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Perplexed

By Tim Butler | Posted at 1:05

Well, the semester ended for me last Friday, when I turned in my last (and largest) project, a full length play on a part of Reformation history. More on that later.

I'm starting to unwind from the semester and hope to resume normal posting — finally. It has been a very long haul over this past year. I've been drained and stressed to the max, and while being in seminary has been a genuine blessing, I am thankful for some time to rest.

This week has been perplexing for a number of reasons, but also restful. I'm starting to feel a bit like myself again, at least.

Merry Christmas!

Injured

By Tim Butler | Posted at 22:29

Well, almost two weeks ago, I apparently injured my upper back and left arm. It wasn't very apparent at first, but really started to bug me after I participated in a few games of Wii Sports bowling (not surprising, since other than the lack of the heavy ball, one moves in precisely the same way as real bowling). I think the source may have been my purchase and subsequent carrying of the complete Catholic Encyclopedia (16 volumes), which I got for under $30 at a book sale at Covenant's library. It gradually got worse over the weekend before the last one and into last week, with the climax of pain somewhere between last Wednesday and Friday. Particularly since Wednesday or so, I've noticed typing irritated my upper arm and back, so I've been trying to spend my time on the reading I need to do with the plan of catching up on written — typed — things after a few more days. I think I'm slowly on the mend, finally. It hasn't been that bad, and I'm not writing this to complain, but merely to note the cause of my continued absence.

In the mean time, I have a post or two in my head for here and an article or two for OFB, but those will have to wait. I'll be back… (pun intended.)

George Wishart It Is

By Tim Butler | Posted at 23:42

I have a lot of writing projects I want to do, but it seems like with as busy as semesters are, most of them get relegated to the “sometime in the future” stack. Especially book ideas, but even article ideas. One thing I have been in the mood to do for awhile is try my hand at a play again, but that, like the other ideas, has been relegated to the future bin. Now, I think that will change.

For my elective class on Presbyterian History, the term project is open to creativity, so I have discussed with the professor the idea of writing a historically grounded play. After a few false starts, I think I'm going to focus on the end of early Scottish Reformer George Wishart's life. There is a lot of intrigue involved, particularly given David Cardinal Beaton's unjust execution of Wishart and then the retaliatory death of the cardinal shortly thereafter. It seems like it has good potential for dramatization and wouldn't require a lot of artistic freedoms to create a good sense of timing (too much liberty in plot might not be good for a history project!). Hopefully I can take some time to dive into the Bard's histories once again to freshen up with some new ideas before I go forward; I'd also like to draw some ideas from John Webster. While both Shakespeare and Webster aren't quite contemporaries of Wishart's, the Elizabethan/Jacobean form will suit the story well and still be somewhat related in time to boot (not that it really matters).

Now I just need to collect interesting details from Wishart's life…

Saturday 8

By Tim Butler | Posted at 22:56

I'm trying a new meme from Saturday 8. Feel free to answer in the comments.

1. a restaurant was out of the food you wanted?
That would have been Sonic (“America's Drive-in”) a week or so ago. They had an equipment breakdown and could not serve a whole bunch of different menu items.

2. you were dumped/divorced by a significant other/spouse?
Never. It is rather hard to be dumped if you've never had a significant other, now isn't it? If the question were when was I relatively directly rejected by someone who perhaps eventually could have been a significant other, that would have been just about two years ago.

3. you were denied a promotion?
Never. I'm my own boss, so I promote myself every time I ask for a promotion.

4. you didn't get the job you applied for?
The last consulting bid I was turned down on was this past week. The only formal job application I've filled out was one I filled out in August at the request of the professor who wanted to hire me as a TA. I'm now happily doing a few TA duties on the side.

5. a friend cancelled a lunch date (or other meeting) on you?
In the other meeting department, I had a small group meeting canceled three weeks ago. I didn't know until I arrived to attend.

6. someone took credit for something YOU did?
This spring.

7. an appliance (or something in your home) broke?
Last month the Microwave died.

8. you were denied something credit-related? (loan, credit card, a rental, etc.)
2004. I tried to apply for an Amazon.com Visa, but I didn't have enough credit history for it. I went with my bank's credit card instead, which worked out fine, although it lacks any kind of rewards program.

First Post of My New Year

By Tim Butler | Posted at 0:26

Well, I didn't have a chance to go with the very good suggestions of either Travis or Mike, but since today (or rather, now, yesterday — the 24th) is my birthday, I thought I should put up the first post of “the new year.” Perhaps tomorrow I shall see if I can do one of those suggestions…

And so it comes, and so it goes.

