Tuesday, July 12, 2005

the images say it all

I’m kicking off the conversation at our espresso congregation tonite. I’ve been handed the question “what does postmodern mean when applied to theology.”

I’m tired of words, so for fun I thought I’d google “postmodern” under google images. The first 20 images visually say it all really; the art, the language and the language games, the commerce, the architecture.

Now take those 20 images and think about how theology (God talk) is applied to seeing God and speaking of God and connecting God…

Posted by steve at 05:39 PM

Thursday, December 16, 2004

an eco-theological hermeneutic
– thanks Mike

Posted by steve at 01:23 PM

Thursday, October 28, 2004

spirituality of place

I visited the arthouse here in Christchurch this week, where a local New Zealand artist, J.S. Parker, is exhibiting. The exhibition is a series called Plain Song: referring to medieval Gregorian chants and the fact that his work captures a spirituality of place, drawing on the Plains of Canterbury and Marlborough. (It’s also an allusion to Parker’s painting techniques; in which he uses the 2-dimensionality of planes as a core motif.)

I have been reflecting recently on the relationship between spirituality and place, both given my geographic moves this year, and given that I am working on a theological article on indigenous landrights in relation to the New Zealand sea-bed and foreshore issue. I suspect that Western theology has been placeless due to its abstract notions of the Trinity, and so we are divorced from a spirituality of place.

A final quote from the Parker exhibition stood out for me: Parker “has always had a spiritual basis to his work and feels this may be one explanation for the recent, strong resurgence of interest in his paintings.” It is nice to see resonnance between my ponderous theological ponderings and the contemporary New Zealand art scene.

Posted by steve at 10:53 AM

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Is the Trinity placeless?

I blog this earthed in a cafe, with a headache, under pressure from a particular set of embodied circumstances and relationships. I blog this in Canterbury, with a particular landscape and seascape. The view from my table shapes my thinking, blabbing, blogging. Place shapes theological reflection.

The work of Miroslav Volf positions the Trinity within the context of 9/11 and ethnic cleansing. It argues that in the face of religious tribalism God embraces us, then releases us to the possibility of being fully human. This becomes a model for human relating; we must embrace the other, we must release the other to face being fully human. This sounds great. It is practically sharpened by the fact that Volf grew up in Yugoslavia and so writes of embrace and freedom and consequence against the bitter backdrop of ethnic cleansing. What do I do with the violator and oppressor; asks Volf? I must embrace because God embraced me. I must release, trusting the love of God and people.

However, this presents the possibility of the Trinity as an abstract meta-narrative, a model for human relationships. And I wonder how such a potentially abstract model is shaped by place. How do the contours of land, of land displacement, shape a Trinitarian theology.

The typical answer is that in Jesus the Trinity becomes “placed”? As Jesus walks, so the Triune God walks. This makes all place important, as a localised, Jewish place, is universalized. However, there is a nagging sense that once again the Trinity has become an abstract meta-narrative, a model for human relationships; as God in one place becomes God in all places.

Or, from my place cafe table, I ask you at your place, is there more to Trinitarian placement?

Posted by steve at 11:23 AM

Friday, October 01, 2004

preaching the lamb of God

Jesus the lamb of God:

are there any contemporary metaphors that might illuminate this blood-stained, distinctly rural image in today’s urban context?

how to communicate such an image, especially today, 1 October, World Vegetarian

Posted by steve at 03:04 PM

Thursday, June 17, 2004

blokes and books

I have further developed my thoughts on doing postmodernity into a longer piece on blokes and books, for a local radio station.

Oh, I rate 30/100 in the good booking quiz. Given the tone of some of the questions, I am taking this as a compliment.


Posted by steve at 02:34 PM

Saturday, June 12, 2004

coming or going and mission

attractional vs missional: do people come to us or do we go to people: this is a false dualism.

sociologically – people are always coming and going. centre is edge and edge is centre and the journey is more interesting that the destination.

biblically – the bible shows times of attractional mission – I’m going up to Jerusalem or John 17, by love they know we are disciples or Acts 2; are you drunk?; and moments of missional mission; the end of Acts, the wandering of the prophet Jesus.

theologically – the triune God is both the embrace of the divine dance of love and the incarnational gift of love for the world.

the underlying principle is right – that Christendom is over. But the either/or dualism is unhelpful. mission must be missional in order to find Christ in new places. and mission can be attractional in a post-Christendom world. For example, building an alternative community of love – or standing up for the ethic of marriage while accepting that our world is pluralistic and tolerant of a range of sexual expressions.

Posted by steve at 12:58 PM

Saturday, March 06, 2004

the postmodern in 1 sentence

A story in response to Tim’s comment: in three words (i.e., “Postmodernism is _____”).

So it is 9 am on a Sunday morning late last year. Barely awake, barely functioning, I am doing a workshop, with Mark Pierson from Cityside. The prescribed title (NOT our choice) was “Postmodern communication.” The prescribed audience is New Zealand Bapist Assembly.

In true postmodern style, Mark and I have prepared a deck of cards with a different topic on each card and an egg timer. An audience member will choose a card from the deck and we have “egg timer” time to answer. It will be participatory, interactive, audience-driven, random, chaotic, fast moving … (not that I am defining the postmodern in 1 sentence).

Before we start a hand shoots up. I am not sure I am in right place. Can you define postmodernity for me in 1 sentence? This man might be looking for the right place, but suddenly I sense I am in the wrong place.

Posted by steve at 03:07 PM

Friday, March 05, 2004

a question

Do you ever wonder why some postmodernist writers (e.g. Jacques Derrida or Stanley Fish) use so many words? Is it
a) the only way to convince modernists
b) a deeply and deliberately ironic gesture
c) evidence of how deeply rooted modernity really is
d) a cheap shot criticism not worth pondering further?

Posted by steve at 08:14 AM

Saturday, February 28, 2004

the postmodern contest

One of the questions my PhD examiners asked me was to reflect on the contested nature of postmodernity. They liked my answer so much they suggested it be inserted into the thesis. So here is a first draft.

There is a huge amount of literature that describes a movement from modern to postmodern. At base this reflects some rejection of the past; often in relation to triumphal and over-arching words, symbols and systems.

I would group critiques of postmodernity into five camps.


Posted by steve at 11:25 AM