Monday, March 07, 2011

Is Social Network an Oxymoron?

This is why I will always love Lawler--there is no one better on flat souls than him:

So I've been thinking some about the fact that "The Social Network" portrays people--even techno-meritocrats--as worse than they really are.  I've been criticized, of course, for not recognizing the artistry in that approach as a revelation of the emptiness of our time.
One reason I wasn't so impressed by that approach is that it's nothing new.  It was present in the controversial best-seller of the last generation--Allan Bloom'sThe Closing of the American Mind (1987).  Bloom described the smart and sophisticated students he taught at the University of Chicago as having flat souls, by which he meant souls without longing.  And souls without longing, of course, aren't really souls at all.
Bloom described his students as unmoved by loved and death, fit to be competent technical specialists and nothing more.  They were social solitaries, locked up in themselves, the most erotically lame people ever.  They weren't open to God, didn't think of themselves of citizens, didn't have real heroes, and even found it about impossible even to think of themselves as family men and women. Bloom even said that their music was nothing more than the rhythm of mechanical rutting.  Their eros had become that one-dimensional!
And so, of course, they even turned friendship into networking.  The social network, from this view, isn't about real friendship or real social life.  It's about people casually exploiting each other to meet their pedestrian personal needs.  The film seems to confirm Bloom's description by not giving us an example of enduring, trustworthy friendship or enduring love between a man and a woman or of a fairly functional and loving family.
For the complete article visit Big Think here.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Sola Scriptura

DG Hart writes a fascinating piece on an element, often taken for granted, of one of the tenets of Protestantism: Sola Scriptura. He argues that rather than emphasizing the personal devotion of churchgoers, as is largely assumed today upon discussion of Sola Scriptura, "Anyone who reads the early sermons or commentaries of the reformers" would see that the "chief element of the Reformation was not individual or subjective but corporate and objective."

Hart goes on in "The Nature of Reform" to state that

"Obviously, conditions are not today what they were in sixteenth-century Europe and Protestant concerns about personal holiness may be a welcome addition to character of being Protestant.  At the same time, churches today give every sign of needing the kind of reform for which Calvin and others called in the sixteenth century.  In fact, a plausible case could be made that a turn toward personal godliness has come at the expense of zeal for the faithfulness in the forms and ministry of the institutional church.  Protestants today may want to reconnect with those original objections to Roman Catholicism to understand that the institutional church was not inconsequential to the recovery of the gospel or the cultivation of holy living.  It was actually the reverse."

On Reformation Italy find also an interesting discussion of early American anti-Catholocism ("The Good, The Bad, The Un-Christian") with gems such as this:

"If Rome was an opponent of republican forms of government and liberalization of thought and economic life during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, American Protestants were equally wedded to modern political arrangements in their condemnation of Roman Catholicism. Rome stood for ignorance, bigotry, and superstition while Protestants conceived of the Reformation as a harbinger of the Enlightenment, like General Electric, bringing the good things of knowledge, tolerance, free markets, and political liberty to light."

I love reading DG Hart. 

Read further for Hart's very concise argument for remaining Protestant today (a series which he promises to continue for us here). 

ps. I don't know what happened to my links, but they are there, you just have to hover over the words to find them!