Monthly Archives: January 2018

Updates and Coming Attractions

As with most things in life, the rhythms of blogging go in cycles.  Sometimes I am full of ideas and I have (or can make) the time to write about them.  Blogging then comes thick and furiously.  At other times, the muse is absent, the well is dry, and things go on hiatus for a longer or shorter period of time.  Such are the vicissitudes of life.  I sometimes think I should be doing more, but from my first forays into blogging I resolved not to beat myself up over regularity.  I have tried to do journals/diaries in the past, and it never worked out.  Blogging has turned out to be a fruitful outlet for my writing, and has gone on much longer than any attempt at journaling that I’ve ever attempted.  Thus, for everything there is a season–a time to write and a time not to write–and I’m OK with that.

The last couple of years have been relatively fallow, but in the last week I’ve started putting up posts again, and I have some ideas for posts to come in the near future.  No doubt I’ll go into fallow cycles again in the future, but for now I hope to be a bit more productive.  In line with that resolution, I’d like to discuss some of the plans for upcoming things I have, for those who are regular (or even new!) readers of the Chequer-Board.

First, I am currently working on a review of David Bentley Hart’s recent translation of the New Testament, and I hope to have it finished and up within the week.  I will cross-index it under “The Pretty Good Book“, “Universalism (What the Hell?!)“, and “Towards a Gnostic Orthodoxy“, for reasons that will be apparent when I post it.

Second, there are some recent developments on the polygenism front that I want to look at, as well as some new findings regarding animal cognition that I think ultimately tie in to that.  This, in turn, is relevant to any account of the Fall of Man; so I hope to resume work (at least intermittently) on “Legends of the Fall” (the end of which, alas, seems nowhere in sight).

Third, I think I’m essentially finished with my series on universalism (linked above).  I will put the review of Hart’s New Testament there, as I said.  I think I may have one or two short pieces to add, as well; and then I’ll add a wrap-up piece, while of course leaving open the possibility of future addenda, as they suggest themselves.

Fourth, in the slightly longer term, I’d like to continue my series on Star Trek:  The Motion Picture and “Religion, Role-playing, and Reality“.  I pretty much know where I want to go with those, and have had either the ideas or the beginnings of posts (or both) for continuing each series, but haven’t got around to it.  I hope to do so soon.

Fifth, in the somewhat longer term, I desperately need to fix the index for the “Daily Whitman” series.  As you can see by visiting the link, the index is incomplete and has been for some time.  For various reasons, it has proved to be a fiendishly difficult thing to do properly, unlike the relatively simple index for the “Rubá’í of the Day” series.  I have plenty of non-blogging stuff on my plate as it is, and given the complexity of fixing this table, this is something that may have to wait awhile; but it is on my “to-do” list.  Meanwhile, you can use the tags to reach individual installments of the “Daily Whitman” series.

Sixth, I may remove the “Movies” sub-page from the blog.  I used to post a lot of movies, documentaries, and shorts here, but the transient nature of YouTube being what it is, I have scads of dead links lying about.  I’m not sure that it’s worthwhile maintaining them; so I may delete the “Movies” page and/or the individual movie-containing posts.  I’m not sure yet, but we’ll see.

Seventh, and most nebulous, I intend eventually to resume posting series of poetry (probably Masters’s Spoon River Anthology or the haiku of Kobayashi Issa next).  I’d also like to revisit some of my other series, and, wonder of wonders, maybe even start some new ones, or even do some stand-alone posts.

Once more, life is as it is, vicissitudes and all, so I can’t be sure as to the exact schedule on which I’ll be able to do all this.  Keep your eyes out for news and update here, and as always, thank you very much for your continued support!


MST3K: The Return

Awhile back, I wrote a series on Mystery Science Theater 3000.  My main focus was on what I saw as the archetypes of the Trickster and the Holy Fool that one could discern in the series.  However, I also talked a little bit about how I came to be a fan of the show, and my thoughts on the two hosts, Joel Hodgson and Mike Nelson.  The previous seasons have been around long enough that I assume everyone has seen them by now, and I won’t be discussing them, anyway.

