Sunday, June 25, 2017

Preparation for my debate with Bowen


My friend Bradley Bowenn (of Secular Outpost) and I are going to debate the existence of God. Just a little fun thing to do,. These are questions he ask in order to better  understand my position.

my first argumemt:
1.All naturalistic phenomena is contingent and temporal
2. Some aspect of being must be eternal and necessary unless we are willing to accept existence ex nihilo
3. In contrast to Human infinitude the GOB evokes sense of the numinous
4. whatever evokes the SON is a valid object of worship, thus we are warranted in equating  Gob with God
5, Belief is warranted from 2 and 4.

Questions for clarification asked by my opponent Bradley Bowen


What does it mean to say that an "aspect of being is eternal"?


There are only three alternatives for origin of all things given the assumption of cause and effect. They are (1) reality began in a state of nothing and something emerged from nothing, (2) There is an Infinite Causal Regression (ICR) that just happens to always be as a brute fact. (3) Something exists eternally that gives rise to all that is. for various reasons I reject 1 and 2. From the premise that something cannot come from true absolute nothing, something must be eternal and thus able to give rise to all that is not eternal. So at this point we have a distinction between the eternal which I might call "primordial being;" the first form of being, or "ground of being,"  and temporal being or "the beings." McQuarrie makes the distinction between primordial being and the beings.

I speak of it as an aspect of being because I want to avoid the assumption that it is a big man in the . want to use new models for thinking of "God" that don't play off of thinking of God as a magnification of a human king.

What does it mean to say that an "aspect of being is necessary"?

In this case, that of ultimate origin. I see necessary more in terms of causality, whereas Necessary is usually taken to mean x is necessary iff x must exist in the same way in all possible worlds. Another way to say it, if it cannot cease or fail to exist. I think that is also true of God, God is necessary in that way. But in thinking about ultimate origins I think that there is another implication that being eternal God is uncased and thus not the product of any conditions prior to himself. Moreover, being the eternal aspect of  being God is in some sense the necessary condition upon which all contingencies depend. In this case being necessary is an implication of being eternal.

What does the phrase "Ground of Being" mean?

Above I indicated that this is a synonym for Primordial being.  If I said "the original being" that would give the wrong impression, you might  think meant a localized entity. Below I will say more about the phrase ground of being with reference to it's history.


What do you mean by the word "God"?


Transcendental signifies are terms that refer to the top of the metaphysical hierarchy. Concepts that refer to the first principle that sums  and gives meaning to all other principles; the logos, the over soul, the one, God, "object of ultimate concern", the "omega point", the "Atmon." These concepts are hinting at a reality beyond our understanding. The Transcendental signified is that to which these terms refer. In my view that is reality to which the God alludes. It is more than a mere place holder because it can be experienced, (see my book The Trace of God). I conceive of this reality as universal mind, knowing that we don't really understand it well enough to define it and can barely study it. The reality of transcendental signified can be experienced so powerfully that the concept has a reality. But that;s the other argument. (More on the concept of universal mind here). 


What does it mean to say that something "is real"? (particularly when the something in question is not a physical object or a living animal)

That it actually exists, but necessarily tangible or material. It's not just an idea in the mnd.

Each of the three crucial claims in your argument is unclear, at least none of the three claims is clear to me. Given that your three main claims are unclear, at least to me, I am in no position to agree or disagree with any of those claims. They might be true or the might be false. They might be coherent or they might be incoherent. They might be meaningful or they might be words strung together with no actual significance.

which thee?
Please define your key words and phrases and explain the meaning of each of the three main claims. Once you have done so, I will attempt to evaluate the truth of those claims and the logic of your reasoning.


More on the history of the term "ground of being."

Discussing the concept of being itself on my message board and my dialogue partner introduced me to a  blog article written several years ago by an atheist who read this blog and was considering it, I like this guy because he's an atheist but links to my blog, I am the only Christian blogger he linked to at that time. This Guy, "Tocho" is the only  name I can see for him, struggled to thinkof what being itself might mean,
The conceptualization of God as 'Being Itself' was, to my knowledge, first proposed by theologian Paul Tillich in the early 20th Century. It has been brought to my knowledge by a thoughtful blogger, discussant, and professional theologian with the pseudonym Metacrock ( If you can get through his posts (sorry, Meta, your writing style is a bit... difficult), you'll find that they are extremely intelligent in nature and they actually pose even greater challenges to non-believers than the arguments of more well-known Christian apologists. His conception of God is fairly unique and has required substantial thought for me to comprehend it in a manner that enables me to write about it.[1]
 At least We know the guy is very perceptive, ;-) he get's that by my reckoning (that is Tillich's) God is not a being but being itself. He tries to understand what kind of thing being itself might be, Actually the concept goes back to the Platonic Christianity of the orthodox church [2]  Tillich seems to draw part of it from St. Augustine. [3]

