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Tony Watkins

Subjectivity and Objectivity in Art

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Jeffrey wrote:

I believe that there are absolutes, but that doesn't mean that there are absolute answers for questions of interpretation. . . . When we talk about art, we're talking about mysteries

Absolutely.

Peter wrote:

To say simply "there are no absolutes" is to make an implicitly self-contradictory statement, because there are no qualifiers in that statement, and thus the statement must eventually be applied to itself, with self-defeating results. But to say "there are no absolutes in this area" or "there are no absolutes in that area" is not self-contradictory at all -- UNLESS the statement itself is somehow rooted in the area that it describes, and thus must eventually be applied to itself, etc.

So the only way "there are no absolutes in art" could be a self-contradictory statement would be if the statement itself were a work of art. And I, for one, do not think it is.

Exactly right (but you don't have to qualify it as your personal opinion on this - it simply is the way it is. It's elementary logic).

Alan wrote:

How does (B) ["subjectivity is subject to suspicion"] follow from (A) ["...we are all created in God's image"]?!?

If anything, the fact that we were created in God's image, may indicate that we each have a vigorous, private, internal life of thoughts and prayer, which gives rise to subjective experience.

I agree entirely. It seems to me that we have three possible ways of identifying something as being absolutely true:

1. Logical analysis

2. Empirical evidence

2. Revelation

As far as art is concerned, johnmark is going to have a hard time logically proving that art is not a matter of intense subjectivity or that a particular art form is inherently superior (leaving aside the question of sacred literature since, as I've already noted, divine inspiration puts Scripture into a different category altogether - it is not 'mere' art - and Peter I think sacred painting etc. is even more of a red herring since it's not inspired in the same sense). Second, the empirical evidence is that highly intelligent people differ markedly in what they consider to be good art, and which art forms are better than others - the safe deduction from the evidence is that one form is not inherently superior to another. Third, Scripture gives no warrant for asserting the kind of statements johnmark is making (whereas it provides plenty of warrant for making many other absolute statements).

Since it cannot be proved logically that there is a heirarchy of art forms or that Shakespeare is literature's crowning glory, and since the empirical evidence is that there is anything but a consensus, and since God has not declared it so, I see no grounds whatsoever for some of these assertions other than personal subjective preference to which johnmark is absolutely entitled.

Having said all that, I do think that:

a) within a particular art form it is possible to formulate criteria of excellence against which particular works of art can be evaluated. Now people will disagree on the extent to which Shakespeare meets the criteria to a greater or lesser extent than Milton, but there seems to be some basis for saying that Shakespeare AND Milton are greater writers than Enid Blyton (and that Enid Blyton is a better children's author than Shakespeare or Milton I guess). I think this is something that arises out of consensus. Most Chinese - however intelligent - would not have an opinion on (or care about) the relative worth of Shakespeare or Milton, but they might well have similar criteria for evaluating the relative worth of great Chinese writers.

B) Related to these putative criteria, there is some bibilical warrant for evaluating the moral worth of a work of art: is it excellent (however one defines it)? Does it reflect truth? Is it exploitative? Does it endorse or encourage wrong thinking or wrong behaviour? etc.

I'd be interested to know what others think about these comments.

Johnmark wrote:

God is the same for everyone whether they recognize it or not. Art is similar. As we mimic God as creators, we are not drawing that mimicry from different sources. As we perceive created works, we are not using different faculties.

Art is not similar. God is an absolute, non-contingent, infinite and perfect being. Art is the entirely contingent and personal (subjective) expressions of a wide diversity of contingent, finite and fallen beings. It is a second-order contingency. The ultimate source of all our mimicry is God, yes, but that doesn't mean it's all the same because God is infinite and we are very much finite. I cannot understand all of God; I cannot reflect all of God; I cannot even reflect all of me in my art. All we do is produce the tiny reflections of complex beings which are reflections of an infinite being.

If Tony doesn’t respond well to Tolstoy, it isn’t because there’s something lacking in Tolstoy, but in Tony. That doesn’t mean I’m saying Tony is a fool.

