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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Eagleton Conference

I'll be popping into a conference dedicated to Terry Eagleton. While I'm always sceptical about anything dedicated to one person (my worry is that they could be too hagiographical) this could be interesting given that it is one of those genuinely inter-disciplinary events.

Here are some of the key bits from the overall programme and I will blog on what I see/hear tomorrow:

Opening Remarks by Dr David Alderson (English & American Studies, The University of Manchester)

Keynote Speech by Professor Seamus Deane

Plenary Session 1
Peter Osborne: 'Philosophy and the Spontaneous Philosophy of the Journalists.'

Caroline Rooney: 'On Clarity: The Perspicuity of Saint and Scholar.'

Stephen Regan: 'Poetry and History: Terry Eagleton on "Easter 1916".'

Chair: Anastasia Valassopoulos (English and American Studies, The University of Manchester)

Plenary Session 2

Alex Callinicos: 'Materialism and Finitude: Eagleton's Marxism.'

Sibel Irzik: TBC

Drew Milne: 'The Drama of Ideology: Eagleton's Althusserian Moment.'

Chair: Hoda Elsadda (Middle Eastern Studies, The University of Manchester)

Keynote Speech by Professor Bruce Robbins: 'Gatekeeping.' Introduction by Howard Booth (English and American Studies, The University of Manchester)

Plenary Session 3

Ken Hirschkop: 'Theology, Language and Politics: A Portrait of the Theorist as a Young Man.'

Graham Ward: 'Catholic Marxism: A Tragi-Comedy in the Making.'

Carol Watts: TBC

Chair: Liam Harte (English and American Studies, The University of Manchester)

Interview with Professor Terry Eagleton

Panel of Interviewers:
David Alderson
Hoda Elsadda
Gavin Grindon
Jeffrey Williams

Concluding Remarks by Lisa Adkins (Cultural Theory Institute)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

And yet more World Cup

England first. Yet another not-very-interesting performace and I have no idea why Terry was named man of the match but presumably not for his back header to set up Equador or the fact that he was dominated by the Equador forwards. Rooney looked better and better and I can't wait to see him against Portugal. But, as just about everyone has been saying, he needs someone up front with him. This is the problem: Crouch or Walcott. I would choose Walcott for negative reasons: Crouch isn't good. The midfield. Sven needs to drop either Lampard or Gerrard. So Lampard it is then... Free kicks aside Beckham has been completely silenced and Lennon looks ready. Robinson not solid again. England have been very, very lucky so far and may continue to be so with Portugal missing top players. There has been no major challenge yet and getting to the quarters hides a lot.

Good to see Ronaldo back for Brazil. The first goal today was very nicely taken and a real balst from the past.

And Spain out AGAIN. Surely they could have got past a past it French side! So the curse continues.

Italy: have to say typical. Poor old Aussies. Well they seems to be better at lesser sports so collectively they make up for it.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

More World Cup

Now for more...

The England game. Rooney should now get better and better the more England progress. He already looks sharp and very close to match fitness. From my time on Football Manager (the child of Championship Manager) this should be the case (anyone who has played this game will know how predictions of future players and certain tactical aspects of the game are very often accurate - in fact if they were C1 I suspect they would be regarded as ex eventu).

As all the tabloids and broadesheets have now have now gleefully pointed out the inclusion of 4 strikers (one untried in the top league, one potentially unfit, one very unfit, and one utterly useless) now looks very suspect. Owen's injury is serious (I actually suffered one similar as a teenager and it is a right [...]). Walcott STILL didn't get a run out so that is looking a weird inclusion. Usually I think there is little method in Sven's madness but this time there might just be. There is a possibility that Sven will go with 5 midfield and 1 up front (Rooney). This will mean a holding midfielder. Hargreaves played well and wouldn't be a bad choice for the role but Carrick is generally a better player.

Not sure about Beckham these days. In fact I'm not sure he has played well for several years. United were right to sell him after two poor seasons. I'm not sure why he has dipped so dramatically but he has. Lennon is useful and unknown to opposition but still needs to work on his crossing. That said some people are convinced that this new ball may lead to great goals but it is very problematical for crossing. (Lehmann may say it's bad for keepers too but I don;t recall him being any better with a normal ball).

Rio needs to be used more and thus play THROUGH the midfield and it might encourange cutting out the long ball to England's 9 foot striker.

And a slight apology to our US friends. After a ever so slightly bad comment on the standard of their national team (come on, you do run the world at least!) they then put up a pretty impressive performance against the Italians in bizarre circumstances.

And will Brazil drop Adriano and Ronaldo? Robinho looks sharper and always does a good job for me on Football Manager (yes, I'm Man United and Brazil manager). He is also good in real life. Actually, there are a few big decisions waitng to be made. Roberto Carlos has been over rated for years, living off one fluke free kick years ago. Cafu is also a bit old these days. Gilberto and Cicinho are waiting... I just wonder if there is any commercial pressure on Brazil (Team Nike?).

Looks like Holland and Portugal in the next round: that's a potential classic.

So far a very good World Cup. Will take some beating to top Spain 82 though (that Brazil team is the only equal to United 99 in my memory).

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Rooney passed fit

Rooney has been passed fit by independent doctors for the T&T game this evening. I really wanted to see the Greatest Player in the World in the World Cup, not for England but because I think he has the potential to go down as one of the all time greats by performing at the World Cup. And that it makes yet another one of United's players the all time greats (along with Edwards, Law, Charlton, Best, Robson, Cantona, Keane, Giggs: do you want me to go on? I expect people wouldn't agree as much with Coppell, Scholes and Hughes but ask me and I'll give you very good reasons).

