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Patericul (Badilita)

Titlu integral:  Patericul sau apoftegmele părinților din pustiu. Colecția alfabetică. Ediție integrală
Traducere după Patrologia graeca 65, coll. 71-440 (ed. Cotelier)
Autor: colectiv
Traducător: Cristian Bădiliță
Oraș: Iași
Editura: Polirom
Anul apariţiei: 2005 (ediția folosită)
ISBN: 973-681-952-3
Preț: 30 RON

Recenzie de Teofil Stanciu

Am remarcat în ultimii ani că sunt unele lucruri la care nu mai am receptivitate, care nu mă mai preocupă. Ba chiar o anumită rigiditate în privinţa unor subiecte care mi s-au clarificat. Presupunerea mea e că, în timp, odată cu experiența, mintea (și personalitatea) își stabilește niște automatisme și, totodată, niște scheme ce riscă să devină inflexibile.

Și atunci se ridică firesc întrebarea: cum să-ți păstrezi sprinteneala minții? Care sprinteneală nu presupune să iei mereu toate lucrurile de la capăt, ci să nu pierzi din vedere lucrurile esențiale, să rămâi atent la ceea ce trebuie, să nu devii anchilozat și îngust.

Mi se pare că lecturile reprezintă un antidot la anchilozare, iar Patericul este unul dintre cele mai eficace stimulente. Patericul (egiptean) conține „apoftegmele” – adică maximele, sentințele, cugetările – monahilor care au locuit în chiliile din Sketis, Nitria și de la Chilii în jurul anului 400 AD.

Părinții pustiei fac figură de ciudați și extremiști, ori de câte ori vine vorba despre ei. De fapt, am întâlnit destui oameni care, atunci când fac referire la călugări înțeleg aproape exclusiv extremism.

Monahii sunt, vezi bine, niște inși care au fugit din lume, care s-au însingurat, care nu mai voiau să aibă contact cu alți oamenii, care au locuit pe stâlpi (doar unul e celebru pentru asta și, oricum, nu mulți ar fi reușit performanța), care nu se spălau (au fost câțiva, dar nici în epocă nu era la mare trecere igiena), care se flagelau (mai rar, dar erau și din ăștia).

Se pierde însă din vedere un lucru esențial pentru această poveste: de ce făceau ei tot ce făceau? Întrebarea e absolut necesară din cel puțin două motive. Mai întâi, pentru că motivația s-ar putea să pună într-o altă lumină faptele. Iar pe urmă, pentru că răspunsul la această întrebare ne-ar putea feri de ispita de a-i judeca.

Trebuie spus că, dacă respectivii călugări nu ar fi avut contact cu alți oameni, atunci n-am avea nicio informație despre ei. Deci mitul izolării nu prea stă în picioare. E adevărat că se fereau cât puteau de lume, dar din pricini foarte precise. Nu insist cu detalii.

Aceste „centre monahale”, cum le-am spune noi azi, aveau biserici unde călugării se întâlneau săptâmânal. Iar sihaștrii, oricât de mizantropi, aveau fie îndrumători, fie ucenici sau și una și alta. De fapt, n-ar fi putut ajunge să aibă discipoli dacă nu și-ar fi îndeplinit și ei stagiul de ucenicie. (mai mult…)

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Science and Theology

Titlu: Science and Theology. An introduction
Autor: John Polkinghorne
Editura: Fortress Press
Anul apariţiei: 1998
ISBN: 0-8006-3153-6
Preț: 25$

Recenzie de Valentin Teodorescu

Introduction

In his book Christian Theology: An Introduction, Alister McGrath affirmed that there are three main approaches to the relation between Christian theology and natural sciences today: one that affirms the continuity between science and theology (the Christian faith should be reinterpreted in terms consistent with the accepted wisdom of the age), a second one that affirms the distinctiveness of theology and science, and a third one that affirms the opposition between theology and science [1].

The position of John Polkinghorne, whose ideas I will try to evaluate in this essay, seems to be the second one (theology and science are distinct, each of them having its own sphere of competence); but he also considers that they can mutually interact, to the benefit of both.

Polknighome himself, in Science and Theology, the book to which I will especially refer, calls the first position „assimilation” the second position „consonance” considering himself a consonantist.[2]

In the present essay, I intend to show, using some examples from his book, that generally he achieved his goal: the ‘intermarriage of scientific and theological insight’ to which he refers is cogent and elegant, and any open-minded reader will find it extremely compelling.