Since Tolstoy was a finite, fallible, fallen human being, there's definitely something lacking in Tolstoy. Tolstoy's understanding of the Christian faith is decidedly sub-standard. Mine too - since I too an finite, fallible and fallen - but I can objectively assess that my theology is closer to historically orthodox Christian theology than Tolstoy's. His Christianity was badly tainted by rationalism; he rejected the notion of the resurrection of believers to new heavens and earth; he stressed Jesus's moral teaching but ignored what he said about his coming as judge. As for Shakespeare, I seriously doubt that he understood the gospel and his life was clearly not one of godliness (like I say, Milton trumps him every time :)). You are holding Tolstoy and Shakespeare up as being the pinnacles of literature - yet they are far from great men. You are not quite saying that I am a fool (though it subjectively feels like the implication is not too far away) - but both of these men were greater fools than I am, assessed on a biblical basis. Whose writing should be better then - theirs or mine? Or Jeffrey Overstreet's (who is almost certainly less of a fool than me)? All due respect to Jeffery, but they are undoubtedly greater writers in some ways but not in others: they are greater artists but not greater reflectors of God. How then, can they be extolled as the pinnacles of literature in any absolute sense?

Tim, thanks so much for your post bringing us back to the original question. I hope to find time to respond later - I've spent a bit too long on this other discussion. :)

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As for Shakespeare, I seriously doubt that he understood the gospel and his life was clearly not one of godliness

Since almost nothing is known about his life, I don't know what your basis is for this inference. Judging from the dates of his marriage and the birth of his first child, there likely was premarital sexual contact -- but concepts of betrothal and marriage in his day were quite different from the way we commonly understand those issues now. And, as a 16th-century Church of England man, he perhaps understood the gospel quite differently from the way evangelicals understand it today ... but some of the plays suggest he understood the gospel as well as any of his contemporaries.

On the moral criticism front, however (I'm speaking of moral criticism of the works, not the man), I think you are quite correct that Milton trumps Shakespeare. Harold Bloom has much to say about the moral rancid-ness of works like Measure for Measure and All's Well That Ends Well.

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All due respect to Jeffery, but they are undoubtedly greater writers in some ways but not in others:

Clearly. It all depends on what we're examining and assessing. Some are more skilled, some have more ambitious imaginations. Some have larger vocabularies. Some are better at efficiency and concentration, others invite us into wild and indulgent style that is a reward in itself. (The phantasmagoric imagination of Mervyn Peake gives us priceless ventures into gothic description and stark characterization, but it takes the man fifty pages to move the story one step forward.)

But the measure of a work of art includes aspects that are mysterious and unquantifiable. And thus, no absolute judgments about "the greatest work" can be made, except insofar as we refer to the "greatest" of our own experience, or as a collective experience.

Edited by Jeffrey Overstreet

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Since almost nothing is known about his life, I don't know what your basis is for this inference. Judging from the dates of his marriage and the birth of his first child, there likely was premarital sexual contact -- but concepts of betrothal and marriage in his day were quite different from the way we commonly understand those issues now.

Yes, maybe I'm being a little harsh on the guy in order to make my point. I didn't know him personally, and as you say, we don't know a great deal. Mind you, things were different to some extent, but not all that different. The documentary evidence is that his marriage to Anne Hathaway was arranged quickly - almost certainly because of Anne's pregancy and the scandal that was therefore brewing. There has been considerable speculation about his sexuality, partly on the basis of a large number of sonnets addressed to a man which read like love poetry. The evidence isn't conclusive though.

And, as a 16th-century Church of England man, he perhaps understood the gospel quite differently from the way evangelicals understand it today

The former is hardly evidence of his understanding what it means to have a relationship with God. It's not a question of his understanding according with a contemporary evangelical perspective, but that it is consistent with Scripture. Given the state of religion in Britain at that point in history, he is likely to have had a lot of religion and not much faith in his immediate world.

but some of the plays suggest he understood the gospel as well as any of his contemporaries.

