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Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande for the Weekend

Because it’s been way too long since we’ve had some Gaga around here! 😉

Some (Belated) Bardcore for the Weekend


Yesterday was “Radio Gaga”; today is Lady Gaga!  Long-time readers know that Lady Gaga is pretty big around here, so no suprise!  This is her duet with Bradley Cooper from the new version of A Star is Born.  Enjoy!

Lady Gaga in Concert for the Weekend

Lady Gaga is a favorite here at the Chequer-Board, so enjoy an entire concert!

The Lady Gaga Project

Because I live for the applause….  I do like it when I get traffic here and it’s great when my posts make people think, actually, but as to this post, some explanation:

Way back in the early part of my series on the Fall, I put a picture of Lady Gaga at the top of a post on theology and titled it by quoting “Bad Romance”, purely on a whim and the humorous notion that it might drive blog views.  I doubt it did that very much, but I got a kick out of it, and as it turned out I worked more ideas from the song into later posts.  I’m not exactly one of Lady Gaga’s “little monsters”, but I have a moderate fondness for her music (though the latest album is distressingly weak), and somehow I find “Bad Romance” compelling.

Anyway, I just finished my fifth post themed from “Bad Romance” and I decided I’d put them all here (in addition to the series to which they properly belong and under which they’re already listed).  The topics are not directly connected, but they circle around the Fall of Man and universalism, with a bit on dualism and the Bible, too.  Perhaps after reading some, visitors may be interested in looking back at previous posts in the sundry series.  In any case, enjoy!

Synthesis, Part 1:  I Want Your Ugly, I Want Your Disease

Synthesis, Part 3:  I Want Your Horror, I Want Your Design

Dualism:  I Want Your Drama, the Touch of Your Hand

I Want Your Psycho, Your Vertigo Schtick–Lady Gaga, Open Theology, and My 1500th Post!

I Want Your Love and I Want Your Revenge:  Hell

I Want Your Love and I Want Your Revenge: Hell


In the last few posts we’ve looked at several aspects of universalism:  whether Hell is compatible with God’s mercy, how the saved view the damned, whether people can be said truly to choose Hell, and what this implies for our personalities.

Now as I noted here, one can argue for the traditional view of Hell (TVOH) on Scriptural or philosophical bases; and as I also noted, it doesn’t seem as if the TVOH can be defended purely on Scriptural bases.  In any case, I can understand arguments of this sort even if I don’t agree with them.  If one believes that a doctrine of hell is necessitated by Scripture or by philosophical reflection, I can respect that.  What I’m more interested in here is motivation.  In short, what is the motivation that energizes one’s belief?  More to the point, what is one’s attitude towards one’s belief?  Let me unpack what I mean.

Suppose I go to the doctor and he says I have cancer in my leg, and that this will require amputation.  Now there are three things involved here.  One, the matter of actual fact:  that is, do I actually have cancer?  Second is the treatment:  is it necessary to remove the leg, or are there other viable treatments?  Third, how do I feel about having the leg removed?  Obviously, I’m going to want to establish the first two:  I’m going to want to be damn sure that I do have cancer and that amputation is the only option.  If these are established, then there’s no help for it.  The thing is that I’m not going to be happy about the amputation per se.  I’ll be happy if it rids me of cancer, because I’ll be happy to live and to have my health (other than in my leg) restored.  However, I’d be a lunatic to cheer on the amputation as such.  Even more so, if my doctor seemed to enjoy amputating limbs, I’d be very hesitant to have the operation done, at least by him.  To be happy to help someone live by surgery is very much different from getting off on amputation in and of itself.

This is where, in discussions about hell, I find the attitude of supporters of the TVOH very much interesting.  I can understand that one might, in light of one’s study of Scripture and of philosophy, feel compelled to believe in hell as traditionally understood, just as an oncologist, on the basis of his expertise, diagnoses cancer.  I can also understand that there  can be differences of opinion among equally skilled experts.  Just as one exegete might argue for the TVOH and another against, so different doctors might disagree as to whether the leg, in the above hypothetical, actually needs to be amputated, or whether some other treatment might work.  What I don’t get is the attitude.  If my doctor said, “Good news!  We gotta take the leg!” it would be grossly understating it to say I’d be taken aback and appalled.  However, this cheery, positive attitude seems to be the exact attitude of many who support the traditional view of hell.  Perhaps I shouldn’t say “cheery”; but they do invest much emotional energy into supporting hell.

Read the rest of this entry

I Want Your Psycho, Your Vertigo Schtick–Lady Gaga, Open Theology, and My 1500th Post!


Because I’ve been thinking it’s been way too long since we’ve had some Gaga here–and how better to celebrate my 1500th post?

