Quotes & Sayings

We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

We become who we are by what we believe and can justify. - R.E. Slater

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

In Whitehead’s process ontology, we can think of the experiential ground of reality as an eternal pulse whereby what is objectively public in one moment becomes subjectively prehended in the next, and whereby the subject that emerges from its feelings then perishes into public expression as an object (or “superject”) aiming for novelty. There is a rhythm of Being between object and subject, not an ontological division. This rhythm powers the creative growth of the universe from one occasion of experience to the next. This is the Whiteheadian mantra: “The many become one and are increased by one.” - Matthew Segall

Without Love there is no Truth. And True Truth is always Loving. There is no dichotomy between these terms but only seamless integration. This is the premier centering focus of a Processual Theology of Love. - R.E. Slater


Note: Generally I do not respond to commentary. I may read the comments but wish to reserve my time to write (or write from the comments I read). Instead, I'd like to see our community help one another and in the helping encourage and exhort each of us towards Christian love in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. - re slater

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Book Review: "How God Became King," by N.T. Wright

As further help-and-insight into NT Wright's latest book, I might suggest Rob Bell's excellent series on the Sermon on the Mount found in the digital archives at Mars Hill Church, Grandville, Michigan (there is a small donation requested for each sermon). These were produced between 2009 and 2010, and when listening to Rob's Kingdom-series I knew immediately that he was purposely heading towards the re-envisioning of a very "earth-bound, heavenly kingdom," in content, speech, and practice.

Statedly, "The bible is a book about earth, and not heaven." To have changed Jesus' message to one of good-works-for-heavenly-reward is a stark misreading of the Gospel narratives. Strikingly, the Gospels are very earth-bound in their mission-and-ministry import. But more than this, they are Kingdom-bound in spiritual matters of morals and ethics, politics and taxation, business and economy (feeding the poor, taking care of the sick, helping the homeless and impoverished, etc). And by these sublime observations one can quickly deduce how Jesus' earthly Kingdom message changes everything we thought we knew about His gospel of heaven. That it immediately gives eternal purpose and presence to our present-day lives and ministries, our work and worship, NOW and not later.

Hence, what kingdom-actions we take here-and-now have a very earth-bound meaning when shifting the concept of heaven to include not only the idea of  the Kingdom of God coming down to earth at some later time, but being here - right NOW in our midst - through Christ's inaugural death and resurrection. For in Christ has the Kingdom of God come today to forcibly break through the staying realms of man. The Kingdom of God doesn't simply await Jesus' return (parousia). But it awaits the Church's enactment of Jesus' empowerment by realizing the Kingdom of God as already having come.

This then makes a big difference in how we live in the world today, when realizing that heaven isn't a place somewhere "up there with God that we await come death's door." But "has come specifically here amongst our daily regimented lives, having gloriously descended down to earth through Jesus' death and resurrection." Truly God's Kingdom has invaded the kingdoms of this world when believers understand what Jesus meant by this day has God's Kingdom come both within us, and amongst our midst.

And if this be so, than heaven is a place that we take part in now as it breaks into our present day worlds, little-by-little, beginning with personal faith in Christ as a transformative/spiritual inner event that becomes a transformative/spiritual outer event affecting those around us, our community, the world, and even the earth's ecological care take (wasn't Adam charged by God to "tend to the garden" around him in Genesis?). As such, the Church is creating heaven in the here-and-now. Even as Jesus' followers are restoring shalom (order, life) when properly imaging God entering into this wicked world. So that by becoming Kingdom-bearers we are at once re-creating and restoring God's Kingdom presence into these mortal lives that we live.

A mortal life that transforms into eternal life lived within the transformative Kingdom of God. A kingdom which the book of Revelation tells us is borne fully upon this earth, as a New Heavens and New Earth-kind-of-Kingdom. And it can only be new if it becomes reclaimed towards renewal and rebirth. But though we are promised a new heavens and new earth awaits, it must be a further joy-and-delight to know that we can bring God's very kingdom into the here-and-now of today by living as Christ did in the Gospels (love, mercy, forgiveness, etc). Consequently, one doesn't have to "wait" to go to heaven... how sad when we do... but one may live heaven out now.

How is this done? By transforming this old world that abounds every-which-way-around-us by our own personal touch of renewal by heart and soul, mind and imagination, and personal relationships, into something godly and good, pure and holy, revived and reclaimed. By being good Samaritans to those in need. Helping feed the poor and hungry. Bringing [clean] water to those that thirst. Binding the wounds of the lame and blind. Providing our talents and trades to areas of humanity requiring the touch of the Kingdom of God in their lives. This is how to read the Gospels. By living the Gospels out each day of our renewed lives.

R.E. Slater
April 11, 2012

9“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.[a]
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,[b]
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,[c]
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.[d]

For yours is the kingdom and
the power and the glory, forever. Amen

Matthew 6.9-13

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Tom Wright on How (not) to Read the Gospels

by Scot McKnight
April 11, 2012

Tom Wright’s new book, How God Became King, complains that too many Christians have developed bad habits in how to read the Gospels. The essential complaint is this one: what we need to get from the Gospels we can often find; if that is how we use the Gospels then that is also why they were written.
Question for the day: How would most folks in your congregation answer this question: Why do we have the Gospels? Or, What is the intent of the Gospels? What do they do? What do you think of Tom’s six strategies? Anything to add?

Do you think the church has wandered away from a good, accurate reading of the Gospels? Do you think Tom’s overdoing the misreading?
Wright captures these in six general reading strategies. I will add a seventh.

1. They teach how to go to heaven. Wright, who has famously argued against this whole idea in his Resurrection of the Son of God and then more accessibly in Surprised by Hope, argues that neither “kingdom of heaven” nor “eternal life” are about going to heaven when we die but about God’s rule being established on earth. I agree with what he’s arguing but I want to press this point again: the kingdom that comes to earth is eternal, and if we can now say “heaven” is “kingdom come to earth” or “God’s establishing of his kingdom on earth,” then this whole idea of going to heaven is not as wacky as it sometimes is made out to be. In other words, I ask this: if the kingdom is eternal in the sense of our final destiny, and if that is what many people mean by heaven, and even if we are now seriously adjusting heaven to much more earthy, is there that big of a difference?

But, Tom’s got this right: many do get going to heaven out the gospels because that is what they think the Bible is on about. Tom’s got a zinger in this section: “It is as though you were to get a letter from the president of the United States inviting himself to stay at your home, and in your excitement you misread it and assumed that he was inviting you to stay at the White House” (44). Clever.

