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emergent theological conversation…

April 16, 2007

2.pngThis should be stimulating. Read the book by Caputo, Philosophy and Theology. Let me just throw a little tidbit into this post from that book.

“Postmodernism thus is not relativism or scepticism, as its uncomprehending critics almost daily charge, but minutely close attention to detail, a sense of the complexity and multiplicity of things, for close readings, for detailed histories, for sensitivity to differences. The postmodernists think the devil is in the details, but they also have reason to hope that none of this will antagonize God. For are not the modernists rather like the Shemites, furiously at work on the tower of Babel, on the “system,” as Kierkegaard would say with biting irony, and are not the postmodernists following the lead of God, who in deconstructing the tower clearly favors a multiplicity of languages, frameworks, paradigms, perspective, angles? From a religious point of view, does not postmodernism argue that God’s point of view is reserved for God, while the human standpoint is immersed in the multiplicity of angles?”

This book was required reading going into the conversation.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. dml permalink
    April 18, 2007 12:29 am

    Why would postmodernists think the devil is in the details?

  2. just an apprentice permalink
    April 18, 2007 10:41 am

    The details of history. One might say that they place their quest for truth squarely within a phenomenological approach rather than the meta-physical realm (abstract ideas and constructs–kind of the Western tradition of thought going back to Plato–that the real is something beyond our experience in this world).

    So for the postmodern any language of God, must be grounded in and give an account for what happens in this life. And the details include an awareness that perspective and language is shaped by a multiplicity of cultural and historical formations that will render multiple readings of text.

    Postmoderns began to really deconstruct the great ideologies (including the meta-physcial conception of god). I can go more into this later. Postmodern attention to detail, insists that we give some account for Auschwitz, Gulag, and Hiroshima as we talk about God. Moltman–theology after Auchswitz. How can God allow this to happen? It was the death nell to the Triumphant God who comes to rescue at my beck and call. The crash of the God of reason after Auschwitz, Gulag, Hiroshima. New modesty, new realism, we rethink God.

    Modernity worked toward truth/reality through grand schemas–“utopianism” whether in its humanistic endeavors, or philosophical/theological enterprise (liberal and conservative) each was working at asserting a grand system that offered a different narrative offereing a “utopian” vision.

    Postmoderns doing away with modern liberal individual that somehow has a claim on God. Rather God is the subject and we are laid claim to by that reality, so religious language is more about responsibility than rights. And who is this God? It is the God who enters the world humbly, powerless, in the “least of these. An earthed God.

    Postmodern is not just a “no” (nihilism). It is on the side of “yes.” But it has a healthy skepticism for the relationship of power to religious language (Christendom) and is deeply aware that truth narratives can be filtered through the power interests of the those opening their mouths.

    I will share more from the conference in the coming days. One more session this morning.

  3. April 21, 2007 5:24 am

    Concerning where the devil is in postmodern thought, I rather liked this quotation:

    “An experience that a premodern person might have understood
    as possession by an evil spirit might be understood by a
    modern psychoanalytic patient as more mischief from the Id,
    and might be understood by a postmodern individual as a
    subpersonality making itself heard – might even, if you want
    to get really postmodern about it, be recognized as all

  4. just an apprentice permalink
    April 21, 2007 11:02 am

    Right. Postmodernity acknowledges the tensions, the complexities, the evidence which seems to be contradictory. That is it refuses to not examine evidence that seems to dismantle propositional assumptions. Anything that is true will remain. We don’t need to defend truth. Truth can defend itself. That is God is bigger then our finite attempts that inevitably fall short. Language games cannot contain God. Nothing can contain God. That is the marvelous mystery of the incarnation. That God was contained in Mary’s womb.

    Thus, we in the West have much to learn from the apophatic tradition.

    Steve, thanks for this concrete application of the pre-modern, modern, and postmodern approaches to explaining reality.

  5. May 8, 2007 1:33 am

    I haven’t been able to find most of the “emerging” theology books, but did manage to hear Brian McLaren speak recently, and have blogged about it. Would be interested in your response, if you have tome to look at it.


  1. The future is mestizo… « just an apprentice
  2. The Text that Deconstructs our Control… « just an apprentice

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