2017-03-15

The Hyphen In Between


In memory of Ron Bostian (November 28, 1946 - March 14, 2017)

Today we mourn the death, but more importantly, celebrate the life, of my Dad Ron Bostian. He was 70 years old, stubborn as hell, easy to talk to, and fun loving to the end. It was from him I got my announcer's voice, my cocksure sense of self confidence, my ability to make a joke during any circumstance (no matter how inappropriate), my physical frame, and my stunning good looks. Did I mention he was sarcastic too? I inherited that as well. 

Popcorn


I went to go see Logan 
Tonight
After my dad died
Today
It was a movie he would have enjoyed
It was a perfect movie to celebrate his life
A perfect movie to mourn his death
Alone in the theater
The smell of popcorn
Assaulting my nostrils 
As I walked through the doors
Flashbacks
To childhood matinees
Side by side
The warmth of dad next to me
Buttery fingers
Digging in the popcorn bucket
Together
Or the late night treats
Way past my bedtime
With content rated for eyes older than I 
But he still wanted to take me
Star Wars
Indiana Jones
Terminator
Aliens
We keep saying "I'll be back"
Until that one day we won't
Until that one day it really is
Game over man
Game over. 

2017-03-11

It's Fundamental

A rap song designed to teach the early history of Christian Theology. Originally written in 2010.

It's the fundamental truths of Christian theology
Brought to your ears by audio technology
So just sit back and embrace the knowledge see
That I'm gonna drop in historic chronology 

Back in the day when Jesus lived and preached 
He didn't write nothin down he just reached the least
He was Love in flesh, the Divine embodied
He didn't have time to draft his own philosophy
He lived. He died. He rose again. 
Then he poured out his Spirit upon his friends
The Jesus movement grew and developed and spread
But the Apostles who led them soon wound up dead
With the apostolic generation close to the grave
They decided to write how Jesus taught and behaved
Now we have Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
Acts of the Apostles tells how they moved on
And others like Paul wrote pastoral letters
To help Christians follow the Way of Christ better
To pass on tradition and share the resurrection
To give new believers heresy protection

It's the fundamental truths of Christian theology
Brought to your ears by audio technology
So just sit back and embrace the knowledge see
That I'm gonna drop in historic chronology

The Apostolic writings were copied and shared
And early Christian groups all read and compared
In towns like Rome, Corinth, Ephesus and Phillipi
They read each others letters and kept the archives
Others wrote sermons and tracts to follow the Way
Like Ignatius, Polycarp, Clement and the Didache
Describing the God they knew in Christ
How the Father, Son and Spirit shine forth divine light
They developed a tool called the Rule of Faith
That summarized the Core of what the Apostles say
These Rules all have a simple threefold shape
Around the threefold way that God seems to relate
As the Father who creates, and the Son who saves
And the Spirit who helps us believe and behave 
So they passed down this Faith through the generations
Through teachers ordained in historic succession 

It's the fundamental truths of Christian theology
Brought to your ears by audio technology
So just sit back and embrace the knowledge see
That I'm gonna drop in historic chronology

And so the ancient Church: It grew and grew
But some contradicted Apostolic truth 
Claiming secret teachings and private revelations
They constructed a Christ of their own imagination
But the Church pointed to her Rule of faith
And the public succession of leaders they ordained
From apostle to bishop, from bishop to priest
How from apostolic times they consistently agreed
Secret teachings and new christs were shown to be lacking
And all their forged Scriptures were all sent packing
Because they simply couldn't pass the history test
And they weren't found in what Christians always professed
So the Church made lists of authentic teachings
And compiled a catalog of Apostles preaching
By the fourth century we now know indeed
There was a stable Bible text and the start of a Creed

It's the fundamental truths of Christian theology
Brought to your ears by audio technology
So just sit back and embrace the knowledge see
That I'm gonna drop in historical chronology

Once the Church became legal in year 313
Christians could now gather and discuss publicly 
So the bishops came together from east to west
To decide which teachings would pass the test
To show which beliefs best fit the evidence
In Scripture and tradition and historic precedent
Seven worldwide councils met in four centuries
To examine Christ's life and define boundaries 
One boundary defined the Holy Trinity
God in three persons from all eternity 
Other boundaries defined the person of Christ
Fully God and fully human in one historic life 
Without confusion or division, human yet divine
One with the Father and Spirit from before all time
This Christ we worship in prayer and praise
Through words and icons we see his glory displayed.

It's the fundamental truths of Christian theology
Brought to your ears by audio technology
So just sit back and embrace the knowledge see
That I'm gonna drop in historic chronology 

Explaining Anglicans: A Guidebook for Exploring a Tradition-rich, Christ-centered, Spirit-filled, Balanced Faith.

Introduction


This is a short booklet (or a long essay, depending on how you look at it) written from 2005-2010 designed to introduce you the history of the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church. This history is messy yet magnificent, wacky yet wonderful, sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes hilarious, and sometimes holy. But it is always a love Story about how a particular God has reached out to a peculiar people to knit them into His plan of salvation for the whole world. As such, this is my take on the Story. It isn't objective. It is often biased. But I hope I have used the facts accurately to give anyone who reads this a short overview of an immensely complex and winding history. As such I know there will be things I have left out, and judgments I make, that others will find unfair. For that I am sorry, and I offer a bibliography at the end for anyone who wishes to read a more "reputable" version of the Story I am re-telling.