Really? As I've just indicated, many of his contemporaries were also religious rather than Christian. But I'm not sure I can think off the top of my head of any plays which suggest any real understanding. A contrary position comes from The Catholic Encyclopedia:

The real difficulty against Simpson's thesis comes rather from the doubt whether Shakespeare was not infected with the atheism, which, as we know from the testimony of writers as opposite in spirit as Thomas Nashe and Father Persons, was rampant in the more cultured society of the Elizabethan age. Such a doubting or sceptical attitude of mind, as multitudes of examples prove in our own day, is by no means inconsistent with a true appreciation of the beauty of Catholicism, and even apart from this it would surely not be surprising that such a man as Shakespeare should think sympathetically and even tenderly of the creed in which his father and mother had been brought up, a creed to which they probably adhered at least in their hearts. The fact in any case remains that the number of Shakespearean utterances expressive of a fundamental doubt in the Divine economy of the world seems to go beyond the requirements of his dramatic purpose and these are constantly put into the mouths of characters with whom the poet is evidently in sympathy.
Edited by Tony Watkins

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The documentary evidence is that his marriage to Anne Hathaway was arranged quickly - almost certainly because of Anne's pregancy and the scandal that was therefore brewing.

WHAT documentary evidence? We're talking about two dates in the Stratford church register. This talk of scandal and quickly arranged marriage is pure inference.

Given the state of religion in Britain at that point in history, he is likely to have had a lot of religion and not much faith in his immediate world.

But that's a criticism of his society, not of him.

but some of the plays suggest he understood the gospel as well as any of his contemporaries.

Really? As I've just indicated, many of his contemporaries were also religious rather than Christian. But I'm not sure I can think off the top of my head of any plays which suggest any real understanding.

King Lear: Unconditional love, plus a ton of Biblical allusion.

Merchant of Venice: God's mercy; equality of mankind.

And this guy knew his Geneva Bible. It's quoted multitudes of times. Perhaps this doesn't add up to a "relationship with Jesus," but he knew his stuff.

The fact in any case remains that the number of Shakespearean utterances expressive of a fundamental doubt in the Divine economy of the world seems to go beyond the requirements of his dramatic purpose and these are constantly put into the mouths of characters with whom the poet is evidently in sympathy.

Talk about subjective!

Edited by mrmando

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Seriously off-topic folks...find or start a Shakespeare topic, pls.

Spinning it off to here ... you can move the relevant posts there if you like.

Return to topic: I am more an actor-focused filmgoer than director-focused. I like films with strong performances and depth of characterization, to pick the items on the original list that resonate most strongly with me. I guess a strong screenplay is a big part of this. Am willing to put up with mediocrity in a lot of the other items for the sake of these three. If I may generalize, I think this differentiates me from most of the rest of the crew here.

For example, I watched The Grapes of Wrath recently, and the first thing I'll tell you about it is that there are four or five absolutely top-notch monologues in it, and it's worth watching for those alone.

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Seriously off-topic folks...find or start a Shakespeare topic, pls.

Spinning it off to here ... you can move the relevant posts there if you like.

Sorry to get into the Shakespeare - a big digression off a discussion that was quite a digression from my original question!

Return to topic: I am more an actor-focused filmgoer than director-focused. I like films with strong performances and depth of characterization, to pick the items on the original list that resonate most strongly with me. I guess a strong screenplay is a big part of this. Am willing to put up with mediocrity in a lot of the other items for the sake of these three. If I may generalize, I think this differentiates me from most of the rest of the crew here.

Me too, perhaps. I deeply love other aspects of film, but it's mostly the screenplay that keeps me pondering long afterwards.

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Me too, perhaps. I deeply love other aspects of film, but it's mostly the screenplay that keeps me pondering long afterwards.

Occasionally you'll get an enjoyable performance in spite of a dismal screenplay (Val Kilmer in Tombstone; Uma Thurman in Batman Forever) or a great screenplay with performances that aren't necessarily the best (The Big Sleep, The Princess Bride). Good books don't guarantee good acting and vice versa, but they do seem to be related.

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Mr. Overstreet,

I have not said this or that thing is greatest (except relating to forms). I have said that no one is greater than Shakespeare or Tolstoy in their fields. That excludes no one else from being as great.

