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William Gibson’s Neuromancer is perhaps the closest thing to a Nostradamus that fiction has produced. And it feels like it’s getting truer every day. Think about that for a minute. Of all the realities in speculative fiction since the beginning, the ones that look most authentic in the here and now are the ones that remained more mundane — bound up in the struggles we have today posited a century hither. What does that say about science fiction’s success?
Science fiction as a genre requires one thing, and one thing only. It requires the story to engage with the future. Not merely be set in the future, or use some form of technology to accomplish a goal, rather it must engage with that future in way that is reflective of both now and then. If a story’s science fictional, or fantastic, elements can be removed and the story remains largely unchanged then it cannot be science fiction.
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It was not until quite recently, however, that I noticed that Pinkwater is actually a capital-S Surrealist, by which I mean that he is intentionally and with forethought following the artistic and literary principles established by André Breton and his circle in Paris in the 1920s as part of the Surrealist movement, and that he is alluding in his body of work to the Surrealists and their intellectual ideas.
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Roman poetry is filled with entertaining rants against urban evils, which I revisited with glee while preparing for a gallery class I taught at the Getty Villa last month.
Some of the most illuminating diatribes come to us from D. Iunius Iuvenalis (Juvenal), an embittered poet of the late first and early second centuries A.D. As translated by Peter Green, his verses showcase many of the irritants still encountered in city life today, from traffic jams to fashion requirements.
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The Tea Party, representing an overwhelmingly white, Christian, straight, rural base, has spun out a narrative of overt political oppression and marginalization, despite the fact that the country’s most powerful political bloc has always been white, Christian, straight, and rural. Our legistlative system significantly overrepresents their desires, by awarding equal representation in the Senate to low-population, rural states—overwhelmingly populated by people of the aforementioned demographics—as to high population states like New York and California, which have significantly higher minority populations. Comic books and sci-fi, meanwhile, are endlessly appealing to major studios because they have preexisting fanbases to spread the word and create buzz, as well as ample, lucrative merchandising opportunities. In both cases, what we have is the rage of the enfranchised: an implacable hunger for more recognition for a group that could scarcely be more recognized.
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I think the rush to show that God has "feminine" attributes muddies the waters at best and makes Piper's case at worst.
My recommendation is to not play Piper's game. Don't accept his framing. The issue isn't really about gender at all. The issue is about power.
Which brings be back to Matthew 23.9.
On the surface in this passage it looks like Jesus is saying something that backs Piper up. That God is a Father, a male. But I think that is missing the point.
Jesus's statement--"call no man on earth father"--was a bomb. A huge bomb. Jesus is attacking the foundation of the power structure supporting his society.
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The Means of Communication issue of Lapham’s Quarterly contains a fabulous collection of complains and marginal notes by the monks assigned to copy manuscripts in the era before the printing press. With their bitchy complaints—“I am very cold,” “Oh, my hand”—they insert themselves into the holy texts and often, in the process, disrupt the sanctity of the words they’re supposedly copying: “Now I’ve written the whole thing: for Christ’s sake give me a drink.”
These lovely and lively interjections represent just a small range of expression that one finds throughout medieval manuscripts. And as Michael Camille documents in Images on the Edge: The Margins of Medieval Art, it is in these marginal comments that we learn as much—if not more—about the medieval world as we do from the texts themselves. Marginalia might include comments like the ones from our miserable monks, but also an entire free-flowing range of artistic flourishes and doodles that make up the edges of medieval manuscripts.
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“Not to us” is an important step in biblical interpretation. We need to have ears to hear how a story would have resonated with Babylonian exiles; we need ears to hear how “Jesus is Lord” might have resonated, or caused dissonance, for a first century Roman.
We need to know that when we read, “Expel the immoral brother!” that it is a word for a first century church and might not be God’s word to us about, say, the man in our meetings with a flatulence problem.
“Not to us” is a significant moment in our biblical interpretation.