2. They teach us about Jesus’ ethical teachings. Again, this is partly right; we do get his moral vision. But this is a thin veneer of what the Gospels are doing: they are announcing far more than that Jesus was a great teacher.

3. They teach us about Jesus as the great moral exemplar: once again, there’s something true here, but it simply is too thin. “What a [great or godly] man!” is not the proper response to the Gospels; and thinking this way doesn’t make it any easier to follow Jesus.

4. They teach us that Jesus is the perfect sacrifice: here atonement theology reshapes what the Gospels are about. He had to be sinless and actively obedient, so he took on the Law and beat the thing by doing it all perfectly. Reformed theology, and Tom picks on it here, has emphasized the active obedience (and the passive obedience) and that theology sometimes works its way into how folks read the Gospels — again, not good enough Tom says.

5. They teach us how to live by giving us characters with whom we can identify: we “use” the stories by placing ourselves in them so we can hear a word from the Lord and be transformed. Again, not enough.

6. They teach us that Jesus is divine. Tom weighs in on later creeds, which set christology into the divine-human union. Good enough, but the Gospels are read improperly if this is all we are getting from them. There’s so much more.

I add a 7th, and perhaps you’ve got some to add yourself:

7. The Gospels don’t matter (because nothing happened until Romans or Paul). I tell a story in The King Jesus Gospel of a pastor who said almost this to me, but I have over the years met many who have told me they grew up in a church that preached Paul and never preached the Gospels — except at Christmas and Easter. Otherwise, it was all theology of Paul and Paul’s letters, with some wandering into Hebrews and Peter and the Johannines.

Do I think Tom’s overdoing this? In part, but only because of this: Theologians have read the Gospels well in church history, or at least some of them have. They have not figured as prominently from some as they have for others. For instance, why was Calvin’s last commentary — I may be mistaken — his commentary on the Synoptics?

But, I would want to reframe this a bit: it seems to me that pastors need to do a better job at teaching people how to read the Gospels. I’m confident many of them can read them well, but is that being passed on well? I think not. Augustine read the Gospels well; Calvin did too; I was a bit surprised at the fewness of sermons preached by Edwards on the Gospels when I checked out the database site. But the emphasis on Paul, with Paul’s theology shaping so much of evangelicalism and Protestantism, the Gospels often get shut out and if not shut out their categories get transformed into theological categories drawn from elsewhere.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Select Comments

Jamie says:
April 11, 2012 at 9:39 am
Point 1) Does this change anything? Well, speaking for myself – yes. In my genre of Christianity, this life, this earthly existence is counted as nothing, as unimportant. (That’s what we SAY, that’s not how we LIVE….we live very tied to this earth and our things….) Frankly, I think that along with shifting our view of *where* heaven is, Wright is addressing the preceding dispensational eschatology. “This world is gonna burn, so heaven can’t be “here.”

To shift the concept to heaven coming here, changes everything. What I do here, and now, has purpose. Wright is saying that maybe we don’t understand the how and why right now – but someday we will see how vocation and even everyday actions, how holy living (and yeah, there’s some adherence to moral teaching involved there, but holy living is more than that – it’s wanting to model our life after Jesus not follow rules because we’ll go to hell if we don’t.)

You all know this, too, but it doesn’t allow the laissez faire approach to earth and creation. If heaven is here and not ethereally “out there, somewhere, a spiritual place,” it reminds us of the physicality of heaven. That’s something that a lot of your fundamentalist churches don’t teach well. If heaven will be here, and is inaugurated “now,” then we can’t disregard this place under the misunderstanding that it is temporal and bound to extinction, anyway.

I get the sense that much of Wright’s writing is directed toward the American church, toward the “low church” specifically in this slice, at least. (He directs some of his “holiness talk” such as in “After You Believe” toward more of the high church, the mainline, or the more liberal church. I cringe to use the labels….but they do help categorize…) If you’ve grown up fundamentalist or dispensationalist, or if you don’t have a clue theologically and have inadvertently fallen into the cliches which abound in common religious lore – you understand the difference that Wright’s shift makes. You recognize yourself... and really, this view has teh potential to change everything.

Jon G says:
April 11, 2012 at 10:11 am
Scot said: “if the kingdom is eternal in the sense of our final destiny, and if that is what many people mean by heaven, and even if we are now seriously adjusting heaven to much more earthy, is there that big of a difference?”

I would say the difference is in how we see the World now. That is, Heaven is not a place we go LATER, so we have little justification for tending to this world NOW, but a place that we take a part in shaping everyday – We are CREATING Heaven. We are restoring shalom. Properly imaging God into this world creates the heavenly status.

So, Heaven being a far off place or right here and now has huge implications for me as to how I live today.

Jon G says:
April 11, 2012 at 10:19 am
Also, in dealing with this Heaven question, I’ve found a great analogy via Matt Chandler (Village Church, Dallas, TX). I don’t agree with him nearly as much as I used to but I think he nails this one. He says that making Heaven our goal instead of God is like marrying a woman for her money. How glorifying to the woman can that be? No, we follow God to get God, and Heaven is just icing on the cake.

I would add, Heaven is not what we get from God…it is GETTING God, and therefore we can enjoy Heaven now. The location is of little importance other than it’s implications for how we live life on this Earth.

Dana Ames says:
April 11, 2012 at 12:59 pm
I agree with Holly @7.

Cliff, there is some debate about the best translation of that 2Pet passage. Lately people are thinking it is not a picture of destruction, but rather of everything being opened up to the “fire” of God’s scrutiny and judgment at his presence; that is the sense of being “laid bare”, not the sense of being destroyed.

Scot, to answer the question you posed at #1: YES, there is that big of a difference. I first encountered the idea that “heaven” is not some “place” far away, totally unconnected to this terrestrial ball, in [Dallas] Willard. It blew the roof off my theological house. If creation is so spoiled that God has to destroy it, then the devil wins, plain and simple. But if the “Christ Event” of manifesting the Kingdom truly reaches to everything, then the plan for renewal rather than destruction of creation makes God far *greater* than any sort of plan to whisk us away to a destination beyond the stars.

It was this dawning on me that gave me hope that there was actually some sort of good news to “the Gospel.”

I see where you are going with your line of thought here. It’s very nuanced. Most either can’t or won’t consider things that way; for them, “going to Heaven (as a separate place) when you die” is much easier to deal with than considering all that “Kingdom” carries with it.