As MST3K fans are doubtless aware, in April of 2017, the show, after many years off the air, returned with much fanfare and popular acclaim, as well as with new cast.  I watched the new season–the 11th–and enjoyed it.  It occurred to me that having written previously on MST3K, I should post something about its newest iteration.  However, alas, at that time, I had lapsed from regular blogging.  Of late, I have got back to at least periodic writing here at the Chequer-Board.  I decided, therefore, that it was high time that I should return to MST3K and to write about my thoughts on the revived show.

Spoiler Alert:  There will be mild spoilers for Season 11 below.

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Mystery Science Theater 3000: Index

Awhile back I wrote four posts on the series Mystery Science Theater 3000.  I’ve recently decided to writer another post, and more may follow in the future.  Therefore, I’ve decided to make an index page to get them all together in one place.  Enjoy!

Tricksters, Fools, and MST3K

Holy Fools

Pop Culture Tricksters

Joining MST3K Fandom and a Little About Joel and Mike

MST3K:  The Return

Universalism: Is It Coherent?

Recently we looked at universalism in relationship to Scripture and Tradition, and we saw that neither of these sources of authority conclusively condemns the hope of  universal salvation.  In short, while we can’t argue that universalism is definitively true based on these sources, neither can we say it us ruled out, either.  Universalism is therefore a possible and non-heretical option.  Whether it is reasonable or likely is an issue for philosophical and theological discourse, which has been the overall approach of this series.

I have certainly posted plenty of things philosophical in this series on universalism, and I think I’ve dealt with all the most important issues.  I would like to look at one somewhat ancillary issue, though.  This is inspired by a recent blog discussion I had (which I also referenced in the last post).  At one point, an interlocutor going by the handle seven sleepers, in taking issue with my stated opinion on universalism, said, “Side note: If you ditch hell, you lose heaven. Pretty obvious that to lose one is to lose the other.”  My response there was, “No, it is not, in fact, obvious, nor is this assertion even logical. It is merely an assertion.”  In this post I’d like–very briefly!–to unpack my thoughts on this.

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Excursus: The Beatific Vision

On more than one occasion over the course of this series on universalism, I have mentioned the Beatific Vision.  Despite this, I have never elaborated or discussed the concept at length.  As I was working on a follow-up to the last post, though, it occurred to me that the subject of the Beatific Vision was becoming increasingly relevant.  Rather than try to  unpack the notion there, I decided to give it a post of its own.

The Beatific Vision is a term in Catholic theology which, simply put, means seeing God as He is.  Of course, “seeing” is a metaphor here.  It means, more precisely, the full experience of God in His full divinity.  This is said to be the final goal of the saved.  Those who are in heaven, human and angel, have this experience of God perpetually.  In fact, to say that the saints and angels are “in” heaven is inaccurate.  Heaven is not a place, but a state of being–and that state of being is exactly the one that ensues from the Beatific Vision.

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Universalism: Scripture and Tradition

The last seven posts in my series on universalism (beginning here and going to here) were intended more or less as a coda to the series.  My idea was that they would in summary fashion deal with all the major objections to universalism–both those that in my judgement missed the point and those that at least legitimately took on the issues at hand–and show why they were unworkable or problematic.  So I thought, anyway.  Alas, nothing ever ends–nor, in a sense, would I expect it to.  Strong partisans of what I have called the traditional view of hell (or TVOH, as I abbreviate it) are not likely to be moved by any arguments.  Conversely, strong universalists will likely also remain unmoved.

This week I have participated in a combox discussion at Rod Dreher’s blog, and as sometimes happens, the issue of universalism arose.  There was a bit of back-and-forth between me and some supporters of the TVOH.  For those who are interested, the exchange is over here.  It’s actually much shorter and less detailed than previous blog discussions I’ve had on the issue, both there and at other blogs.  It does induce me to make more explicit some points that I have not, perhaps, elaborated on enough here.  Mostly, I’ve been looking at the philosophical underpinnings of the arguments for the TVOH, and trying to show why those underpinnings are problematic, as well as trying to make a philosophical argument in favor of universalism.  As often happens in combox discussions, though, the discussion in question brought back the issue of authority.  I have never really explicitly dealt with that issue in this series, though I’ve touched on it several times.  Therefore, I decided it would be a good idea to dedicate a post specifically to just those issues, which I will now deal with.

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