Bell, Bashir & Reductionism

The last couple of days, the Bell-Bashir Battle Royale video has been floating around the internet. Unfortunately, for the last 7 days I have been incredibly ill, so, I've missed a lot of the conversation. I've barely been able to follow the Tsunami, which is quite a bigger deal, I think, at the moment. Actually, in the Bashir interview, that's the first thing Bashir asks Bell about; he wants to know if God had some kind of hands-off, hands-on role in the whole thing and whether or not God is culpable either way.

Sticking with the overall tenor of the video for a moment, I really think Bell and Bashir are interesting to watch. Bashir just comes out swinging from question #1 and really, honestly, I think that Bashir's "isn't it...isn't it" forceful type of questions are quite frankly, unfair. Why? Well, I see in them every bit of our world's love for reductionism. What I mean by that is the desire to want to whittle everything down, to reduce everything down to a simple, one or two word answer (or 140 characters, if you like).

The truth is, much of what we deal with in theology and especially exegesis, cannot be explained (and carefully at that) or unpacked in the matter of a split-second yes or no answer. Yet, that's what so many want and if one person can make it appear that another person is unable to do that, then the one who doesn't answer, will stand to lose some credibility: 1) For not being able to think quickly on their feet, and 2) For not being able to offer a straightforward answer; they look like a waffler.

And so, kudos to Bell for not giving into that temptation, which Bashir hurled upon him. The fact is, the questions Bashir was asking have been debated for thousands of years and in this short interview, he wants split-second answers from Bell; anyone with half a mind can see that this is just absurd. Bell did a superb job in keeping his cool, entertaining the questions and being gracious. Still haven't seen the video? Here it is:

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