Steve Burger says:
April 11, 2012 at 5:05 pm
The gospel, and in fact all of God’s Word, is more than a story, more than a teaching, more than a plan. It is first and foremost a relationship with God. If we truly believe that the word is God breathed then we must dwell in the breath, in the Spirit, since it is God who gives life to the word.

As difficult as it is, I go to the word to dwell with God. When I do otherwise, the word is shaped by my character. Jesus spoke often to the Pharisee’s about this very thing. All the [seven] points above appear to have this common thread; a word shaped by self and culture.

I have found the gospels to be a wonderful place to dwell with God. Often I am left with more questions than answers, but seldom do I leave without the joy of having rested and wrestled with God.
How great is God that God should provide such accessibility through Son and Spirit. How gracious is God that God should provide us with each other to wrestle with our understanding of the Word. Could it be that God designed the word to create struggle thereby compelling us into community? A relationship with God and each other as we journey though the word? May the Spirit who is present in the gospel and the church guide and direct our deliberations.

Philip Donald says:
April 23, 2012 at 3:12 am
I think that Wright does not overstate his case for the majority of people. The problem is that, as you point out, many people exposed to the history of the Church and Biblical Scholarship are exposed to good reading of the Gospels. In general, laity are not, and they approach the Gospels in one of the seven manners you describe. Wright is writing for laity, not academia. We need to place writings in their context (as we learn in Hermeneutics). As C.S. Lewis said in argument with a Bishop in the Church of England, “If you were doing your job properly, I wouldn’t have to write the books I’m writing.” We should praise God that we now have a Bishop (unfortunately and fortunately lost to academia) taking his job seriously and doing it well.

The Mainline Churches and Me

The Mainline and Me
 by Rachel Held Evans
April 3, 2012

'Church steps and doors' photo (c) 2010, Kevin Dooley - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/I never expected my posts “15 Reasons I Left Church” and “15 Reasons I Returned to The Church” to make such waves, but I’m still hearing from people who loved them, people who hated them, people who resonated with them, and people incredibly frustrated by them.

One of the most common responses I’ve received has come from members of "mainline" Protestant churches. (Progressive Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Disciples of Christ, etc.) “Oh you just need to find yourself a good mainline church,” they say. “Your problems are with evangelical Christianity. We’ve been politically diverse, accepting of science, and supportive of women in leadership for years now.”

Indeed many disenfranchised evangelicals have found happy homes in mainline churches.

Over at iMonk last week, Chaplain Mike wrote a lovely post about how, after a period of wandering through the denominational wilderness, he found a home in an ELCA Lutheran church “with a simple liturgy, wonderful music, a healthy and grounded pastor, a hospitable congregation, and an emphasis on Christ, grace, vocation, and other Lutheran essentials that answered questions I had been turning over in my mind for years in my evangelical settings.”

“Though I recognize my debt to evangelicalism and am grateful for what God has taught me on the journey,” writes Mike, “coming back to a mainline church for me means coming home. I’ve found my oasis. I don’t hesitate to call myself a mainline Christian.”

Mike points to several of his friends who experienced a similar transition—including Robert Webber (author of Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail: Why Evangelicals Are Attracted to the Liturgical Church), Diana Butler Bass (author of Christianity For the Rest of Us: How The Neighborhood Church is Transforming Faith), and Tod Bolsinger, (who wrote an open letter explaining why he plans to stay in the PCUSA church).

He also points to Frank Schaeffer, who wrote this in an article for the Huffington Post:

I’ve been speaking at many small colleges that have historical ties to the oldest mainline denominations in the U.S. I have been noticing something interesting: a terrific hunger for a deeper spirituality on the part of many young people who come from evangelical backgrounds like mine and also like me are looking for something outside of the right wing conservatism they come from.

I’ve also noticed that while some people in the so-called emergent evangelical movement are reaching out to these young people the leaders of the mainline denominations both locally and nationally often seem blind to a huge new opportunity for growth and renewal staring them in the face. That new opportunity is the scores of younger former evangelicals diving headlong out of the right wing evangelical churches.

…I don’t get it. Where is everyone? Why is the “emergent” evangelical church reinventing a wheel that’s been around for centuries? And why aren’t the mainline churches letting us know they are there?

…If the mainline churches would work for the next few years in a concerted effort to gather in the spiritual refugees wandering our country they’d be bursting at the seams.”

I think both Mike and Frank are on to something.

I’ve often been asked to speak to leaders of mainline churches on the topic of young people leaving the church. When I go through David Kinnaman’s research, which reflects just about every concern I express in my “15 Reasons” posts—(young people are leaving the church because they believe it is too exclusive, too combative with science, hyper-political, out-of-touch when it comes to sexuality, and an unsafe place in which to wrestle with doubt)—I am often met with blank stares.

“But we’re avoiding all of those pitfalls,” these leaders finally say. “We’re inclusive. We avoid talking politics. We’re not judgmental. We care for the community. Why aren’t all these disenfranchised evangelicals flocking to us?”

“Well when was the last time you talked about why you are inclusive, why you embrace science, why you care for the poor, and why you avoid aligning yourself with one political party?” I ask. “When was the last time you engaged in a serious, church-wide Bible study or launched a series on the spiritual disciplines? Evangelicals are used to being intensely engaged in their faith. If they don’t sense that your church offers them a safe place to wrestle and grow, they won’t come at all. ”

I speak from my own experience, because, while there is much I love and appreciate about mainline denominations, when I visit, I always leave feeling like something’s missing.

I miss that evangelical fire-in-the-belly that makes people talk about their faith with passion and conviction.

I miss the familiarity with scripture and the intensive Bible studies.

I miss the emphasis on cultivating a personal spirituality.

I miss sermons that step on a few toes.

I am speaking in gross generalizations here, but in my experience, going from evangelicalism to the mainline can feel a bit like jumping from one extreme to the other:

While evangelicals often adopt a narrow, literalist view of Scripture that borders on bibliolatry, I’ve spoken with mainliners who admit that they are embarrassingly illiterate when it comes to the Bible. (One woman told me that the only parts of Scripture she recognizes are those found in her hymnal, that she didn’t know the difference between Psalms and Proverbs, and that she was shocked to learn that some of her favorite liturgy was taken directly from the Bible.)

While evangelicals carry the unfortunate reputation of being married to the Republican party, mainliners are missing a great opportunity to talk about what it means to pledge one’s allegiance first and foremost to the Kingdom of God.

