Top 3 on Tuesday: Experimental Theology

Another name for this post could be, “In Which I Kill Two Birds With One Stone.”

See, I have been struggling with two conundrums.  One is that I absolutely love these weekly round-ups that several of my favorite bloggers do, where they give links to all the interesting articles they have read that week.  I always enjoy those posts and have discovered several new blogs that way.  Furthermore, I am forever reading wonderful posts and articles that I eagerly desire to share with you, dear reader.  My desire to share my fabulous finds usually leads me to ponder doing my own weekly round-up, where I give you links to all the fascinating words I have read in the past week.  Here’s the problem with that, though:  I only read about fifteen blogs.  Now, don’t get me wrong:  they are all brilliant.  But any weekly round-up I do will feature those same fifteen blogs, and, after about the second week, I would assume that would get pretty lame.

Here is my second conundrum.  I love my fifteen (or so) wonderful blogs, and I have often considered putting links to them on a sidebar on this blog.  Whenever I start thinking about it, though, I chicken out, mainly because some of the blogs I love are a little…crazy.  And controversial.  Let’s just say that I definitely don’t agree with everything in them.  And to me, putting a blog on a sidebar denotes full acceptance of everything written on that blog.  (On one level, I do know that the sidebar doesn’t actually mean that, but on another level…I still think it kind of does.)  So thus far, I have no list of brilliant blogs on my sidebar.

Both of these issues vex me.  Or at least, they vexed me until I had a “eureka” moment while driving the other day.  Here it is:  I could do a weekly round-up, but use it to highlight various posts from one of my favorite blogs!  After all, I have at least fifteen, so that will last me for awhile.  And this way, I will have a chance to explain the gist of each blog, as well as all the reasons I love it.  That alone will keep me from feeling so guilty about all the internet greatness I’ve been hoarding.  And then at the end, I will share my three favorite posts from that blog:  thus, the “Top 3 on Tuesday.”  Don’t correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure that this plan is brilliant and fool-proof!

Okay, so let’s get started, shall we?

The first blog I want to share with you is Experimental Theology, written by Richard Beck.

Hands down, what I love the most about Dr. Beck is that he is not a teacher of theology; instead, he is a psychology professor for Abilene Christian University.  I absolutely love psychology, so much so that I minored in it just for kicks.  And so I love how Dr. Beck regularly brings psychological analysis to bear on his discussions of theology.  For example, in a recent post, he delves into the psychological factors at work in how we determine “professional,” or “church appropriate” dress.  In another post, he gives the best analysis of Mark Driscoll’s accusation of the “feminization of the church” that I have read.  In yet another, he turns his personal predilection for pink into a meditation on the Christian’s “need to become immune to shame.”  And while many people have used the example of Jesus to humble me and make me want to be a better person, I’m not sure that anyone has ever had that same effect on me while using Lady Gaga.  Now that, my friends, is impressive.  And here’s another thing:  all of the posts I’ve just mentioned had me completely riveted, but none of them made it into my “top 3.”  That’s how good this blog is.  It’s a good thing I just really started reading it a few weeks ago, or I would never be able to pin down my three favorites.  As it is, I keep changing them, because I keep finding more and more good ones on Beck’s sidebar.

So here they are, my first

Top 3 on Tuesday

1.  Scooby-Doo, Where are You!:  On Disenchantment and the Demonic

Here, Dr. Beck analyzes my favorite childhood cartoon and clearly shows how a typical episode arc traces Western society’s journey from enchantment to disenchantment with demonic forces…and then shrewdly suggests that we might not be as free from them as we might think.  It rocked my world.

2.  god

In this post, Beck uses his fancy psychological understanding to argue, rather controversially, that nothing we say about God is entirely true.  He uses phrases like cataphatic and apophatic theology (don’t worry–I don’t have a clue what they mean, either) to put into (smart) words something that I have been feeling for quite some time.  And after reading his argument, I can’t say that I disagree.

3.  Seeing Her

This one was simple and poignant.  Beck employs one of the most horrific stories in all of Scripture to reflect on the idea that Christianity conditions us to naturally see situations from the victim’s perspective.  I have found myself mentally revisiting that simple point several times since reading it.

So that’s what I’ve gotten from Richard Beck’s “Experimental Theology.”  I am still fairly desperate to read his book Unclean, but I am currently in a shame spiral because of the books I still haven’t finished.  Thus, I think I’m going to have to put off Unclean until the summer.  So sad.  Thankfully, I have Beck’s blog to tide me over until then…and now, you do, too!

So have you read any good articles this week?  If so, leave a link, and I’d love to check them out!

5 responses to this post.

  1. Kim, you are so funny. 🙂 I love getting these glimpses inside your head (because it makes me feel not so bad for having the same conversations with myself in MY head).

    Anyway, that blog does sound very interesting. I don’t read nearly as many blogs as you do, but I do occasionally look at Yahoo! articles that are wacky enough to catch my attention. What I find most interesting, though, are the comments underneath. I am surprised that there hasn’t been (that I know of) serious research done on these comments because I feel like they are a good cross-section of how America thinks. Unfortunately a lot of them are crazy and stupid, but they do reflect what I hear real people saying in real life. There was a comment I read the other day that really stood out to me, and I thought about posting it on facebook to see what other people thought–but then I thought better of it. I can’t remember the whole thing now, but if I ever come across another one that is worthy of good thought, I may post it here on a Tuesday to see what this crowd thinks.


    • Ha! I’m glad that my neuroses make you feel better, Becky:).

      As for the Yahoo! comments, I must say that they depress me to no end. I’d like to think that they are at least an exaggerated version of what people really say, that the anonymity makes them bolder and more reckless with their words. The worst ones come after articles about some terrible crime (which I probably never should have clicked on in the first place). The article itself is horrifying, but it gets even worse when I hear several ostensibly law-abiding citizens dreaming up their particular punishment for the perpetrator. The comments are often more gruesome than the crime! In those moments, it’s like I can hear the foundations of civilization crumbling, and I have Lord-of-the-Flies-inspired images of us breaking the conch and killing Piggy.

      So yeah–I usually stay away from the comments. That said, if you have one that’s not overly depressing, I am always up for a good psychoanalysis:).


      • Yes, you are right that most of the comments are just awful. However, I do occasionally see some that are either right on or at least intriguing. (Overall, though, as bad or good as they can be, they do seem to be what people really think.) I really wish I had written down the good one I saw. I remember the point, but I wouldn’t want to try to say it without the exact phrasing.


  2. Kim, this plan is brilliant and fool-proof! (Don’t ask me why, but that phrase just popped into my head somehow.)

    I like the second post summary you listed. I figure everything I say about God misses the mark in one or more ways, so the concept doesn’t sound controversial to me at all. It’s a good thing we have the Holy Spirit to guide us in understanding it all.



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