Numbed and Satiated: Brueggemann on Egypt and America

In this second part of a discussion of Walter Brueggemann’s The Prophetic Imagination, I discuss how left and right-wing churches alike are likely to be sucked into “royal consciousness,” and that is equivalent to the sin of idolatry. Brueggemann’s alternative, inspired by the story of Moses and the escape from the Egyptians, is to claim a foothold in the freedom on God, literally an other-worldly vantage point from which to gain perspective on the world and strength to oppose the Pharoahs of the world. Brueggemann thus begins his provocative critique of the contemporary Christian church within the framework of a studied reading of Old Testament scripture. He argues that then, and now, the satiation and subsequent numbness of the haves in society makes way for treating the lower ranks as things to be used, bought and sold. Community is broken by this disregard for others within it … More Numbed and Satiated: Brueggemann on Egypt and America

Rethinking the Christian Contribution: Walter Brueggemann's Imagination (Audio)

I introduce some of theologian Walter Brueggemann’s themes in his classic “The Prophetic Imagination,” discussing some of the ways we can avail ourselves of a common narrative to try to gain some freedom against oppression, whether of the old-style Pharoah or the new version of less visible but very powerful economic and political forces that keep people working for an agenda they wouldn’t naturally choose. Through Brueggemann’s eyes, we are living in the imagination of “Royal consciousness” but we could be living in the imagination of God. What does this mean, not just for Christians, but generally for people who are trying to find some way to push back and gain some freedom? … More Rethinking the Christian Contribution: Walter Brueggemann's Imagination (Audio)

St. Benedicts Needed? MacIntyre and the New Dark Ages (After Virtue, Conclusions, Audio)

In this conclusion to the series on Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue I think about the significance of MacIntyr’e’s views on modern liberalism/capitalism (neoliberalism) and his ideas for the elements of stronger community. MacIntyre argues that we have entered a new Dark Ages without recognizing it, and that we need new, and probably very different, St. Benedicts to create ways of life to rebuild and preserve community in difficult times. The new Dark Age, as MacIntyre sees it, is a product of the amoral hyper-bureaucratization, technical rationality and fragmented responsibility characteristic of our times. After Virtue does not have all the answers about how to get past these problems, but his views on the elements involved in stronger community are definitely a start. … More St. Benedicts Needed? MacIntyre and the New Dark Ages (After Virtue, Conclusions, Audio)

St. Benedicts Needed? MacIntyre and the New Dark Ages (After Virtue, Conclusions)

In this conclusion to the series on Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue I think about the significance of MacIntyr’e’s views on modern liberalism/capitalism (neoliberalism) and his ideas for the elements of stronger community. MacIntyre argues that we have entered a new Dark Ages without recognizing it, and that we need new, and probably very different, St. Benedicts to create ways of life to rebuild and preserve community in difficult times. The new Dark Age, as MacIntyre sees it, is a product of the amoral hyper-bureaucratization, technical rationality and fragmented responsibility characteristic of our times. After Virtue does not have all the answers about how to get past these problems, but his views on the elements involved in stronger community are definitely a start. … More St. Benedicts Needed? MacIntyre and the New Dark Ages (After Virtue, Conclusions)

Can We Escape Our Past? Self & Responsibility (After Virtue 9 Audio)

In chapters 13-15 of Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue, we get to contemplate the idea that we are much more affected by our personal story and and our history than we want to admit. Are we capable of making ourselves into just anything we want to be, regardless of the cards we were dealt? Are we free of responsibility for what we’ve done in our personal past or what our ancestors have done? MacIntyre’s answer is that the existential self, capable of being radically chosen at any given point, is a fantasy which, rather than freeing us, can leave us aimless and depressed. What, then, is the benefit of seeing ourselves as MacIntyre wants us to–benefited but also burdened by the context into which we are born? And how do the virtues fit into all of this? … More Can We Escape Our Past? Self & Responsibility (After Virtue 9 Audio)

Can We Escape Our Past? Self & Responsibility (After Virtue 9)

