Archives For Anthropology

 

What it Means to be a Person
(Rather than an Individual)

 
A Feature Review of

Being Human:
Bodies, Minds, Persons
Rowan Williams

Paperback: Eerdmans, 2018.
Buy Now:  [ Amazon ]  

 
Reviewed by Rob O’Lynn
 
 

*** Our Video Intro to 
Rowan Williams’ work

 

Being Human is a collection of five essays that focus on various aspects of theological anthropology that were given over a period of four years.  A brief introduction begins the volume, in which Williams notes that this “unintended trilogy” has been “less about the basics of Christian belief and behaviour and more about the sort of questions in our culture that make us wonder what ‘real’ humanity is like and whether our most central ideas about what is human are under threat in this environment” (vii).  Williams’ argument specifically in Being Human is that answering the question of what defines a human is now more complicated than ever.  “No need to panic,” Williams notes, because “we do need more clarity than our culture usually gives us as to what we think is ‘more’ human” (vii).  The volume seeks to be somewhat apologetic, although in a more philosophical sense, in that “sources of contemporary confusion” regarding what it means to be human will be addressed so that the reader can find herself more “in alignment with the grace and joy of what is ultimately true—with God and with the will of God, as Christians would say” (vii).  In short, Williams seeks to examine some of the different pressures that are pressed upon the human in order to determine how these pressures shape us into or distort us out of the will of God.

Continue Reading…

 

“Sex is (Not) a Big Deal”

A review of
The End of Sexual Identity:
Why Sex Is Too Important to Define Who We Are

By Jenell Williams Paris

Reviewed by Shaun C. Brown


THE END OF SEXUAL IDENTITY - Jenell ParisThe End of Sexual Identity:
Why Sex is Too Important
To Define Who We Are.

Jenell Williams Paris.
Paperback: IVP Books, 2011

Buy now:
[ ChristianBook.com]
[ Amazon – Kindle ]

Anthropologist Jenell Williams Paris begins The End of Sexual Identity with a story many Christians can relate to—a gay friend asking, “Does Christianity really condemn homosexuality?” (7).  In her response, Paris made some references to biblical passages in Leviticus and Romans and concluded, “I don’t have the right to just reverse what most Christians in most times and places have believed” (8).  This confrontation led to a broken friendship.  After years of studying sexuality and social constructions, Paris says she would answer the question differently, and this book would be her response.

Continue Reading…

 

“Return of the Gods”

A Review of

All Things Shining:
Reading the Western Classics
to Find Meaning in a Secular Age.

By Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Dorrance Kelly.

Reviewed by Alex Joyner.

All Things Shining:
Reading the Western Classics
to Find Meaning in a Secular Age.

Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Dorrance Kelly.
Hardback: Fress Press, 2011.
Buy now: [ Amazon: Hardback ]
[ Amazon: Kindle ]

[Editor’s Note: Pagination is from an electronic version
and may not correspond to the physical book ]

Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Dorrance Kelly believe that the long, ongoing, Western project has resulted not only in the loss of one god but many and that is a problem.  “As autonomous subjects we have closed ourselves off to the calling of the gods, and it is in this sense that we have banished them.  Nobody seems to have noticed this” (201).  The problem is not, as Thomas Hardy noted in his poem “God’s Funeral,” that we “were tempted to create/One whom we can no longer keep alive.”  The problem is that we have become insensitive to the presence of the sacred and so have constructed a sense of self that is overburdened with autonomy and the crushing necessity of choice.  The gods would woo us back.

In their book All Things Shining: Reading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age, the two philosophers narrate the journey that has led from the polytheistic world of Homer and the classical Greeks to the nihilism of contemporary society.  Dreyfus and Kelly make for entertaining guides through a greatest hits of Western lit.  Their choice of subjects (in a book that seems quite slim given its topic) ranges from the expected (The Odyssey & Dante) to the offbeat (Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love fame and Pulp Fiction).  Along the way they manage to kick up a number of provocative questions about the evolution of modes of meaning in Western culture all within a fairly coherent narrative structure.  As a focused jaunt through theological anthropology, it is successful.

Continue Reading…