6 April 2007

Another Post

Filed under: Psychology, Reflections — ktismatics @ 10:56 am

So now I’m hung up on the discussion surrounding my most recent post. I’ve felt distracted by it for a day and a half now. I felt like something was getting in my way, preventing me from moving on with what I had in mind. But maybe if I allow the distraction to become the focal point… No, better: if I allow the distraction to enter into me, or to wash over me, to dominate me… or maybe it’s an opening of the void that I try to avoid — then maybe something will be revealed, or reworked, or made explicit, or destroyed, or reterritorialized.

The event begins with a comment made by Jonathan. He begins by suggesting that I’ve misrepresented Gadamer, and he offers a corrective. He then continues by proposing that the most reasonable position in a dispute usually, eventually, becomes the dominant position. He asserts that the minority positions, being lesser positions, ought to be ignored so that action can be taken. He concludes by saying that it’s absurd to think of the Church bothering to write an infinite number of anticreeds. (This is from memory; it’ll be interesting to see how much of what I just said is really written in Jonathan’s comment.)

At this point the void opens. I find myself irked by Jonathan’s comment, distracted. The more I try to ignore the distraction, the more pissed off I get. I write a response (again, from memory): if you don’t like my distinction between Gadamer and Derrida, forget it: it’s my ideas I’m stating here, not theirs. Then I say that this sort of conversation makes me wonder why I write a blog. I say that in my opinion the best idea doesn’t rise to the top, that the best idea is usually either over most people’s heads or too far off from the usual way of looking at things, so it gets buried with the other losers in the debate. My position is absurd? Write no creeds, I say, or write an absurd creed. Finally, I say I don’t care what the church does about its creeds: it’s no concern of mine.

Thinking about my reply to Jonathan as I’ve just summarized it, I agree with everything I wrote. But it’s an emotionally charged response, an angry response. It’s the emotion that dominates my response. What’s communicated, I suspect, is arrogance: my ideas are better than your ideas; they’re over your head; I don’t care about what you care about. Now I can disavow the arrogant intentions, say that in the heat of the moment I miscommunicated. Instead I’ll acknowledge to myself that tone of my response communicates some repressed meaning that expressed itself in the void between words.

I try not to think about myself. When I do I usually get angry and depressed. Why? Because I have a sense that my life isn’t going well, that it hasn’t gone well for a long time, that I don’t really expect it to get better. I’m better off if I stick with the ideas, the readings, the writings, the conversations. I’m wary of thinking too much about the other selves who participate in the conversations because other selves remind me of my self — which I’d rather not be reminded of.

So Jonathan’s response to my post distracts me from what I’m thinking about. But it distracts me to myself. First, the interpretation of Gadamer versus Derrida has a history. In my early days of blogging I was trying to attract attention to my interpretation of Genesis 1. Why? Because agents and publishers say they’re interested in nonfiction books only if the author has a “platform” — a public reputation that draws a ready-made audience to the book. I have no platform. Though I’ve got educational credentials, though I’ve had a reasonably successful career by most standards (but not my own), though the content of what I’ve written is excellent, though my writing style is clear and snappy, none of that matters because I don’t have a platform. So rather than sending my book out right away, I decide to devote some months of my time to building a platform.

In the first week or so I came across the Church and Postmodern Culture blog, which was brand new and hadn’t yet put up its first substantive post. It says that James KA Smith is the guy behind this blog. I never heard of Smith, so I read about him on his website: he’s an associate professor at a college where I once took a seminary course; he once wrote a book that uses Genesis 1-3 to contend that man by created nature is a language user, that language isn’t just a consequence of the Fall and the resulting separation from a oneness with God, thus making verbal communication necessary. I think: this guy Smith and I have something in common; my exegesis is right up his alley. Now I’m not looking for this guy to endorse my book — I never heard of him, and I doubt his name on the back cover would sell many books. But I do think he might be able to offer some helpful comments about my book, which I could use to do some further editing before sending it off to an agent. And maybe he’d help get a little buzz going about my ideas in whatever circles he runs in. Plus maybe we can strike up a correspondence on matters of mutual interest.

I send Smith a long email describing my project and how it relates to his; I point him toward the exegesis of Gen. 1 that was then up on my blog; I tell him that if he’s interested I’d be happy to discuss it further with him, email him my whole book, etc. A week goes by: no reply. I send a follow-up email, elaborating on my first one, trying to engage in conversation. This time I get a very brief reply: I’m busy with a lot of other stuff; why don’t you send your exegesis to a peer-reviewed journal. Like a form rejection letter. This pisses me off. I send him another email: if you’re too busy to read something that’s up your alley, you’ve got too much on your plate. Peer-reviewed journal? I’m not playing the academic game; this is a book for general readership. Do you think Richard Dawkins sent his latest book out for peer review before he sent it to the publisher? No reply. Smith has blown me off. Pisses me off. Now it’s no longer about the book, or the ideas, but about me. I regard this Smith guy as a possible colleague, a fellow traveler with similar interests. But he’s too fucking busy — which means there are innumerable other things that he’ll focus his attention on, but not my book, not me.