However, in my opinion (which I admit that is corrigible), there are some cases when his proposed solution may not be in perfect agreement with what the Scripture says, or when, at least from my point of view, the supposed agreement is debatable.

My essay is divided in two parts. The first part refers to the insights that theology offers to science, and connected with that, to the possibility of a natural theology. The second part refers to the insights that science offers to theology: on the one hand to the way in which some scientific theories such as quantum mechanics, quantum cosmology and chaos theory may give insights to biblical doctrines such as Creation, Fall and God’s Attributes; on the other hand to the way in which the scientific epistemology (especially) may give insights to the doctrine of Christ. (mai mult…)

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Reimaginarea Bisericii

Titlu: Reimaginarea Bisericii
Titlul original: Reimagining Church
Autor: Frank Viola
Traducător: Daniel Marino
Editura: Kerigma
Anul apariţiei: 2011
ISBN: 978-973-8960-42-8
Preț: 32 RON

Recenzie de Teofil Stanciu

Înainte să citiți această recenzie, e bine să vă amintiți spusa care zice că „orice punct de vedere e un punct de orbire” (eu am citit-o la Wurmbrand, dar nu știu dacă-i aparține). Și o puteți aplica drept filtru și la ce scriu eu, și la cartea lui Frank Viola.

Mărturisesc că n-am citit cartea dintr-o dorință fierbinte de a descoperi soluții revoluționare (așa cum sunt prezentate pe copertă) pentru viața bisericii, deoarece nu prea cred în revoluții. Am citit-o mai degrabă cu curiozitatea celui care vrea să afle ce are de spus un teoretician (sau să-i spunem totuși teolog?) al bisericilor de casă.

Fenomenul bisericilor de casă (sau din case) mi-e cunoscut din lectura cărții Râuri de apă vie, de Fratele Yun. În China, aceste biserici sunt o consecință a conjuncturii politice nefavorabile. Nu mi-e foarte limpede dacă modelul s-ar perpetua și în cazul în care autoritățile guvernamentale și zonale ar permite manifestarea liberă a tuturor confesiunilor religioase.

Frank Viola susține însă că acest model este obligatoriu pentru întreaga Biserică creștină, fiind, de fapt, tiparul intenționat de Dumnezeu de la bun început. Afirmația e cel puțin cutezătoare, dar vom reveni asupra ei.

Nu mi-am propus să fac o evaluare a modelului pe care-l propune Viola, ci observațiile mele vor viza mai degrabă firul logic și metodologic al cărții ca atare.

Cu ce pornim la drum?

Una dintre marile calități ale cărții e aceea că evită paradigma managerială și filosofia profitului sau a succesului măsurabil care încep să fie tot mai prezente și în bisericile românești.

Din acest punct de vedere, autorul este în răspăr cu moda vremii, care măsoară adesea calitatea unei biserici după date cuantificabile: creșterea numărului de membri, dimensiunea clădirii, calitatea artistică/tehnică a programelor, formațiile cât mai numeroase și mai bine pregătite la închinarea publică etc.

Demersul lui Frank Viola vizează două ține principale: ierarhia bisericilor instituționale și manifestările cu caracter ritualic, liturgic, organizat. La baza întreprinderii sale stă convingerea că, deși

o adunare poate abandona tradiția apostolică de dragul formelor construite de ei înșiși, și totuși să primească binecuvântarea lui Dumnezeu,… binecuvântarea lui Dumnezeu nu este tot una cu aprobarea Sa” (p. 211, s.a.). Care aprobare este de rang superior binecuvântării.

Unul dintre punctele de plecare ale cărții e acela că biserica e o entitate organică. De unde aflăm asta? Din faptul că toate (n-am verificat, dar așa susține Viola) imaginile pe care le folosește Noul Testament pentru a descrie biserica „sunt entități vii” (turmă, trup, viță etc). Iar de vreme ce toate entitățile vii au un ADN, rezultă că și biserica are un ADN.

Mi se pare unul dintre punctele slabe ale argumentației și nici măcar nu cred că era necesar în discuție. Plus că ideea de ADN permite să vorbim despre variația speciei, evoluția intraspecifică etc. Prefer să nu iau în seamă foarte mult această premisă decât să o cataloghez ca un rateu metodologic și argumentativ.

Accept ca ipoteză de lucru afirmația că biserica e destinată a fi organism, nu o structură instituțională. Autorul are nevoie de această idee pentru a-și susține teologia, noi, ca cititori, avem nevoie de ea pentru a înțelege din ce punct de vedere suntem invitați să privim toate problemele abordate.

