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Episode Summary

David Dark joins Evan Rosa to talk about his idea of "Robot Soft Exorcism"—a metaphor-slash-parable-slash-theory-slash-way-of-life—that he uses to explain and expound non-violent resistance and prophetic witness.

"I wrestle not against flesh and blood." (David Dark's Ephesians 6:12 mantra) / According to David Dark (Belmont University), each of us occupy a variety of robots—roles, titles, occupations, institutions, conglomerates, ways of being, social norms, etc.—and these robots exert a cultural force, sometimes benign, but then again, sometimes violently destructive and degrading of human life. And in order to appreciate and honor our shared humanity, those of us in violent, impersonal robot systems need to be softly, humanely, respectfully, lovingly exorcised from those violent systems. David Dark joins Evan Rosa to talk about his idea of "Robot Soft Exorcism"—a metaphor-slash-parable-slash-theory-slash-way-of-life—that he uses to explain and expound non-violent resistance and prophetic witness. Along the way, they discuss the righteous skepticism he was raised on, the blurry secular-sacred divide, how he met Henri Nouwen, the technological ethics of Jacques Ellul, the real meaning of turning the other cheek, and the constant need to divest ourselves of the power of our positions, our titles, our platforms ... our robots.

About David Dark

David Dark is an American writer and cultural critic; and is Assistant Professor of Religion and the Arts at Belmont University in Nashville, TN. He's author of several books including, Life's Too Short To Pretend You're Not Religious, The Sacredness of Questioning Everything, Everyday Apocalypse: The Sacred Revealed in Radiohead, The Simpsons, and Other Pop Culture Icons, and The Gospel According To America: A Meditation on a God-blessed, Christ-haunted Idea. Follow him on Twitter @DavidDark or his Substack, Dark Matter

Show Notes

  • David Dark's Robot Soft Exorcism Twitter Thread:
  • Righteous skepticism in David Dark's family history
  • Godzilla and God
  • Secular–sacred divide
  • "I don't have to settle for the given dichotomies or dualisms."
  • Daoism, intellectual humility and the meaning of righteous skepticism in southern (fundamentalist) Christian context
  • The blurry binaries of Christianity and Pop Culture
  • Nashville: "The post-modern Vatican of the prayer trade"
  • Christian music industry in the'80s
  • "One might want to separate Christian marketing from the January 6th attack, but you really can't because association is currency."
  • "On human barnyard"; "there are no unrelated phenomena"
  • On meeting Henri Nouwen and learning the word social justice
  • "There is no non-social justice. Justice is relational."
  • Robot Soft Exorcism
  • Ephesians 6:12: "For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places."
  • Walter Wink's Powers series
  • Power dynamics of 2018's border crisis, separating families at the border, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders at the Red Hen Restaurant
  • Turning the other cheek; demanding to be punched as an equal
  • Dramatizing the conflict as part of the task of prophetic action
  • "Robot soft exorcism is inviting someone to be a human being rather than just being their position."
  • Breaking it down: The Robot Part
  • Jacques Ellul and the Technological Society
  • Use vs Reception
  • "I think that Twitter can be a wonderful tool. It is the tool upon which I inscribed my Robots Soft Exorcism. But Twitter is also can be a broken fire hydrant of sadness and rage."
  • "I think Ellul said: We speak of a computer as a companion, but a computer is actually a vampire."
  • "What we do with our screens is what we do with our lives. We are never escaping relationship."
  • "[Insert Soul Here]"
  • Philip K. Dick's "disinformation"
  • Beck: "Don't believe everything you breathe."
  • Breaking it down: The Exorcism Part
  • Mob Spirit on January 6
  • "Sitting with anger until it becomes sadness." (Sarah Mason)
  • Exorcism as social therapy
  • Thoreau: "We all crave reality."
  • Buddhists surrendering a spirit of conflict or difference before parting
  • Karl Barth: If you don't have any solid difference with the person with whom you exchange the peace of Christ, the peace of Christ isn't there because the peace has to overcome some kind of difference."
  • Opinion, Posture, Position: None ever have to be confused with one's identity.
  • U2's "Staring at the Sun": "Armor-plated suits and ties"
  • "Sometimes when we skip straight to Christ, we skip over Jesus of Nazareth. I'm not saying we all do that whenever we say Christ, but w if I say Christ enough that I'm not thinking about the sermon on the Mount, that I'm not thinking of the red letter words, Christ can become a kind of personal ghost friend who excuses me from my bad behavior."
  • Divesting ourselves of the power we carry through the world
  • Claudia Rankin: whiteness as an investment in not-knowing
  • The centrality of listening
  • Ellul: "Propaganda is monologue and monologue ends when dialogue begins."
  • Breaking it down: The Soft Part
  • Civil Rights Movement is actually the Non-Violent Movement of America
  • "One human exchange at a time."
  • Mantra: "I wrestle not against flesh and blood." (Ephesians 6:12)
  • Rage Against the Machine
  • Advent/Christmas as the prototypical Robot Soft Exorcism
  • Bruce Coburn: "Redemption rips through the surface of time in the cry of a tiny babe."
  • "We're really going against the news cycle if we insist on the meaning of human history being in this manger scene. To be alive to it, to be citizens of a better future than what is being settled for by our robot overlords."

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured author and cultural critic David Dark
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Martin Chan, Nathan Jowers, Natalie Lam, and Logan Ledman
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture:
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