Archive for August, 2011

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Getting Intimate with Karl Barth

16 August 2011

It is impossible to force Karl Barth, the eminent Reformed theologian of the 20th century, into any box, doctrinal or psychological. But I found this comment from Hans Frei the most perceptive I’ve read when it comes to psychoanalyzing the man.

[H]is relations with others, including many long and loyal friendships with other theologians and pastors, seem to have been forged through a sense of common vocation and common moral tasks, rather than through the art of mutual personal cultivation or direct in-depth “encounter.” His intimate relation with his long-time assistant, Charlotte von Kirschbaum, was in its way perhaps the most striking instance of the first type of relationship in his life; his sad misrelation to his wife was his paradigmatic failure in the other kind. . . . To what extent did a sense of shared vocation govern even his intimately personal, sexual life? [Hans W. Frei, Review Article: Eberhard Busch’s Biography of Karl Barth, Historical Magazine of the Protestant Episcopal Church 51:1 (Mar 1982): 111].

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Will Michele Bachmann Submit to Her Husband?

15 August 2011

Every politician comes to a point where she has to heave herself headlong into the paradox. For conservative evangelicals like Michelle Bachmann, that happened last Thursday night when a Washington Examiner reported asked her if she was submissive to her husband.

Whom, after all, are voters electing into office? Michelle, or her “spiritual head”?

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The reporter’s question was booed, but I think that’s a great question to pose to a woman riding the God-and-evangelical-America wave. If only reporters would have the courage to ask left-leaning politicians the equivalent question: “Why should we believe you’ll bow to the peoples’ will, when you do no more than ‘respect’ your spouse, and conceive of God’s will so amorphously?”

The Salon.com feature is well worth reading.

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Kick-butt Self-actualization

4 August 2011

In the long, sweaty tradition of Jazzercise, Tai Bo, and countless other dance/exercise programs, another has been added: piloxing. As a hybrid of pilates, boxing and ballet, it is being marketed as a workout specifically for women. Its sell-line: piloxing turns average women into “tough and agile boxers, gracious [graceful?] ballerinas and hip street dancers.” A snippet from one of the initial DVDs features an exotic dance instructor wearing pink trim and encouraging composure while building ripped abdominals.

In a capitalistic culture promising vicarious experiences for every type of self-fulfilment, piloxing fits in nicely for women. Administrative assistants and saleswomen and homemakers everywhere can be hardened warrior princesses. Now, which exercise routine serves as the equivalent for men?  Where can I sip a martini like James Bond while landing devastating roundhouses?