22 December 2008

Ho-ho-holy night!

Good news for last-minute shoppers. While Googling "the greatest gift of all" in order to find some good foils to use in my 12/28 sermon, I came across this wonderful figurine, portraying "a respectful and reverent Santa" approaching Jesus in the manger. Take a moment to read the full product description on this website; pretty much every sentence has something funny in it. ("I've never seen [Santa] this handsome"; Santa "secretly longs to hold the precious baby"; the figurine "will remind us of the true meaning of the love and warmth we share during the Christmas season".)

09 December 2008

Things Rod Blagojevich would never do.

This is pretty cool. In the interest of transparency (and announced a day before the FBI arrested Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich), the Obama transition team is going to post all the memos it receives from outside groups trying to influence the incoming administration's agenda.

The opposite of this would be the way Blagojevich has apparently executed his office. Take a look at the indictment (PDF). It's 76 pages, but you can pretty much open up to any one and be shocked. There's this gem, in which he uses the F-word to express just how monetarily valuable he believes a Senate seat is. At the bottom of page 74 is this surprising paragraph:
In addition, in the course of the conversations over the last month, ROD BLAGOJEVICH has spent significant time weighing the option of appointing himself to the open Senate seat, and has expressed a variety of reasons for doing so, including frustration at being “stuck” as governor, a belief that he will be able to obtain greater resources if he is indicted as a sitting Senator as opposed to a sitting governor, and a desire to remake his image in consideration of a possible run for President in 2016, avoid impeachment by the Illinois legislature, make corporate contacts that would be of value to him after leaving public office, facilitate his wife’s employment as a lobbyist, and assist in generating speaking fees should he decide to leave public office.

Blagojevich was defiant in a press conference yesterday. Makes you think that he really didn't have any idea this would happen today. "If anybody wants to tape my conversations, go right ahead, feel free to do it," he said. I guess the guys in the flower van across the street got a good laugh about that one.

Back again

It has been two weeks since my last post, which is unsurprising since those two weeks have spanned a round trip to NJ (hours and hours in the car), Thanksgiving (hours and hours watching football and basketball), and final exams (hours and hours reading and writing). All that is behind me now, with the exception of my Christian Theology final, which is Thursday. We already have the exam questions. Chew on this one:

In the early stages of the course we spoke of contextual theology as being an attempt to address two large problems of Christian theology in the West -- its narrowness as a white, male, European/Euro-American enterprise and its complicity in oppression. However, new problems arise through contextual theology; namely, (1) theology continues to be understood as disembodied knowledge that may be dropped into various cultures, and (2) theology has no ability to transform identity. In effect, Christian theology becomes simply the religious expression of various cultures. We’ve gone out of the way to say in this course that the problems of contextual theologies, the benefits of such theologies notwithstanding, must be located within the broader ways in which Christian theology in the West has operated. In other words, rather than seeing contextual theologies and the broader problems of Western theology as two discreet sets of problems, what must be understood is that contextual theologies are children of Christian theology as it has come to be practiced in the West. They are, in the main, in architectural and infrastructural continuity -- not discontinuity -- with Christian theology as it has come to be practiced as an essentially white, male, European/Euro-American enterprise. With this as your backdrop, how might considering the starting point of theology in our identity as Gentiles who overheard the gospel of Jesus Christ to Israel offer a corrective to both the two large problems of Christian theology and the newer problems of contextual theology?

In other blog news, I looked back and realized that my previous post was the 100th post at With the Grain. Hope you're enjoying it.