I’m writing this as a standalone, though it has some relevance to some of my other posts on religion.  In speaking of God, one has to remember that one is always talking in terms of analogy.  However, given that we can’t help using language, we have to use analogy whether we like it or not.  The danger, of course, is too much anthropomorphism.  We have to steer between the Scylla of not being able to talk about God at all and the Charybdis of making Him appear too much like one of us.  There are different ways of plotting this course, and the one I want to talk about here is one that began a couple of decades or so ago:  open theism.

Before we can talk about open theism, we have to lay a bit of background.  The foundational religions of the West are the Abrahamic religions; and the foundational text for all of them, to one degree or another, is the Old Testament (known to Jews as the Tanakh, or often in English as the Hebrew Bible).  One of the most prominent aspects of the Old Testament is the way it portrays God.  The OT, by and large, is extremely anthropomorphic in its description of God.  He is described as having various bodily parts, and Moses is granted the favor of actually seeing Him from behind (Exodus 33:18-23).  He is depicted as having limited knowledge (Genesis 18:21) and as apparently forgetting things (Genesis 8:8, where He is implied to have suddenly remembered Noah after having forgotten about the Flood for the last forty days).  He is depicted as changing His mind back and forth (Exodus 32:8-14).  According to the Old Testament, God orders genocide with little compunction (Joshua, all throughout) and smites His own people, including innocents, for totally capricious reasons (2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21).  Examples could be multiplied, but hopefully these are enough to get the picture of a God who is rather disturbing, who is–well, psycho.  This, for anyone past the barbarian tribesman phase, is a problem.

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Universalism (What the Hell?!): Index

Once again, a sub-thread within my “Legends of the Fall” series has taken on a life of its own, to the extent of meriting its own index.  I don’t know how many more will end up here, but there are probably lots to come, either within “Legends of the Fall” or in this series outright.  Have a hell (or heaven, or none of the above) time reading these posts!

Legends of the Fall:  Reflections

Hell, Salafis, Philosophers, and Playing the Odds

Out of the Closet

A Helluva Post on the Rectification of Names

Excursus:  John Scottus Eriugena

To Hell in a Nice Handbasket

Interlude:  Questions, Objections, Issues

An Analysis of Universalism

Defining Terms and a Recap

Universalism, I Presume?

Damnation:  Inside, Outside, Upside Down

Universalism:  Summary (for now)

The parent series, “Legends of the Fall”, is going in a different direction, so the following addenda will be only in this index, though some may later cross back over.

If I Only Wanted To

The Divine Exception

Been a Long Time, Been a Long Time, Been an Aeviternal Time

Change My Mind (?)

Stubborn Highlanders

Sea Battles and What Will Be

The Divine Exception, Revisited

Simply Irresistible (or not?)

Some Preliminary Groundwork

Confucius and Socrates

More on Universalism–Compulsion vs. Choice

All Things Dull and Ugly

Choices and Consequences

The Mind is Like a Mirror Bright

I Want Your Love and I Want Your Revenge

Stubborn Highlanders Revisited, and Antinomies of Pure Reason

Arguments Against Universalism:  Missing the Point

On Anti-Universalist Arguments (reblogged from Opus Publicum)

Arguments Against Universalism: Justice Must Be Served, Part 1–Retribution

Arguments Against Universalism: Justice Must Be Served, Part 2–Just Desserts

Arguments Against Universalism: Justice Must Be Served, Part3–An Eye for an Eye?

Arguments Against Universalism: Your Own Damn Fault, Part 1–Rules are Rules

Arguments Against Universalism: Your Own Damn Fault, Part 2–Better to Reign in Hell

Universalism: Scripture and Tradition

Excursus: The Beatific Vision

Universalism: Is It Coherent?

Universalism in Various Religions: The Abrahamic Faiths

Universalism in Various Religions: The Dharmic Faiths

Universalism in Various Religions: Miscellany

Heaven, Hell, and the Religions

The New Testament, translated by David Bentley Hart–a Review

Arguments Against Universalism: Missing the Point, Revisited

The Good, the True, and the Beautiful, and Why We Shouldn’t Misbehave

Scandal and Universalism

Arguments Against Universalism:  A Personal Encounter



Dualism: I Want Your Drama, the Touch of Your Hand

I figured that since I was finished with the “Legends of the Fall” series, I was absolved from my promise for no more Lady Gaga.  Anyway, it is relevant here–probably more than it was there.  This time, I just posted the whole dang video.

FWIW, I like the song much better than I do the video.  That’s actually true for me of most of her songs and videos.