While some evangelicals avoid making justice a centerpiece of their mission for fear of looking too “liberal” (though I think this is improving), many mainliners fail to explain the religious motivation behind their acts of mercy. (One young woman from a mainline church put it this way: “I wasn’t learning anything about justice or creation care in church that I wasn’t learning in school. In fact, when talking about justice, my pastor was more likely to quote Gandhi than Jesus. So why would I bother going to church?”)

While evangelical pastors may care too little about who they offend, mainline pastors may care too much, to the point that they are afraid to say anything of substance.

While young people may be afraid to share their doubts and questions in evangelical churches for fear of judgment and condemnation, they may be just as afraid to share their doubts and questions in mainline churches because no one seems to be talking about those issues!

Again, my apologies for speaking in such general terms.

The mainline church family is obviously incredibly diverse, and there are many mainline churches doing an excellent job of reaching out to evangelicals, so we have to find a balance between observing trends and painting with a broad brush.

One of my favorite churches in the country—Missiongathering in San Diego—is a Disciples of Christ church that has managed to attract throngs of young people by fostering a community that is diverse, inclusive, biblically literate, spiritually connected, appreciative of both liturgy and contemporary worship, and absolutely bursting at the seams with grace. Mainline churches looking to retain and attract young people, particularly “homeless” evangelicals like myself, would do well to look to Missiongathering as a model, for, at least from my perspective, they have managed to combine all that is great about the mainline with all that is great about evangelicalism into one faith community. They aren’t perfect, of course. But when I’m in San Diego, that church feels a lot like home.


The Passionate Mainline
 by Rev. Aric Clark
April 11, 2012

Last week’s post on the mainline and me generated a big response. I heard from more than a dozen mainline pastors who were receptive and appreciative of the critique and eager to continue the conversation. I also heard from my friend, Aric Clark, a Presbyterian pastor and one of the creative minds behind the blog Two Friars and a Fool. Aric pushed back a little on some of my assumptions in the post, and I’m glad. He offered to share his thoughts in this guest post today.

Aric says he discovered he is religious and not spiritual in a Chan Buddhist monastery in Taiwan. These days he inflicts that religion on a congregation of Presbyterians in Fort Morgan, Colorado. He does this while fathering two wild heathens, writing everything but this week’s sermon, and husbanding the amazing Stacia Ann. He is a world-class Game Master, a pacifist, an over-activist, and a number 8 on the Enneagram. His influences include James Alison, Pomplamoose, Pema Chodron, Iain M. Banks, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stephen R. Donaldson, Chipotle chicken burritos, John Howard Yoder, Cowboy Bebop, and the highland bagpipes. He still cannot grow a beard.

Aric expresses his irresponsible opinion along with his colleagues Doug Hagler and Nick Larson over at Two Friars and a Fool. Chastise him on Twitter @TwoFriars.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

aric-clarkWhen Rachel posted her article 15 Reasons Why I Left Church I was one of those silly mainliners in the comment threads presuming to solve all of her problems by inviting her to attend my church.

Fortunately, she responded with her piece on the Mainline and Me, explaining with her usual honesty and clarity why she hasn’t chosen to make a home in the mainline. She said that whenever she visits a mainline congregation she leaves feeling like something is missing.

To be sure, much of what she said hit the mark. There were countless disenfranchised evangelicals expressing a similar opinion in the comments and, even more tellingly, a lot of mainliners saying they agreed as well. I am writing, not to try to deny the validity of Rachel’s experience or her observations, but to push back on some of the stereotypes of us mainliners.

Consider this a minority report.

Just as Rachel did in her article I will speak in regrettable generalizations. Below I address the things she said she missed in mainline churches:

"I miss the emphasis on cultivating a personal spirituality."

It is true that there is not as much emphasis on personal piety in the mainline. Our preaching, our theology, and our worship are all oriented around systemic and communal spirituality. If you hear someone talking about sin they are more likely talking about big problems like environmental degradation, economic justice, and war, than about issues of personal morality like adultery or gluttony. Our bias just runs that way.

Personally, I’m suspicious of most piety as either being a seedbed of hypocrisy or a distraction from matters of justice. Jesus didn’t have much kind to say about the pre-eminent practitioners of piety in his day - but I also recognize that Jesus prayed in private often and my suspicion is probably unwarranted.

Indeed there has been a significant rise in personal spirituality in the mainline in recent years. Most study groups I encounter would rather be reading Thomas Merton or Henri Nouwen than Dominic Crossan. They’d rather pick up Barbara Brown Taylor’s An Altar in the World than N.T. Wright’s Scripture and the Authority of God.

"I miss sermons that step on a few toes."

There’s no excuse for a preacher who is afraid to ruffle some feathers. Across the board I wish we had more courageous voices in every wing of Christian practice. It is part of what makes Rachel so admirable - she speaks with humility and conviction.

That said, I think there is most likely a cultural gap here that is going unnoticed. Most mainline preachers I know are quite bold about calling out structural sin or proclaiming gospel truths like Christ’s love for the oppressed, the poor, the victims, and the marginalized. I imagine nearly every mainline pastor reading this has recently preached a sermon which they were nervous about because it challenged the ethics, or the politics, or the culture of their congregation. Speaking for myself I have had many long conversations with parishioners, some which ended well and some which ended poorly, about controversial messages in my sermons.

What is probably true is that mainline preachers are less likely to call individuals out on personal sin, because it is not on our radar, as such.

"I miss the familiarity with scripture and the intensive Bible studies."

Biblical literacy is a big problem in most mainline churches. There is nothing to be said to that, but “Amen.” We need to do a better job of teaching our people the Bible.

At the same time, the mainline is the beating heart of Higher Criticism. Without scholars from the mainline willing to challenge the idea that the Torah was written by Moses, the creation accounts, the Flood, and the Exodus may not have been historical events etc... modern Biblical scholarship as we know it wouldn’t exist. All of the modern translations, commentaries, and interpretations owe a huge debt of gratitude to the spirit of rigorous intellectual honesty that the mainline is primarily responsible for cultivating.

In my congregation we employ Historical Critical Method in our Bible studies. Our people wrestle with the origins, the politics, and the historicity of every text. They are free to express their doubts and their confusion. In three years we have studied the entire Old Testament book by book and the Gospels and will begin studying the Letters of Paul next. They may not be able to quote chapter and verse, but there is no doubt in my mind that they are wrestling with the Bible in an intense way.

"I miss that evangelical fire-in-the-belly that makes people talk about their faith with passion and conviction."

