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April 16, 2006


Drive-by poster

Um, QC, the Vigil is NOT the same as the sunrise service. It's supposed to begin at full dark, Easter Even.

The sunrise service is just that. I believe there are different collects for the Vigil and for Easter Morning. In the RCC, we always had separate "collects" for Vigil, Mass at Dawn and Mass During the Day.

As for certainty, I recommend to you a reading (or re-reading) of "Personal Knowledge" by Michael Polanyi.

Drive-by poster

By the way, what Updike was getting at is the same thing Paul was getting at in 1 Cor 15: if it wasn't real, if it was metaphorical, if it was only psychological, what's the point?

I know very well that you have essays posted addressing this question. They don't convince me for a moment.

D. C.

Drive-By Poster writes:

Um, QC, the Vigil is NOT the same as the sunrise service. It's supposed to begin at full dark, Easter Even.

I'll defer to your superior liturgical knowledge. All I know is that at my Episcopal parish — fourth-largest in the U.S. — we've been doing the Great Vigil at 6:00 a.m. (starting in almost-pitch darkness) for as long as I can remember.

Drive-By Poster writes:

As for certainty, I recommend to you a reading (or re-reading) of "Personal Knowledge" by Michael Polanyi. * * * By the way, what Updike was getting at is the same thing Paul was getting at in 1 Cor 15: if it wasn't real, if it was metaphorical, if it was only psychological, what's the point?

I don't see how Polanyi is relevant here. His thesis, as I understand it, is that we cannot rely exclusively on an artificially-rigorous objectivism. He's quite correct. But as I read him, he does not claim that consequently we can abandon all objective evidentiary standards.

I think you misunderstood my beef with Updike's certainty — and with Paul's assertions in 1 Cor. 15, now that you mention it: Their logic is bogus; it's the fallacy of the false dilemma (sometimes known as the false dichotomy or false choice). They say, if Jesus wasn't bodily raised from the dead, then our faith is worthless and the church falls. I say, nonsense; their conclusion doesn't at all follow from their premise.

Moreover, I claim, it's a serious mistake to ground one's faith in God entirely on the supposition that one particular historical event — about which we have almost no reliable evidence — took place in one particular way. Only a very weak faith in God (and a very weak church) would ever be grounded on such a shaky foundation.

Which of us is right — and, more importantly, how do we go about determining that? Is it a numbers game? If so, then we should all be RCs. Is it about growth trends? Then we should all be Mormons or Muslims.

Sorry my other essays haven't persuaded you. I'd welcome any constructive criticism you might have to offer.

Thanks for stopping by.

C. Wingate

QC, I think you're misreading what I see as a bit of hyperbole. And those tell-tale "believed"s and "supposedly"s in your statements of what we "can say, with reasonable confidence" invite this response: "but they were mistaken". And if they were mistaken, it becomes increasingly difficult to justify confidence in whatever else they teach. Three centuries of Enlightenment skepticism have many people cowed, though when it comes to the concerns of religion, the Enlightenment has a poor track record.

I don't know about amino acids, but it's clear enough that the gospels are quite insistent on the physicality of the resurrection. Conversely, in 1960 this physicality was then in danger of becoming a real scandal. As far as I can see, there is no warrant at all for a metaphoric or pureply spiritual interpretation of the resurrection; it is that position which more truly deserves skepticism.


I appreciate your comments on the Updike poem.
Mr. Updike is certainly entitled to his opinion, but the thing that troubles me is that for some it's not "an opinion", it is the "only opinion". Despite what one surmises about the physicality of the resurrection, there seem to be bigger questions than physical vs. metaphorical.

To me, the bigger question about the resurrection is, bluntly: so what?
1) Physical, metaphorical, whatever it was: what does it mean? Someone was dead and now they are alive again and the correct interpretation of the event is?

Peter had an idea of what the event meant which he explained in Acts 2, but again this was Peter's opinion: what gives Peter's opinion ultimate weight on the matter. We have no record of the meaning that Jesus assigned to the event, except "I'm back and I have some things to tell you before I leave again"

What do events like walking on water, changing water to wine, and coming back from the dead do to change people's lives today? Isn't this a more relevant question?

