Things I’ve been reading

Misusing deconstruction: on belief and the emergent church

Popular use notwithstanding, I do think that emergent church folk are particularly and especially culpable for their use and misuse of the word theoretically and theologically in large part because of their affinity toward postmodern philosophy and their use of key thinkers like Derrida. This makes things complicated and, if dissected closely, I think it shows that the emergent church — or at least some subgroup(s) within it — aren’t all that different from mainstream Christianity and certainly not as subversive as some had initially hoped.

Believing in Johnny Cash: An Open Letter to Atheists
While the focus on the author’s understanding of atheism is unfortunate, this is a wonderful explanation of narrative theology and the idea of Truth as something other than “fact.”

What I propose is that no one lives, or can live, or has ever lived, within the circle of empirical science. I propose that no matter who we are or what our beliefs might be, we have always had to deal with the question of interpretation. And that question is not whether to interpret, but how. No one fails to interpret. Interpreting is what human beings do.

Put another way, we cannot avoid believing in stories. We can only hope to choose the best ones. How to do this? I propose that good stories are stories that tell the truth, and bad ones are ones that do not.

Journeys of a Religious Misfit, Part 2: Accidental Fences

Quakers are pretty much the opposite of Catholics.

Or at least that’s what I thought when I first walked through the meetinghouse door to join the West Knoxville Society of Friends for First Day worship.

One Comment

  1. Ravyn

    Regarding truth as “fact”… I’ve been reading Sven Birkerts’ “The Art of Time in Memoir” for a genre seminar, and your middle quote brought to mind a passage I just came across:

    So much of the substance of memoir is not *what exactly happened?* but rather, what is the expressive truth of the past, the truth of feeling that answers to the effect of events and relationships on a life? … The memoirist writes from a subjective provocation, following an imperative to express the true dynamics of some part of the past. The distilled experience then exists as a specifically contoured shape, the stored sensation of ‘how it was.’ This is what the memoirist seeks to reproduce. As the poet Stephane Mallarme insisted, ‘Paint, not the thing, but the effect which it produces.’ Exactly right. And in capturing the effect the need for accuracy is absolute. The writer must represent as faithfully as possible what memory has shaped inside–memory and feeling.

    It seems especially challenging for contemporary people to reconcile themselves with gradations of factuality, as evidenced by controversy surrounding certain “fake” memoirs and also by an overabundance of those which are simplistic and boring specifically for their reliance on fact. Probably the collective thinking process giving rise to these issues is the same that fuels some people’s indignance toward those who accept non-factual truths in a religious context. I would lay blame with our ingrained binary thinking, though I’m not even sure the biblical writers were much free from that when they crafted their particular mythologies.

    The quote you cited is definitely going in my book.

    Thanks for linking to your blog, by the way. I’ve really been enjoying it.

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