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By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 11:53 PM

Some times I wish I'd be a bit more daring; potentially interesting things get lost in the midst of over thinking them. Tonight was one of those nights. Of course being tired and having a headache didn't help, but I can't blame it all on that… :-)

Interestingly, that fits a line from Lee Ann Womack's song, “I Hope You Dance,” which I heard played tonight: “Never settle for the path of least resistance.” Yes, that is indeed tempting to do.

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Living might mean taking chances
But they're worth taking
Lovin' might be a mistake
But it's worth making
Don't let some hell bent heart
Leave you bitter
When you come close to selling out
Give the heavens above
More than just a passing glance And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance

In Process

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 11:48 PM

Some things this past week sort of set me ajar a bit, but I'm processing them and will be back perhaps tomorrow, with some observations coming from them.

No, I Did Not Croak!

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 10:38 PM

Picture I took at Big Cedar Lodge

Well, I am back. I didn't want to rush back into the rush of digitalness too fast, so I've been a bit slow returning to my blog. But, I want to assure you I did not croak — I am still here. I had to say that since I got a few really great pictures of the above frog while at Big Cedar.

Big Cedar, as before, is just amazing. I wish I could live there — it is a paradox of rustic wilderness and the amenities of civilization. Johnny Morris's (owner of Bass Pro Shops, Tracker Boats, etc.) creation here — as with his other businesses — is a spectacular thing to see. Unlike many of the resorts in the area, Big Cedar takes on the personality of the beautiful Big Cedar Hollow, which has a small finger of Table Rock Lake running through it. It is made even better because everyone who works there seems so happy to be there and intensely loyal to Big Cedar and determined for Big Cedar's guests to have a delightful time. I am left amazed each time I leave there; I first saw Big Cedar in 1991 (and have eaten at the Devil's Pool Restaurant there probably at least once a year since) and have stayed there a number of times since 2001, but it never loses its wonder.

What can I say? It was great. And, I came back with some 2,275 photos to sort through. I'm really pushing the limits of iPhoto these days, I think. The neat buzzword of this trip is Geocoding. I kept my Garmin Foretrex 101 wearable GPS unit on my arm at virtually all times. It recorded nearly 1 MB of tracks, which I downloaded on to my computer when I got back. I've experimented with Geocoding over the last six or eight months, but this was my first full scale test over a trip.

Using GPSPhotoLinker, those trackpoints my GPS unit recorded were time weighted against the EXIF timestamps embedded in the photos to provide reasonably good positioning of each photo I took. GPSPhotoLinker then placed the positioning and altitude information it aggregated into the appropriate EXIF fields of the photos for me. Then using iPhotoToGoogleEarth, I was able to actually place my photos as layers in Google Earth. Geocoding is still pretty much a technological wilderness of underdeveloped software, but I think getting in on the bleeding edge will pay off in organizing my photos in the coming years. You can read more of my thoughts on Geocoding in an article for Open for Business from last fall.

On the Road

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 11:22 PM

I'm off for a fairly brief bit of R-n-R, so there won't be any posting here for the next two or three days (I come back Thursday night). In the mean time, if anyone is following along in my Wittenberg story and would like to comment on things you'd like to see cleared up or directions you are hoping the story will take, let me know. It isn't exactly a “choose your own adventure,” but nonetheless, a little interactivity wouldn't hurt! :)

I hope all of you have a great week!

War Requiem

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 12:09 AM

I saw Benjamin Britten's War Requiem tonight. I wasn't feeling so well, so I didn't enjoy at as much as I should have, but it was quite good. And I am feeling much better now, so I can think back on it with happily enough. I'd never heard it before, but it was a real feast for the ears, with the Latin for the Mass for the Dead interspersed with Wilfred Owen's English poetry reflecting on World War I. Owen is best known for his graphic poem Dulce et Decorum Est, which you can read here.

Uplifting? Mostly depressing, but in a way uplifting with the return to “Kyrie, Kyrie, Elison.” Beautiful. And it sounded like paradise at the end though when the choirs were singing and (in as much as I could tell), I believe the soldier had arrived in heaven.

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine:
et lux perpetua luceat eis.

It is a blessing to have a symphony of the caliber of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in this town.

Toward a New Theology, Part I

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 12:03 AM

I'm tired, so I'm afraid I'm probably not going to write this as clearly as I should, but for what it is worth, here is a little stream of consciousness on my thoughts about theology.

I've been contemplating what I would include in the prolegomena of my systematic theology dogmatics (I'm going to be good Barthian and not call it systematic), if I were to write such a thing right now. I certainly hope to write a set of dogmatics someday. But what interpretive framework would I use?