By Tim Butler | Posted at 23:09

September 19, 2005 was a day that fits the context of my poem I posted last week. A day of the tragedy of ordinary fate. Nothing that seems especially terrible happened that day in the light of what goes on in the world, and yet what did never left me either. That's pretty much how I expected it to be when I wrote my entry two years ago. It was a capstone on a year journey that included the day covered in my little Nameless series (part I, part II) and miscellaneous other posts along the way.

So what shall I say today? Well, the day is now past. On to another year to see what will happen with this day's memory. Perhaps by next year it shall be a little fainter.

TQ: More Personal Stuff

By Tim Butler | Posted at 0:03

Hat tip to Mark, as usual.

How do you sleep? Left side, right side, back or stomach.
Varies. Usually slightly on my side, mostly on my stomach.

How do you brush? Toothbrush, electric, tree bark, etc.
Only the freshest tree bark. Good stuff that tree bark.

Ahem. I have a regular and an electric toothbrush. I prefer the regular, though.

How do you do your hair? Air dry, blow dry, Head out of car on highway, style, no style.
Towel dry a bit, then air dry. I only stick my head out of the car to see if I can understand what it is that dogs enjoy so much about that experience. So far I have only been confirmed in my position of the superior nature of cats.

How do you wake yourself in the morning?
An alarm clock, when necessary.

What is the first thing that you do when you awake?
Preferably get a cup of coffee and read the Post-Dispatch.

What do you sleep on? Waterbed, spring, foam, floor, outside, etc etc.
A spring mattress with foam pillow top.

Note: The questions on this page written by Mark are governed by the Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 2.5 license. I believe my responses are allowed under fair use and therefore are not licensed under the Creative Commons license (I don't want people messing with adapting my personal opinions, thank you very much).

Zose Canaan Days I Use to Know

By Tim Butler | Posted at 11:41

Well, I went to the Muny last night, and saw Joseph. It was spectacular. And if you haven't yet seen it, you should go get a ticket, or get there early and enjoy one of the free seats up on top. Though the sets were more subdued then the Fox Theatre's performance a few years back (with the Fox's broadway tour-ready stage), the Muny's talent actually outshone the Fox's performance, I thought.

What a show!

I've been spending the last week in partial sabbatical from the Internet as other things consumed my time. I'll be back to normal posting soon.

Theological Stock Exchange

By Tim Butler | Posted at 22:13

Dr. Lucas posted his results on the “Which Theologian Are You?” quiz, which prompted me to take the quiz again. I've taken this quiz two other times that I could find in my blog archive (I thought I had taken it even more). At any rate, there is some variation — beyond the basic result that I am always Barthian first. Happily, my second favorite theological saint, Anselm traded higher, returning to a second place position behind Barth (if Aquinas, my if-I-were-a-Catholic-he'd-be-my-patron-saint, where in the survey, he'd probably score high on my graph too). Oddly, while Calvin traded high in February, perhaps rallying from influence of Covenant, he fell to a new low this month. Barth rallied from a dip, to return to his previous high of 100%. Luther isn't terribly interesting — he stays pretty stable. Unfortunately, Tillich rose again from the depths of 0% and is now busy making my theology more ambiguous again: my theology is not, but rather is; it is not an existential thing, but rather an existential question; it is the ground of theology, creating a strict sense of complete dependence on theologians, particularly those that focus on kerygma rather than apologia. cough

Below are some charts for the statistically inclined. Post your own results in the comments (or a link to your own results on your blog).





You scored as Karl Barth, The daddy of 20th Century theology. You perceive liberal theology to be a disaster and so you insist that the revelation of Christ, not human experience, should be the starting point for all theology.

Karl Barth

100%

Anselm

80%

John Calvin

73%

Martin Luther

67%

Jonathan Edwards

60%

Friedrich Schleiermacher

47%

Augustine

40%

Jürgen Moltmann

27%

Paul Tillich

13%

Charles Finney

7%

Which theologian are you?
created with QuizFarm.com

On Love, Fear, and Trembling

By Tim Butler | Posted at 21:21

I've been debating whether to just ignore my last post or write something about it. My style on this blog is generally not terribly personal. There were two things bugging me over the last week, one of which I'll completely ignore at present and the other is a bit more personal than I usually write about — love (of the romantic sort) — but if you'll bear with me, I'm going to muse on it a bit in this post before I return to my normal posting schedule. I am going to go at it somewhat abstractly, just because that seems more comfortable in this medium. I did broach the topic a few weeks ago when Mark's meme inquired about a “significant other.” As I noted then, there is someone I wish had that status to me, but I, in my very Prufrockian style, have failed to act on what I think. Whether that's for good or ill, I'm not sure. The problem was when, last week, I believed I had allowed my inaction to linger too long and I was too late to say something to her, even if I wished. I think I was wrong about that now, but it was a little too close for comfort for me.

