Limited Posting During the Week of March 25

March 27, 2007

I don’t expect to post much, if at all, this week. Next week, my plan is to write about resurrection and the Christian faith, starting on Palm Sunday, and continuing each day through Easter.

Wright’s Resurrection of the Son of God has been an incredible experience to read, and my posts – which will draw from the early part of I Corinthians 15 – will be largely inspired by his research and theological framework.


Crossroads 2

March 26, 2007

Crossroads 2, the Battlestar Galactica season finale was – I thought – very nicely done. Here are my kneejerk reactions:

1. The plot (mostly) seemed to go where I expected: 

(a) Gaeta testifies? Check.

(b) Baltar acquitted because it just wasn’t fair to punish him for what the Cylons ultimately imposed on New Caprica? Check.

(c) Adama casts the deciding vote? Check.

(d) Most of the final five revealed? Check. With an additional surprise: Tyrol is the fourth!

(e) Starbuck assumes the spiritual role of leader to Earth? Check.

2. Baltar is about to become a spiritual leader/figurehead among a bunch of fleet chicks? Wonder where that is going? Already, the sci-fi channel forums are filling up with “Cult of Baltar” posts.  They’re hilarious!

3. The stage is now set for Act III. There are more than enough plot points bouncing around, now. They need to be resolved, not further complicated. Season 4 should provide more than enough time to accomplish this. Then, the series should end.

3. Counting Tyrol’s kiddo, we now have TWO human/cylon hybrid children onboard galactica. How freaky is THAT?

4. Baltar’s arrogance after he was acquitted is enough to make me vomit. I think he is now on the journey toward the power-hungry megalomaniac that we knew in the old series. I would love to see him ultimately in command of the “evil” Cylon forces.

5. How much time will be spent parsing the lyrics to All Along the Watchtower during the next eight months? Any early interpretations?

6. And while we’re on the subject…I thought switching to a rock soundtrack when the ships launched at the end of the episode was sheer briliance from a musical standpoint. Again, it signals the ushering in of a new act.

7. The most surprising line in the whole thing: Starbuck, who says of earth, “I’ve been there.” I’m really, truly intrigued to find out how and when and what she found.

8. The thing I liked most was, again, Starbuck’s line: “Everything’s going to be okay.” Could it be that we are now going to turn from a dark, bleak story to one of hope? I think a bold move in this way: shifting the dark tone of the series to something more hopeful, would be great.

The Post-Evangelical: Searching for a Crossroads

March 23, 2007

Evangelicals reacted to the period of modernity by assuming a largely defensive posture. They chose to react to skeptical, rationalistic criticisms of scripture’s astounding accounts of miracles, massive floods, resurrections, and such by defending the literal meaning of the text. They also concluded that, while such fantastic events are not generally visible today, that does not mean that there is not a profound spiritual experience that is available for the individual believer. Thus, teachings about individual foregiveness of sins and the promise of a greater, more wonder-filled afterlife became dominant.

This change of viewpoints worked out well in many ways. By the end of the twentieth century, evangelicalism was arguably the most dominant form of Christianity in the United States.

However, not all Christians took the path of evangelicalism. Another set of Christians, sometimes referred to as the “mainline churches,” took another route through modernity. Much to the consternation of evangelicals, they concluded that most of scripture’s fantastic accounts were, probably, mythical or exaggerated, but they contended that – even if those stories were not “true” from an historical viewpoint – the real power in Christianity was in its teachings. Thus, the “mainline” road emphasized the importance of love for fellow man, as exemplified by Jesus. Their gospel, in other words was not a spiritual one, but a social one.

I mention this road not taken by evangelicalism because it is an important pathway on the post-evanglical map. In a sense, what the post-evangelical is looking for is a grand re-unification theory – a place where the roads of evangelicalism and mainline Chrisitanity can again converge and continue along together. In other words, we are seeking a way to re-join two ways of knowing Jesus that somehow became separated during modernity. (In some ways, describing it as “two ways” is deceptive since it is really “one way” of knowing Jesus that somehow got split in half!)

