Monday, April 5, 2010

Pointless Inquiry

I thought maybe I was alone, but no, judging from the comments, I am not alone at all in thinking the most recent Point of Inquiry podcast was sheer codswallop.

Hosted by Bible scholar Robert M. Price, a solid and often interesting member of the freethought community, the guest was, unfortunately, Thomas J.J. Altizer, who has reached that delicate point in his scholarly career when he considers it beneath his quiet dignity to make any fucking sense. Or, to be fair-minded as I can muster, maybe he never bothered making sense in the first place -- rank obscurantism has been known to infect the academy, now and then, here and there, as some have long been at pains to expose.

The discussion between these two, such as it was, covered such fascinating(?) insights as "the only true atheists are Christian" and "god is dead" -- the latter meant not in a figurative, point-of-departure sense, but in the sense that, well, god was once a living thingy that became, at some point in time and space, the dead version of that thingy. Neat.

Even this might have been the starting point of a fruitful discussion had Price taken the approach of forcing Altizer to explain what he means in clear, accessible terms, but no, the conversation came across like the secret recording of a cordial pissing contest between two frien-emies at an academic conference: names were dropped; confusion heaped upon confusion. Light was thrown, but on topics of little interest to anyone outside a narrow slice of theology departments.

Come on, PoI. I realize that change happens -- DJ Grothe is gone, politicking happens, there is no pleasing everyone with every episode, certainly not with a podcast that aims at the wild cat herd of freethinkers. I will grant that the multiple rotating host thing is not without promise, but really, this one kicked up more fremdscham (Cf.) than I hope to feel again for such an essential podcast.

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