Muddy Waters once said to the guitarist of ZZ Top,

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I need to respond to mrmando separately.

I have spoken to hang gliders (or is that gliderers?) personally. It is primarily thrill seeking they are after which is why I referred to desire for ecstasy and adrenaline.

I watched one little boy on an ATV racing back and forth across a stretch of sand. How long do you think he can do that until it gets boring? That

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I have not said this or that thing is greatest (except relating to forms). I have said that no one is greater than Shakespeare or Tolstoy in their fields. That excludes no one else from being as great.
Please. How many times must I remind all that I never said Shakespeare was the greatest? Think of how much of your analysis on my opinions have been based on a complete misreading. This is very important, folks. I don’t mind the occasionally personal jab, but when my words are re-written and then attacked, it really is too much.

Are you sure you're not now misreading me? I implied that you held Shakespeare to be

literature's crowning glory

and I said

You are holding Tolstoy and Shakespeare up as being the pinnacles of literature

Aren't both of those entirely consistent with you insisting that 'no one is greater than Shakespeare or Tolstoy in their fields'? What you actually said in your early post was:

If I speak in absolutes, it’s because there are absolutes. You may not, for example, tell me that there is any figure in literature who is greater than Shakespeare. Or in prose fiction greater than Tolstoy. If you have a different opinion, you can’t be taken seriously. You are not intelligent. If that offends you, well, you have no wisdom.

I think to see that statement as implying that S and T are piccacles or crowning glories is entirely reasonable.

I also think you're splitting hairs on the semantics: If no one is greater than S or T, then they are the greatest - an honour which they may share with others. The word 'greatest' means, there are none better; it does not necessarily imply a unique status. Quibble about that if you like, but I think you reacting to at best a slight difference in meaning.

But the fundamental problem we have here remains the same: you are arguing passionately for an objectivity and absoluteness and lack of mystery in art, and for the unarguable rightness of your heirarchy of merit. But nobody else on the board seems to see it that way. You state baldly that we 'can’t be taken seriously' and 'are not intelligent' for suggesting that it is possible to see things in a different way - specifically with respect to S and T, but by implication from other things you've written with respect to your entire argument. I don't think we're getting anywhere, though it has been very thought provoking. I'm afraid I don't have the time to maintain this level of discussion.

Besides which, this discussion has taken over a topic on the experience of film, not the relative merits of film versus other media. I've played a full part in this digression but I suggest that we return to the main question - which I can make time to discuss as it is extremely relevant to me - and that anyone who wants to carry on interacting with johnmark moves the discussion to a new thread (in general arts, I guess).

Thanks johnmark and others for all the contributions - it's only as radically different ideas are batted around that we sort out our thinking sometimes.

Back to the experience of film please?

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I need to respond to mrmando separately.

Aw, shucks ... ::blush::
I have spoken to hang gliders (or is that gliderers?) personally. It is primarily thrill seeking they are after which is why I referred to desire for ecstasy and adrenaline.

Why equate thrill-seeking with wanting to "touch the real," though? Sometimes a thrill is just a thrill.

Would you consider Jesus a more real human being than either you or I? I do. And I think that a genuinely sincere, intelligent, and honest man can
Edited by mrmando

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I have been informed that my tone has been, on one occasion, uncharitable. I owe Mr. Chattaway an apology for insisting that he deliberately misread my posts. That was unfair of me. I believe he has misread them, but it is unkind to say it was intentional.

****

Another thing to consider, though, is what if I

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An artist creates a work with a clear intention of what he wants to effect in another.

I have lost track of how many artists I have interviewed who have talked on and on about how a finished work resulted from merely playing around, or how it went in a different direction than they originally intended, how it "took on a life of its own," and how the effect it has had on its audience was a surprise and had nothing to do with what they intended.

And one of my favorite things to see: When the audience thanks the artist for what it has done in their lives, and they sit there blinking in astonishment because they never had any idea that the work would convey that... but it did, and it does, and now they see it too.

When an artist is at work, he runs the risk of collaboration with forces beyond himself.

