there has to be a great story in there somewhere…

    The quote is lovely–a wonderful description of the characters and bearing of God and Yeshua (I do like to call him what I figure his Momma called him 🙂 ). I do, however, feel (I read the description of the book on the link you sent me) that there is too much attention paid to the question of the purpose of Yeshua’s death and the concept of resurrection; it again detracts from what Yeshua taught and, more importantly, how he LIVED–the examples he set in THIS world, in the present…in the presence of God inside of all of us, and in the world around us. (And no, I’m not a gung-ho “Gnostic” either, although I do think that people miss quite a bit by completely ignoring SOME of the non-canonical texts). When I imagine Yeshua, I don’t see a man suffering on a cross (thank God, because I don’t WANT to see him like that)–I see him touching someone considered “untouchable”, smiling at the sight of a poor woman offering what little she has, laughing with his friends, and condemning hypocrites who would have him observe the Sabbath rather than heal someone.

    Once again, I meant to keep it short, but I do kind of get going on these things!

    Yeah, I like snow too, but that’s what planes and trains are for–to get you somewhere for a while, and then to get you back to someplace warm as soon as you’ve had enough!


    • I’ll have to tell the story via blog sometime. I’ve never written it out.

      I think people miss out a bit by just not reading the text, it’s not a matter of this or that text, but if people were really serious about knowing the text they might really understand Jesus. I think that Christianity always suffers when it becomes synonymous with power, or culture. I’ve read some of the non-canonical texts, and i really like shepherd of hermas, and the gospel of thomas.

      i think you’re right to focus on the life of Jesus, but I remain convinced that the life he lived culminated in a death he thought would accomplish the whole mission he’d set out to do in those teachings.

      but that’s neither here nor there, I’ll make sure to let you hear the story when i write it. I think it’s a good one.

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