Inaction may be too strong a word. Over subtlety may be better. I am doing more than nothing at all, but little enough that she could very well believe, if she read this post (and, as I said before, I think she is a reader of this blog), that I am here writing concerning an entirely different person. Subtly is my art and my enemy. My affinity with Kierkegaard, as well as Dostoevesky's Underground Man, Eliot's Prufrock and Shakespeare's Hamlet largely draws from this. Reading Fear and Trembling made me want to post on the subject even before last week, as I think it is clear that Kierkegaard is expressing not only (and perhaps not even primarily) his religious epistemology but also his theory on love. He is obsessed with metaphors relating to love and marriage in his book and I think it is hard to argue against tying that to the autobiographical fact that the book is in near proximity to the breakup with his fiancée. Off the top of my head, I can think of no less than four major metaphors used in the book that are based on love and marriage. Kierkegaard tried an extremely subtle approach of expressing love to his fiancée, paradoxically in the midst of his bold rejection of her, since we know from the perspective of history that he actually did love her. In a sense, I think Fear and Trembling can be read as a letter to her, explaining what was happening.

If I am sounding analytical and I suspect I am about to sound even more so, I think that is my attempt to sort out myself, I don't feel analytical, so I'm trying to make sense of this thing by at least trying to be. C.S. Lewis comments in Surprised by Joy that one cannot feel a feeling while simultaneously thinking about that feeling; perhaps that is why it seems comforting to write at this moment — it is a reprieve from a sense of despair concerning my own inaction.

So with that said, let's turn back to the thinking: it dawns on me (and this may not, and indeed, probably is not, a new thought) that the stage between falling in love and actually trying to reach out and express that truth to the beloved is a liminal stage, particularly in modern society, since the our modern arrangement hinges on the extremely difficult, risky procedure of revealing this to the beloved. The liminal stage is a stage in which a person is set off from society to allow a new relation to society to be formed. The process of falling in love itself perhaps is the initiation of the liminal stage to some extent, but I would suggest the real core (and perhaps rapid end) of the liminal stage is the revelation of love to the beloved.

First, it is often (usually?) a revelation of absurdity, to sound Kierkegaardian. If the beloved is actually the beloved, it seems likely that she must necessarily seem more worthy to the one who loves than he sees himself. Moreover, for the love to be more than mere emotion, it seems to me that there should be some basis of friendship between the two persons. This sets up the paradox and absurdity. The lover must believe that he is unworthy of the beloved — otherwise would the love truly value the beloved? unworthiness is probably universally true — and the revelation comes as a possible threat to something deemed extremely valuable: the friendship with the beloved. If the friendship is not valuable, then it cannot be love yet, it seems to me. Therefore, for the comfort of taking the unbearable burden of the so far unrequited love out into the open, and the potential for being able to be closer to the beloved, the one falling in love must essentially gamble the entire relationship with the beloved. This seems an absurdity since there is probably a greater chance of rejection (and hence potentially damaging or destroying the friendship) than there is of acceptance.

Hence comes the question: what does the wise man do? Does he bear in silence his feelings, creating a de facto state of unrequited love, but in doing so guarantee the preservation of his friendship with the beloved? Does he state his feelings to escape the terrible oppression of not admitting them and also accepting that while he may wish to not say anything to protect the friendship, she might ultimately feel obliged to end or reduce the friendship when she does find someone? How does the Kierkegaardian Knight of Faith respond to this challenge?

I think he would say something. Here's how I expect Kierkegaard would respond: To not say something is tragic; the one who loves becomes the tragic hero who falls on his own sword, a victim of his tragic flaw. This is highly aesthetic, perhaps, but it seems that it is more important to chase absurdity in faith than to spend time fashioning a tragic fate.

Hmm.


Update: I'm reading the the Daily Bible, and it just so happens that what I read just now, less than an hour after I posted above, is rather fitting: “Better is open rebuke / than hidden love” (Prov. 27:5 ESV).

Hmm.

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