A week or so later Smith starts posting about his book on postmodernism at the Church and Pomo blog. My first reaction is to ignore his stuff; my second is to diss it in comments. But I restrain myself. I will engage in the conversation. The first post is about Derrida, whose stuff I know quite well. Smith includes Derrida in with Gadamer as two pomo guys who support the idea that texts are best read in the traditions they were written in — so the best interpreters of Scripture and the faith are those who participate in the ongoing historic tradition and community of the Church. I don’t know Gadamer, but I don’t think this is an accurate representation of Derrida. It’s like Smith has co-opted Derrida, making him a defender of orthodoxy rather than a revolutionary underminer of any sort of mainstream position. I start commenting. I engage the other commenters in discussion. I’m putting good ideas out there, linking them to others’ ideas. I’m fairly pleased with myself. Smith? He responds to others’ comments but not to mine. Pisses me off. I continue with a couple more of Smith’s posts, where he engages other pomo writers I don’t know as well as Derrida. Same pattern: thoughtful comments by me and others, interesting discussions with others, including Jason, occasional responses by Smith but never to my comments. Pisses me off. My comments are as stimulating of discussion as anyone’s and more so than most. I regard this as a personal slight now.

A couple months go by. Erdman and I have encountered each other at the Jesus Creed blog and have been commenting on each other’s blogs. He puts up a post about Smith’s book. It triggers my anger. I put up a critical comment: Smith is taming Derrida, equating him with Gadamer, who’s more prepared to accept a community’s authority, who’s a better ally for a neo-Catholic traditionalism. Erdman more or less agrees with Smith’s position. He emails Smith: we’re discussing your book on my blog; come check it out. Smith shows up, comments: this whole taming of Derrida I find boring. Asshole. No acknowledgment of my participation on the Church and Pomo debate — maybe he doesn’t even make the connection. I reply: it’s probably boring because you hear it over and over again from so many people; maybe you should pay attention. He comes back, acknowledges his tendency toward arrogance, makes another comment which I don’t remember the gist of, and never comes back again.

So now we’re back to yesterday’s exchange here, maybe 8 months after my emails to Smith. I never built a platform; my letters and proposals to the agents resulted in either a 1-sentence generic rejection or no reply whatsoever. I’ve just posted — again — the distinction I see between Gadamer and Derrida. It’s not the main point of my post — just a little side benefit. Here comes Erdman. Does he begin by talking about my ideas? No: he says I’ve misconstrued Gadamer; here’s the right way to interpret him. This time he makes Gadamer sound more like my reading of the radical Derrida — as opposed to my prior disagreement with Smith, who made Derrida sound more like his reading of the conservative Gadamer. Pisses me off. It brings back my whole history with Gadamer versus Derrida, which long ago had morphed in my head into Smith versus Doyle.

Here I’ve been trying to put my disappointment about the Genesis 1 book behind me. I couldn’t generate a buzz through my blog; I built no platform to attract the agents’ interest; my book will probably never be read by anyone other than the two people who’ve already read it: my wife Anne and an emerging pastor, the father of my daughter’s school pal, who after reading the book says “so what? what does this mean for doing church?” who has since quit the ministry, moved back to the States, and no longer responds to my emails. So like I say, I’m trying to get beyond my anger and depression about the Gen 1 book. I’ve written 3 books, none published, no prospects for any of them getting published. I can’t bring myself to write book 4. I need to make some money; I start thinking about starting some kind of counseling practice. But I want the practice to fit with my larger agendas: creation, interpretation, meaning. Meanwhile, I’ve come to enjoy the blog world for its own sake, not because it might help me build a platform. I enjoy my frequent exchanges with Jonathan and, more recently, with Jason — I think of them as my friends. I also enjoy my exchanges with others on a less frequent basis. I’m rereading philosophy and novels through a psychological lens rather than a theological one, but people seem to be reading along with me, commenting, asking questions. The process is helping me clarify my own ideas. I might also be contributing to others clarifying their own ideas. It’s a good thing, this blogging.

I’m just about ready to pull it together into a tentative pomo therapeutic praxis. I take a walk and something about the Creeds comes to mind, illustrative of something in Derrida’s deconstruction of texts, but also linking to the psychoanalytic insight that the unconscious expresses itself nonverbally. Can a text be deconstructed based not on what’s written in it, but on what isn’t written in it? Do texts reveal traces of repressed matter in a kind of shadow non-textual world behind the text? I don’t think I’ve read this idea before in quite this way. It’s a bridge between the textual guys — the philosophers and literary critics — and the spoken-word guys — the analysts and psychologists. I’m psyched; I can find the way toward what I’ve been hoping to find. And it illustrates something about the ways in which a text written within and for an interpretive community — an idea I associate with Gadamer — reveals all the texts that weren’t written, that would have been written if the community had defined its boundaries between in and out differently — a Derrida idea. So now I’ve got also the beginning of a way of categorizing what isn’t written, what isn’t said, based on these two philosophers translated into a psychological context.