He recognizes the serious nature of the problem, that is for a Christian who has a "personal relationship with God to think of God as being itself, which could hardly be a person in the conventional sense of the   wed is a difficulty, "These questions seem to me to be serious problems of this view, especially to professed Christians like Metacrock, who hold onto the idea of a personal God." [4] Yet this article was written in in 2011. I've made some progress in solving the problem since then, But let's follow the guy's reasoning. He resorts to a solution in the distinction between entities and properties. He figures God is not an entity but a perpetuity, the property of being. Now the two are related in that entities have properties but properties need not be entities, "An entity is 'a thing with a distinct and independent existence,' whereas a property is "an attribute, quality, or characteristic of something" [5] I think this is actually a very intelligent solution and what's even more perceptive he sees it as a language problem, he uses a linguistic difference to sort out the problem:
"The sky is blue." Most every English speaking person would understand what is being conveyed by this sentence. What it truly means is that the sky has the property of being blue. But, it could be interpreted incorrectly as "The sky and blue are synonyms." This, of course, is incorrect, and there is a category error involved in the logic behind the statement. "The sky" is an entity, whereas "blue" is a property. They cannot be the same thing.....The distinction between the conceptualization of God as "a being" and God as "Being Itself" is that the former treats God as a specific entity and the latter treats God as a specific property. A being is a type of entity, namely an animate one. The concept of God as "a being" holds that God is an entity with whatever properties the conceptualizer claims God to have. It is worth mentioning that this concept is not limited to the view that God is a "big man in the sky," as God doesn't need to be thought of as a being with a physical body or even a spatial existence. It just requires us to view God as a thing with properties. The concept that God is "Being Itself," however, does just the opposite — requiring us to view God as a essential property of all things as opposed to a thing itself...[6]
 He even works it out where this makes a dandy God argument, one i was once tempted to use:
"Being Itself" is an essential property of all entities. It, to the best of my understanding, can be defined as the property of existing. All entities must exist, by definition, and therefore, all entities have the property of existing. This makes the logical necessity of God seem self-evident, as the following syllogism demonstrates...:
  1. God is the property of existing.
  2. Entities exist.
  3. Therefore, God is.[7]
That would sure come in handy but there's a problem. I am sincere when I say that the solution he attempts is cleaver, intelligent, perceptive, but there is a problem.. Being is not a property. This is is basically the same mistake as the  one Kant, and latter Bertrand Russell, pointed out in arguing against the The ontological argument, in saying "existence is not a predicate."
 Kant, himself a theist, argued that the ontological argument illicitly treats existence as a property that things can either possess or lack. According to Kant, to say that a thing exists is not to attribute existence to that thing, but to say that the concept of that thing is exemplified in the world. The difference, and its significance for the ontological argument, are described below.[8]
Etinne Gilson, the Great Neo Thomist, tells us that being is an act.[9] I f the statement by Holt is right it's the act of exemplifying the concept of something namely being, Gilson tells us being is "the act par excellance." in other words God's act of being is the most significant, the greatest and the original act of being, It;s an eternal act. Now you might thin this makes it worse because how could God be an act? Things act, acts don't just do themselves, Here Tocho offers us a solution without realizing it. In his analysis of the phrase "the sky is blue: he says this could be taken literally the sky is synonymous with the color blue, of course the context rules that out. The sky, which is the unlimited expanse of space above the earth, appears blue from the surface of the earth, 
He is right in saying that entities have properties, properties don't act by themselves, At the same time there is no problem with God being an entity, as long as he is not a localized entity, That's the problem with big man in sky. This also means we have to recognize Tillich's language as metaphor. Saying being itself is a way of separating us from the idea of God as a being, one of many, localized and man-like). Tillich gives us a clue in discussing the fifth-Sixth century mystic pseudo-Dionysius the Aireopagite (around 500AD). Tillich and others filter it through Heidegger, saying God is being itself. In history of Christian thought Tillich interprets Dionysius to say God is the ground of everything, the super essential God beyond everything, inclining Platonic ideas and essences, he says Dionysius thought God is God beyond God (Ibid). That ties the Dionysian concept decisively to Tillich's view. The important thing to note is that these phrases, God beyond God, and ground of everything, are phrases Tillich uses to designate his concept of God. Thus He is clearly identifying Dionysius' idea with his own,He's trying to translate Platonic Christianity into modern existentialist ideas.[10]

If such is the case then it behooves us to understand Dionysius' concept. I have written about it om this blog.[11] The concept is that of universal mind. Translator Edwin Rolt explains:

The basis of their teaching is the doctrine of the Super-Essential Godhead (ὑπερούσιος θεαρχία). We must, therefore, at the very outset fix the meaning of this term. Now the word “Essence” or “Being” (οὐσία) means almost invariably an individual existence; more especially a person, since such is the highest type that individual existence can in this world assume. And, in fact, like the English word “Being,” it may without qualification be used to mean an angel. Since, then, the highest connotation of the term “Essence” or “Being” is a person, it follows that by “Super-Essence” is intended “Supra-Personality.” And hence the doctrine of the Super-Essential Godhead simply means that God is, in His ultimate Nature, Supra-Personal.
Now an individual person is one who distinguishes himself from the rest of the world. I am a person because I can say: “I am I and I am not you.” Personality thus consists in the faculty of knowing oneself to be one individual among others. And thus, by its very nature, Personality is (on one side of its being, at least) a finite thing. The very essence of my personal state lies in the fact that I am not the whole universe but a member thereof.
God, on the other hand, is Supra-Personal because He is infinite. He is not one Being among others, but in His ultimate nature dwells on a plane where there is nothing whatever beside Himself. The only kind of consciousness we may attribute to Him is what can but be described as an Universal Consciousness. He does not distinguish Himself from us; for were we caught up on to that level we should be wholly transformed into Him. And yet we distinguish between ourselves and Him because from our lower plane of finite Being we look up and see that ultimate level beyond us. The Super-Essential Godhead is, in fact, precisely that which modern philosophy describes as the Absolute. Behind the diversities of this world there must be an Ultimate Unity. And this Ultimate Unity must contain in an undifferentiated condition all the riches of consciousness, life, and existence which are dispersed in broken fragments throughout the world. Yet It is not a particular Consciousness or a particular Existence. It is certainly not Unconscious, Dead or, in the ordinary sense, non-Existent, for all these terms imply something below instead of above the states to which they are opposed.[12]
So the answer is God is universal mind and the act of being in which that participates is the ground of all being. Tillich used the phrases interchangeably but I  think ground of being is more meaningful because less misleading, since it implies an act apart from an actor.


[1] Tocho, Logocal implications of God as being itself. Reasonable Soup

Tuesday, (March 15, 2011) Blog URL:

[2] Timothy Ware, The Orthodox Church: An Introduction to Eastern Christianity. New York:Penguin, 1964, 65.
[3] Paul Tillich, Theology of Cultuire , Lomdon, Oxford NewYork Oxford University press, 1959,12-13.
[4] Tocho, op cit
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Tim Holt,  "Existence is not a Predicate," Philosophy of Religion 


[9] Etinne Gilson, God and Philosophy, New Haven,London: Yale Diversity Press, Powell Lectures On Philosophy at Indiana State University Second Edition, 1941. 63-64.
[10] Paul Tillich, A History of Christian thought, New York, NY:TouchStone books. 1967, 92
[11] Joseph Hnman. "The Super Essential Godhead (God is Being Itself),"Metacrock's Blog (TUESDAY, MAY 03, 2016) URL)
access i/10/17

[12] Dionysius the Areopagite: on Divine names and the Mystical Theology, trans. Clearance Edwin Rolt , New YorkNew York: Cosmio 2007, from original 1920 publication.  see also online versionChristian Classics Ethereal Library, on line version, The Author and his Influence, trans by, 1920  website URL:  by
visited May 13,

Friday, June 23, 2017

Obama tried to stop Putin

see my political blog Resistance is not futile: Land Mark article in Washington post Obama tried to stop Putin influencing the elections,

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Schleiermacher and the Feeling of Utter Depedemce

  photo friedrich-schleiermacher--874--t-232x250xffffff-rw.jpg
 Schleiermacher (1768-1834)

 In the Recent past I published a piece called "Phenomenology and Theological Method."  That was about how we can use phenomenological methods to understand various kinds of religious experience as the "co-determinate." That is the signature of God in the world. Like a foot print in the snow, or a fingerprint at a crime scene the co-determinate is the thing that correlates to the evidence. God is the co-determinate of religious experiences. Conversely religious experiences are the co-determinate of God. They are the trace,t he foot print, the track. God is not an empirical issue becuase he's not given in sense data, but we can establish that religious experience is the correlate to the God concept, thus its co-determinate it's trace. The correlate is a matter of  empirical data.

This concept comes from Frederick Schleiermacher, whose concept of the feeling of utter dependence was the first indication of the trace, it is one of those kinds of experiences that forms the co determinate. He first unveiled this notion in On  Religion: Speeches to It's Cultured Despisers. [1]The early version of the feeling was very crude. It went this: I know God must be real because I feel love for him when I pray to him." By the time he wrote the huge tome Glaubenslehre (the Christian faith)[2] He had a much more sophisticated version of it. First I'm going to try to communicate my simplistic understanding of that and then talk about it in a more complex way.

When people hear "feeling" they often make the mistake of thinking that he's saying something like God makes me feel good so there must be a God. I've seen major theologians make the mistake of assuming he meant this kind of feeling. It was the notion of Dr. William S. Babcock (Perkins school of Theology SMU) when I took his history of doctrine class, that he mean something more along the lines an intuitive sense. I have discussed this with Babcock many times through out the years. When hear utter dependence they think it's control or an unhealthy sense of need. What I think he was getting at there is more on the order of contingency.  It's really more like we sense the unity in the world around us. We sense the unity in the world but then we also sense it's dependence upon some higher basis. So the unity is pinned to a higher necessity. In a sense it's like  feeling the realities that the cosmological argument only speculates about, in action. We catch the basis of cosmological necessity as it does it's thing.

