Monday, April 18, 2005

WordStock 2005...


Philip Yancey is expected to be one of the more popular featured authors at this year's WordStock Festival in Portland, Oregon. From the Official Website,
Philip Yancey is editor at large of Christianity Today and cochair of the editorial board for Books and Culture. His books include Reaching for the Invisible God (2000), The Bible Jesus Read (1999), What's So Amazing About Grace? (1998), The Jesus I Never Knew (1995), Where is God When It Hurts (1990), and many others.
Some have gone so far as to call this journalist/writer the C.S. Lewis of our age. Putting that aside for the moment, here are a few quotes of Mr. Yancey from a live interview this morning on Portland's AM 1190 KEX

He opened the brief interview by pointing out that he lives and was raised in "Jesusland" America, a place he shortly thereafter referred to as the
"racist, angry, legalistic south."

He went on to note that "the church has stained the truth..." without explaining how. For that, my guess is you'd have to buy a ticket or have read one of his books; neither of which I have the time nor inclination to do.

He noted that in the gospels, Jesus was asked a question regarding faith 183 times, and gave only three direct answers. Yancey seemingly offered that as a defense of his moralistic abstractions as it would appear to be the origin of his own aversion to professions of clarity or certainty.

While applying the unreferenced assessment of Christians as "uptight dogooders trying to keep others from having a good time, " Mr. Yancey as much as excepted that charge by springing toward a conclusion on that basis.

He breifly discussed his new book, "
Rumors of Another World" where he attempts, as he describes, "to resurrect the rumor that their is more to life than what we see here" in an effort to "explore that rumor to find its origin."

Admittedly, I do not know much about Mr. Yancey. My initial impressions of the man have been formed by this brief interview and a few items that I have read online today. This article for instance, I Was Just Wondering, written in February of 2004 frames a few of his questions regarding the attacks of 911, and America's response..

How much would it have cost to reconstruct Afghanistan after their war with the Soviet Union, which the United States helped the Afghans fight?

How much will it cost to reconstruct it after we finish with it?

Why is the United States so much better at destroying buildings and then rebuilding them—as in Germany, Japan, Korea, Kosovo—than in keeping them from being destroyed in the first place?

Can you bomb a country back into the Stone Age if it already lives in the
Stone Age?

How much did the CIA spend training Osama bin Laden and his associates during the war with the Soviet Union?

How much are we now spending to hunt him down?

How do you demolish an ideology of fanaticism when, by killing those who preach it, you attract even more converts to their fanaticism?

During the war with the Soviet Union, Afghans lost one-third of their dwelling places. Yet, thanks to their tradition of hospitality, not a single person went homeless. Why does the richest nation in the world have so many homeless people while one of the poorest nations has none?

Could someone explain to me why the U.S. threatened to break the patent on Cipro after three anthrax deaths, yet vigorously resists “tampering with intellectual property rights” when someone suggests breaking the patent on AIDS drugs for the sake of 25 million infected Africans?

What do Christians who advocate a simple lifestyle think about our leaders urging us to spend money as an act of patriotism?

What do they think about all the people who lose their jobs when we stop spending money?

Would Jesus help his neighbors by spending money, or by maintaining his ascetic lifestyle?

Why do we Americans think of ourselves as such generous people when we allocate a smaller percentage of our Gross Domestic Product to foreign aid than does any other industrialized nation?

Why do the people who quote statistics about foreign aid fail to note that Americans prefer to give, not through government grants, but through private organizations such as the Red Cross and the Salvation Army?

Do Arab terrorists hate the United States and Europe because of our support for Israel, or hate Israel because of its association with the West?

Do any of these questions sound family? They ought to since they have curiously framed many or most of the talking points of the anti-war opposition. Knowing little more about the Man's politics, I'll leave it at that to promote WordStock itself.

WordStock'05...Portland’s Annual Festival of the Book, taking place over six days April 19-24, 2005. This year's festival will include featured readings by bestselling authors, poets and NW writing legends, panels on every conceivable subject, workshops for teachers of writing, dinners with your favorite authors, a free two day book fair with hundreds of exhibitors, two days of children's readings and activities, food, music, cooking demonstrations and more!

Given that the featured author this year is Norman Mailer, and the event originates in Portland, Oregon, one might suspect a political agenda inherent to this year's event. It looks to be a great time, nevertheless. Other authors are listed here...

Philip Yancey is scheduled to speak at Keller Auditorium at 7pm on Wednesday. Tickets can be purchased through Tickemaster.

Given time, I might consider reading more of Mr. Yancey's work, but there is a stack of books on my desk now that will take months to get through once I finish my professional examinations. And quite frankly, I am not particularly impressed by what I have seen so far. As an acknowledged Christian writer and spokesman, the man strikes me as more of a charlattan than a scholar. As for the similarities to C.S. Lewis, I do not recognize it up front; although a modern day Wormwood might wish it to be so. In the realm of Religious study, Yancey strikes me as more of a Kant than a Lewis, for what his ideas will bring to that end of philosophy is the same mortal poison that transendentalism and existentialism inflicted in the twentieth century on Reason.

Both approaches seem to be the same as an an effort devoted solely to subverting knowledge with questions that have no possible answer. Given that there are no stupid questions, there are however, stupid movements that are established exclusively on a quest to keep as many people as possible attempting to answer rhetorical questions. (Edited 04.18.05:18:53)

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