OK–back to where we left off last time.  There, I discussed how there has been a tendency since the middle of the 20th Century to try to move away from dualism in theology.  I gave some of the reasons for that, and some of the ways in which this had been manifested.  I also expressed the opinion that the pendulum had swung a bit too far the other way, and explained why.  The only area I didn’t discuss was sex and sexuality.  That’s a topic that can well do with a post all to itself, eh? Read the rest of this entry

Legends of the Fall: Index

I originally said that the “Legends of the Fall” series has finally come to a close.  As can be seen by the increasing number of posts after the “Addenda” heading below, and as I discuss in “Adam, Eve, and Monogenesis”, and “Whither Hence?” I was wrong, and the series is likely to be open for some time.  I’m not even sure if I think it can be brought to a satisfactory close, even in the short term.  In any case, for those who have come to it late, or read only parts, or who want to read it all over again (who knows–there may be some of you out there…), the links to every post in the series, from beginning to end, are given below.

Addendum:  As this series has meandered along into subsidiary but connected areas, it has spawned at least three sub-series.  As those series themselves have meandered along, they’ve ended up with some posts that I didn’t cross-post here.  Thus, I’m putting links to the series indices right above the posts proper for this series.

The Atonement

Polygenism Revisited

Universalism (What the Hell?!)

Religious Miscellany (This is not a sub-series of “Legends of the Fall”, but a series I use for any religiously oriented articles that didn’t fit obviously into the other series.  However, some of the posts there may be relevant at times, if only tangentially, so I’m linking to it here, also)

Legends of the Fall:  Posts

Legends of the Fall, Part 1

Legends of the Fall, Part 2:  In the Know

Interlude:  Evagrius Ponticus

Legends of the Fall, Part 3:  In the Between with Evagrius 

Interlude:  Blinding Me with Science

Legends of the Fall, Part 4:  Scientific Prolegomena

Excursus:  Hypotheses, Theories, and Squirrels

Excursus:  Evil, Part 1

Excursus:  Evil, Part 2:  Your Wicked Ways

Excursus:  Evil, Part 3:  Who’s in Charge Here, Anyway?

Legends of the Fall, Part 5:  Compare and Contrast

Interlude:  Pre-existence, or Déjà Vu All Over Again (I accidentally made another post on this topic somewhat later.  Having re-read this, I think it is better-written and does a better job of making the case.  Nevertheless, both posts argue from the same basic perspective)

Excursus:  Genesis–Mono or Poly?

Legends of the Fall, Part 6:  Laying Groundwork

Synthesis, Part 1:  I Want Your Ugly, I Want Your Disease

The Heart Sutra

Synthesis, Part 2:  Humans, Elves, and Mortality

Excursus:  Pre-existence (Again!)

Synthesis, Part 3:  I Want Your Horror, I Want Your Design

Synthesis, Part 4:  Hell Hole

Synthesis, Part 5:  Hell Hole (concluded)

Legends of the Fall, Part 7:  And on the Seventh Post (actually the 22nd!) He Rested


The following posts are a follow-up miniseries addressing some issues I neglected in the original series.

Gödel and the Soul

Reincarnation:  The Ultimate Recycling


The Origin According to Origen

Reincarnation:  Haven’t We Been Here Before?

Polygenism Revisited:  Terminology

Polygenism Revisited:  The Theology of Cavemen

Polygenesis:  Breaking News

Reincarnation:  The Disadvantages

The Atonement

Some Theories of Atonement, or Love, not Honor or Substitution  This post, by Father Nathan O’Halloran, S. J., is reblogged from Vox Nova.  I’ve touched on the idea of the Atonement in the course of this series insofar as it has implications for the concept of the Fall and the interpretations of the Fall which I have been discussing.  Thus I’m adding this as a sort of guest post that goes into more detail on that particular aspect of the issues I’ve been dealing with here.  The original post at Vox Nova is here.

How Not to View the Atonement

Atonement Theology  This post was reblogged from the blog Triangulations, and gives an excellent summary of various schools of thought on the Atonement.

Saved from What?

The Atonement:  An Overview of the Traditional Perspective

The Apple and the Multiverse

Hell’s Angels and Looking for God in All the Wrong Places

Original Sin:  Is the Fault in the Manufacturer?

Legends of the Fall:  Unraveling the Sweater

Legends of the Fall:  Reflections

Hell, Salafis, Philosophers, and Playing the Odds

Out of the Closet

A Helluva Post on the Rectification of Names

Excursus:  John Scottus Eriugena

To Hell in a Nice Handbasket

Interlude:  Questions, Objections, Issues

An Analysis of Universalism

Defining Terms and a Recap

Universalism, I Presume?

Damnation:  Inside, Outside, Upside Down

Universalism:  Summary (for now)

More News on Polygenesis

Adam, Eve, and Monogenism:  More Perspectives (and more of the same)

Whither Hence?

Some Postulates

We Had to Destroy the Bible to Save It

Please Help Me, I’m Falling

Penal Substitution

Legends of the Fall: Let’s Get This Party Started!

Blinded By the Light

Talking Body

I Ain’t Got No Body: Embodiment (or not)

So Why Did God Make the World, Anyway?

Was It…SATAN??!!

The Best-Laid Plans (Do Not Require a Plan B)