The sense of the feeling is found in reflection but is of an intuitive nature.  It's much like Heidegger describes being, as "ready to hand." Like a carpenter who doesn't have to think about using his tools, he uses them as extensions of his hands because he's so use to them they are part of him. So our place in being is so a part of us we don't think about it. "Life world," or Labeinswelt is a term used in German philosophy. It implies the world of one's culturally constructed life, the "world" we 'live in.' Life as we expeirence it on a daily basis. The unity one senses in the life world is intuitive and unites the experiences and aspirations of the individual in a sense of integration and belonging in in the world. As Heidegger says "a being in the world." Schleiermacher is saying that there is a special intuitive sense that everyone can grasp of this whole, this unity, being bound up with a higher reality, being dependent upon a higher unity. In other words, the "feeling" can be understood as an intuitive sense of "radical contingency" (in the sense of the above ontological arguments).

He goes on to say that the feeling is based upon the ontological principle as its theoretical background, but doesn't depend on the argument because it proceeds the argument as the per-given per-theoretical per-cognitive realization of what Anselm sat down and thought about and turned into a rational argument: why has the fools said in his heart 'there is no God?' Why a fool? Because in the heart we know God. To deny this is to deny the most basic realization about reality.

As Robert R. Williams puts it:

There is a "co-determinate to the Feeling of Utter dependence.

"It is the original pre-theoretical consciousness...Schleiermacher believes that theoretical cognition is founded upon pre-theoretical inter subjective cognition and its life world. The latter cannot be dismissed as non-cognative for if the life world praxis is non-cognitive and invalid so is theoretical cognition..S...contends that belief in God is pre-theoretical, it is not the result of proofs and demonstration, but is conditioned solely by the modification of feeling of utter dependence. Belief in God is not acquired through intellectual acts of which the traditional proofs are examples, but rather from the thing itself, the object of religious experience..If as S...says God is given to feeling in an original way this means that the feeling of utter dependence is in some sense an apparition of divine being and reality. This is not meant as an appeal to revelation but rather as a naturalistic eidetic"] or a priori. The feeling of utter dependence is structured by a correlation with its whence."[3]

Schleiermacher is often called the Father of liberal theology. He moved belief over from an intellectual position buttressed by argument, to a phenomenological realization grounded in experience and one's own existential realization and thus freed belief from the need to prove. This is why liberal theological types usually don't worry much about arguments for God. They don't think arguments are necessary. They weren't for them. In class I said we are freed from the need to prove the existence of God, Babcock stopped me there and said "say it again" this time when I go tot "need to prove" he said "just stop there." We are freed from the need to prove.

Atheists are obsessed with the need to prove. You can't believe anything unless its proven. There are deep ways of knowing and they are afraid of them. They label them "subjective" and try to stay away from them. Although I think if they faced the truth they would have to come to terms with fact that their faith that scinece will one once and for all free us from the big mean angry God is the same subjective sense of seeking a deep assurance that transcends proofs on paper. I don't think they will ever get it. The fact that they reject looking for it says that they will never find it.

It's not exactly mystical experience. It's something one can sense on a quite evening listening to the sounds of traffic from while sitting in the garden. It's a realization of a reality that we sense at some level all the time. It's more akin to an eastern appraoch than a Western. That's not to say that eastern mediation is just wool gathering. The feeling of utter dependence is not something one can apply in a formulaic way as one does meditation. It's just there, we can realize it's presence. One of the primary concerns of Schleiermacher was that religion not be reduced to other aspects such as knowledge. Religion is not jumped ethics or failed primitive knowledge. It's not about knowing more stuff it's about transformative experience. Certain forms of knowledge are an outgrowth or side effect of that. The kind of knowledge it gives us is exitential and phenomenoloigcal.


[1] Frederick Schleiermacher, On Religion: Speeches to it's Cultured Dispisers

construction of the doctrine of God.

[2] ___________________. Glaubenslehre (the Christian faith). James Duke Trans. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981.

Google books version

[3]  Robert R. Williams, Schleiermacher the Theologian: Construction of the Doctrine of God. Minneapolis MN: Fortress Press, 1978.  4.

on Amazon

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren shared U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders's photo.

21 hrs
Health care for 23 million Americans is on the line in the next 2 weeks. Join U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and me for this powerfully important discussion.

daily action alert

H.E.L.P. is AWOL.
If both of your Senators are Democrats, today's Daily Action is to call the GOP members of the Senate's Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (or HELP) Committee at (844) 904-7411 and demand that they do their job and commit to holding public hearings on the healthcare bill.
Call them out for the secrecy of this bill-writing process - this secrecy is only possible because they have obeyed Mitch McConnell and refused to do the job they were sent to Washington to do.
Call them out for making Senate history because in the history of the Senate there has never been a committee that has failed to hold a single hearing on legislation of this magnitude when that issue was clearly within their jurisdiction.
Call them out for failing at bipartisanship. Several members of this committee have gone on TV to "talk the talk" on how a bipartisan solution would be ideal -- but the very reason why they are refusing to go through the Committee process is because the Committee is bipartisan.
Call them out for being hypocrites - they went on and on about the immaturity and irresponsibility of the House process and are doing the exact same thing themselves.
And finally, at the END of the call, ask them why we need this Committee in the first place? Because if we can tackle major healthcare legislation without the Committee, it's a frivolous body that should be dissolved.
The Senate Majority Leader earns an Upside-Down Pinocchio for his shifting rhetoric on passing health-care legislation.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

when I was born there were two of me


Ray Hinman (June 20, 1956-Jan 24, 2014.) in honor of the birthday I shared with him.