2) And speaking of "leaving again" what exactly are we to make of the ascension story? If we talk about the resurrection, it seems we have to talk about the ascension, because the resurrection begs the question: "Well, ok, but where is he now?" In a 1st century cosmology, the ascension story makes perfect sense, Jesus was ascending into what the 1st century folk thought was "heaven" or "the heavens", but now we know that, according to the story, Jesus was headed toward outerspace. Did he need to go through outerspace to get back to heaven, or was he just putting on a show so that their 1st century sensibilities would not be offended? If it's the former, does this mean that resurrected bodies don't need oxygen, but they do need food (as in the fish-eating episode after the resurrection)?

To admit that there are troubling questions like this and something other than rock-solid (toxic?) certainty on these matters seems like anathema to some. But why?

V Knutsen

It's a COLD easter weekend in Chicago metro area. And I searched again for "7 Stanzas" poem. (That & the Journal of the American Medical Assoc. past article --a medical analysis of the Crucifixion deadliness on a formerly healthy young working man) are my 2 favorite Easter meditations.

My search called up this 2006 comment & site. I have to testify that I don't have total certainty on anything...including the Resurrection.

Yet there's a steady hum in the background...I barely hear it with the usual troubles of life. And that hum is barely heard words "This is not the end. Jesus Lives & so shall I!"
I grab onto the sorta working class, medical nitty gritty of Updike's medically explicit "line in the sand" seven stanzas.

...It (the Resurrection's effect on our world!) is like the crater after the now-gone meteorite, the fallen trees after the windstorm, etc. etc. I didn't see the cause, I didn't always see the process, but I surely saw the effects!

Ages ago, some of YOUR ancestors (those of you from continental Europe) prayed "Lord deliver us from the FURY of the Norseman".

Some Viking descendants will go to America next week to cut a CD of southern gospel music. They hope to re-invade Europe and bring hope of Jesus' conquering death etc. to people who no longer believe on anything...or who need general comfort.Instead of taking, plundering, they want to give and restore. Prayer answered.

It is important to really examine the Resurrection. For me, if it were not true, why would I live a lie? If you think it false, say so and don't give out false hope..the Resurrection is an incredibly cruel life... if false.

Death or Life is the classic black & white---"either or" issue. My atheist or agnostic friends are honest here. They pushed the "No He didn't rise" button. And they are not afraid to say so.

If the Resurrection were a joke, a lie, I'd sleep in on Sunday & laugh at the morons who believed the "spiritual superhero" fairy tale. A "superman" with a big robe on...fighting the BAD superhero satan...defeating death with His super spiritual strength. If Jesus DIDN"T defeat death & rise from it, why would I ever pretend anything else. The Resurrection is true or deserves to be publicly spurned.

We are covered with post enlightenment fog...but we should pretend we're on a jury. We should analyze the evidence & think logically & go forward....

My Easter greetings to you all. Hope you either are partying Sunday morning in a church with the music going full blast...or are sleeping in.

D. C.

V Knutsen writes: "... we should pretend we're on a jury. We should analyze the evidence & think logically & go forward...."

That brings up an interesting point, VK, which is that epistemology cannot be divorced from action.

Juries don't decide questions in the abstract; it's not because of academic interest that we ask them to determine whether the traffic light was red or green, or whether the accused did or did not pull the trigger.

No, we ask them to determine such questions because their answers will in turn determine whether the government does or does not take a specific action.

The more consequential the action, the more reliable we insist the evidence be before the jury authorizes the action to go forward — in civil cases, most verdicts are rendered by a preponderance of the evidence, whereas in a criminal case, where life or liberty may be at stake, we insist that the evidence rise beyond a reasonable doubt.

Few decisions in life are more consequential than to accept the central assertions of the Nicene Creed. At the very least, it seems questionable to make such a decision without pretty serious supporting evidence.

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