This is the most oft-repeated criticism of mainliners so I have saved it for last. Ever self-deprecating we Presbyterians even call ourselves “the Frozen Chosen”. Many who come to our worship from an Evangelical background find it sedate. You won’t find many praise hands, and there will be even fewer shouts of “Amen” or “Preach” from the gallery. Many mainliners choose not to speak of their faith very often in public. These stylistic, but not in my opinion substantive, differences give rise to the charge that we are lukewarm.

I think it is misplaced.

Over 60 years ago when it was still extraordinary for women to work out of the home in this country the mainline was making the theological case for women in ordained ministry against the overwhelming opposition of most Christians throughout history. We have steadfastly maintained that witness and grown better at promoting female leadership in the face of constant criticism and great cost to our congregations and to some individuals. That is not the behavior of people who are dispassionate or wishy-washy.

Moreover, this isn’t unusual for the mainline. We have been deeply involved in movements for abolition, suffrage, civil rights, economic and environmental justice, and now we are at the forefront of the movement in the church for LGBTQ inclusion. Every one of these stands was costly and unpopular. It takes conviction and courage to speak against the culture. It requires a fire in the belly to speak against our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who have often called us heretics and apostates.

I don’t want to exaggerate the influence of the mainline or exclude others who have acted with courage in the Church. It is also true that large swaths of the mainline are fat and happy with the status quo and need a good kick in the rear, but if you want to find a church whose passionate pursuit of Christian justice has been consistent over decades you’d do well to start looking in the mainline.

Reviews and Links to "The Hunger Games" - An Emergent Christian Perspective

Engaging The Hunger Games

by Rachel Held Evans
March 23, 2012

hunger-games-and-the-gospelI confess to squealing just a wee bit when I first saw the trailer for "The Hunger Games" movie. Suzanne Collins’ trilogy was the first foray into fiction I enjoyed after a year of research and writing for "A Year of Biblical Womanhood", so I surrendered myself totally to the unfolding stories and, like so many others, lost a lot of sleep as I worked my way through The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and The Mockingjay.

(Dan bought me the series for Christmas, and we were supposed to read the books together, out loud, as we had done the entire Harry Potter series, but Dan kept falling asleep after a few pages, which was completely UNACCEPTABLE to me, so I went on without him. Marital devotion has its limits, I suppose.)

So this is the big week in which the Hunger Games hits the big screen, which means fanatics are indulging themselves in all-things Katniss, Peeta, and Panem.

You can get a Hunger Games tattoo. You can make mockingjay cupcakes. You can check out the latest styles of the Capitol designers at Capitol Couture. You can figure out which district your hometown would fall into in Panem. (I must say, I loved these maps. I think I live in District 12!) You can buy a truly awful Christian t-shirt to wear to the theater. You can even burn calories through a Hunger Games-inspired workout.

hunger-games-rueYesterday, when I spotted Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdene on the cover of People Magazine with the headline “THE HUNGER GAMES” in bold white letters, I couldn’t help but wonder if Suzanne Collins set all of this up to remind us of how closely our culture can resemble that of The Capitol—what with our excess, our reality shows, our glorification of violence, and our compulsive need to shove every good story through our celebrity-obsessed media machine.

That’s one of the things I liked best about The Hunger Games. The series, while entertaining, also raises some serious questions about oppression, violence, materialism, entertainment, and justice.

At Red Letter Christians, Marty Troyer wrote an excellent piece about The Hunger Games from a pacifist perspective. Monica Selby, at Her.Meneutics, wrote about why we need dystopian tales. Amy Simpson, for Christianity Today sees Jesus in The Hunger Games.

But my favorite analysis of The Hunger Games has come from the delightful and wise Julie Clawson.

Not only has she written a couple of fantastic articles about The Hunger Games, she’s written an entire book entitled The Hunger Games and the Gospel released this week by Patheos Press.

I admit I am usually skeptical about books that claim to offer a "Christian perspective" on popular culture. But I trust Julie Clawson. And she does not disappoint. Not unlike the Hunger Games series itself, I read The Hunger Games and the Gospel in one sitting. Clawson does a fantastic job of reminding readers that Collins’ world of occupation, oppression, excess, and poverty is not so far removed from our own, and that it is exactly the kind of world in which Jesus himself lived.

Writes Clawson:

"Hunger, poverty, poor health, fear, violence and lack of freedoms are not just elements of fiction, but daily realities in our world. In light of such realities, consider the emotional (and political) impact Jesus must have had when he showed up in Nazareth, a region with a long history of oppression, and proclaimed that he had come to fulfill Isaiah’s prophetic words by releasing the captives and setting the oppressed free. Those words would have been charged with meaning for people living in fear under the Roman tribute system just as they are for people desperate for liberation today. Oppression orchestrates compliance by crushing all hope. Yet Jesus came offering hope and the blessing of the Kingdom of God to those whose spirits had been broken.”

Clawson skillfully and creatively connects the story of The Hunger Games to The Sermon on the Mount with a series of essays that follow the Beatitudes. Check out the chapter titles:

Chapter One: The Poor in Spirit: Living in the United States of Panem

Chapter Two: Those Who Mourn: Remembering the Things It Would Be a Crime to Forget

Chapter Three: The Meek: Supporting One Body, Many Districts

Chapter Four: Those Who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness: Loving Like the Boy with the Bread

Chapter Five: The Merciful: Recognizing the Humanity of Others

Chapter Six: The Pure in Heart: Looking Past Artificial Exteriors

Chapter Seven: The Peacemakers: Subverting the Games of Violence

Chapter Eight: The Persecuted: Finding One’s Voice in a Distracted World

And because Clawson is one of the smartest ladies you’ll ever meet, she’s include a few tidbits, like this one, that you can use to impress your friends:

“It was in frustration at this shallowness among his fellow Romans that the 1st-­?century C.E. satirist Juvenal coined the terms 'panem et circenses' (bread and circuses) to mock those who were too distracted to care about justice or the needs of the oppressed. The handful of Hunger Games readers who happened to take Latin in high school would have been clued in that the series was directly referencing the bread and circuses of ancient Rome. Early on, we read that the country itself is named Panem (bread) and has a tesserae system that provided the districts both food and a higher chance at a ticket to the games (but as participants, not as spectators). But it isn’t until the final book that Plutarch, the ex-Head Gamemaker turned rebel, explains to Katniss that 'in the Capitol, all they’ve ever known is Panem et Circenses,' and, like the Romans, they 'in return for full bellies and entertainment . . . [gave] up their political responsibilities and therefore their power.'"
This was a challenging and engaging treatment of The Hunger Games from a gospel-centered perspective that I highly recommend, especially to Hunger Games fans. You can purchase The Hunger Games and the Gospel here.

