Five Evangelical Christs

This essay is from our Anastasis Series where we resurrect articles from the past that are either still relevant today or can be easily updated. This piece, first published in May 2013 as a series …

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The violence of alienation

“A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself.” -Proverbs 18:2- “We are the hollow men We are the stuffed men Leaning together Headpiece filled with straw. Alas! Our dried …

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Revisiting 2014…aka another top 10 list.

A little while back I had a fan of Faith on View message me on Facebook asking me to once again post regularly on Faith on View. Okay, truth be told it really was more of an internet friend teasing me for my failures. For those who follow this blog, they noticed that in September posts stopped fairly abruptly. What happened was that I had the wonderful opportunity to become a Senior Lecturer at California College of the Arts which is one of the top Art Schools in the nation. But, I had previously committed to teaching two classes at William Jessup University, an evangelical school in the Sacramento  area, and a class at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, where I am pursuing my PhD. This meant that in addition to the Theological Aesthetics course I was auditing from the esteemed Frank Birch Brown, I was also now teaching five classes at three different institutions. All that to say I was really busy and I let my writing on Faith on View slip. The good news is that this semester my teaching is reduced and I am only teaching one course at GTU and one at CCA. This should translate into more regular writing from me. I have a lot of ideas so I am looking forward to having more time to get them on “paper.”

Rondall, Pamela, and the kids in a fall 2014 portrait taken by Nicole DiGiorgio of Sweetness and Light Photography
Rondall, Pamela, and the kids in a fall 2014. Portrait taken by Nicole DiGiorgio of Sweetness and Light Photography

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Philosophy for Theology: Virtue and Duty Ethics

This is the second piece in a four part series inspired by a course I took last year called Philosophy for Theology. This piece is on the difference between Virtue Ethicsand Duty Ethics.

Plato_Silanion_Musei_Capitolini_MC1377There are typically three different philosophies about ethics: virtue ethics, duty ethics (deontology), and pragmatic ethics (consequentialism). Pragmatic ethics is the idea that the ethical validity of a position or action is based on the outcome of such an action. The maxim which most captures this idea is, “the end justifies the means.” This ethical system is largely a modernist conception and has little grounding in theistic approaches to ethics so it will not be considered here. Virtue ethics and duty ethics, on the other hand, both have long histories and can be consistent with a theistic approach.

Virtue ethics has its roots dating back to Plato and Aristotle. The essential question of philosophy for classical philosophers was about how to be happy and for Plato a virtuous soul is what makes one happy. The philosophical life is important for developing happiness because in the classical conception the development of virtue goes hand in hand with the development of knowledge. So, being a philosopher has a direct causal relationship to happiness. Further, for both Aristotle and Plato, virtue is public not private. In Christian and more contemporary ideas about virtue, we tend to focus on an individual’s personal private virtue. However, for Plato and Aristotle, virtue was public and directed toward the city-state rather than the individual.  As a result, the virtuous person was a good citizen. For more modern thinkers, virtue likely does have a secondary relationship with citizenship but it is primarily individualistic.

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Art Is Not Frivolous

I have an art show installing this week at  Oak Hills Church in Folsom, California and I sent them my standard professional bio. But, the show is at a church and their interest is not …

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Distinguishing between the Pretty and the Beautiful, Part 2 in the series On The Beautiful, The Sublime, The Pretty, and the Ugly

If you haven’t read Part 1 of this series please take a look.

When I started to think about my aesthetic system, it was in large part inspired by my belief that there is an overlap between the beautiful and the sublime. I still think that is an  important part of my system. However, the part that is more innovative (time will tell if it is good innovation) is the addition of Pretty to the system. So, a good deal of my thinking over the last week has been dedicated to trying to think through the implications and problems of this system.

The relationship of Beauty, Sublime, Pretty, and Ugly.
The relationship of Beauty, Sublime, Pretty, and Ugly.

In real life, I have been doing exactly what I have been doing with this blog and on social media. I have been testing out my ideas to both specialists and non-specialists. When I was teaching my 2-D Design class at William Jessup University, I asked my students what the difference between pretty and beautiful was to them. This particular class only has one male and he was absent that day. So essentially I was asking a group of college aged women the difference between pretty and beautiful. In many ways their answer was exactly what I articulated in the last post. But, what really struck me was when the conversation turned to how these women felt about men calling them pretty or beautiful. This was a revelation to me. These young women expressed that they felt it was presumptuous for a guy they did not know well to call them beautiful. For them, the term pretty had to do with their exterior but beauty was also about something on the inside. The argument went that if a guy, who they did not know well, called them beautiful he was presuming to know something about them that he could not know just by looking at them. This is fascinating to me and to a certain extent echoes my own thinking on the terms.

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On The Beautiful, The Sublime, The Pretty, and the Ugly, Part 1 (maybe)

Last semester I used my blog as a platform to think through a project I was working on entitled Five Evangelical Christs. It was a six part series which allowed me to think through ideas that turned into a more developed paper. I really enjoyed the process and got some great feedback, though more of that feedback was written on Facebook than showed up directly on this blog.

I think I will do something this semester in connection with my Philosophical Aesthetics class. I’ve decided that my big paper will be a systematic look at the concepts of the Beautiful and the Sublime. But, as I’ve been thinking this through, I believe I need to include two additional concepts: the Pretty and the Ugly.

The relationship of Beauty, Sublime, Pretty, and Ugly.

Beauty and Sublime both have a long history. Typically, they are set in opposition to each other. I, on the other hand, have a slightly different conception. The basis of my idea isn’t without historical precedent, but that is for another blog post…maybe. My conception has overlapping areas as illustrated with the above Venn diagram. In some ways the diagram is misleading. For example, I don’t believe that the majority of beauty is free of the pretty, sublime, and ugly. But, this is the best way I have, so far, been able to visualize my concept. Please feel free to make suggestions on  this.

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