My brother Ray wrote those words at one time, "when I was born there were two of me.". We did come into the world together. He was always there, I never knew a time when he was not there. As kids we were rambunctious, obnoxious, noisy, hyperactive, sarcastic. We were always there for each other. When we walked home from kindergarten bigger boys would pick on us because when they grabbed Ray I would cry, and shout "leave him alone!" When they grabbed me he would cry and shout. We always knew what each other meant by cryptic comments when  no one else did. We always looked out for each other's feelings. Always knew what the other felt.

In sixth grade the teacher read to the class an unpublished story by Mark Twain, from life magazine. That's when he set his sites on being a writer, He taught himself all about literature. It came from out of nowhere, he began spending all of his time reading, He would get home from school and go right to the books instead of football as had been his passion. In eight grade he gave an oral book report to a speech class on Goethe's Faust part I. It as brilliant the class as thunder struck. I was amazed at his erudition and his poise and his eloquence. People were coming up to me  all day and saying "I didn't know your brother was a genius."

That was crucial because we had dyslexia and early schooling was marked by failure and being treated like dunces (until they tested our IQs!). Spanked with boards for being lazy (by the principle--Texas schools of mid 60s). We could barely read, we hated ourselves and we shored each other up by mutual support. Then this literature thing turned Ray on to using his mind. He just got the idea he could teach himself and he began doing it. This was really in opposition to the teachers. He actually knew more at the end of high school than many of his teachers and I know that's true.

He was also brash and rebellious, sharp and critical of authority. We were both attracted to the "movement" of the 60s. Anti-war, we went to protests (this was 7-10 grade1971-72). An example of how Ray was in eight or ninth grade. We went to a  little private school ran by church of Christ. They had a big Dress code and we hated it. We wanted long hair they would not let us have it. One day we missed some school for snow (rare in Dallas). The school administration declared that we had to go for a make-up Saturday but to make it less odious we could dress any way we wanted to (except no short skirts on the girls). Everyone wore ragged blue genes and t shirts except Ray. He wore a suit and tie.

In the period that followed (72-77) he really was my hero. I resented him but also admired him. He was much more socially able and more successful in dealing with the opposite sex. Sex being the operative word there. Dressed like a hippie but not in a pretensions way. Ran around all over town with all kinds of women, getting drunk and smoking dope and going to parties, making his own -parties by the turtle creek or Bachman lake or some place. He dropped out of high school and moved down town. Took GED and scored one of the highest scores in the City.

In the high school years, 16, 17 he went on several hitchhiking trips. My parents were terrified but he was nota run away, He got them to sign a letter saying he had their permission because the deal was, he was going anyway. He did have stories from the road. He hide in the dark in the Rockies and watched a coven of some kind do something with torches and someone (he really didn't know what they were doing he just didn't want to be seen). He was shot at in West Texas and attacked by a ghost in Denver. He stood on a dark rainy highway in Oregon and did not see Bigfoot (said he never thought about it), He first went to Colorado, the up the West Coast to Vancouver, Then up the east coast to Toronto. That picture at the top on a park bench was taken in Boston on that trip, he was 17.

He was lean and strong and full of life and what the Bible calls "The pride of life." He was brilliant, he read a lot  of Nietzsche and decided he would become an ubermench. He told me once he knew he wasn't one but he wanted to force himself to be one anyway. He wrote prodigiously. After growing apart in high school--I had debate and he had hitchhiking-- we got back together in college. He started to community college took philosophy was on the honor Roll and my parents were elated. He was also at odds with them about being a writer. They wanted him to be able to support himself.  He just wanted to write. We developed a world around ourselves and our books. It centered on the coffee shop. Discussions were to us what water is to a duck. We discussed everything fueled by books and our own writings.

Everything changed in 77. That's when Ray had his break down. He saw the goddess Dianna fly past the moon while smoking dope on the roof at our parents home. He was never again free of delusions. Gradually over time he became like my child. By the time he died I had almost forgotten the strong rash independent young genius he was in his youth. He was lucid but developed a lot of delusional fears. We struggled through the maze of the mental health care industry for two decades before I realized they were nuttier than he was. In the end we wound up wild catting with nutrition and forgot the shrinks., He tried hard to make it as a writer. Every passing year grew that much more desperate; He finally quite trying the last eight years of his life. He was always going to get back to it.