But… I’m thrown back on myself. First in the allusion to the Smith disagreement. But then this other half of Jonathan’s comment: the dominant voice is usually the one that deserves to dominate; the minority voices should be ignored. I’m struck by the anomaly of his position: it sounds so modernistic, so not Derrida. Is this just sophistry on Erdman’s part, arguing for argument’s sake? But I’m also now doubly pissed. Why? Because my voice is the minority voice. My first novel doesn’t seem to resonate with the popular imagination (nobody but Anne has seen the second one). My Genesis 1 interpretation is all but invisible both to the emerging post-evangelicals and to the evolutionary scientists. Do I believe that the dominant positions dominate because of their intellectual superiority? No: I believe mine is better, but it’s either over most people’s heads or it’s just too far off from the existing interpretive paradigms. Popular tastes of the herd dominate excellence: it’s why top-grossing movies are crap, it’s why I can’t get a book published unless I’m a talk-show host. This gap between popular and excellent, between value and market value, between individual difference and groupthink, is at the heart of my project, and at the heart of my anger and depresssion. So here I’m coming forth with what I see as the leading edge of a new set of ideas that might energize me, but I’m wary. I fear that in all likelihood these ideas will meet the same fate as my books: no one will see them, they will disappear into the background noise.

So what’s Erdman’s comment say? Minority viewpoints don’t deserve consideration because they’ve been tried in the fire and found wanting; we need to move on, take action based on the official majority creeds of our culture. This is precisely the opposite of what I believe about my own minority voice, but also precisely what I see as the obstacle facing my work. And here, on my first launch of this new insight, I’m confronted explicitly with the void, the reason why my other contributions have fallen into oblivion. Or, not a void: better — I’m moving forward and all of a sudden a wall is slammed in my face.

I wish I wouldn’t subject myself to this having the wall slammed in my face, especially right at the moment of breakthrough. It’s like when I finish writing a book: the first book was thrilling; the third one was depressing because immediately the wall separating the book from all possible readers of the book jumped in front of me. Anyhow, this sense of the imminent wall makes me wish I didn’t write a blog, where I’m immediately confronted by a rejection. What I really wish, of course, is something else I don’t say: I wish the readers of my blog wouldn’t throw the wall up in my face; I wish everybody would read my blog and love it, tearing the walls down. When it doesn’t happen, I wish I hadn’t succumbed to the hope that it would.

There’s a positive version of this wish not to write a blog too. When I’ve written my books I’ve purposely isolated myself from readers until the book is finished. I’ve also largely isolated myself from contemporary fiction and trends in the marketplace, not wanting my own vision to be distorted by what others are writing or reading. This has worked well for me: I can write page after page, day after day, like going on a long run by myself. To write in blog-sized chunks, to put the chunks up for public display and criticism, to adapt what I write to the audience — I’m not sure it’s such a good idea. Maybe when I get to this particular stage, when I’m synthesizing what I’ve read and creating my own thing, I should take that stuff off-line and do it in private. So that’s the positive, conscious, “creedal” rationale for wishing I wasn’t writing a blog. The rest of it is anticreed. Which one is true?

Anyhow, so now I string together some sentences in my comment: I sometimes wish I wasn’t writing a blog. I think the best ideas are over people’s heads, or that people are too boxed into their own paradigms to see them. The impression I’m sure this gives is an arrogant one: you assholes don’t deserve to read my blog. Partly that’s what I feel. Partly it’s the rational content, my “creed” about blogwriting and about good ideas, especially my good ideas. The arrogant part is anticreed. Also the inverse of what I wrote: maybe my stuff really isn’t very good, maybe it deserves to be buried with the rest of the loser crap. I of course have to acknowledge this possibility. To buffer myself against this suppressed possibility of my own mediocrity I overreact, adopting a posture of arrogant superiority. Which I wish I didn’t have to do. I wish the writing would just flow out from me into the world, find places to land, collaborators who help me and whom I also help on the front lines of human creatorliness, etc. etc. Instead the flows turn inward, onto the ego, and I have to confront the inner conflict of whether I’m great or mediocre, and of whether other people think I’m great or mediocre.

Now the thing about the Creeds comes to mind. I haven’t written any posts about explicitly theological topics in a long time — since I more or less gave up on my Genesis 1 book, in fact. Why all of a sudden the Nicene Creed? It illustrates a point I’m trying to make, sure. But the Christian Creed? Well, I think partly this. The people I converse with on my own and other blogs are mostly Christians. I’m not Christian. I do, however, hope for some other basis of fellowship than faith in God, a basis in creativity and excellence and difference, as well as a combined struggle against the imitative mediocrity of the mass culture. When I express this hope my Christian blogging amigos tell me I’m talking about some vision of the church they too uphold. But what about the unbeliever? What about me? Am I excluded from this imaginary fellowship? Am I irreconcilably alienated from the people I talk with all the time? Are they all together on one side of the divide, leaving me alone on the other side? Must I subscribe to the Creed in order to enter into the Elysian fields, into the fellowship of the remnant? Isn’t there room for the minority position that’s been pushed to the margins? Doesn’t everyone in the majority also have the minority position in themselves somewhere, providing an unspoken link? And can’t I too acknowledge my own affinity with the majority position, even though for me it’s not what I consciously uphold as my own personal creed? So perhaps my deconstruction of the Nicene Creed is in part an attempt to deterritorialize the fellowship, a proposal to let me in without forcing me to sign the Confession of Faith. Can we support one another? Is what I’m about to offer up here as a set of ideas going to be valued by the Christians? Can the Christians help me clarify my ideas and their application even if the ideas are secular?

