The myth of “Desconstruction Theology”: Article watch (advanced)

Of late I’ve been doing a lot of mixed reading, which means both Indian and Western philosophers (mostly western sadly). But I’ve come across varied levels of open and closed mindedness. Anyway, when discussing postmodernism, there are many Christians who just don’t get it. They fear it, they label it, and in trying to define (contain) it, they fall prey to the critique of postmodernism, rather than actually making a contribution. Currently, I’m at a crossroad too, do I understand or do I label?

Well the following article (for advanced readers), written by Carl Rashke, is an example (for me) of understanding, and rejecting quick labels. I have drawn a few extracts, but the whole article is found here: “Why is the Emerging Church drawn to deconstructive theology?” Take Two.

“Deconstructive” theology, on the other hand, has a divergent “genealogy” (as Nietzsche would say), pursuing an alternative “rhizomatic” trajectory (as Deleuze would say). As is well-known, Derrida coined the word “deconstruction” early in his career, then eventually stopped using it entirely. He employed it to make a subtle point about how texts are intended to be read. We need to read them as complex and to a certain extent “chaotic” events of flickering meaning, not as monolithic architectures of clarified Cartesian certainty. Derrida’s notoriously difficult style of writing exemplifies his own intention. You’re not supposed instantly to “understand it” or “even get it.”

It was a case of what one obscure literary critic years ago termed “the productive progeny of the malapropism” Webster by the way defines a malapropism as “the use of a word sounding somewhat like the one intended but ludicrously wrong in the context “ Such words sometimes also take on a life of their own. The cultural conservatives of the early Eighties, when they heard all those “tenured radicals” in universities talking about “deconstruction” thought it was a fancy word for “destruction,” remembering the cries of “burn baby burn” during the street riots of the 1960s. So “deconstruction” became a bit of pop cultural argot for post-Sixties anti-authoritarianism and has evolved into a sort of façon de parler for any sort of probing, critical, analytical, or overly nuanced way of calling into question a conventional habit of mind, or desecrating a sacred cow.

The genuine differance, as Søren Kierkegaard’s pseudonymous character Johannes de Silentio observes, is the difference of faith. Kierkegaard refers to this self-effacing “difference bearer” as the knight of faith. No one can tell by one’s outward show – the books one reads, the clothes one wears, the politics one espouses – who exactly is the knight of faith. The extrinsic marks are never obvious. For Kierkegaard, whom Derrida admired and who has had a tremendous impact on the development postmodern thought, faith is the ever so subtle difference that makes all the difference.

Faith is the key to any “deconstructive theology.” Of course, that would mean the deconstruction of theology itself, which it may be difficult for any “movement” to bear.


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Passage for this Season

Philippians 2:11-13 (NIV) (12)Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, (13)for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

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