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

World Cup thoughts

finally i can get to concentrating on the World Cup. And as this blog promises football, but mysteriously stopped once Man United never looked like winning the league, it would seem an obvious time to start that again.

Crouch is not good. Really, not good at all. Stating the obvious I know but the national press went wild after he scored a hatrick again Jamaica. In a friendly. Against players from division below. So what? He shouldn't be at the World Cup and Defoe is infinitely better. The general use of players is also odd. Leaving one up front when one-nil up echoes the last World Cup and the Barzil match. This and Crouch reflects Sven's bizarre combination of being a Serie A manager and a lover of the thankfully outdated (apart from Liverpool) long ball game. but who cares about England, eh? Yet if Rooney does play then at least we will see the World's Greatest Player (for it is he and not the admittedly great Ronaldinho) at the World Cup

The Czech Rep looked pretty good and a very strong midfield. I know some USA fans are a bit displeased but the Czechs have always been a good side and very underrated. Come on America, at least it wasn't Iran this time (for non-football/soccer fans Iran beat the USA in the 1998 World Cup)!

Ronaldo looked poor. It is sad to think that just how good he was when he burst on the scene in the mid 90s.

Argentina look a good bet and Heinze is back! Ayala still looks as tough as ever.

Does anyone care out there?

Monday, June 05, 2006

Who is best at biblical interpretation?

With a heavy heart and a tear in my eye I have to disagree (slightly) with Jim West. I think. Besides, it's not as if sibling rivalry is anything new. ;-) Anyway Jim and the more extreme view put forward on adversaria give confessional types pride of place for top biblical interpretation.

Jim argues:

I agree, to an extent, that interpreters of Scripture should stand within the hermeneutical circle...Who, then, is the ideal interpreter of the Biblical text?... 2- A person standing within the Jewish or Christian tradition. 3- A person who actively participates in the community of faith and who has one eye on that community while the other remains fixed on the text.

Adversaria argues:

The most essential training in biblical interpretation that we will receive is not that provided by a theological degree, important though that is, but the training provided by belonging to a faithful Christian community under wise and faithful pastors. For this reason I am as suspicious of the assured interpretations of much modern biblical scholarship as I am of the interpretations of Jehovah’s Witnesses and others like them. For all of their valuable linguistic gifts and scholarly credentials, biblical scholars outside of the Church are dilettantes who lack the basic training to interpret the Church’s Scriptures aright...Those who have not undergone and are not undergoing the paideia of the Christian Church, living as a community of discipleship under the Word of God, have no right to interpret the Scriptures. For this reason we should not even enter into debate with them on questions of interpretation.

Jim I notice is careful to use words like 'extent' and 'ideal'. This seems to me to downplay the exclusivism of a confessional approach. And it seems pretty clear to me from the past that Jim, if he doesn't mind me saying, is more than open to engaging with people from non-confessional perspectives. Adversaria is clearly much stronger ('we should not even enter into debate...).

Ok readers of this blog will not be overly surprised to hear my views I suppose. I am a little worried by the latter comments and they mirror the issues raised from a secular perspective that I find problematical, i.e. secular alone is right and no dialogue with confessional approaches etc. If I were a church person I'd also be worried because then the church would exclude a load of scholarship which could be entirely valid and accurate and the church would effectively be engaging in self-deception. But that, I suppose, is not my problem.

The other issue is when the more extreme view is applied elsewhere as it starts to look very unusual. Soviet historians were trained as historians and were committed to Soviet Communism but, it seems, wrote what was effectively propaganda seriously lacking in historical accuracy and often deliberately distorting fact. Should that history only be studied by a devotee? I know where I would go to find out about Soviet history and most likely it will not be written by someone dedicated to Soviet Marxism.

And we can of course take this further. Should a Leninist be the only proper guide to Lenin? Should Trots alone study Trotsky? Who would be left to study ancient pagan religions? Should we call on the pagan community to study religions of the UK before Christianity? Are traditional Catholics the only true interpreters of medieval Catholicism? I was taught Islam and the Quran by a non-Muslim so would it have been better for me to have looked for a Muslim lecturer?

I would also wonder how this could be implemented in the secular university department. In theological colleges/seminaries it would be obvious but in state colleges and universities?

And if we take the extreme view and say that there is going to be no dialogue then what happens to all those important books written in biblical studies from a non-confessional standpoint? Are they just to be disguarded? Isn't this slightly Soviet-esque?

And on the issue of 'no right' to interpret scripture that's just too bad I'm afraid. Bibles, for good or ill, are sold everywhere and telling people not to interpret them once they buy them would hardly work. Some non-religious people have been brought up with the Bible and what do they do? Forget it? The Bible is everywhere, used in secular literature, advertising, film, you name it. It is not an easy thing to ignore and if it is not an easy thing to ignore it is not an easy to avoid interpretation. If people want to convert non-believers then why shouldn't the non-believer ask tough questions? Is all of this going to be so easy to ignore?

There are other problems:

What to non-religious types do if they are worried about the use of the Bible by (say) the Christian right?

And what of the spectacular interpretations by the church that many might think are spectacular mis-interpretations?

Which church is right? They have differed dramatically over biblical interpretation so which do we choose?

Another worry is the sort-of-scientific feel to the more extreme view: only one perspective can, effectively, be right. It seems to me that the assumption that one is right makes the discipline largely pointless as all answers are more or less known and the only new questions are those that arise within the church (or even synagogue).

Now it seems to me that the only fair way to settle this is not to exclude any perspective. At the very least someone might then ask you a question you might not have thought of before.