In a similar way, as a post-evangelical, I am interested in discovering how the practice of my faith can re-join with other ways of practicing Christianity. The Charismatic movements of the twentieth-century, a particular “branch” of evanglicalism which emphaiszed the immediate experience of God’s spirit and movement in the world, are important to the post-evangelical. Likewise, post-evangelicals are interested in re-discovering and re-integrating ancient, time-tested liturgies and prayers into their devotional and worship life. 

As you can probably guess, the post-evangelical is not the only form of “post” that is floating around in Christendom. There are post-mainlines, post-charismatics, and post-liturgicals out there. While they all continue to be influenced by the churches and belief systems from which they come, they tend to get along with each other, and with the post-evangelicals, much more readily than you might imagine! In a sense, one who becomes a post-anything is on a journey to find a place where many different paths come together into a larger roadway on which the benefits of all of these perspectives can be experienced.

Prior posts:
1. Defining evanglicalism
2. Why “post-evangelical” is a term of continuity, not a term of protest

The Legal Nit-Picker’s Guide to Baltar’s Trial

March 22, 2007

Well…Baltar’s trial is off and running, and – as much as I love the new BSG – I am again reminded of why I can’t stand courtroom novels, courtroom movies, and courtroom TV dramas. They never get the details right.

So…while I love the larger plot developments in Crossroads 1, I find myself largely dissatisfied with the details of the goings-on in the courtroom. Here are a plus and the (bigger) minuses:

PLUS: The overall prosecution and defense strategies are dead on. The opening statement focused everything right where it should be – on the post-New Caprica body count. Likewise, the defense – in a move similar to Robert Redford in Legal Eagles – begins by faking an “I give up” approach – may as well just plead guilty, thats what the mob wants. It forces the tribunal to reflect on whether they are going to seriously consider the case or whether it is just a superficial show of justice, the outcome of which has already been determined.

MINUS: President Laura as a star witness? Sure, she may be respected, but she doesn’t know anything. She wasn’t there when Baltar signed the death order. All she can say is that the new-Caprica police took her to a place where she was supposed to be executed by Cylons.

MINUS: Where is Gaeta? Monitoring draedis while all this is happening? C’mon! He’s the guy who can brand Baltar as a Cylon-kissup-weasel.

MINUS: Lee’s cross-examination of Laura was horrendous. And perhaps that was the point, from a plot standpoint. It should have been an easy set up and knock-down. Get her to commit to certainty about her testimony, discredit her with all of her alleged drug-induced “visions,” and then ask her whether she is currently taking the drug. Instead, she gets away with seemingly endless sidebars about how disappointed she is in him. Likewise, he doesn’t object to her goading him into asking her about her cancer. Bad marks for Lee. He should return to being a CAG.

PLUS: The cross examination/discrediting of Saul, easy though it may have been, was thoroughly devastating to the prosecution. Every lawyer’s dream is to cross-examine a witness who is so angry that he would readily admit to his extreme bias against a client. (‘Course, it also didn’t hurt that he was drunk at the time.)

MINUS: Adama shouldn’t even THINK he gets to make evidentiary rulings. He is obviously not the head of the tribunal, and his legal expertise is virtually non existent.

MINUS: The prosecution doesn’t have a case with the two witnesses we’ve seen so far. We don’t even know that Baltar ordered any of the killings. The case could be thrown out without more evidence. But…

There is a more intrinsic problem with the case: even if the it could be proven, everyone knows that Baltar had no real control over what was happening on New Caprica. He was nothing more than a powerless figurehead. He was a coward and a weasel, but it probably is true that his actions saved more lives than were lost. The security breaches that brought the Cylon attack on the colonies, on the other hand, are deserving of severe punishment, but totally un-proveable.

I think this will be the central plot point in Crossroads 2. Will they kill Baltar for things that can’t be proven? It is a test not only of the system but of humanity itself. Will they eschew civilized systems of justice to satisfy the clamorings of the mob?

My prediction is still this: on a 3-2 vote (hinted at in the trailer for Crossroads 2), the tribunal will acquit. I also (still) contend that Adama, discovering a new-found respect for Lee and re-discovering a respect for his own father, will cast the deciding vote.