Which brings me to the end of Jonathan’s response. Are we supposed to have sixty creeds? It’s absurd. This is the right Creed: it’s proven its value; it gives us the momentum to move forward together. Sure it does, but it means the Creedalists move on and I’m left behind. Okay fine, screw you then. Have no creed, have an absurd creed, I don’t give a damn about your freaking church anyhow. But what I want is a different creed. Do I want a universalist creed that includes the anticreeds? Not really. I want a creed based on a different division of the territory, a creed that believes in human creation, in excellence, in difference, etc. — the creed that gives me my forward momentum but that also seems to keep me isolated. Maybe it is the absurd creed, to create good but different stuff that probably nobody but the fellow creedalists will ever see or value. But at least there would be the remnant to take consolation among one another.

So I write my comment. I get a response from Jonathan. Okay, don’t talk about the church then. My first reaction? Since I’m not part of the church I have no right to talk about the church — meaning especially to diss the Church’s Creeds. I’m pissed all over again. I tell Anne about it. She doesn’t see why I’m so pissed. So she’s in on it too, a Christian conspiracy designed to ostracize me, to make me think I’m the one who’s paranoid. It takes awhile for me to calm down and read it again. No: I’m the one who said I didn’t care about the church. Fine, says Jonathan, let’s talk about the Nazis instead. Now I start to realize my overreaction. I relook at the whole exchange. I feel embarrassed, apologetic. Once again, I’m the asshole. I’m always the asshole sooner or later. I can’t remember if I write my next reply at this point, but I don’t think so. I think I put it aside for the night. My anger has changed to depression.

In the morning, still depressed, I see I’ve gotten an email from Jason. He says (again from memory) that he wants to know where I’m coming from. He feels like he’s been marking time on my blog, covering the same old ground, to the point where it’s getting violent. He wants to know my story. To which I say something like: fine, if you’re bored with my blog, go do something else; get violent on somebody else’s blog. I then tell him that my story is implicit in my blog already, that I’m all about creation and the difficulty of carrying on without recognition and the territorializations of the herd. Then I say here’s probably the story you want to hear, but that isn’t so important to me: agnostic, God is probably the product of human imagination, and so on. There, I say, I hope your curiosity is satisfied. End of response. Once again, the content is accurate. But the tone implies something else: if you’re bored it’s because you don’t get it. You say you want my story but you’re missing it. You only want my story to satisfy your curiosity. But of course I’m also reluctant to tell my story. It again makes me think about myself. It again sets up the test I’m bound to fail, or that Jason is bound to fail: my story as I tell it to myself, versus my story as the Christians want to hear it. I’m resentful, demoralized, isolated.

I have breakfast, I cheer up a little. I write an apologetic blog comment, I send an apologetic email to Jason. I get back to the original subject matter of the post, responding at length to Jonathan, Jason, Ron, Sam. But I sense my own momentum has been sapped. It all feels futile, like I have to force myself to think about it. And here 24 hours before I was so enthusiastic, so ready to push forward into the creative interval. Now I’m neither angry nor depressed; just sort of flatly melancholy. I feel this way fairly often: no energy, no creative flow, a vague sense of futility. And I sense the steam has gone out of the Anticreeds blog post too — the comments have drifted into some strange realm of sarcasm, resentment, disinterest. I ought to get back on the horse, write the next post in the series. But my heart isn’t in it. Maybe I’ll just quit right here. I’ve thought about quitting the blog before; maybe now is the time. But then I decide to let the distraction take over my awareness. And so here is another post.



  1. wow, John!

    well for what it’s worth, blogger to blogger, this is an excellent post.

    After running into you a bit at OST and then coming to your blog with Ivan after the jesuscreed incidence, i have been reading your posts regularly and occasionally commenting. Let me tell you that there are very few blogs that I regularly read, even with Jesuscreed and OST I am very selective.

    The reasons for my few comments that are partly that I am a hesitant commenter in the first place but more a characteristic of your posts, which is to make me think – new ideas and new link-ups of old ideas keep happening – and I usually don’t sort of ‘get it all together’ enough to be able to make sense of things immediately, and by the time I am ready to comment, that post is already history! In fact I was a bit miffed as some fascinating new ideas on Gadamer vs Derrida and the evangelical hermenneutic quagmire were so easily ignored!

    I think that you are on to something fascinating in that netherworld between psychology and philosophy and whether you keep blogging or not, don’t for goodness sake give up on exploring that!

    To be frank, your post on the creed is very astute, the dominant position automatically implies (its raison d’etre) is in how effectively it repudiates those insidious anticreeds, whether somewhere deep inside of us or in the surrounding cultural environment.