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I have been informed that my tone has been, on one occasion, uncharitable.

Replace "one" with "every" and you'll just about have it right.

Another thing to consider, though, is what if I
Edited by mrmando

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It's always a shame when only one or two elements are at full potential. There are films that are able to be considered good even if the script isn't brilliant, if the acting, say, or the cinematography are exceptional, but we are all on a search for greatness.

Cinematic greatness seems to be that convergence of excellence in writing, acting, filming, sound recording, editing, costuming, lighting, etc. Films are not generally the work of a single artist, and when a team of artists gets it right together, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

I think you're right. The search for greatness is key, which is why a by-the-numbers film like The Wedding Planner is so disappointing. It's technically OK, but doesn't feel particularly like it's striving for greatness at any point. (Perhaps I'm being too hard on it - it's a long time since I watched it and I've struggled to remember all the disappointing films I've seen. This was the first turkey which stuck its head up in my brain.)

Great performances or photography rarely, in my view, make up for a lousy script. But someone in another thread (Jeffrey I think) raised the question of, if the screenplay is rubbish, is it the screenwriter's fault? It's hard to say when scripts often go through so many iterations. I guess a poor script in an indy is more likely to be the responsibility of a single screenwriter, but a studio picture may have taken it away from the original writers and allowed a team of script consultants or monkeys (depending on the budget) to mangle it - death by a thousand revisions. In which case it's the producer and probably director too who are to blame. It must be hard for a director and cast to work well with poor material, though I'm sure if I thought for a while I could come up with some examples of times when a film has been redeemed from this situation.

And lets not forget the crucial role of the editor who can wreck or redeem a film. I also think I'd downplayed the role of the sound mixer until relatively recently when I was reading some of Walter Murch's writing, or maybe an interview. He commented on the occasional importance of sound that doesn't obviously belong in the scene and gave the example of adding the screech of a subway train wheel when Michael Corleone is preparing to do his first killing in Godfather II. We hadn't seen any elevated tracks outside the restaurant, but it was believable that they would be in the vicinity. The screech was in a sense non-diegetic, yet it was not random, and it powerfully conveyed the state of his emotions. Brilliant.

I'm reminded of an old drum instructor who taught that rhythm was more important to music than the musical scale ("Without rhythm, the notes are just noises.") Well, I'm pretty sure you can't make music without both.

You can, but it's much harder. Try Steve Reich's Clapping Music.

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Tony,

By using Shakespeare and Tolstoy as examples, I took what was readily at hand. I might just as easily said Dante and Dostoevsky, two others who can be classed in the category of best in their fields along with Homer. I did not imply the first two were the pinnacle of art, but were at the pinnacle of art.

mrmando's scorn for classical reasoning and thought is surprising. I guess we ought to apply his prejudice against all thought prior to the last century including Christ's and his antiquated notions about morality, truth and goodness. Many Christians do say Jesus believed things which are old hat.

The fact that Plato and Socrates are old, does not make them wrong or invalidate a single thing they said or wrote. As Emerson said,

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mrmando's scorn for classical reasoning and thought is surprising. I guess we ought to apply his prejudice against all thought prior to the last century including Christ's and his antiquated notions about morality, truth and goodness. Many Christians do say Jesus believed things which are old hat.

I will not feed the troll. I will not feed the troll. I will not feed the troll. I will not feed the troll. I will not feed the troll. I will not feed the troll. I will not feed the troll. I will not feed the troll. I will not feed the troll. I will not feed the troll. I will not feed the troll. I will not feed the troll. I will not feed the troll. I will not feed the troll. I will not feed the troll. I will not feed the troll. I will not feed the troll. I will not feed the troll. I will not feed the troll. I will not feed the troll. I will not feed the troll. I will not feed the troll. I will not feed the troll. I will not feed the troll. I will not feed the troll. I will not feed the troll. I will not feed the troll. I will not feed the troll. I will not feed the troll. I will not feed the troll...

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Hi Johnmark,

Another thing to consider, though, is what if I

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I dispute the notion that there are any mysteries regarding art since I don’t admit many mysteries regarding God, and art flows from God.