I think the two great defining moments for him were the Central America movement and taking care of our parents. We worked as organizers in the central America movement from about the dawning of Iran=contra (85?) to the anti-climatic end of the Sandinista government in '90. Ray poured his heart and soul into it, s=he shown as an activist. Quoted in the Newspaper for some protest we organized (Dallas Morning News) "Ray Hinman, 31 year old Poet.." I said "hey you are officially a poet, says so in the paper." He said, "I am also officially 31, says so in the news paper." He saved a woman's life. Jenifer Casolo was charged by the Salvadoran government and her lawyer too. Both arrested a d tortured. Ray threw himself into calling all over the country to get urge t action alerts generated. When Casolo came to Dallas Ray was introduced to her as "The person primarily responsible for getting you out." The Lawyer was saved too.The other great moment was in caring for our parents. We basically ran our own private nursing home 2/7 for three years. Our mother had Alzheimer's our father had a big heart attack and then some kind of dementia.  He was invaluable in care for  them. I could not have done it without him. I could really see what he was made of then in his unselfish caring for our parents.

There were more struggles involved in fights criminals disguised a mortgage company who stole our house and living in our car for a short time. This all took it's toll on Ray, his fragile mental condition. The last few years we found a cozy rent house, parents gone, just Ray and I and our little dog Arnie (black and tan coon hound but the tan parts were white).  He loved drinking coffee in the kitchen or on the back Patio and reminiscing. We lost the fire for the great intellectual discussions we had thrived on. He lost the fire for writing he was no longer building for a career as a writer, he was feeling like a a failure and reminiscing about what he loved in the act of trying to be a writer. Nursing his delusions. If only he had written those into novels. He did get the one collection of poems published I think he really just rested in that one accomplishment.

The last Day he was upset because I kept trying to convince him to go to the hospital. He wanted to be at home. He thought I wanted to get rid of him. I told him I wanted to stick together and be old men together, He seemed happy and was perked up. I made him a cup of coffee he drank it and smoked and said it was the best coffee and smoke he ever had, He wanted me to help him to the bathroom and on the  way he had to sit down, He began roaring like a lion, spewed stuff out his mouth and I saw his eyes roll up in his head. I ran for the phone and called 911. By the time I got back he was gone. I was shouting "come back!" After the coroner left I spend hours alone shouting  "Ray! Ray!" I sat out on the patio for days just reliving our times there and try8mng to find peace about it. I eventually realized he was just tired of conflict he made the choices he did for that reason. He was tried of being mentally ill and tired of struggling to make it as a writer in an illiterate society that no longer understands literature.

see a more detailed bio

I am sending this to everyone I know

Sunday two years since my twin brother and best friend died. I am asking everyone I kno to do a couple of things in his honor.

Read some of his poems, you can see them on his blog

Buy his book on Amazon

Buy my brother's Poetry: Ray Hinman, Our Cities Vanish

"Like" facebook page
any or all, thank you

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Salvation of The Modern Individual

Image result for Metacrock's blog

There is a trend in evangelical thinking to a turn from the highly individualistic self of the enlightenment, where salvation is a matter of the individual finding herself in relationship with God alone, to communal sort of thinking where one is part of the tribe as in identity politics. "This culture [of the enlightenment individuality] has also deeply affected the Church of the West. All of our songs are wrapped in the language of me, rather than us. Our taking of the Eucharistic table of the Lord (communion) is highlighted by each one making sure they have no unaccounted for personal sins before taking..."[1] Of each one making sure he or she has no uncounted sins is in the New Testament.  I see the potential in this movement for political control. Ironically at the same time secular scholarship is coming to see Christianity as the basis of enlightenment individualism,

An example of the trend in the church is found in the book Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes by Randolph Richards and Brandon O'Brien. [2] They argue that most of the time when Paul writes "you" it should be read as a collective second person address,such as our southerner "you all," (that's not it, it's really "Yall") "you guys" as you Yankees say. Direct application is found in passages such as 1 Cor 6:19 "do you not know that your bodies are Temples of The holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God, you are not your own." Our modern translator has made the individual's bodies into each a temple so we have multiple temples. This new collective understanding sees that the Greek for temple is singular and You is plural.So you all are the temple not individual temples. Does that mean smoking is not a sin? where was this passage 40 years ago when I needed to show my Mom? 

Another such passage is 2 Cor. 5:17 "therefore if any one is in Christ he is a new creature." NASB. The NIV says "New Creation has come" giving it a more collectivist potential. One has joined the collective of the new creation (the Church itself is the new creation).  The problem is the Greek is individualistic. "Ei Tis en Christo" --if anyone is in Christ...It's not plural, anyone is a highly individual word, It does say old things are passed away all things have become new, Or could be "the new has emerged" --yeyonin  kina, the new has emerged, The passage ends "Moreover, all things are of the one God." de ponta ek tu theou tou. Sort of summing it all up with a reassuring reference to God's all pervasive originating creativity, This all things implies a collective but it includes the individual as part of the new things.

That's all fine and good, Individualist  mentality is too acquisitive. We need more socialism in the Gospel. We need more emphasis upon social cohesion in  the modern church and we need more understanding of the cultural perspective of the first century in reading the New Testament,But salvation itself is and  always will be an individual  matter. We cannot be saved by following orders or being part of the heard or by letting others decide our actions for us,Paul's sense of membership did not exclude personal relationship with God nor did it exclude personal responsibility. First Paul's metaphor of the body of Christ does assume coordination and that requires unity, yet it also recognizes the individuals and their differences that make up the body. That's the point of the gifts,each has a different gift according to her function. Individuals and their individual functions make up the body and their coordination and cooperation make it a functional body.

