The Academy of Useless Knowledge of the Irreverant Brethren

A liberal arts, discussion-based academy of higher learning based on the honor system and the students’ desires to learn and improve themselves without the need or goal of earning a degree, proving oneself through examination, or even necessarily improving one’s rèsumè (though any employer paying attention to one’s desire to improve oneself and the results thereof would be worth at least a request for employment).

Applicants for admission must demonstrate a desire to learn that trumps a desire to earn a degree, a longing to pursue horizons yet surpassed within personal experience and education, and the capacity and/or willingness to listen rather than just waiting for one’s turn to speak (remedial lessons on listening skills are available by request). All students will be expected to teach someone something at some point during their tenure at the Academy. All students must demonstrate an ability to pass wisdom and learning to fellow students; this will be the main assessment of the student’s education at the Academy.

Courses of study will include but will not be limited to classical language, modern language, philosophy, science, literature, mathematics, the Great Works of the Western World collection, history, music, art, theatre, and anything else which the students/teachers deem interesting, edifying, and worthy of study.

Each term will last as long as is needed. A course of study can be completed in a single term or in perpetuity, but the goal of study at the Academy is to create and equip lifelong students.

Current courses being pursued: Political Theory (with reading Rousseau’s The Social Compact), Theory of Consciousness (with special concentration on the origin and ontology of consciousness), The Social Evolution of the Human Race (with considerations of pre- and post-Civilization humanity, vís a vís the nature of ‘civilization’ as an evolutionary trait of the human race), and of course, Varieties and Nuances of Beer.

Upcoming intra-scholastic events: The Devil’s Advocate Discussion, in which two students from opposite viewpoints will prepare to discuss the topic at which they differ as a conversant from the other side of the issue.


El Shaddai and the Gender of God

Read her words and hear her message, folks. This woman could beat you to death with her mind.


El Shaddai and the Gender of God

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In the last few weeks, a debate has been raging on the Internet, and particularly on Twitter, about the gender of God. It started when Owen Strachan called out Rachel Held Evans for using a feminine reference to God and called her a heretic (see also this). And thus began a twitterfeud.

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The Order of the Irreverant Brethren

I’ve been thinking for quite sometime that I should start a holy order to fill an apparent need in the church.

This holy order would be for people who ask those questions that have been pushed to the back burner of church focus, brushed under the rug of eccumenical embarassment, or flat-out ignored for sheer ludicrity, yet should be asked just to push the bounds of Christian thought and to squeeze every last drop of wisdom and truth from the spongy grey matter of Apostolic orthodoxy.

This holy order would be for people who wear comfortable T-shirts and blue jeans to traditional services (possibly because we aren’t allowed to be naked) and gladly hug our more formally-dressed brethren and sistren, especially if they give us dirty looks for dressing scuzzy.

This holy order would be for people who understand the three drink pairings of Theology: Coffee for eccumenical history, Lager for biblical studies, Ale for theology and philosophy. Or wine for any of them.

This holy order would be for people who read certain parts of the Bible and get the dick jokes.

This holy order would be for people who confess their unrighteousness and acknowledge God’s providencial activity in making us more holy by the Spirit’s power, through the sacrifical love of Christ, and in the timeframe of the Father, even if that discludes our present, transitory life.

This holy order would be for people who see the beauty and truth, the grotesque and false, the human and the divine, in all cultures, all peoples, all faiths (except *insert irreverantly humorous exclusion of your choice*).

This holy order would be for people who…. on second thought, this holy order probably shouldn’t be formed right now. The church may not be ready for us.


Trinitas Hominis: doctrina imago dei demonstrato doctrina trinitas divinus

My first thoughts on this concept began when I was roughly 18 years old, and I think this primal form of the theory should be the entry place for its explanation. Only three years had passed since I submitted to Christ’s lordship, but in that time I had deeply embedded myself in the study of the Bible and theology. I was baptized in a Southern Baptist church; Trinity was a mysterious doctrine we believed, but not a central part of our worship as it is in many other churches, including the Episcopal Church in which I was recently confirmed. While it bothered me that the Trinity was not a central part of the worship I encountered, I just chalked that up to the incomprehensible mystery being too much for liturgical use and focused on the theology. I had already encountered basic trinitarian theology early on (being baptized in the Triune name will have that effect), but I was dissatisfied with the analogies used by many pastors to describe and/or explain the Trinity. The wisest of these always ended with a disclaimer that all analogies break down at some point, but I felt that there must be something more apt to explain what seemed such a central concept to our understanding of God. Continue reading

Beauty and Modesty

It is unjust, injurious, and foolish to blame the beauty of the female form for the lust in some men’s hearts. Beauty in all forms is a gift from God, one meant to be enjoyed in purity. While it is certainly true that beauty can be and is used nefariously or with intent to cause desire inappropriately*, a woman simply wearing comfortable clothing should not be condemned for a man’s sin. To do so is to blame the gift of beauty which is of God for the sin of one’s heart, which is utter folly.

The doctrine of original sin certainly speaks to the doom of all humans into sin, but it is within the individual person that individual sins are born. If a master jeweler is robbed and presses charges agains the thief, no good judge would accuse the jeweler of cutting jewels too beautiful not to be stolen. Such a judge should be condemned! If that same jeweler hired a kleptomaniac to guard his work, then he may be a fool, but the thief is still the one who will face justice should he betray the trust placed on him.
In just the same way, if a man sins in lust against a woman, it is not the woman’s blame to bear. This is not to speak about such as would tempt purposefully, but that is not a question of modesty, rather of depravity.

So, brothers and sisters, let us not be unjust in our behavior towards each other, especially towards those who have already encountered so much injustice within the church throughout history. If you, brother, find you are incapable of controlling your baser desires, your first action should be to ask God to correct your heart to appreciate beauty without sin, not to condemn your sister for avoiding heat exhaustion. If you find yourself incapable yet to avoid sin, try removing yourself from the situation. A more just conclusion than asking a woman to enshroud herself in suffocating cloth would be to enshroud yourself in the holy vestments of solitude, celibacy, and prayer.

I can only speak to this issue from a male perspective, but since it is the male perspective which has so often been the cause of undue stress and horrible pain over this and other gendered issues, I feel steps toward the correction must come also from that same perspective, with God’s help and grace.

*I add this note for the sole purpose that I am a married man and, though I cannot speak for all married men I have no doubts that I would be hard-pressed to find a single husband in all of humanity who would be offended by his wife using her beauteous form to cause him to desire, which would most certainly not be inappropriate or nefarious. Well, maybe nefarious, but in my house that’s usually only if she doesn’t want to do dishes.