Mai rămân însă la acest punct de pornire doar pentru a-mi exprima nedumerirea față de o afirmație precum aceasta:

Când un grup de creștini își formează ADN-ul spiritual, ei se adună într-un mod care este conform cu ADN-ul Dumnezeului triunic” (p. 32).

Prefer să consider că avem de-a face cu o analogie dusă, în mod nefericit, prea departe decât să cred că un muritor, oricât de luminat ar fi, are pretenția că a descoperit ADN-ul Sfintei Treimi sau că, în mod abuziv, și-a impus modelul teologic inclusiv asupra relațiilor trinitare, clamând necesitatea unui ADN.

Recunosc că o asemenea introducere în subiect a fost de natură să mă descumpănească și să mă intrige. Însă mi-am impus să nu abandonez lectura.

Trebuie spus însă că autorul ne previne că vom fi reticenți sau chiar împotrivitori la ceea urmează să citim, grație educației și mentalității noastre care ne-au impus un anumit model și anumite modalități de percepție în privința Bisericii.

Subiecte fierbinți (mai mult…)

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Articol de Valentin Teodorescu

 1. Lewis’ view of the afterlife, especially in the books The problem of pain and The Great Divorce

 

C.S.Lewis’ book The Great Divorce has a title which reflects very well his view about Heaven and Hell. Between Heaven and Hell there is ‘a great divorce’. ‘If we insist on keeping Hell (or even Earth) we shall not see Heaven: if we accept Heaven we shall not be able to retain even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell.’[1] Moreover, from an afterlife point of view, not only Heaven, but even Earth and eventually Purgatory, will be Heaven for those who are saved, and vice-versa, not only Hell, but even Earth will be Hell for those who are lost[2]. What is the rationale for such an extreme separation?

The motive of such a strong ‘divorce’ is the way these two groups chose. The reality of our human freedom and responsibility stays beyond this separation. Our choices on this earth matter more then we imagine. Lewis rejects the idea that there is a second chance for the people who chose on this world wrong. He considers that ‘if a million chances were likely to do good, they would be given. God, in His divine omniscience is like a master who knows, when boys and parents do not, that it is really useless to send a boy in for certain examination again’[3]. The conception of ‘second chance’ is not to be confused for Lewis with that or Purgatory, for there souls are already saved.

The Hell, in C.S. Lewis’ description is a place inhabited by the people who loved themselves more than anything else. These are the people to whom God told in the end: ‘Thy will be done’. What is very interesting and new for me in Lewis’ description of Hell is the fact that ‘in a sense, the doors of Hell are locked on inside, and the people there enjoy forever the horrible freedom they demanded, and therefore are self-enslaved’[4] That seems to me puzzling at first sight, because in the New Testament, in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, the damned there wish to come out of Hell. However, Lewis agrees with this biblical image. Probably in a sense, in his view, all the damned ghosts want to come out from that place, to be happy, but they certainly do not will even the first preliminary stages of that self abandonment through which alone the soul can reach any good: ‘better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven’[5].

This attitude of self- centeredness is common to almost all the damned personages from The Great Divorce. Whenever they have to choose between loving themselves and loving the others, they prefer themselves, even if that means their returning to Hell. Because they are so selfish, they hate the others , and for that reason the Hell is a place where people live separately: they cannot support each other. In that sense, Sartre’s well-known statement „L’Enfer c’est !’autre”, is very real here. The only torture of the people in Hell is their selfishness manifested in each one’s specific sins. In the sense, the wrong use of freedom , the sin, devours the people who submit to it. In the end they are not even persons; rather they become finally un-persons, un-men (as the grumbler lady becomes in the end only a grumble).

On the other side, Heaven is the opposite of Hell. If the people in Hell tend to become non-persons, tend to be less and less themselves, on the contrary, in Heaven people become more and more themselves. The blessed, forever submitting to obedience, become through eternity, more and more free. Their choice was to tell God: ‘Thy will be done’. They loved God more than they loved themselves. Somehow the law of heaven is the law of abandon: he that loses his soul will save it. Hence it is truly said of Heaven that ‘in heaven there is no ownership’. To its fellow-creatures, each soul, we suppose, will be eternally engaged in giving away to all the rest that which it receives. There will be in the end a kind of eternal holy game, in which every player must by all means touch the ball and then immediately pass it[6].