    I really don’t have much of an opinion on the belonging part. I too think that a creed that believes in “human creation, in excellence, in difference…” is what is essential. What is fellowship and what is love in action? I personally agree with Pascal on this one, what counts is not what we think of God. God wants us to express what we believe in our love for and fellowship with one another as humans, so the two together in practice should abolish the territorialisation of relationship altogether!

    And, last but not least, as far as Genesis is concerned, you should get that published and I do think that one day you will. I can just imagine K.A. Smith’s dread when you popped in with some really new ideas. Very few academics want to see their own ideas eclipsed by anything more interesting or really original and all that talk of valuing the truth or being altruistic in academia is only so far as it is “my publication” or something suitably sycophantic. I don’t know the man but did see the stuff on Jonathan’s post and remember posting something about Lewis on it. In any case trying to make even Gadamer palatable to evengelicals will itself require some mental gymnastics and a lot of sophistry, let alone Derrida! Thiselton tried and largely failed.

    I just noticed the other day that your Genesis post (on OST for the uninitiated) has had well over 3,000 reads! Your ideas are both original and astute, so don’t give up that easily. I know the feeling of feeling sapped out all too well. I went through a month of that just recently and it is nasty. The worst part is that I just can’t say when or even if it will end, but it always does and sooner of later i am back with Qohelet and working away as though no interruption had taken place.


    Comment by samlcarr — 6 April 2007 @ 2:20 pm

  2. Thanks Sam. I’ve got to admit, as I’m getting to the end of this post I’m thinking, “Wow, if could write this much everyday I could write a book in like two weeks!” This isn’t entirely a pour-out-my-soul exercise. Though it is a self-awareness and a bit of a self-flagellation, it’s also a little bit an application of the Creeds idea to myself — a kind of case study. So see, I’m intellectualizing even my own angst, reading my own antitext. I’m incurable.

    I wasn’t so sure about naming Smith in this post, but I figured, what the heck, he’ll never show up here anyway — an advantage of obscurity (unless his close personal friend Erdman drags him over here). It’s good to have someone else imagining Smith’s dread besides just me. And this whole thing of thinking about my own great ideas — it’s much better if I don’t think much about whether they’re great or crap, just sling them out there. Still, I admit I do admire myself sometimes — though just as often I think I’m an asshole.

    Speaking of OST, Andrew is another guy I asked last fall to read my exegesis but who said he didn’t have time. I like the guy anyway; maybe I’d even like Smith if I got to know him. In early December I went to Andrew’s house for a meeting of Christian Associates, an affiliation of mission churches to “post-Christian Europe” of all things. We had a discussion of some of the implications of my reading of Gen. 1 for human creation which went well. Those couple of days were some of the most fun I’d had in years. I even participated in a Eucharist and attended one of those newfangled emerging church services in The Hague. The 3,000 reads thing is kind of cool too.

    I do like your contributions to OST a lot. You’d mentioned this sense you have of being the guy who ends a discussion. I think you’re right: by the time you’ve actually given an idea enough serious thought to say something interesting, the discussion has moved on. I have the same problem with the blogworld. OST is different because people bring back the oldies from time to time, giving them another run. Also the Ivan posts here have a nice leisurely pace to them. And I do expect to get back to the Gadamer topic, though I’m mostly running on limited information. Unless Jonathan elaborates on his knowledge (grotesquely distorted though it may be), I might have to wait until I get Gadamer’s book from Amazon.fr. Maybe I’ll finally get Davies’ book, which Ivan recommended to me a long time ago.


    Comment by ktismatics — 6 April 2007 @ 3:21 pm

  3. John,
    I have a number of books that a guy like you would really enjoy. Certainly Davies, but there are a number of others. If at anytime you wish to borrow them drop me a line. I also, love your web site and have slowly been trying to read it all, its probably the most thought provoking I have ever found and people like Saml are a joy to discuss stuff with.



    Comment by Ivan — 6 April 2007 @ 5:08 pm

  4. Thanks Ivan. I’ve got to get scientific again one of these days. I agree that Sam is a great guy.


    Comment by ktismatics — 6 April 2007 @ 5:39 pm

  5. Here I am! Fresh off of pouring myself into a paper that only a few will read! John – you and I have more in common than this post lets on, friend!

    Regarding the Gadamer/Derrida discussion I offer the following:

    Gadamer and Derrida both were influenced greatly by Heidegger. So, would we be surprised if there was overlap?

    Gadamer explores interpretation and understanding as being that of the meeting of horizons. He discards the scientific method of interpretation and moves towards interpretation as art. Gadamer sees dialogue as a primary means for interpretation because it brings the horizons together. Gadamer is moving towards understanding and its possibilities. Through dialogue truth emerges. Gadamer is positive.

    Derrida and Gadamer never see eye to eye. Derrida is negative. Derrida sees the empty half of the glas and wonders if we can ever understand each other. There’s too much in the way, it seems.

    The above overgeneralizes, which was my initial problem with John’s previous post and the initiation of some serious Doyle self-analysis. There are those who believe that Gadamer was a relativist on truth (moving Gadamer more towards Derrida). There are those (J.K.A. Smith being one of them, ironically) who see a positive and redeeming side of Derrida that would move Derrida more towards Gadamer.