Reasons Why I Left the Church & Why I Returned to the Church

'Church' photo (c) 2007, silent shot - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

15 Reasons I Left Church

by Rachel Held Evans
March 20, 2012

Eight million twenty-somethings have left the church, and it seems like everyone is trying to figure out why.

Last week, Christian Piatt offered seven reasons here, and four more reasons here. David Kinnaman recently authored a book entitled, You Lost Me, which details the findings of Barna researchers who interviewed hundreds of 18-29 year-olds about why they left the church.

I left the church when I was twenty-seven. I am now thirty, and after trying unsuccessfully to start a house church, my husband and I are struggling to find a faith community in which we feel we belong. I’ve been reluctant to write about this search in the past, but it seems like such a common experience, I think it’s time to open up, especially now that I’ve had some time to process. But let’s begin with fifteen reasons why I left:

1. I left the church because I’m better at planning Bible studies than baby showers... but they only wanted me to plan baby showers.

2. I left the church because when we talked about sin, we mostly talked about sex.

3. I left the church because my questions were seen as liabilities.

4. I left the church because sometimes it felt like a cult, or a country club, and I wasn’t sure which was worse.

5. I left the church because I believe the earth is 4.5 billion years old and that humans share a common ancestor with apes, which I was told was incompatible with my faith.

6. I left the church because sometimes I doubt, and church can be the worst place to doubt.

7. I left the church because I didn’t want to be anyone’s “project.”

8. I left the church because it was often assumed that everyone in the congregation voted for Republicans.

9. I left the church because I felt like I was the only one troubled by stories of violence and misogyny and genocide found in the Bible, and I was tired of people telling me not to worry about it because “God’s ways are higher than our ways.”

10. I left the church because of my own selfishness and pride.

11. I left the church because I knew I would never see a woman behind the pulpit, at least not in the congregation in which I grew up.

12. I left the church because I wanted to help people in my community without feeling pressure to convert them to Christianity.

13. I left the church because I had learned more from Oprah about addressing poverty and injustice than I had learned from 25 years of Sunday school.

14. I left the church because there are days when I’m not sure I believe in God, and no one told me that “dark nights of the soul” can be part of the faith experience.

15. I left the church because one day, they put signs out in the church lawn that said “Marriage = 1 Man + 1 Woman: Vote Yes on Prop 1,” and I knew the moment I saw them that I never wanted to come back.

“I am convinced that what drives most people away from Christianity is not the cost of discipleship but rather the cost of false fundamentals.” – Evolving in Monkey Town, p. 207

“We aren’t looking for a faith that provides all the answers; we’re looking for one in which we are free to ask the questions.”Evolving in Monkey Town, p. 204

In the weeks to come, I'll be sharing more about why I stayed with the Church--with a capital-C-- and about our search for a local faith community.

'44. the elements and candles' photo (c) 2009, Cathy Stanley-Erickson - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

15 Reasons I Returned to the Church

by Rachel Held Evans
March 21, 2012
So yesterday’s post, 15 Reasons I Left Church, generated a massive response, which I was not expecting. (Must have struck a nerve.) Thank you so much for your comments. They were honest, encouraging, challenging, and true.
As I mentioned yesterday, I left church when I was 27, and for a couple of years, I really struggled with my faith. But as many of you pointed out, sometimes leaving church is the best way to find the Church, and that’s exactly what has happened as I’ve encountered the goodness and grace of God’s people at the Catholic church down the street, at the local church that rallied to bring food to my mom during her cancer treatments, through our quirky, grace-filled (but sadly now defunct) church plant, among friends and neighbors and fellow searchers, and, of course, with you.
Dan and I are still in search of a faith community that feels like home, but at the risk of sounding cliché, “not all who wander are lost.” So in that spirit, here are 15 reasons I’ve returned to the Church—with a capital-C:
1. Jesus

2. The Book of Common Prayer

3. The fact that when somebody gets sick or dies or has a baby or loses their job, it’s the church ladies who are the first to show up at the front door with a casserole and a hug

4. Anne Lamott

5. Communion

6. Connecting with other searchers who may not be part of a church, but are part of The Church (this includes many of you!)

7. The first sermon I ever heard from a woman

8. Sucking up my pride and embracing the fact that, like it or not, I need community...and real community isn’t about surrounding myself with people just like me

9. Liturgy that reads like poetry

10. Madeleine L’Engle

11. My parents, who, though we don’t always agree on all the political or theological details, have modeled Christian compassion and grace better than anyone I know and who have supported me through every “evolution” of faith

12. The Biologos Foundation, and especially Karl Giberson, who was the first to reach out to me and tell me that I didn’t have to choose between my intellectual integrity and my faith

13. The Mission (our church plant), which even though it failed on paper, changed my life and gave me hope for the future of the Church

14. Friends with whom we gather each week for movies, food, conversations about God, and the occasional (slightly awkward) church visit

15. Grace, grace, grace, grace, grace, grace, grace

On the Question of "Being in the World." A Reflection on the Philosophy of Martin Heiddeger

Publication Date - May 1, 2011

Ten years after graduating with a degree in philosophy from UC Berkeley, filmmaker Tao Ruspoli returned to visit his one-time professor, world-renowned philosopher Herbert Dreyfus. That visit led to meetings with a whole generation of philosophers whom Dreyfus had taught, which subsequently sparked the inspiration for this film. Being in the World raises the question of whether we have forgotten what it means to be truly human in today's technological age, and proceeds to answer this question by taking a journey around the world to meet a whole host of remarkable individuals, including Manuel Molina, the legendary poet and flamenco master; Leah Chase, affectionately known as the Queen of Creole Cuisine; and Hiroshi Sakaguchi, a master carpenter from Japan. By showing how these modern day masters approach life from within their chosen fields, Ruspoli's film celebrates the ability of human beings to find meaning in the world through the mastery of physical, intellectual, and creative skills.

Being in The World movie trailer

Being in the World teaser: Hubert Dreyfus

Review: Germany released, PAL/Region 2 DVD: LANGUAGES: English ( Dolby Digital 2.0 ), German ( Dolby Digital 2.0 ), German ( Subtitles ), WIDESCREEN (1.78:1), SPECIAL FEATURES: Interactive Menu, Scene Access, Trailer(s), 77 minutes.