We see Paul Himself acting as an individual when he stood up to Peter for giving preference to the delegation from James over the Gentile members. Lest we think this is only because he was an apostle there were cultural influences behind him from both his Hebrew and  Greaco-Roman upbringing, that made his individualism possible. First there is a scholarly move to see individualism as predicated upon the Hebrew faith as well as the Greeks. Even though the Hebrews were tribal and collectivist, nor did they manifest a primary value of individualism many scholars now feel that their culture contained in the law and it's moral nature the basic elements that made individualist possible in Christianity. Moral philosophers understand personal morality to be a prerequisite for individuality. Ilan Wurman Makes this argument, He uses two other books,which are come from opposing ends of the spectrum, to illustrate.[3]  

Yoram Hazony’s new book, The Philosophy of the Hebrew Scripture,  . Joshua Berman argues the Pentateuch was written to be read as a whole and in order.[4][5] What both agree upon is the notion of a coherent whole. Berman in Created Equal: How the Bible Broke with Ancient Political Thoughtargues the egalitarianism of the Pentateuch is communitarian, while Hazony's ideal is more Hierarchical. What it looks like Hazony has done, from the description by Wurman is to take the old Prophet vs Priest split that can be traced back to Nietzsche, and either reading into or re-discovered in the Pentateuch (Nietzsche got it from someplace). Wurman combines the two views to argue that Hebrew ethics made individualism possible.[6]

There is a much more pronounced individualism among the Greeks, even though they too had their collective spirit. Some have argued that the Greeks had no individualism that view (a manifestation of 20th country anthropology) is ably refitted by Gary W. Burnett, in this work, Paul and The Salvation of The Individual [7] Writing against and extreme form of this view he warns that anthropological approaches that attempt to emphasize the difference in ancient world and ours smother the humanity of the people of antiquity to overplay the dominance of the social.
The trends in modern anthropology, which recognize the importance of self consciousness, an cognitive models of culture combined with the classical scholarship just reviewed, indicates strongly that human beings of early and classical Greece, and the inhabitants of the Greaco-Roman world of the first century CE were human beings fully in the sense in which we understand the modern person--self aware, conscious of himself or herself as a unique person pro-active in the world, making sense of the culture ad world around and contributing to the continual change of their era...there can be no doubt that these societies were much more collective in outlook than our own, Western individualistic society, but individuals were persons in this important self conscious sense.[8]

Paul benefited from both the Hebrew law and the Greaco-Roman individualism,  Having grown up in Asia minor he would have exhibited the cosmopolitanism sophistication and Greek cultural ferment for which Jews of Asia minor were known.  Larry Siedentop argues that Pauline thought overturned the established assumptions of natural inequality. It's that understanding of leveling between us and the stranger that enables us to see ourselves in them.[9]
...[Paul's] understanding of the meaning of Jesus’ death and resurrection introduced to the world a new picture of reality. It provides an ontological foundation for ‘the individual’, through the promise that humans have access to the deepest reality as individuals rather than merely as members of a group …For Paul, Christian liberty is open to all humans. Free action, a gift of grace through faith in the Christ, is utterly different from ritual behaviour and the unthinking application of rules.For Paul, to think otherwise is to regress rather than progress in the spirit. This is how Paul turns the abstracting potential of Greek philosophy to new uses. He endows it with an almost ferocious moral universalism. The Greek mind and the Jewish will are joined”[10] 
We can see these effects of individualism on Paul. Everything Pal says is about him,He boats of his background and education, he's constantly referring to his experiences and what he's been through,He boasts of his relationship with Jesus, He acts as an ethical lone individual in the face of controversy and moral conviction (in the conflict with Peter and with James). He  is willing to stand up against the authority of the church in Galatians 2:11 I had to oppose him to his face, for what he did was very wrong." This upstart who never met Jesus in the flesh was not there when Jesus was crucified and who actually imprisoned Christians is willing to stand up to Jesus' no.1  side kick, to his face and tell him he's wrong. Yes that is being an individual.

Salvation is still about a personal 1x1 relationship with God. We see that on the cross where Jesus tells the thief "you will be with me this day in paradise," (Luke 23:43). Unless we are willing to think He was saying all thieves are now saved he's speaking to an individual not to a collective. Then one of the foundation passages in the OT establishing the fact of a new covenant puts it in very personal individualistic terms. Jeremiah 31:

 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
    “when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
    and with the people of Judah.
32 32 It will not be like the covenant
    I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
    to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
    though I was a husband to[d] them,[e]
declares the Lord.
33 33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
    after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds
    and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.
34 34 No longer will they teach their neighbor,
    or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
    from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the Lord.
“For I will forgive their wickedness
    and will remember their sins no more.”