    As for me I think in both philosophers there is an intentional ambiguity and openness that will continually refuse categorization. But there are definite things to be learned from them, especially for the church. But here’s my question: why can’t we incorporate Gadamerean or Derridean ideas into the church? I don’t agree with Thiselton 100% on everything, but I think he has some excellent work on Gadamer. Without him conservative Christian scholarship would be even farther behind than it already is!

    Always glad to be a part of the struggle!


    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 6 April 2007 @ 6:15 pm

  6. I just posted on Derrida and his relationship to Christian theology just to irritate you all!!!


    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 6 April 2007 @ 6:29 pm

  7. Jonathan –

    I acknowledge the uncanny sense of self-doubling whenever I detect your presence near my blog or my presence near yours. I hope your paper was a success. To what extent will the professor’s judgment affect your opinion about the paper’s merit?

    Thanks for the Gadamer/Derrida elaboration. I know you must be wrong, I just can’t quite put my finger on how. Meanwhile I intend to adopt your position without acknowledging the source. Alternatively, I will never again invoke the names Derrida and Gadamer in the same sentence. After that time I mean.


    Comment by ktismatics — 6 April 2007 @ 7:39 pm

  8. Jonathan, its not the likes of us that are going to get irritated. You are in real danger of being labeled as a dabbler on the dark side by your conservative friends!

    Seriously though, how do you expect an evangelical to accept such way-out ideas? The very basic differences in how truth is perceived and in stuff like insisting that it has to be propositional, fly in the face of most of PoMo hermeneutics, or even the existentialist, structuralist, post structuralist and New Herm stuff for that matter.

    When I first read Thiselton I was aghast at his temerity, being much more of an evangelical back then and a relatively young Christian too. Heidegger was strictly off the scale simply because so many evangelical scholars found a link between him and Bultmann. I read Kierkegaard with great trepidation and was much relieved when I found him boring!


    Comment by ponnvandu — 6 April 2007 @ 9:31 pm

  9. Here I stand. I can do no other.

    Seriously, though, I’ve grown more as a Christian from engaging off-limits “po-mo” writers than I have learned from anyone else in the last few years. I fear that without them I would be spiritually dead. They have shaken me out of stagnation and forced me to consider the fact that a faith that is worth its salt must take risks and must put itself in a position where it might fail…..yeah, I’ve gotten mixed reviews from my fellow conservatives. Surprisingly, many are dying of stagnation, themselves, and they are looking for a new voice and a challenge.

    “…live to serve….serve to live….”


    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 6 April 2007 @ 11:19 pm

  10. So, you like, but does it all come together? Strictly as a philosopher, how agnostic have you had to become on say your theory of truth?


    Comment by ponnvandu — 7 April 2007 @ 12:09 am

  11. Why do I have to become agnostic on truth? I’m a Bible-believin’ Christian. It’s just that many misguided Evangelicals are churning out books as fast as the publishers can print them claiming that a particular theory of truth is the “biblical” view. Books on the so-called postmodern compromise of truth are being cheaply manufactured like so-many thousands of pounds of cheap coffee. And like cheap coffee these books are being consumed solely for their quite punch of energy.

    My project has been to first and foremost return to a biblical understanding of truth as the authors themselves seem to understand it. I’ve tried to take time to explore these ideas – to savor the flavor and taste the texture and richness of the coffee.

    So, I don’t think any Christian need be agnostic or compromise truth in any way.

    I’ve posted a lot of my stuff on truth at my blog. Probably the most accessible post would be the one on Greg Koukl.


    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 7 April 2007 @ 3:27 pm

  12. Refreshing honesty in this post…I have some thing’s I’d like to say. So…

    For the record, in my response to Joh’s initial angry email and the his later apology, I responded by saying that I am not bored at his blog, that I enjoy it thoroughly and learn a lot.

    And John – in regards to how you react to your ideas’ being the marginal ones (as a buffer against the possibility of your own mediocrity) – no one forces you to take the arrogant road. It is laid out for you, but you choose to go down it. I am not referring to the fact that you choose your ideas, but to your choice of how to react to their being marginal.

    And you also said: “What I really wish, of course, is something else I don’t say: I wish the readers of my blog wouldn’t throw the wall up in my face; I wish everybody would read my blog and love it, tearing the walls down. When it doesn’t happen, I wish I hadn’t succumbed to the hope that it would.” Like most everything else in this particular blog post, this hinges on the political language of the majority and minority. So it sounds to me like you are asking for a fundamental contradiction.

    You expressed a desire for a non-hierarchical kind of mutual collaboration among fellow-marginalized folks. But the thing is that us marginalized Christian folks are infinitely less concerned with our marginality than we are with our own sin! Then your reaction to our concern, which you initially view as either too stupid or too set in its own ways to understand your view, is to place them in your own linguistic (and psychological) category of of the “majority”, which is the larger half of the fundamental problematic construct upon which your position stands. This majority/minority construct of meaning and action stands in direct opposition to the construct of God/sin.