Synopsis: We quickly move beyond the Greeks and then beyond Descartes' mentalist notion ('I think therefore I am') of reality to Martin Heidegger's conception: reality and meaning exist where minds interact with the world. We see humans at work and at play: juggling, doing high-precision Japanese carpentry, flamenco, and cooking gumbo. While we watch them work and struggle to introspect and talk about their art and their craft, we also hear Hubert Dreyfus and his students reflect on Heidegger and his philosophy. Our artisans confess that they cannot explain in rational terms how they do what they do. The being is in the doing. Interviews and action intertwine to make a challenging philosophy clear to the lay viewer. ...Being in the World

Heidegger's Being and Time 1 of 3

Heidegger's Being and Time 2 of 3

Heidegger's Being and Time 3 of 3

A Quick Synopsis: Wikipedia.com

Martin Heidegger (September 26, 1889 – May 26, 1976); German pronunciation: [ˈmaɐ̯tiːn ˈhaɪdɛɡɐ]) was a German philosopher known for his existential and phenomenological explorations of the "question of Being."[3]

Heidegger argues that philosophy is preoccupied with what exists and has forgotten the question of the "ground" of being. We find ourselves "always already" fallen into a world that already existed; but he insists that we have forgotten the basic question of what being itself is. This question defines our central nature. He argues that we are practical agents, caring and concerned about our projects in the world, and allowing it to reveal, or "unconceal" itself to us. He also says that our manipulation of reality is often harmful and hides our true being as essentially limited participants, not masters, of the world which we discover.

Heidegger wrote about these issues in his best-known book, Being and Time (1927), which is considered to be one of the most important philosophical works of the 20th century.[4] Heidegger's influence is far reaching, from philosophy to deconstruction and literary theory, theology, architecture, and artificial intelligence.[5]

He remains controversial due to his membership in the Nazi Party and statements in support of Adolf Hitler, for which he never apologized or expressed regret.[6]


Heidegger claimed that Western philosophy since Plato has misunderstood what it means for something "to be", tending to approach this question in terms of a being, rather than asking about Being itself. In other words, Heidegger believed all investigations of being have historically focused on particular entities and their properties, or have treated Being itself as an entity, or substance, with properties. A more authentic analysis of being would, for Heidegger, investigate "that on the basis of which beings are already understood," or that which underlies all particular entities and allows them to show up as entities in the first place (see world disclosure).[7] But since philosophers and scientists have overlooked the more basic, pre-theoretical ways of being from which their theories derive, and since they have incorrectly applied those theories universally, they have confused our understanding of being and human existence. To avoid these deep-rooted misconceptions, Heidegger believed philosophical inquiry must be conducted in a new way, through a process of retracing the steps of the history of philosophy.

Heidegger argued that this misunderstanding, beginning with Plato, has left its traces in every stage of Western thought. All that we understand, from the way we speak to our notions of "common sense", is susceptible to error, to fundamental mistakes about the nature of being. These mistakes filter into the terms through which being is articulated in the history of philosophy—such as reality, logic, God, consciousness, and presence. In his later philosophy, Heidegger argues that this profoundly affects the way in which human beings relate to modern technology.

The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy states that his writing is 'notoriously difficult', possibly because his thinking was 'original' and clearly on obscure and innovative topics.[8] Heidegger accepted this charge, stating 'Making itself intelligible is suicide for philosophy', and suggesting that intelligibility is what he is critically trying to examine.[9]

Heidegger's work has strongly influenced philosophy, aesthetics of literature, and the humanities. Within philosophy it played a crucial role in the development of existentialism, hermeneutics, deconstructionism, postmodernism, and continental philosophy in general. Well-known philosophers such as Karl Jaspers, Leo Strauss, Ahmad Fardid, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Jean-Paul Sartre, Emmanuel Lévinas, Hannah Arendt, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Michel Foucault, Richard Rorty, William E. Connolly, and Jacques Derrida have all analyzed Heidegger's work.

Heidegger supported National Socialism and was a member of the Nazi Party from May 1933 until May 1945.[10] His defenders, notably Hannah Arendt, see this support as arguably a personal " 'error' " (a word which Arendt placed in quotation marks when referring to Heidegger's Nazi-era politics).[11] Defenders think this error was largely irrelevant to Heidegger's philosophy. Critics, such as his former students Emmanuel Levinas[12] and Karl Löwith,[13] claim that Heidegger's support for National Socialism revealed flaws inherent in his thought. [14]

Reactions to Heidegger's 'Being and Time'

Heidegger, Being and Time:
Understanding and Interpretation

A brief talk about sections, 31, 32, 33 from Heidegger's Being and Time

Statement: If a man totally loses his memory, does he still exist? Or is existence defined exclusively by the physical self? If there were a way to transfer all the memories of a man into a new body when the old body, complete with mind and memories died, would the man still exist, even though the being which is physically present is brand new and never actually lived the memories? Is existence defined by physical form, or a continuity of consciousness?

Reply: "If a man totally loses his memory, does he still exist?" Does WHO still exist? WHO is the point! There IS a man still alive, still living, but existence pertains to the WHO that we ARE. In this case, it would be a persson who is now existing as someone with amnesia. Existence is a meaningful stretch of temporality, a thrown retaining that projects and awaits.


Being, time, and Dasein

Heidegger's philosophy is founded on the attempt to conjoin what he considers two fundamental insights: the first is his observation that, in the course of over 2,000 years of history, philosophy has attended to all the beings that can be found in the world (including the "world" itself), but has forgotten to ask what "being" itself is. This is Heidegger's "question of being," and it is Heidegger's fundamental concern throughout his work. One crucial source of this insight was Heidegger's reading of Franz Brentano's treatise on Aristotle's manifold uses of the word "being," a work which provoked Heidegger to ask what kind of unity underlies this multiplicity of uses. Heidegger opens his magnum opus, Being and Time, with a citation from Plato's Sophist [27] indicating that Western philosophy has neglected "being" because it was considered obvious, rather than as worthy of question. Heidegger's intuition about the question of being is thus an historical argument, which in his later work becomes his concern with the "history of being," that is, the history of the forgetting of being, which according to Heidegger requires that philosophy retrace its footsteps through a productive "destruction" of the history of philosophy.