There will be, as in the end of the novel Perelandra, an Eternal Dance, an eternal and happy and perfect union between distincts, on the model of Holy Trinity (and together with the Holy Trinity). In opposition with Hell, which is a place of shadows, more unreal than Earth, the Heaven will be the place of the full reality. We will be there more real than we ever dreamed, in the presence of the Triune God, the perfect Reality. It will be there the beginning of the Great Story, the Morning, the end of our dream here on Earth[7].

I totally agree with C.S. Lewis vision of the afterlife. I find that it helped me to solve some of my previous difficulties very well. My only reserve regards his belief in Purgatory. I doubt that there will be such a place, because I consider that if a person really believes in Christ, then that should be demonstrated in his daily life. I doubt that in Heaven will be ‘believers’ who lived on earth in ‘joyful’ sinning. If they lived on earth in sin and were believers, then probably they suffered a lot because of that (not necessary more than the more ‘holy’ believers, but enough as to not consider that their life on earth was happy and to crave for Heaven). And maybe the fact that probably even in Heaven will be grades of reward can be helpful when we think at this problem. (mai mult…)

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Titlu original: The Language of God – A Scientist Evidence for Belief
Autor: Francis S. Collins
Traducător: –
Editura: Free Press
Anul apariţiei: 2006
ISBN: 0-7432-8639-1
Preț: 10 $

   

 Recenzie de Valentin Teodorescu

– Primele două părți ale recenziei pot fi citite aici și aici

If in the area of the transitional fossils and the evolutionary mechanism dr. Collins does not seem (to us) very convincing – and some of his critics explain that evaluation by his eventual lack of close familiarity with the critical literature in this direction (due to the fact that this is not his area of specialty) -, what can we say about his arguments coming from his area of expertise, the Human Genome?

Here his arguments seem to be more powerful indeed: for example, he argues that the existence of some repetitive elements – which originated, in his opinion, in some “jumping genes”, and which could be found in the same places in the mouse’ and human’ genome – is a proof of a common ancestor between humans and mice. He affirms that, although some of these kinds of elements might be functional – and not Junk DNA sequences –, this cannot be the case with the aforementioned example, because there are, in the case of the mouse and the humans, some repetitive elements which became one-legged – losing a part of their AND sequence, and, as result, losing any possibility of functioning. In many cases, observes Collins, these one-legged elements are found in parallel positions in human and mouse genome. This seems to be a proof of their common descent, because this process can happen only during the migration of a jumping gene – when the respective process cripples this gene.

Another argument refers to some pseudogene cases (gene with one or more defects which make their original information useless). For example, the caspase-12 gene of the chimpanzee and mouse functions perfectly, but that of the humans does not: why would God insert a non-functional gene right in this place?

And last but not least, the difference between the 23 chromosomes pears of the humans and the 24 chromosomes pears of the chimpanzee seems to be the result of a fusion between two chromosomes of medium size of the chimpanzee, 2A and 2B, which resulted in the chromosome 2 of the human. The fact that those sequences are found exactly where the theory of evolution has predicted seems to confirm the idea of a Common Ancestor.

How could we answer to these real and serious challenges to the Creationist model – which clearly would suggest (at least) the truth of the “Common Ancestor” hypothesis? (mai mult…)

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Titlu original: The Language of God – A Scientist Evidence for Belief
Autor: Francis S. Collins
Traducător: –
Editura: Free Press
Anul apariţiei: 2006
ISBN: 0-7432-8639-1
Preț: 10 $

   

 Recenzie de Valentin Teodorescu

Partea întâi și a treia pot fi citite aici și aici.

For example, although he admits that the Cambrian explosion might be used as an argument for a supernatural intervention, he immediately rejects it as representing an unconvincing appeal to the “God of the gaps” fallacy, and suggests – against Stephen Gould’s skepticism -, that this explosion of life might represent nothing more than a change in Earth’s condition which allowed the fossilization of a great number of species. He neglects here the fact that, for example, Precambrian strata show incredibly preserved microscopic fossils of sponge embryos (which are small and soft-bodied), and that in the Precambrian records the scientists found – beyond the old microbes which appeared more than 580 million years ago -, also the Vendian strata (approx 570 million years ago), which, at best, might contain only a very small fraction of the many new phyla that appear in Cambrian. The idea is that the Precambrian strata (and other fossil strata too) are not poorly sampled (as some evolutionists would like to believe), but rather they are truly representative of the history of life.[1]

How about the other fossil records? Collins considers that – in spite of the many unsolved enigmas -, there are good evidences that we already have the essential transition links between aquatic life and land dwelling amphibians, between reptiles and birds, between reptile and mammals, and between terrestrial mammals and whales.[2] But how convincing are these supposed transitions?