So you understand God? I think that is where many of us on this board would disagree with you.

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johnmark wrote:

: You have engaged in much misreading. It is deliberate. You are miffed.

Ha! I explicitly said that I was more amused by you than offended (miffed) by you, but I guess you missed that bit. Meanwhile, thanks for retracting (I think) your assumption about how I was "deliberately" misreading you.

: I have already explained why the Lord' Prayer is better than Cole Porter's Night and Day.

No you have not. I mean, even after we amend your claim to allow for the fact that you actually contrasted 'Night and Day' with Psalm 23 (rather than the Lord's Prayer), you still have NOT explained why Psalm 23 is automatically "better" than 'Night and Day', beyond some dogmatic assertion about "the Real". As Tony said, each of those artifacts (one a poem, the other a song) is better at accomplishing different things.

: I'm sorry if you haven't experienced the degree of grace which commonly befalls individuals on

: auspicious occasions.

I'm sorry you think everyone experiences things the same way.

: If you have not had the sublime misery of personally meeting the risen Lord . . .

And you HAVE? An actual, honest-to-goodness, apparition of the resurrected Jesus? Tell us more! (And I note, BTW, that Matthew's gospel tells us that even those who personally encountered the risen Jesus had varying reactions to his apparition. So people don't even experience THAT the same way.)

: You certainly MAY say that someone is greater than Shakespeare, but you can't be expected to be

: taken seriously.

Well, that depends on who I'm talking to, doesn't it? Quite a few people would be receptive to that sort of claim, albeit for different reasons (and depending on WHO I said was greater than Shakespeare, and WHY).

: There are "no absolutes in this area"? Since you give no example, there is no truth in that statement

: since it still contradicts itself. Give an example of what area you mean.

I thought the particular area that we were talking about was art (in general) and film (in particular). Surely we haven't wandered so far off-topic that we've lost track of that already!

And how on earth does a statement "contradict itself" simply because it doesn't give a "for instance"?

: If I was to argue that Shakespeare is the greatest, though, I would point out that after the Bible,

: the most books in the world have been written about him and his work. This is telling.

Might be, might not be. Maybe a greater artist came along more recently, and we just haven't had time to write as many books about him (or her).

Incidentally, I am reminded of how someone -- Robert Graves, I think -- once remarked that the amazing thing about Shakespeare was that he really was very good, DESPITE the number of people who said he was very good! So you see, numbers aren't everything, even for "serious" people.

: An artist creates a work with a clear intention of what he wants to effect in another.

Some artists do, but not all of them, and not always.

: Okay, back to film vs. theater (human scale and presence). Is there anyone here who would rather

: watch a movie of Jesus walking around Galilee for an hour in which nothing was said or happened,

: or would instead prefer to be walking around with him even though he didn

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Mr. Kolb,

Emotional impact you describe seems to me to occur when something in a film (or work of art) strikes you as true, something you know viscerally to be true about what you know about life and being. Thus, depending on the number of times and strength of that feeling in visceral response, you create a hierarchy of a personal film canon.

Nothing wrong with that, of course, and that

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johnmark wrote:

: Dogmatic assertion of the real?

Yup. And throwing a bunch of disconnected quotes into the discussion doesn't explain your argument at all. As always, the burden of proof is on the one who makes the assertion, which in this case would be you. No one is obliged to believe your assertions simply on your say-so; therefore you must try to persuade us, try to convince us.

: The risen Lord? I could tell you a great deal more, including the great number of ways people have

: experienced his direct manifestation, but it's clear that you are seeking to mock.

There you go, making assumptions about my motives again. Believe it or not, I am genuinely fascinated when people say they have encountered heavenly beings; my Oma is such a person (she saw an angel, not Jesus), and so is my favorite singer-songwriter Terry Scott Taylor (ditto), and I have always been fascinated by a book on this phenomenon written by philosopher Phillip Wiebe (who I interviewed here).

But note what I said before: Even the gospels themselves tell us that people who behold the risen Christ will have different reactions to him. As Matthew 28:17 says, "When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted."

