Originally published through Tumblr on March 6, 2012.
While I most enjoyed the blog title, “Fun with the Uncle Karl,” I needed to change it to something more appropriate for a more specific audience beyond the writing workshop with Uncle Karl. So for now, I stick with Reform-Asian. In a way, it falls in lines with my convictions that I don’t see my theological perspectives as undermining the Reformation, but ultimately honoring and continuing it. In another way, I just find it amusing and the best title I have for now until I can think of something more appropriate. If you have any suggestions for titles that better suit the Tumblr description or what I write about, hook a brother up!
Anyways, I had probably the most intellectually stimulating Friday ever this past weekend! On March 2, I sat in front row in the A.J. Chapel to see Karl Willard Giberson talk on The Language of Science and Faith for the Annual Crum Lecture in the campus convocation. Quite the misnomer, as it did not come off as crummy whatsoever! Don’t worry; I know “Crum” doesn’t actually refer to something dirty or unpleasant.
Uncle Karl spoke with eloquence and humor in the “New Brunswickian accent” we have all come to know and love. By “we,” I refer to the students in the writing workshop he instructs; he affectionately called us the “Dream Team” in front of the whole audience. That’s right, everybody. We’re the Dream Team, and our leader is Captain K.G.B.!
Against the backdrop of his beautiful and elaborate slide presentation, he challenged the dichotomy between faith and science so prevalently embedded into our culture, with some simple questions—What if we replaced the ancient science of Genesis but kept everything else? What does it mean to say, “And God saw that [Creation] was very good”?
After reading his twisted version of the Creation story, with each day divided into “epochs of Creation” (no doubt demonically devised in the deepest dungeons of Hell), the lecture ended with him asking everyone to rise and sing the Doxology. I rather enjoyed it all.
I believe we need more speakers out there in public to share a similar healthy attitude, those willing to argue for a responsible synthesis of Story (of the Bible) and Science. We don’t have to see them as mutually exclusive. Of course, I have my biases in favor of him as his student. (:
I had the privilege to join him and others at a crowded table in the Lane Student Center, enjoying free food and discussing various topics like the ancient use of genealogies in relation to Adam, and the relationship between humans and other organisms in light of evolutionary theory. For the most part, Uncle Karl simply couldn’t stop saying “My new book” whenever he opened his mouth.
Unfortunately, I had to leave the glorious atmosphere of the private luncheon—somewhat awkwardly, I might add—for another lunch appointment with Steve, my favorite local Johannine scholar (also the only local Johannine scholar; also my professor), and my theologically and philosophically-minded brother Tom, right outside the Lion’s Den. I find myself privileged to spend meal times with such intellectual individuals, talking about Scripture, science, and philosophy. For me, the best part of the learning experience at Gordon involves more than simply reading books and articles, but discussing it with cherished friends and even established scholars.
For the evening, Steve, his imaginary son Nathaniel, Tom, Tom’s imaginary girlfriend Rebecca, and another couple figments of our collectively sanctified imagination drove to the Union Street Restaurant in Newton Centre, not a half hour away from Boston. We went to the bar on the second floor, not to acquire copious amounts of alcohol, but for “The Idolatry of God: An Evening with Peter Rollins.”
Yup. I got to see the author of Insurrection, How (Not) to Speak of God, The Orthodox Heretic speak on deeply controversial issues in the middle of a pub. This emergent church thinker has a reputation of touring around the States in bars, advocating what he calls “pyro-theology.” He actually argues for people to give up their belief in God for the sake of living out a more material faith. With his distinct Irish-accented humor and absurd Lacanian psychoanalytical arguments (whatever that means), he had the attention of the crowded pub.
After his talk ended, we all got to meet Dr. Rollins, even Steve’s imaginary son Nathaniel and Tom’s imaginary girlfriend, Rebecca! We told him about how we came from Gordon, and how dope it would be if he came to speak at our school someday. I shook his hand; he signed my copy of Insurrection and The Fidelity of Betrayal—he mentioned that some have stated this is his best work, which excited me. I got to ask him several questions, at the expense of other members of the audience who had to wait for me, heheheh. How does the abolishment of the psychological structures which hinder Christians from living the way they should not establish a structure of its own?, What do you really believe?, and What does worship look like in a community that embraces doubt?
His answers intrigued me, and out of respect for him I won’t disclose what he really believes. But I’ll give you a hint: It’s not what you think it isn’t, but it is what you think it isn’t. I hope that helps.
Anyways, later that night, I finished reading Peter Rollins’ Insurrection. Not only did it blow my mind and my socks away, it almost blew my faith away, and I still find myself reeling from it. Yes, I just shared something quite personal here. But I think that shows more that I’ve come to a point where I have a stronger, healthier attitude toward my doubt, as uncomforting as it may seem. In some ways, I find it a blessing. Thinking back to lunch time, Steve quoted Voltaire, “Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.”
Of course, I can doubt the system that puts certainty in doubting certainty, and come to believe something else. Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll convert to Zoroastrianism next month. No offense intended to any of you Zoroastrians who might stumble upon this post.
After classes end tomorrow, Spring Break starts for me. I hope to get a ton of research done, make much progress on the Patristic perspectives on Adam, read more on the conversation with the emergent church, start fleshing out a document for the Good News for Academia, and just read, read, read! I look forward to Fridays like this for the future of my faith.