    So of course there will be tension of some sort. You aknowledged as such when you said that us Christians were not in a conspiracy to alienate you, that you were the one who said that you didn’t care about church.

    At this point I realize that your reaction to this will probably just be more meloncholy, I suppose (?). I hope not, but what can I do?

    Additionally…along the same lines as the above, in which your position – or at least the reactions and re-reactions that go with it – stands on its own fundamental contradiction…dude, your blog began as a marketing tool! And then the whole process of frustration mounted when your marketing ploy with Smith (who is also Christian and so isn’t centrally interested in the minority/majority political construct) failed!

    Of course I’m not asking you to change your position. It is what it is. I guess I’m asking you not to expect me (or “us”) to be able to play complicitly in the game as determined by your construct, which is fundamentally against my (“our”) own. Although – again – I thoroughly enjoy your blog and learn both by just reading it and by interacting with it.


    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 7 April 2007 @ 5:04 pm

  13. Jon, I had a look at what you had on Koukl. By getting into this here I may be hijacking John’s post so please let me know if this is ok.

    What I hear you saying is that basically you think coherence is where it’s at but you would like to redefine the theory or at least broaden its base a bit to fit in better with a properly biblical perspective.

    But that’s a part of my point – that you no longer fit in with a standard evangelical perspective. Eventually this means that truth may not work out to be propositional in the sense that evangelicals would like it to be, so you are already moving onto that slippery slope to relativism. Just renaming that as being more contextual will only put off the moment of truth, so to speak.


    Comment by samlcarr — 7 April 2007 @ 5:22 pm

  14. A few qualifications:

    I reject the coherence view of truth. By saying that truth is contextual I am merely saying that what truth is depends upon the context. I just ask myself and others if they can imagine some truths that have nothing to do with context. Many Evangelicals have developed a convenient yet false dichotomy between truth and its situation relative to the real world. This is because they are fascinated by the so-called objective and absolute.

    I don’t mind going down a slippery slope because it keeps me from getting comfortable and growing roots. One of the problems I have with current Evangelical thought is that it wants to sit around and study the same things without exploring new paradigms.

    I don’t reject the correspondence theory, I just question whether or not it is sufficient to fully appreciate the richness of Christian doctrine. Nor do I think the CT really captures all of what is going on in the Gospel of John and his account of aletheia. Truth is bigger than CT. It involves truth in living and truth in relationship with Christ. It’s not just knowing true things about Christ it is entering into the dimension of Christ, and hence being “of the truth” in order to truly listen and hear his voice. (John 18:37)


    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 7 April 2007 @ 7:03 pm

  15. My amateur status as a thinking shows through all too often. I meant correspondence and wrote coherence – a freudian slip perhaps?

    I really agree with you, the truth can’t be boxed up as easily as we would like it to be. On an obvious level just admiting that there may be levels of truth all existing within a text itself sets up an interesting series of thoughts. If there are levels when humans communicate, what happens when God communicates? It should lead to an infinite number of levels shouldn’t it? So, on that pinhead, how many angels did we decide on finally?

    One problem with attempting to utilise PoMo thinking within the cloisters of our orthodoxy is that all these thinkers have given up quite early on on truth itself as an existent reality. Their thinking militates against using truth even as a conceptual reality, but could we suspect that they do protest too much?


    Comment by samlcarr — 7 April 2007 @ 7:48 pm

  16. Jason –

    Your comment arouses a certain amount of defensiveness in me, indicating that another collision of alternate subjective realities has surfaced.

    No one forces you to take the arrogant road. It is laid out for you, but you choose to go down it. I am not referring to the fact that you choose your ideas, but to your choice of how to react to their being marginal. A couple days ago on the “Rabid Mania” post I talked about how a good friend accused me of arrogance when I said I thought everyone would benefit from reading my book. Then yesterday on the “To Sing” post you and I exchanged comments about whether the reader completes the book, or reading completes the writing process. So maybe if my book isn’t read it’s not complete, but maybe also if I think everyone should read it I’m arrogant. Also, if I set up a blog to attract people to the book that I think everyone would benefit from reading (and that I offer for free!) it’s self-serving. But I hate calling attention to what I’ve done, and all my prior experiences in doing it have failed, making me wish I’d never tried. These are conflicts I face, not just in how I see myself but also in how other people see me.

    These conflicts are provoked by living in the world, and especially when alternative ways of reacting to the world seem to conflict. The conflict generates confusion, the confusion generates negative emotion, the negative emotion generates some reaction, usually an ill-advised one, to escape from it. Call it a mistake; call it a sin. I’m not sure my will is that strong or free to overcome the inner conflict. I think if I choose the arrogant road as an ongoing approach to dealing with the world, that’s one thing. An arrogant reaction to a crisis, which after the fact I wish I hadn’t done and which I try to avoid in the future, is another thing. And people labeling me as arrogant is yet a third thing. Which one is the “real” me? Which is the truth?

