RE: MD Philosophy and Theology

From: David Buchanan (
Date: Sun Apr 06 2003 - 02:58:06 BST

  • Next message: David Buchanan: "RE: MD Philosophy and Theology"

    Scott and all:

    Scott said:
    The status (intellectual or social) of myths and symbols is not the issue
    here (I too see them as having social origin and utility). The question is
    whether or not *theology* is an intellectual activity. Theologians *comment
    on* and *interpret* the myths and symbols of their religion, not just repeat

    DMB says:
    Right. Myth and ritual is not the same as theology, but our discussion would
    be poorer if we left them out. They are intimately connected so that
    theology is impossible without them. Their nature tells us a great deal
    about what theology is up to, no?

    Scott said:
    Theologians are also working on the problem, for example (quoting from "The
    Craft of Theology" by Avery Dulles): Bultmann therefore institutes a program
    of demythologizing the New Testament. He tried to strip away the
    structures in order to retreive the existential meaning that lies hidden
    beneath them." "Conservative Protestants, who based their faith on the
    authority of the Bible, regarded Bultmann as a dangerous heretic. That is,
    Bultmann's project has come under criticism because he was too modern, that
    is, too SOM-ish.

    DMB says:
    They object because Bultman isn't literal enough. I think its safe to say
    that the liberal/conservative spectrum in Christian theology basically
    revolves around not only how strictly, but also how literally the scriptures
    are interprepeted. Nobody is denying that some theologians are also
    philosophers, and nobody is saying all theologians and theologies are
    literalists or fundamentalist by definition. But as Cambell puts it, our
    time is marked by a "pathology of the symbol". Fundamentalists are just the
    most flamboyant example. Sure, the more "liberal" theologies and theologians
    are increasingly willing to speculate and deviate from their Church's
    doctrines, and I applaude that, but guys like Alan Watts and Matthew Fox are
    still getting de-frocked for it.

    Scott said:
    A contemporary theologian is more likely to treat Christian myths more or
    less as Campbell does.

    DMB says:
    I'd like to see some of that. I'd be thrilled to be wrong about this, but I
    suspect you are only talking about the "exceptional few", as Watts put it.

    Scott said:
    In sum, the Bible is seen as telling a lot about God (and people)
    mythically, while theologians attempt to translate that telling into
    something the intellect can handle.

    DMB says:
    This too is an aspect of the pathology of the symbol. It may not be
    literalism, but it misunderstands myth as something that is supposed to
    appeal to the intellect. Thus my quotes about the living mythological
    symbol, the one that turns you on immediately. The intellect can only come
    along later to add its comments.


    P.S. Its all about Saddam

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