 For a long time it was said that between aquatic life and amphibians there are no true transitional fossils: the land dwelling amphibians appear suddenly in the fossil record. More recently paleontologists have found fossils that seem to show a connection between fish and tetrapods – in particular the structure of the front fins of some bony fish and the forelimbs of an early tetrapod. But even if we might admit this connection as possible, the common ancestry of all tetrapods is not yet evident: since the first amphibian fossils appear at the same time – but yet they are separated by large distances (Greenland, South America, Australia, Russia), and since – moreover -, it seems to exist an incongruence between their molecular data[3]  it would appear that the same transition has taken place simultaneously in multiple locations, a conclusion many scientists would find very improbable.[4]

How about the reptiles and birds transition? The evolutionists say that Archaeopterix is the missing link between reptiles and birds, because it has a toothed jaw like a reptile and true feathers like a modern bird. But the problem is that Archaeopterix was a true bird (and birds with toothed jaw were found also in later strata), and her supposed bird-like Dinosaur ancestors were million generations younger than her.[5] (mai mult…)

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Titlu original: The Language of God – A Scientist Evidence for Belief
Autor: Francis S. Collins
Traducător: –
Editura: Free Press
Anul apariţiei: 2006
ISBN: 0-7432-8639-1
Preț: 10 $

   

 Recenzie de Valentin Teodorescu

Francis Collins is one of the greatest scientists of our times. As specialist in medical genetics at Michigan University, he contributed to the discovery of the genetic errors that lead to the apparition of cystic fibrosis, of neurofibromatosis, and of Huntington’s disease. In addition to that, as director of Human Genome Project, he had the great merit of leading the team which – for the first time in world history – mapped the Human Genome.  And even more interesting (for the Christian community), is the fact he also is an engaged evangelical Christian, a Christian who believes that between science and faith there is no contradiction. On the contrary, between them is harmony; we need both of them: we need to know how to integrate them if we hope to build a reasonable and satisfying worldview.

So, what is Collins’ motivation for writing another book – The Language of God – having as its subject the much debated relation between science and religion? Are not enough books written on this topic?  Surely there are. But – we guess – Collins is concerned that in this respect there is – in the public opinion – a false image of the science-religion relationship: the idea that between these two domains is an opposition: this motivates him of writing his book.

 On the one side, we have the new atheism perspective (represented by people like Richard Dawkins), which suggests that religion is the enemy of science – that a honest and intelligent person cannot accept neo-darwinism and embrace in the same time Christian faith.

 On the other side, we have the Young Earth Creationism position (represented by people like Henry Morris), which – in Collins’ perspective – suggests the opposite idea: that science is an enemy for religion (although the YEC proponents would deny such an affirmation, Collins still considers that, once they have refused to accept evolutionary theory as true, they have refused in fact the truth of science – because neo-darwinism is, for Collins, real science). In contrast with these two opposite (and extreme) views, Collins suggests that there is a third way, a way which successfully reconciles neo-darwinian evolution with Christian faith – a view which affirms a full reconciliation between science and religion.

But is this reconciling perspective plausible? – one might ask. What we will try in this review is to weight Collins’ arguments in this respect.

Before starting our analysis, it is important to observe that, in many respects, Collins is extremely qualified to write such a book. First of all, he speaks with the authority of a great scholar: this fact is by itself a strong argument for his position. What better support for the harmony between science and religion than a scholar who fully (and knowledgeable) embraces both domains? And secondly, he brings some arguments from an area which few other people would know better than him: the human genome. This should be, by itself, a motif of humility for us, as reviewers: any critical argument brought by us to this book needs to be backed by serious data and bibliography – if it is to have any trace of plausibility.

I would like, in the beginning, to start by appreciating many of Collins’ arguments for his case. If one would refer only to his ethical-theological arguments, they are intelligently and elegantly formulated; in many respects he uses in treating these matters ideas from serious Christian thinkers as C.S. Lewis (his most admired spiritual mentor), Saint Augustine, John Polkinghorne, Ian Barbour, Allister McGrath, etc. These kinds of arguments have even greater power as he combines – when stating them – reason with passion: that is because they played a key role in his conversion; as a result, he is “experientially” attached to them (not just intellectually).  (Collins started, as C.S. Lewis, Allister McGrath and others did before him, with being an atheist; and finished as they also did, by becoming a Christian – after the encounter with the moral argument and with the fascinating figure of Christ). (mai mult…)

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