Wednesday, May 27, 2015

On (Not) Accepting Reality: Introducing The Annihilation of Hell

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By Nik Ansell

A couple of months ago (on March 5, 2015), we had a book launch event at ICS for my monograph, The Annihilation of Hell: Universal Salvation and the Redemption of Time in the Eschatology of J├╝rgen Moltmann [1]. Before I said a few words to introduce the book, Jim Olthuis, my ICS promotor for the dissertation version that I defended at the VU, Amsterdam, and Jon Stanley, one of my own ICS doctoral students, also my RA, who helped me get the published version into shape, also spoke. So together, we represented three generations of ongoing ICS work in philosophical theology. After thanking Jim and Jon for their kind words, I introduced my presentation, which is reproduced below, with the following question:
I wonder if anyone knows which famous person said the following: “Hope is a tease designed to prevent us from accepting reality.

I’ll give you a clue:

The year is 1924.

Remarkably, the identical words, with the same intonation, are also uttered 90 years later.

The place is England.

The speaker is someone who resists all historical change.

But she is also known and loved for her withering wit.

Despite her name, she is no shrinking Violet.

She is a central character in a historical drama.

Played by Maggie Smith.

The one and only Dowager Countess of Grantham (Violet Crawley).

Downton Abbey, season five; episode four.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Let the Right One In

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by Shannon Hoff

Sometimes, in looking at people, I find myself noticing the way in which they deviate from an ideal of beauty, an ideal of beauty that I get from magazine covers, TV shows, advertising, Hollywood movies, and so on. When I look at them, what I see in them is their flaws in relation to that ideal. And when I see this, when I notice this, I am surprised, because in principle I am deeply opposed to this ideal of beauty. I think of it as highly destructive and highly problematic, disorienting human values and wreaking havoc with people’s sense of confidence and sense of self, and having nothing intrinsically to do with what makes a person good or interesting.

In this situation, I find myself doing something to which I am deeply opposed. I think in one way, but I perceive in a different way; I find myself conflicted, divided with myself. My perception operates, it seems, according to its own rules; I notice something that I do not want to notice. My conscious commitments—the thoughts and beliefs that I have developed through the process of observing and thinking about what is good and right—are at odds with my unconscious commitments, which have their way in my perception. What this experience illuminates to me is the fact that I’m actually not strictly in control of my perception or of myself. On the one hand, I think of myself as a person who has developed ideas, beliefs, and commitments, and so on; I think of myself as in control, as deciding and thinking for myself. On the other hand, however, I experience myself as out of my control, perceiving in ways in which I do not want to perceive.

What this experience illuminates to me is the fact that I'm actually not strictly in control of my perception or of myself.