I'd probably look to my two patron theologians, which incidentally are the two great systematizers: Thomas Aquinas and Karl Barth. From Aquinas, I'd be tempted to include a set of proofs for God in my framework. But, acknowledging Kant, Hume, et. al., I'd probably need to deconstruct my own arguments. This might be a good thing, since that would lead me to the point of crisis where I could argue for the Kierkegaardian-Barthian leap of faith. So far so good.

Now, if I followed the assumptions of Barth, I shouldn't create an external framework at all. The Bible should provide its own framework. However, even reading the Bible requires a linguistic/socio-cultural framework so that's not entirely possible. So, in this skeptical age, maybe a good starting point would be to pick out my Biblical interpretation framework right at the beginning.

This brings me back to my basic school of literary criticism. I may have said on here before that I work primarily from the assumptions of Old Historicism, New Criticism (Formalism) and Mimeticism (Jungian/Archetypal). Given that I was a religious studies major in college, it should come as no surprise that I have been primarily trained in applying historicism as an interpretive framework to the Bible — Old Historicism looks at the history of the author and his culture to discern what the author intended to say. My critical technique is dialectical, because New Criticism rejects the notion that we can know the author or what he or she intended to say. Mimetic Criticism looks at how the text represents the external reality; I juxtapose that with Jungian psychoanalysis. Traditionally Jungian interpretation is placed inside Reader Response criticism, but my basic argument is that I am interested in looking at the objective archetypes the author is aware of (consciously or not) and representing them, as opposed to looking at how the reader is alerted to their own archetypal awareness.

But, there is a plot twist at this point. This dialectical approach seems to be hurdling me toward an eventual meeting with Deconstructionism or New Historicism. Lately, I'm thinking I'm assuming the New Historicist position of the majority of my English professors, a position I previously had rejected. However, while many New Historicists are looking for a meta-narrative of dialectical materialism (e.g. they are doing Marxist criticism), I would propose a meta-narrative of covenant and election (which circularly could be supported by the Bible).

Because New Historicism assumes many of the techniques of my traditional three school approach, I could retain the formal (generic) analysis, the analysis of the cultural background and — as part of the meta-narrative — Jungian analysis. New Historicism is fairly honest in that it takes a cue from deconstructionism and admits meaning is endlessly deferred, essentially. We will use a meta-narrative interpretive framework with the goal of understanding the original cultures, rather than claiming we can actually ever completely understand the original cultures.

Ultimately, this does not matter because theology is merely a witness to the divine revelation of God: the Word of God, Jesus Christ. It is only through His self-revelation to us that the endless deferment may be set aside.

More later.

An Ending

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 11:29 PM

It was an odd feeling. I returned to my alma mater for one last official activity as a student. Because I graduated mid-year, I did not qualify last year for a senior certificate from a society I had been inducted into in my Freshman year. Instead, I was eligible this year. So, for the first time since December, I stepped onto campus today for “business.” I've been on campus to visit a few professors and attend a “coffee conversation” this semester, but all of that has been “just for fun.”

But, I knew this was still coming. It felt somehow especially final today to walk off the campus for the last time in anything related to my status as a student there. Unless someday I should be honored to return there as a professor, this will be my last official time on campus, though I'll surely be back more times to visit my professors.

I'm appreciative of the fact that I am already at Covenant. The last few months there have been great; the classes are great, the professors are great; and my fellow students, many of which I am please to be able to call friends, and a few of whom now read asisaid, are great. At least one ending leads into another beginning.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 12:47 AM

With three weeks or so left of the Spring semester, I can really identify with the persona in Robert Frost's famous little poem. Especially the last couplet.

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Fahrvergn├╝gen and Nichole Nordeman

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 1:10 AM

I like Monday nights. I love the Spiritual and Ministry Formation class. Dr. Douglass always offers great insights. And, afterwards, I always enjoy the discussions with the other students in the class. Everyone seems to linger after this class, perhaps thanks to the coffee and St. Louis Bread Co. pastries that are served. It's a nice experience, and I gain some real insights from both the class and after class conversations.

And, then it is nice just thinking everything over on the way home. It was a beautiful night, and a nice night for a drive. As I drove along in my VW Bug and enjoyed the unique feel of a German vehicle connecting with the road on the nice, windy roads around Covenant, I thought, “yes, this fits the idea of fahrvergnügen perfectly.” I flipped on the CD player to find last time I had listened to it (which was a few weeks ago, actually, I often just listen to XM), I had been listening to Nichole Nordeman, so I picked up where I had left off. Nordeman's music fit perfectly on the drive. I had been contemplating the music and words of the traditional Doxology yesterday, so Nordeman's “Doxology”/”My Offering” were especially fitting.

It was a good night. :-)

Rumors of My Demise...

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 12:37 AM

…have been greatly exaggerated. Again. I'm still here, I've just been very busy on a web development project. I'm hoping to find time to blog on some theological topics soon. Particularly, “mystery,” the term “practical theology” and other odds and ends. One of these days, I need to return to my attempt to define what the word literature means too.

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