Archives For self

 

A Communal Way of Doing Theology

A Feature Review of

God, Sexuality, and the Self: An Essay ‘On The Trinity’
Sarah Coakley

Paperback:  Cambridge UP, 2013
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Reviewed by Joshua Brockway
 
Not many theologians, save those dedicated to the work of Karl Barth or John Calvin, choose to identify as systematic theologians. Few publishing houses have the ability or patience to publish extensive, multi-volume theologies in the tradition of the Institutes or Church Dogmatics. Seminaries and Universities rarely call the field systematics, but prefer the generic appellation of “Theology” so as to make space for the unique methodological approaches of their faculty.

 

It is no wonder, then, that some have said that systematics is passé. Philosophically, the early prognosis was sounded by the likes of Lyotard and Derrida. The Post-Modern assumption these two writers helped to articulate, namely that any attempt at constructing a comprehensive system, or meta-narrative is futile, has soaked into the consciousness of academics. Instead, professional theologians have turned to consider particular modes of theology. Instead, Feminist and Liberation theologians now write of contextual perspectives shaped by the cultural experiences of particular peoples. Still others seek out other arenas for their work, dividing up theological disciplines among historians, preachers, counselors, and teachers. The problem is, of course, that other theologians appear to have not received the memo.

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“The Cult of Self and
The Tyranny of Illusion”

A Review of
Empire of Illusion:
The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.

by Chris Hedges.

 Reviewed by Brent Aldrich.

 

Empire of Illusion:
The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.

Chris Hedges.

Hardback: Nation Books, 2009.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Susan Sontag’s seminal 1973 book On Photography begins in Plato’s cave, “still reveling, [humankind’s] age-old habit, in mere images of the truth. But being educated by photographs is not like being educated by older, more artisanal images.” She continues, “By furnishing the already crowded world with a duplicate one of images, photography makes us feel that the world is more available than it really is. Needing to have reality confirmed and experience enhanced by photographs is an aesthetic consumerism to which everyone is now addicted. Industrial societies turn their citizens into image-junkies; it is the most irresistible form of mental pollution.” Similarly, Chris Hedges begins his new book Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle – after a visit to the World Wrestling Entertainment ring – back in Plato’s cave, “chained to the flickering shadows of celebrity culture, the spectacle of the arena and the airwaves, the lies of advertising, the endless personal dramas, many of them completely fictional, that have become the staple of news, celebrity gossip New Age mysticism, and pop psychology” (15). It is the replacement of reality with illusion, and the inability to see beyond the illusion that dominates Empire of Illusion.

    Divided into five chapters, the Illusions of Literacy, Love, Wisdom, Happiness, and America narrate what reads like many social constructivist or ‘society of spectacle’ critiques of the last several decades, although Hedges places these illusory experiences right in the middle of our current politics, economics and entertainment. And it would seem the illusions are easier to come by than reality itself, as many other writers – such as Wendell Berry or Neil Postman (both alluded to by Hedges here) have described in various works over the years. It is, however, Sontag’s essays on photography that I keep returning to as a framework for contextualizing the dismal images Hedges cites as indications of the disintegration of reality. Continue Reading…