Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Just so my half dozen readers know...

I am enrolled in a doctoral program and it is the end of the semester for me. That means I have 2 25-page papers to write by the end of the month. I'll not tell untruths like I've been diligently at work making steady progress towards their completion.

For my blog, this means that I may not be writing as much as I would like, but there is something that I call "responsible procrastination." Responsible procrastination is doing something that is academically responsible, just not immediately so. For instance, one of my seminar papers is a literature review of Organizational Pathology. Writing about God, religion, Christian follies, and the like will not directly help with the writing of the paper. It will, however, keep me writing.

On a slightly more personal note. There is a slim, but not insignificant chance that I may be able to teach political science as an adjunct to undergraduates at my university. There is a slimmer chance, that I might be teaching "Nietzsche and Political Theory" in the Spring 2008 semester to upper level undergraduates. A lot of the philosophical doodling over the last few days that would have otherwise gone into this blog has gone into figuring out a syllabus.

If the Nietzsche course were to work out, it would be like having a heartfelt dream come true that I didn't even know I had.

Nietzsche had a decisive influence on me and on the course of my life. When I was a bible-thumper, I was enrolled in a small private liberal arts college. My declared major was religion with the aim of becoming a minister. In the semester immediately preceding my academic dismissal I took "19th Century Philosophy." We read some Hegel, Marx, John Stuart Mill, Nietzsche & Kierkegaard. Given that I was suffering through a painful and profound religious crisis, it is hardly surprising that I found Nietzsche and Kierkegaard to be the most interesting of the lot.

I was suspicious of Kierkegaard's Christianity and I didn't trust his leap of faith. Kierkegaard still leaves suspicious that there is something that he is avoiding, some painful memory or thought that he would like to leave untouched and ignored. In other words, he was too Christian for me.

Nietzsche, on the other hand, was different. When I first started reading him, I didn't understand much. But, I loved what I read. I was happy when I understood the occasional sentence. Eventually, I got the hang of reading him.

Most of that was after the academic dismissal, and I didn't want go back home, so I stayed, hung around the college. I spent the semester after the dismissal working part-time and living in a friend's basement for free. And in my free time I mostly read. I read Nietzsche and I read the other writers that he wrote about.

Someone who gives up Christianity via Nietzsche has a different kind of atheism than someone who becomes an unbeliever via rational argumentation. The latter holds it against Christianity that it is absurd, illogical, self-contradictory, and so on. Becoming an unbeliever through Nietzsche, one does not so much reject Christianity as one follows its moral teaching through to their logical conclusion. In teaching confession and honesty before God, eventually a point is reached where one becomes too honest to be a Christian. Further, in one's commitment to seeking out the truth, one learns to give up the comforts that accompany belief because those comforts are an impediment to understanding. And a point is even reached where truth is done away with in order to make room for knowledge.

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