In the current climate, with perhaps the most bizarre run up to a Federal Election in U.S. history, now seems a good time to re-read Jacques Ellul’s study of modern scientific propaganda which is helpfully titled Propaganda. In this important work, Ellul examines the techniques of the Russian, Chinese, and Nazi propagandists. Many of these techniques are regularly employed throughout the world. Propagandists (whether they call themselves that or not or whether they are aware that they are or not) continue to employ and perfect these techniques.
We are constantly bombarded with propaganda. In the (post)modern world, many of us in technological societies are so immersed in propaganda that we are like flying-fish who momentarily discover that they are wet before they are pulled back into the water. Perhaps, it is more like moving through a warm spot in the pool, noticing the temperature change and hoping that it’s not what you think it is. That is, we may not realize that we are immersed we may only notice that we have encountered someone else’s propaganda.
As the subtitle suggests, Duke University Professor Norman Wirzba seeks to remind his readers that loveis the heart of Christianity. I do not say at the heart but is the heart because Christian community is rooted in love as revealed in Jesus Christ. And this incarnate love—this incarnate lover— ought to be the driving force behind Christian witness and practice. As the body of Christ, the Church, exists in a world mired in and, indeed, enamoured by sin, followers must regularly be called back to the way of love and Wirzba’s book is one of those calls.
Way of Love is first a letter to the churches. Like the letters of the Apostles that make up the bulk of the New Testament, this letter contains admonishment, encouragement, and a call to keep Christ and therefore love as the heart and goal of what we as followers say and do. In this sense, Wirzba is not telling us something new but telling us the “old, old, story” again in a new and refreshing way. Continue reading “Norman Wirzba’s Way of Love (2016): A Book Review”→
In his book The Gift of Death or Donner La Morte, Jacques Derrida interacts with Søren Kierkegaard’s pseudonymous work Fear and Trembling in which he examines the story of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac on Mount Moriah. Spoiler alert: In the end, Abraham does not kill his son. Still, the text suggests that he was willing to do so out of obedience to the God who brought him out of Chaldea and faith in this God’s promises of blessing, land, and abundant offspring through his son Isaac.
While Abraham is often and rightly presented as a hero of faith and even the father of the faithful, he is almost as often presented as an exception and extraordinary individual in extraordinary circumstances. As Kierkegaard’s pseudonym Johannes de Silentio notes after hearing a sermon on Abraham a pastor would be disturbed if one of his congregation told him that he felt called to sacrifice his child. So, yes, Abraham’s circumstances are extraordinary and exceptional.