In chapters 13-15 of Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue, we get to contemplate the idea that we are much more affected by our personal story and and our history than we want to admit. Are we capable of making ourselves into just anything we want to be, regardless of the cards we were dealt? Are we free of responsibility for what we’ve done in our personal past or what our ancestors have done? MacIntyre’s answer is that the existential self, capable of being radically chosen at any given point, is a fantasy which, rather than freeing us, can leave us aimless and depressed. What, then, is the benefit of seeing ourselves as MacIntyre wants us to–benefited but also burdened by the context into which we are born? And how do the virtues fit into all of this? … More Can We Escape Our Past? Self & Responsibility (After Virtue 9)

From Hero to Consumer (After Virtue 8, audio)

This video covers ideas in chapters 10-12 in Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue. In pursuit of an alternative to value neutrality and the fragmented responsibility characterized by modern bureaucracy, Alasdair MacIntyre attempts to reconstruct a history of Western moral development. His aim is to help society re-learn Aristotelian teleology and virtue ethics. But to locate what he’s advocating he goes back to the Homeric Greek heroic ideal, then traces the emergence of a new kind of self (one that is self-conscious and aware of the distinction between self and society) in democratic Athens. Out of this society emerged Aristotle, whose thought came closer to what seems to be MacIntyre’s ideal–one that consciously deals with ethics both at the level of the particular society and at the level of universal claims. MacIntyre distances himself from Aristotle’s “metaphysical biology” and therefore from Aristotle’s claims that there are biologically determined natural roles and different virtues for different people, claiming that Aristotle mistook his society’s particular cultural norms for eternal truths. But can MacIntyre have Aristotle’s teleology and virtue ethics without his biological determinism? That is yet to be seen.
More From Hero to Consumer (After Virtue 8, audio)

From Hero to Consumer (After Virtue 8)

In pursuit of an alternative to value neutrality and the fragmented responsibility characterized by modern bureaucracy, Alasdair MacIntyre attempts to reconstruct a history of Western moral development. His aim is to help society re-learn Aristotelian teleology and virtue ethics. But to locate what he’s advocating he goes back to the Homeric Greek heroic ideal, then traces the emergence of a new kind of self (one that is self-conscious and aware of the distinction between self and society) in democratic Athens. Out of this society emerged Aristotle, whose thought came closer to what seems to be MacIntyre’s ideal–one that consciously deals with ethics both at the level of the particular society and at the level of universal claims. MacIntyre distances himself from Aristotle’s “metaphysical biology” and therefore from Aristotle’s claims that there are biologically determined natural roles and different virtues for different people, claiming that Aristotle mistook his society’s particular cultural norms for eternal truths. But can MacIntyre have Aristotle’s teleology and virtue ethics without his biological determinism? That is yet to be seen. … More From Hero to Consumer (After Virtue 8)

Revolt Against “Customer Service”: MacIntyre on the Managerial Monster God (After Virtue 7 Audio)

In Chapters 8 and 9 of After Virtue, Alasdair MacIntyre argues that social science cannot approximate the physical sciences in predictability and that the bureaucratic manager, king of “customer service” technique is therefore full of, well, something other than expertise. It turns out that freedom entails a lack of predictability, that Machiavellian “Fortuna” is better than being oppressively managed and that complete efficiency produces the breakdown of efficiency in employee/constituent revolt. In Chapter 9, MacIntyre begins the journey away from Nietzsche, whom he considers at least an honest nihilist, and towards Aristotle. … More Revolt Against “Customer Service”: MacIntyre on the Managerial Monster God (After Virtue 7 Audio)

Revolt Against “Customer Service”: MacIntyre on the Managerial Monster God (After Virtue 7)

In Chapters 8 and 9 of After Virtue, Alasdair MacIntyre argues that social science cannot approximate the physical sciences in predictability and that the bureaucratic manager, king of “customer service” technique is therefore full of, well, something other than expertise. It turns out that freedom entails a lack of predictability, that Machiavellian “Fortuna” is better than being oppressively managed and that complete efficiency produces the breakdown of efficiency in employee/constituent revolt. In Chapter 9, MacIntyre begins the journey away from Nietzsche, whom he considers at least an honest nihilist, and towards Aristotle.
More Revolt Against “Customer Service”: MacIntyre on the Managerial Monster God (After Virtue 7)