Most Christians have never read Nietzsche. My students have; I make sure of it. Most of my students are stupefied by this reading assignment, at least at first. But it always happens: something profound resonates—a fear, hope, delight, frustration, insight, argument, or word. They come to appreciate Nietzsche more than any other thinker they’ve thought with. And that’s just what I tell them Nietzsche is: a thinker to think with. Yes, he was a confessing atheist, referred to himself as a “Wanderer” and “anti-Christ,” and remarked that Jesus would have “recanted his teaching had he reached my age.” Did he make some heretical remarks? Sure. Was his rhetoric rather unsettling and divisive? Indeed. Was he borderline insane and psychotic? Certainly. But the brilliant wit. The creative intelligence. The covert wisdom. My, oh, my.
2. Human dignity and holiday giving
Last Friday, Katie had a helpful post challenging us not just to emotionally respond to charitable marketing campaigns without really thinking through our Christmas giving:
Do we choose the organization to give our donations based on the cuteness of the bunnies in the catalog pictures? Or do we ask questions about the organization providing the bunny? Do they have proven and effective programs providing resources along with training and transformational development so the family can multiply the gift into a small business or sustainable way of providing for their children long term? Do they come alongside the community, working with them and not for them?
Our little theological hamster balls isolate rather than reconcile. Given the state of evangelical involvement in the arts and culture throughout the twentieth century, the hamster ball is a decided improvement; it has been formed by Christian arts ministries, arts and culture programs in Christian schools, theology and the arts programs, and other networks, institutions, and organizations. All very good things. Yet it is not quite gospel.
4. Foreign witness to Guatemala’s war
By now it has become pretty clear that Guatemalan ex-dictator Rios Montt was responsible for some particularly awful stuff during the country’s long civil war. That’s hindsight for us. Jean-Marie Simon, a photojournalist who, like my family, lived in Guatemala throughout the 80s, writes about prevailing attitudes in the country at the time (HT Central American Politics):
Guatemala is deceptive. I know people think that in the 80’s it was a war zone. But the country was very different from that. You knew things were going on, you sort of arrived in the capital and you did see soldiers all over the place but it was not like they were sand-bagging the main streets and car bombings and green zones and people running around in flak jackets… What was actually striking in the first few days after the coup was a sense of euphoria and relief. There was a huge rally in the park in front of the National Palace and people waving posters saying “we believe in the army”, “we want peace” because urban repression had been so intense under the previous government headed by Lucas Garcia that people thought – it turned out wrongly – that anyone, even another military man, had to be an improvement on what they had suffered previously.
5. Free music for Advent and Christmas
Noisetrade is always great, but never better than this time of year. Sufjan Stevens, Over The Rhine, Rosie Thomas, Sleeping at Last, and many others are all giving away seasonal tunes. Though, really, for the church calendar purists among us, most of it is music better suited for Christmas (which is still a few weeks away), not Advent (the time of waiting which begins this Sunday and continues up until Christmas Eve). If you listen to Christmas music early, though, I won’t tell anyone.
6. Broken hallelujah vs. victory march
I hope you’ll pardon Derek Webb’s one choice word here as he discusses his way of understanding God’s goodness and sovereignty in the face of the world’s sin and brokenness. I love this line towards the end, when the interviewer alludes to the classic Leonard Cohen song, Hallelujah: “Yeah, it’s a broken hallelujah, but from a perspective that far transcends and eclipses mine, it’s very much a victory march.”
Repaso is intended as a thought-provoking compilation of news and commentary from the past week related to the intersections of faith, development, justice and peace. As always, I welcome your thoughts on any of the links and ideas in this roundup!
[Image credit: detail of “Self-Portrait As Young Nietzsche” by Basil Baroda via frostburg.edu]