Tuesday, June 01, 2004

deconstruction is a space

this post links deconstruction, and then applauds the opening of space. interesting that the comments then focus on whinging.

3 Christianese responses to deconstruction
smooth putty :: this response hurries to paper over the cracks. sometimes the putty is named God, or unity, or mission. But the effect is the same, a cheap makeover.

stuck in a moment :: this response opens up a space, but stays investigating the frayed edges of the movement. sometimes the stuckness is named liberalism, or post-evangelicalism. But the effect is the same, a picking away at old scabs.

the minute of space creation :: this response appreciates just how deeply ingrained and calcified is modernity. The effect is to appreciate the diversity of the now, while resisting the urge to smooth putty or stay in a moment. This is a resolve to follow the God of the cracks into the space of a postmodern future. This is the realisation that the wormhole is deep, the way unclear, but a recognition of an uncertain confidence in the God of tomorrow; God I believe, help me to believe.

Posted by steve at 10:47 PM


  1. Mate, I like you last point a lot…resonates with a recent post that I’ve done…

    Comment by Paul Fromont — June 2, 2004 @ 1:56 pm

  2. “sometimes the stuckness is named liberalism, or post-evangelicalism”
    Can you say more about liberalism/postevangelicalism? I’m interested because while I agree there can be a post-Church attitiude that defines itself entirely as what we are NOT any more, I would think of a (post?)liberal perspective as one that investigates faith, and leaves the ends open, but not in a reactionary or picking-scabs way, rather in a way that lives in a moving faith but deliberately defers closure.

    Comment by maggi — June 2, 2004 @ 7:22 pm

  3. can you define whether you think liberal and postliberal are the same think ….?
    what i mean is that i have been accused of being both liberal and/or postevangelical … (funnily enough,never fundamentalist!); yet i don’t feel that i want to remain in either of those camps, picking over issues that are deeply entwined with modernity, rather i want the space created by deconstruction to keep moving me forward, journey .. pilgrim .. new horizons … postmodern vistas …

    Comment by steve — June 2, 2004 @ 10:56 pm

  4. ah, so this is postevangelical and liberal as terms of abuse? Then I guess that’s a tribal usage for the speaker to say you are ‘not like me’. Liberal in that case often has similarities to PostEvangelical in that it looks for a deferral of closure and a willingness to live with questions that don’t have answers.

    But Liberal and Postevangelical are not only v. different in terms of describing theological traditions, they are also different (in my experience) in where the boundaries of thought are ‘allowed’ to be set, esp. in relation to how one views the Biblical texts.

    Comment by maggi — June 3, 2004 @ 1:49 am

  5. not so much terms of abuse, more like words to describe a way of being in a modern world; both liberalism and post-evangelicalism, are IMHO, responses to modern ways of doing theology. So they are useful dialogue partners, but are increasingly by-gone monuments.
    in contrast, deconstruction invites us to find new, postmodern, theological partners … to deconstruct the influence of modern constructs on our theological constructs

    Comment by steve — June 3, 2004 @ 10:29 am

  6. still not sure what you mean by liberal?

    Comment by maggi — June 3, 2004 @ 11:13 pm

  7. liberal as per Nancey Murphy – the use of human experience, culture and reason as a foundational factor in theological formation.

    and by way of illustration, perhaps Gordon Lynch’s book beyond Religion, which seems to be about a deconstruction of his evangelical history, an engagement with Douglas Coupland, and then an offering of Paul Tillich as a theological way forward in a postmodern world –

    and I read it struggling to get my head around why one would use a 20th century theologian to get “beyond” Coupland.

    Comment by steve — June 4, 2004 @ 9:50 am

  8. I see. SO back to your original point, why do you see liberalism as “investigating the frayed edges of the movement… picking away at old scabs.” ?
    Isn’t liberalism as capable as anything of constructive, forward thinking theology?

    (Or did you mean that other people misinterpret Liberalism that way?)

    Comment by maggi — June 5, 2004 @ 6:43 pm

  9. it depends on what liberalism does. the “frayed edges” needs to be placed within the context of the 3 responses to the deconstruction of space. So if liberalism stays stuck in its moment, titling at modern windmills, then by its own choice it will not have, to use your phrase been “constructive and forwardlooking”. However if it chooses to occupy the “minute of creative space”; to appreciate the now of this postmodern moment, then it has enormous potential for being forward looking. this is the choice of us all, no matter what our previous theological conviction. the ground has moved beneath our feet.

    a lot of questions maggi, and i feel like you’re playing poker, and there is something in your deck and you’re not letting on.

    and you have not answered the questions i have asked you in return – how you define the terms you have used – liberal and postliberal.

    when you read this it will be Trinity Sunday, may I as a downunder Baptist wish the best of God’s mysterous embodiment to you and your Anglican pilgrims in the heart of Cambridge’s lofty spires.

    Comment by steve — June 5, 2004 @ 10:25 pm

  10. No poker games, I promise. I’m not that complicated! Sorry – my not making sense is because my brain is feeling very dull at the moment…

    I’m genuinely interested in what you were driving at in the post with the equation of two things (liberal and postevangelical) which seem to me to be entirely different things. Postevangelicalism seems to me in the main to be about re-thinking cultural containers for what is in essence still a very modernist Evangelical agenda (“if we dress it up in ‘relevant’ looking clothes, people will ‘get’ the gospel…” – an agenda that treats culture as ephemera, and doesn’t see it as genuinely idea-shaping ) Most postevangelicals don’t consider a groundbreaking shift in their own theological conceptualisation. The same old themes are there – the Cross and saving me from my sins (and possibly from my culture?) taking up most of the space.

    Whereas Liberal theology – even in its most modernist versions – seems to me much more concerned with allowing culture to be the medium in which the gospel is incarnated. That may carry baggage of its own, but at least it treats the forms and shapes of culture as something of substance that shapes our entire reception of ideas.

    Your postcards looked interesting to me because from an Evangelical beginning, they seemed more to be taking the thoroughgoing approach with the culture/theology engagement.

    (Make sense? I’m not sure… but now I have to go to worship… Happy Trinity to you too – i wish wish wish we had a beach nearby but will have to make do with a formal chapel and rather brain-stretching music! )

    Comment by maggi — June 7, 2004 @ 4:07 am

  11. maggi
    “brain-stretching music” – let me guess, it will be U2’s “3 chords and the truth” – surely the ultimate trinity anthem!

    Comment by steve — June 7, 2004 @ 11:26 am

  12. Alas, not! We, like you, sang St Patricks Breastplate, though – so lovely.

    And I spent a good few distracted minutes trying to figure out whether I could set a large pumice alight in my Chapel without burning the place down… 😉

    Comment by maggi — June 7, 2004 @ 7:22 pm

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