The second intuition animating Heidegger's philosophy derives from the influence of Edmund Husserl, a philosopher largely uninterested in questions of philosophical history. Rather, Husserl argued that all that philosophy could and should be a description of experience (hence the phenomenological slogan, "to the things themselves"). But for Heidegger, this meant understanding that experience is always already situated in a world and in ways of being. Thus Husserl's understanding that all consciousness is "intentional" (in the sense that it is always intended toward something, and is always "about" something) is transformed in Heidegger's philosophy, becoming the thought that all experience is grounded in "care."

This is the basis of Heidegger's "existential analytic", as he develops it in Being and Time. Heidegger argues that to describe experience properly entails finding the being for whom such a description might matter. Heidegger thus conducts his description of experience with reference to "Dasein," the being for whom being is a question.[28]

In Being and Time, Heidegger criticized the abstract and metaphysical character of traditional ways of grasping human existence as rational animal, person, man, soul, spirit, or subject. Dasein, then, is not intended as a way of conducting a philosophical anthropology, but is rather understood by Heidegger to be the condition of possibility for anything like a philosophical anthropology.[29] Dasein, according to Heidegger, is care. In the course of his existential analytic, Heidegger argues that Dasein, who finds itself thrown into the world amidst things and with others, is thrown into its possibilities, including the possibility and inevitability of one's own mortality. The need for Dasein to assume these possibilities, that is, the need to be responsible for one's own existence, is the basis of Heidegger's notions of authenticity and resoluteness—that is, of those specific possibilities for Dasein which depend on escaping the "vulgar" temporality of calculation and of public life.

The marriage of these two observations depends on the fact that each of them is essentially concerned with time. That Dasein is thrown into an already existing world and thus into its mortal possibilities does not only mean that Dasein is an essentially temporal being; it also implies that the description of Dasein can only be carried out in terms inherited from the Western tradition itself. For Heidegger, unlike for Husserl, philosophical terminology could not be divorced from the history of the use of that terminology, and thus genuine philosophy could not avoid confronting questions of language and meaning. The existential analytic of Being and Time was thus always only a first step in Heidegger's philosophy, to be followed by the "dismantling" (Destruktion) of the history of philosophy, that is, a transformation of its language and meaning, that would have made of the existential analytic only a kind of "limit case" (in the sense in which special relativity is a limit case of general relativity).[citation needed]

That Heidegger did not write this second part of Being and Time, and that the existential analytic was left behind in the course of Heidegger's subsequent writings on the history of being, might be interpreted as a failure to conjugate his account of individual experience with his account of the vicissitudes of the collective human adventure that he understands the Western philosophical tradition to be. And this would in turn raise the question of whether this failure is due to a flaw in Heidegger's account of temporality, that is, of whether Heidegger was correct to oppose vulgar and authentic time.[30]

Being and Time

Being and Time (German title: Sein und Zeit), published in 1927, is Heidegger's first academic book. He had been under pressure to publish in order to qualify for Husserl's chair at University of Freiburg and the success of this work ensured his appointment to the post.

It investigates the question of being by asking about the being for whom being is a question. Heidegger names this being Dasein (see above), and the book pursues its investigation through themes such as mortality, care, anxiety, temporality, and historicity. It was Heidegger's original intention to write a second half of the book, consisting of a "Destruktion" of the history of philosophy—that is, the transformation of philosophy by re-tracing its history—but he never completed this project.

Being and Time influenced many thinkers, including such existentialist thinkers as Jean-Paul Sartre (although Heidegger distanced himself from existentialism—see below).

Later works: The Turn

Heidegger's later works, after the Second World War, seem to many commentators (e.g. William J. Richardson[31]) to at least reflect a shift of focus, if not indeed a major change in his philosophical outlook. One way this has been understood is as a shift from "doing" to "dwelling". However, others feel that this is to overstate the difference. For example, in 2011 Mark Wrathall[32] argued that Heidegger pursued and refined the central notion of unconcealment throughout his life as a philosopher. Its importance and continuity in his thinking, Wrathall states, shows that he did not have a 'turn'. A reviewer of Wrathall's book stated: "An ontology of unconcealment ... means a description and analysis of the broad contexts in which entities show up as meaningful to us, as well as the conditions under which such contexts, or worlds, emerge and fade."[33]

Heidegger focuses less on the way in which the structures of being are revealed in everyday behavior, and more on the way in which behavior itself depends on a prior "openness to being." The essence of being human is the maintenance of this openness. Heidegger contrasts this openness to the "will to power" of the modern human subject, which is one way of forgetting this originary openness.
Heidegger understands the commencement of the history of Western philosophy as a brief period of authentic openness to being, during the time of the pre-Socratics, especially Anaximander, Heraclitus, and Parmenides. This was followed, according to Heidegger, by a long period increasingly dominated by the forgetting of this initial openness, a period which commences with Plato, and which occurs in different ways throughout Western history.

Two recurring themes of Heidegger's later writings are poetry and technology. Heidegger sees poetry and technology as two contrasting ways of "revealing." Poetry reveals being in the way in which, if it is genuine poetry, it commences something new. Technology, on the other hand, when it gets going, inaugurates the world of the dichotomous subject and object, which modern philosophy commencing with Descartes also reveals. But with modern technology a new stage of revealing is reached, in which the subject-object distinction is overcome even in the "material" world of technology. The essence of modern technology is the conversion of the whole universe of beings into an undifferentiated "standing reserve" (Bestand) of energy available for any use to which humans choose to put it. Heidegger described the essence of modern technology as Gestell, or "enframing." Heidegger does not unequivocally condemn technology: while he acknowledges that modern technology contains grave dangers, Heidegger nevertheless also argues that it may constitute a chance for human beings to enter a new epoch in their relation to being. Despite this, some commentators have insisted that an agrarian nostalgia permeates his later work.

In a 1950 lecture he formulated the famous saying Language speaks, later published in the 1959 essays collection Unterwegs zur Sprache, and collected in the 1971 English book Poetry, Language, Thought.[34][35][36]

Heidegger's later works include Vom Wesen der Wahrheit ("On the Essence of Truth", 1930), Der Ursprung des Kunstwerkes ("The Origin of the Work of Art", 1935), Einführung in die Metaphysik ("Introduction to Metaphysics", 1935), Bauen Wohnen Denken ("Building Dwelling Thinking", 1951), and Die Frage nach der Technik ("The Question Concerning Technology", 1954) and Was heisst Denken? ("What Is Called Thinking?" 1954). Also Beiträge zur Philosophie (Vom Ereignis) (Contributions to Philosophy (From Enowning)), composed in the years 1936–38 but not published until 1989, on the centennial of Heidegger's birth.