Then, as we all know…its going to hit the fan. The Cylons will strike, another cryptic clue about Earth will be discovered, three of the final five will “wake up” in the heart of the Galactica, and we will all get to wait about nine months before we know what happens next.

Is "Post-Evangelical" a term of Protest?

March 20, 2007

I am a post-evangelical.

In a prior post, I defined “evangelicalism.” Now, I want to address a remark which I often hear about the term, which is to characterize it as a term of “protest.”

Some people who characterize themselves as post-evangelical will, in fact, proudly declare that they are protesting against evangelicalism. However, I don’t think of it that way. To the contrary, I like the term because it implies some sense of continuity FROM evangelicalism while also speaking about a future that may – in some respects – differ from evanglicalism. (Jedi Master Dallas Willard is fond of saying that “post-evangelical” does not mean “ex-evangelical”; as usual, he is right).

As a post-evangelical, my faith finds its origin, its “roots” in evangelicalism. My spiritual forefathers and foremothers come from this rich tradition. I am not ashamed of this fact. Rather, I am grateful for what they did in faithfully carrying the gospel through a very difficult century, in which the world was viewed through the harsh lens of modernism. Evangelicalism played an important role in demonstrating how the gospel was fresh and relevant, even in a world that was influenced almost exclusively by scientific and rationalistic thinking.

Having said this, I also like the term “post-evangelical” because it says something about the future that I and my children will face. Just as my spiritual ancestors had to deal with understanding how the gospel was relevant to the particular circumstances of their day, so I have to recognize the same need in my own circumstances. To truly honor what they have done, I – like them – must continue moving forward, and I must also teach my children that they should keep moving.  Thus, rather than simply being what my ancestors were (i.e., an “evangelical”), I must – in my own day – come to understand what it means to be a post-evangelical.

The Final Five Awaken

March 19, 2007

[Nerd alert: Hard-core BSG fan commentary follows. Some of you may want to move on to your next feed.]

The rumors were true. There is no question in my mind after seeing Crossroads (pt. 1 of 2): we are witnessing the “awakeninig” of at least three of the final five cylon models (Saul, Tory, and Anders). Kara/Starbuck is probably the fourth one, but I’ve got no clue as to who the fifth one might be… Perhaps that will not be revealed until a future date.

My theory is that the “awakening” is being triggered because: (a) Kara has been resurrected somewhere and is bringing it about OR (b) they are getting close to the nebula, which is somehow “designed” to trigger it.

But who are they? What are their intentions?

I can already tell that its going to be a LOOOOONG wait until Season 4 premiers in January 2008.

Defining Evangelicalism

March 18, 2007

In a series of posts during the winter, I walked through the various Christian theologies of hell (as well as I understood them), and indicated that I am not fully satisfied by any of them, though (a) I have rejected exclusivism and (b) I am somewhat sympathetic toward universalism.

Now, I am going to talk about a term that does describe where I am on my spiritual journey. That term is “post-evangelical.”

To get things started, we need to define “evangelical” as a theology. (In other words, I’m not going to talk about the sociopolitical nature of evangelicalism – instead, I am going to talk about the theological foundation on which evanglicalism is built).

Here, as I see them, are the basic tenets of evangelicalism:

1. God – God is holy and just. He cannot be in the presence of sin. Indeed, because he is just, he must punish all sin.

2. Sin – all people are sinful. Therefore, there is a great gulf between each individual and God. Unless an individual crosses that gulf, he will face eternal punishment for his sin.

3. Gospel – the gospel is this: by dying on the cross, Jesus bore the punishment that was meant for each of us.

4. Salvation – people are saved from hell by acknowledging that Jesus has borne the punishment for their sins on the cross and accepting him as their personal Savior.

5. Exclusivism – (4) represents the exclusive means of salvation. People cannot be saved in any other way.

6. Ethics – evangelicalism expects that, in order to maintain one’s status as a saved individual, one must commit to certain ethical standards. Normally, these ethics involve avoiding inappropriate sexual activity, avoiding offensive language, avoiding certain vices (sometimes, but not always, smoking or drinking alcohol), regularly praying, regularly studying the bible, and regularly attending church.

7. Scripture – the Christian canon of scripture (Genesis to Revelation) is considered to be authoritative and inerrant.