The reason the new covenant can't be broken is because it's not predicated upon merely obeying law but is actually internalized by the individual. He says "you will all know me from the greatest." That is a clear statement of individuality and personal relationship with God that supersedes orders from church authorities, or government, or anyone else. While we need to take solidarity seriously and work together to spread the gospel,we need to be sensitive to the leading of the spirit and to cultivate our relationships with God 1x1. that passage (Jer 31:31-24), is quoted in full in Hebrews (8:8-12). I read a good article by Daniel J.Harrington  on the overall use of the passage in NT.[11]

The great irony is that at a time when the church is moving away from the individual of modern Western thought and towards a collectivism,the secular world of scholarship is waking up from Marxist collectivism and beginning to recognize Christianity as the origin of modern enlightenment individualism. We've seen an allusion to this already in the quote above by Burnett. His reference to new trends among anthropologists (en 8). Ian Burkitt points out that it was the Greeks who first used the concept of the persona, which shows up again in the Trinitarian doctrine. He points to Stoicism and the development of  biography as hallmarks of individuality.[12]  Charles Taylor  starts reckoning the dawn of the modern self with St Augustine, (that's ancient Rome).[13]

Siedentop is scoring great apologetics points to make reviewers like Nicholas Lazard of  the Guardian change from a life time of witting off Christianity as having nothing to do with modernity and turning to it as the major source of the modern self:
It comes towards the end of this remarkable book, which made me rethink a great deal. Like many, I had assumed that notions of individual liberty didn’t come into play until the latter end of the Enlightenment. It was something to do with Voltaire, perhaps, or the second sentenceof the American Declaration of Independence. If the Church had anything to do with individuality, it was as a brake on it, or a countermeasure. We were all just anonymous units before the power of God...
it is Christianity we have to thank, and particularly the Christianity that was being formed in the dark and early medieval ages, for our concept of ourselves as free agents. He starts in ancient Greece and Rome: there, the faculty of reason was only to be found in the ruling elite, which, in effect, meant men of a certain class in a city state. If you were a woman, merchant, or slave, all you could really use your brains for were, respectively, gossip, mercantile calculation, and unthinking obedience. (A glance at newsagents’ shelves these days may make you suspect that civilisation has gone retrograde in these respects, but let us pass on that for the moment.) Even philosophers, who had no direct alleçgiance to a specific place, were for a while suspect. However, seeds were sown, and things got interesting when Greek- and Latin-speaking urban dwellers around the Mediterranean started encountering the Jewish diaspora...But the book is, once you get past the superficial difficulties, not too hard to grasp, and its basic principle – “that the Christian conception of God provided the foundation for what became an unprecedented form of human society” – is, when you think about it, mind-bending.[14]


[1] J. Scott Lencke, "Misreadimg Scriptire with Western Eyes (4) Idividualism and Collectivism," The prodigal Thought.  (May 4, 2013) blog, URL:  (accessed 6/9/17)

J. Scott Lencke: Candidate in Doctorate of intercultural studies and missology  at Fuller Theological Seminary MTS from Fuller Theological Seminary. 

[2] Randolph Richards and Brandon O'Brien, Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes. Downer's Grove Ill.: IVP, 2012 no page indicated.

[3] Ilan Wurman, "Individualism, Community, and Moral obligation in The Hebrew Bible," Public Discourse, The Witherspoon institute, Ryan T. Anderson Editor, On line Resource, UTL:
(accessed 6/10/17)

[4] Yoram Hazony’s new book, The Philosophy of the Hebrew Scripture, Cambriodge, Lodom:
Cambridge University Press,  2012.

[5] Joshua Berman  Created Equal: How the Bible Broke with Ancient Political Thought
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011

[6] Wurman, op cit.

[7]  Gary W. Burnett Paul and the salvation of the individual, Leiden, Boston,Koln: Brill, 2001, 45-46

Dr. Burnett (Ph.D.) Taught New Testament at Queens University Belfast.

[8] Ibid. 

Larry Siedentop, Inventing The Individual" The Origins of Western liberalism. Cambridge Mass.:Belnap Press of Harvard University Press, 2014, 60.

Sir Larry Alan Siedentop CBE (born Chicago 1936) is an American-born British political philosopher with a special interest in 19th-century French liberalism.received a DPhil from the University of Oxford (equivalent to a PhD elsewhere) for a thesis on the thought of Joseph de Maistre and Maine de Biran, written at Magdalen College, Oxford, under the supervision of Sir Isaiah Berlin.
From 1965 to 1968, Siedentop was a Research Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford, but he spent most of his academic career as a Fellow of Keble College, Oxford, and a University Lecturer.(wik)

[10] Ibid., 63-640.

[11] Daniel J. Harrington, "Jeremiah 31:31-34 and the New Testament," Bible Odyssey, (2017 no other date given) On line resource URL:
(accessed 6/10/17)

[12]  Ian Burkitt , Social Selves : Theories of Self and Society. London:Sage Publications Ltd. second edition, 2008, aoriginally 1992, 5.

[13] Charles Taylor, Sources of The Self:The Making of The modern Identity. Cambridge Mass: Harvard University Press, 1992,127-143.

[14] Nicholas Lezard, "Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism By Larry Siedentop--review," The Guardian (Jan 27,2015) on Lime addition accessed 6/10/17)URL
(accessed 6/10/17)