Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Make or Break

I recently heard an interview of Reza Aslan on NPR about his new book on Jesus. Then a friend posted a link to an Atlantic article about it, and then I saw him again, inside the back cover of TIME. Aslan converted to Christianity when he was fifteen, and became hugely zealous about it (he convinced his mother and sister to convert); but eventually decided he didn't buy it any more, and quit. Now he's written a book based on the premise that the New Testament is not a historical document, and that Jesus needs to be evaluated separately from what it says about him.

Aslan is everywhere.

I find myself drawn in by his arguments. I, too, resonate with many of the points he makes about the way "Christianity" is this thing that's been fabricated over millenia -- a thing quite distinct from who Jesus actually was.  So I'm tempted to dig into that. To wonder what constitutes a "historical document" and -- perhaps more importantly -- why everyone (myself included) is so keen on hearing what Aslan's got to say.

I'm tempted, because I do believe there's a bit of a baby/bathwater syndrome going on, and because I'm annoyed by what I feel are his unnecessary presuppositions.

However...

I feel that if I engage these sorts of things on that level (if I begin to "murder to dissect" the lovely bones of mystery), then I've already agreed to rules I would rather not pre-suppose. And I don't want to play the academic pick-apart game. I want to focus my primary energies on making, rather than breaking.

Therefore, I'm going to leave this apophatic moment, and instead direct your attention to the most awesome thing I've seen this week... a Ted-Talk video of master teacher Benjamin Zander, explaining (and then playing) a piece of Chopin in such a way that it actually made water run out of my eyeballs and down my face. His talk is enormously entertaining, too -- even for someone like myself, who's not typically into classical music.

Which is better -- making or breaking?

You decide:

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