This book is intended to be used for seekers, or those going through confirmation, in the Anglican or Episcopal Church. It is specifically made for those who may be looking at the Episcopal Church from another Church background, especially from non-liturgical Protestant Churches. I make no claim that this book is a comprehensive history or theology of Anglicanism, it is merely a short introduction. This book is designed for group studies in confirmation class, used with older teens and adults. If you are doing confirmation with young teenagers or below, this book is probably not for you.

Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi: How the liturgy shaped the worldview of early Christians

A 2004 paper written to fulfill the requirements of History of Christian Doctrine.

2017-03-10

Chasing Falsifiability down the Rabbit Hole to Transcendence


In my Philosophy of Religion class the other day, a student brought up Karl Popper’s principle of “falsifiability” as a criteria for whether a knowledge claim is valid. The way that my student put it: A claim that is empirically sensible is thus falsifiable (it can be refuted by empirical observation), and thus counts as real knowledge. But knowledge claims that are not empirically falsifiable— such as claims about God, ethical value, aesthetic value— do not count as the same kind of knowledge. Perhaps they are a lesser, derivative kind of knowledge. But they are not the kind of absolutely true knowledge one would want to build their world view upon, because they cannot be empirically falsified. And thus, while God, might be an optional or extra belief added onto a scientific worldview, God could never be essential to a worldview, or even a necessary explanatory hypothesis for the nature of Reality, because the idea of God cannot be falsified scientifically.

2017-02-24

Stay in the conversation!




Just found out that an old mentor of mine, who has taken a hard swerve to the Alt-Right, has blocked me on Facebook. I thought they had left FB, but a mutual friend said they are still on FB posting Alt-Right memes daily. It saddens me that political propaganda can make us so brittle, and our relationships so fragile, that we retreat into our safe spaces of only people who hold to the same dogmas we hold.

Now I have blocked people on FB too, but I think I have only blocked people who (a) were super-argumentative but not my friend in real life, and/or (b) were verbally abusive to me personally, and/or (c) advocated violence against persons they despise or disagree with. But as long as someone doesn't cross these boundaries, I stay in the conversation, even if I find most of their posts to be complete bovine excrement.

So, it saddens me when someone exiles themselves from relationships so their ideology will remain unchallenged. It can even mean a loss of memories and experiences that were only shared with that person. So, as I have said many times: Stay in the conversation, and learn how to debate using evidence and reason, instead of memes and insults.

Thanks for reading my incoherent babble. May strength and compassion and wisdom fill your life. // Nate.

2017-02-15

Do Moral Values change over time?



It is often claimed that moral values change greatly over time as societies “advance”. For instance, it is often claimed that modern societies are morally superior for not killing witches or shunning homosexuals. But perhaps what this apparent progress actually shows is that while we are scientifically superior, we may actually be morally similar, to ancient societies. Surprisingly similar moral values often underlie very different historical manifestations of morality. How can this be so? It seems to me that when we combine traditional moral values with increasing scientific knowledge, we actually get changes in cultural practices that are more just and compassionate. Let me unpack this with some thought experiments:

What counts as "Christian"?


Recently I was in an online discussion about whether a group of people and the ideas they represent are "Christian". My initial response was that if they have been baptized into Christ, and they do not renounce that baptism, then they are Christians. They may be faithless Christians, bad Christians, hypocritical Christians, uninformed Christians, unjust Christians, but they are still Christians.

Two Forms of Imperial Christianity


I am teaching a course on Religion and Politics in American culture. And the truth is, there has never been a time when Christianity was not used, in some sense, to validate the legitimacy of the United States Government. There has always been some large faction in American Politics which equated being American with being Christian in some sense. And on occasion, we have wrapped the American Flag quite tightly around the cross to validate the righteousness of our cause over and against that of some other nation or faction, whether in the Revolution, the Civil War, WWI, WWII, the Cold War conflicts, or the never ending "War on Terror". What is relatively new this political season is that, in the absence of a war or clear external threat to our country, we have major preachers such as Pat Robertson and others, declaring that our sitting President is God's anointed leader and savior of the Country, and that disagreeing with him is "revolting against God". This is an interesting twist, and harkens back to versions of Imperial Christianity in the middle ages which stressed the "Divine Right of Kings" to rule as God's chosen instruments. And it brings to mind the Imperial Christianity of 1930's Germany that also anointed Adolf Hitler as Germany's savior.

2017-02-03

Hate is a Policy, not a Feeling


We tend to think of things like hate and love as feelings: They happen when we "feel" them, or experience them inside ourselves, even if unexpressed in outward action. But it seems to me that they rather are motivations that lead to concrete actions. Hate is not so much judged by a Likert Scale of 0 (no feeling of hate) to 5 (strong feeling of hate). Hate is judged by the outward actions and attitudes it manifests in social interactions. 

2017-02-02

Puppies and censorship in a divided America


This is an absurdly long essay that goes nowhere. I doubt you want to read it. You probably would be better off googling cute puppies instead.

2017-02-01

Wondervoyage: The Antidote to Affluenza


As a host of media pundits and cultural critics have noted over the past several years, many of today’s young adults suffer from a debilitating illness that can cause severe apathy, lethargy, and short-sightedness, along with a profound feeling that the entire world is actually orbiting around them. What is this dread malady? Affluenza. This disease can afflict many who have grown up with access to quality education, convenience, and comfort, but have been relatively insulated from people of other viewpoints, cultures, and socio-economic backgrounds.
This is a bunch of stuff to make us think hard about our incredible love affair with the God of the universe, our astounding infidelities against him, and his incredible grace to heal and restore us through Christ. Everything on this site is copyright © 1996-2015 by Nathan L. Bostian so if you use it, cite me... otherwise you break the 8th commandment, and make God unhappy. You can contact the author by posting a comment.