Things I read recently

From James K. A. Smith’s Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism: Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church, pg 28.

Our Christian faith – and correlatively our account of apologetics – is tainted by modernism when we fail to appreciate the effects of sin on reason. When this role is ignored, we adopt an Enlightenment optimism about the role of a supposedly neutral reason in the recognition of truth. (We also end up committed to “Constantinian” strategies that, under the banner of natural law, seek to build a Christian America.)

From James K. A. Smith’s Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism: Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church, pg 51.

Deconstruction’s recognition that everything is interpretation opens a space of questioning – a space to call into question the received and dominant interpretations that often claim not to be interpretations at all. As such, deconstruction is interested in interpretations that have been marginalized and sidelined, activating voices that have been silenced. This is the constructive, yea prophetic, aspect of Derrida’s deconstruction: a concern for justice by being concerned about dominant, status quo interpretations that silence those who see differently. Thus, from its inception, deconstruction has been, at root, ethical – concerned for the paradigmatic marginalized described by the Old Testament as “the widow, the orphan and the stranger.” To put it differently: Wall Street and Washington both want us to think that their rendering of the world is “just the way things are.” Deconstruction, by showing the way in which everything is interpretation, empowers us to question the interpretations of trigger-happy presidents and greedy CEOs – in a way not unlike the prophets’ questioning of the dominant interpretations of the world. As such, we are free to interpret the world differently.

Cornel West (or, perhaps, Abraham Joshua Heschel; the text is unclear)

“To prophesy is not to predict an outcome but rather to identify concrete evils.”

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