So I reject any assertion to the effect that certain experiences will affect everyone the same way. Life ain't like that.

: Matthew's gospel is good, but it's not infallible.

So NOBODY doubted, and the author/redactor of Matthew ADDED a claim to the effect that some people did doubt? Do you have any sort of theory as to why he might have done that?

: If it was your ambition, though, to meet Jesus, you will probably want to increase your suffering

: to extreme and unbearable conditions (over a prolonged period of time). That seems to be one of

: the rules these days. Or you could start by fasting from sex. Your choice.

Nah, I can wait 'til I'm dead. It's bad enough that I've got lots of fasting to get used to anyway -- from food and sex, etc. -- now that I've converted to Orthodoxy. :)

: You mean now that: there are no absolutes in the area of art? Yet, there are plenty of absolutes in

: the area of art as I have already mentioned.

The problem is, you need to go beyond "mentioning" your assertions. You need to build persuasive arguments in favour of your assertions.

: And your new statement contradicts itself as an absolute trying to insist on relativity.

No, I have already explained why you are wrong on that point. Engage with us, please. Instead of merely repeating yourself, point out where our arguments are wrong, and offer an argument or two of your own.

: I wrote that you might be called upon to tell your story to the people of God before the throne.

: Not to God at the throne. I know it's easy to read quickly and not really catch the words right, but

: in this back and forth it has some importance.

Not if it doesn't make a difference to the point at hand, it doesn't. A difference that makes no difference is no difference.

: We are determined at some point to have one Truth, one Myth, one Seeing, and one Art.

Sounds like dullsville to me. What ever happened to Three Persons?

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At the risk of getting drawn back into a debate which I said I was leaving because I think it has got off-topic, I want to make a couple of quick comments. I shall probably not engage further on any of my points - not because I'm afraid of discussion on them, but I just don't have the time to keep going back and forth on it, and I don't want this thread to keep digressing. Anyway, now I'm a hypocrite on that score because I am going to go ahead and make my digressive comments because there are some important theological issues here...

one must make choices based on an informed conscience. It just so happens that if your conscience is properly informed, you will notice the wisdom and truth of what the Church teaches in every matter of faith and morals

I agree with this - mostly. It is a circular argument, though: How do I know what is a 'properly informed conscience'? It will recognise the 'wisdom and truth of what the Church teaches'. How do I recognise the wisdom and truth? By having a properly informed conscience. It is probably an inevitably circular thing - substitue 'God' for Church and there is no higher authority to appeal to. This is the place at which I do disagree, though. I believe that Scripture is a higher authority than the Church. Do I understand that you are a Roman Catholic? No big surprise that one differently as this is the basis of all the Reformation-based churches.

Matthew’s gospel is good, but it’s not infallible.

I disagree utterly at this point. I am firmly convinced that Scripture is God-breathed (2 Tim 3:16). The promise that the Holy Spirit will 'teach you everything and will remind you of everything I myself have told you' (John 14:26) seems to be a specific promise to the apostles who had the responsibility to pass that teaching on to the early church, partly through Scripture. 2 Peter 1:21 is very pertinent: 'prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.' There's an awful lot to say about this but I don't want to spark a major theological discussion - it's not what this forum is about, never mind this particular thread.

In any event, in your visceral response to a film, you have to do something intellectual with it. Creating your canon has something to do with it. You can leave it at that, or you can take it further in a number of ways. What was it about or in me that made me respond so strongly? What does this have to do with God, with my prayer life, does it fit my world view or not? What is it I am knowing here? And so on.

I agree again.

God, Reason wants us to know ...

I don't like the equating of God with Reason. God is the ultimately rational being, and all true reason is consistent with him (all truth is God's truth), but to make Reason an interchangable term with God opens the door to me assuming that human reason can lead me into all truth - that's the Spirit's role because some truth is para-rational (it goes beyond rationality since Truth is ultimately a person). But just as you rightly point out that our feelings can be wrong, so can our reason. We can get our logic wrong because we don't realise our premises are invalid. God alone has knowledge of all valid premises.

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