    Like most everything else in this particular blog post, this hinges on the political language of the majority and minority. So it sounds to me like you are asking for a fundamental contradiction. It’s purposely framed in the context of the culturally dominant versus the marginal, which was how I framed the Creed post. I’m also saying there’s the psychologically dominant position within the self versus the marginal feeling or thought, which gets pressed down but never goes away — like feelings of arrogance or inferiority or isolation. I’m not sure what you mean by “the fundamental contradiction,” but yeah, I feel contradictions, both in the culture and in myself.

    …which you initially view as either too stupid or too set in its own ways to understand your view… I acknowledged that it probably sounded that way, and that it reflected one of my own marginalized attitudes that fights for recognition. I didn’t say this was my initial reaction, or even my dominant reaction — it wasn’t. You or I can decide that it’s my “true” attitude and that the rest is denial. I’m prone to regarding my own most despicable facets as the real me. Is that a good idea, do you think? From within a Christian perspective, if you are born of the Spirit and are undergoing a regeneration, and if you slip, do you decide that the slip is your real character that’s just been covered over by surface-level good behavior? I’m coming to doubt the idea that the most bad is the most real, but it’s more a matter of choice or something like faith than truth. Regardless, it’s surely my experience that people don’t forget each other’s fuckups and eventually use it against them, usually over and over again.

    You expressed a desire for a non-hierarchical kind of mutual collaboration among fellow-marginalized folks. Well, here’s what I asked for: I do, however, hope for some other basis of fellowship than faith in God, a basis in creativity and excellence and difference, as well as a combined struggle against the imitative mediocrity of the mass culture. You’ll observe that marginalization is not the defining “mission” of this imagined fellowship. However, the only potential club members I happen to know are Christians. I love my wife and daughter, but other than them I happen to lead a pretty isolated life. Virtually nobody I know seems much interested in the things I most value. So I do feel marginalized, even if it isn’t intrinsic to the steadfast pursuit of my “calling.”

    But the thing is that us marginalized Christian folks are infinitely less concerned with our marginality than we are with our own sin! This, I gotta say, has that ring of arrogance to it. As if you’re trying to make me feel small and shallow worrying about my marginality when I ought to be way more worried about sinning.

    At this point I realize that your reaction to this will probably just be more meloncholy, I suppose (?). I hope not, but what can I do? I know, the truth hurts, but somebody’s gotta administer it. (A little sarcasm there — evidence of my core arrogance and cynicism?)

    Of course I’m not asking you to change your position. It is what it is. I guess I’m asking you not to expect me (or “us”) to be able to play complicitly in the game as determined by your construct, which is fundamentally against my (”our”) own. If I felt like it was a game I wouldn’t react so strongly. Put it this way: being non-Christian isn’t an entrance criterion for the kind of fellowship I coul imagine joining. And I can’t see why a basis in creativity and excellence and difference, as well as a combined struggle against the imitative mediocrity of the mass culture should be fundamentally at odds with your construct.

    To conclude on a more abstract, less personal note… Evangelical Christians have historically been reluctant to join forces with non-Christians on matters of mutual concern. From the outside it seems that even though the emerging post-evangelicals want to adapt some non-Christian ideas, ultimately they want to define the Church’s mission contra the secular culture. If non-Christians want to join forces with the emerging Church, they’ll have to become Christian first. Until then they’re either the mission field or “the world.” Does that seem to ring true from “the inside”? On a related note, you’ll observe that the string of comments about truth on this post have all been about explicitly Christian truth and how the secular thinkers can be retrofitted to the Christian outlook. Well, don’t mind me, just turn the lights out when you leave. (Oops, that was personal again — and also sarcastic.)


    Comment by ktismatics — 7 April 2007 @ 8:42 pm

  17. John,

    Thank you for being honest again. I will have to get back to you later, sorry. On one quick note…I had no idea that the comments about the completion of your book had anything to do with arrogance or not…I wasn’t thinking of it in those terms. Sorry for the confusion. Will get back and address the rest of your comment. I fell asleep today for like three hours with a bad headache, and my friends have been waiting for me the whole time, calling me like 40 times. We’ve had plans for today since like two weeks ago…Lazer,



    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 8 April 2007 @ 12:04 am

  18. K says,
    From the outside it seems that even though the emerging post-evangelicals want to adapt some non-Christian ideas, ultimately they want to define the Church’s mission contra the secular culture. If non-Christians want to join forces with the emerging Church, they’ll have to become Christian first. Until then they’re either the mission field or “the world.” Does that seem to ring true from “the inside”? On a related note, you’ll observe that the string of comments about truth on this post have all been about explicitly Christian truth and how the secular thinkers can be retrofitted to the Christian outlook.

    A few things.

    First, The church necessarily must define herself in its own, unique way. The core belief in God and his revelation through Jesus Christ demands it. The church is by definition a non-secular entity. So, I think I would have to say there will be points of contact between Christian and secular where they will miss each other. There is an inherent exclusivity that attaches to the church. Even the discussion of truth, I would argue, is a necessarily unique Christian project in some ways. I believe that the Gospel of John describes truth as encounter. An encounter with the Christ. How could I possibly construe this along secular lines? Ironically, the Evangelicals that I take issue with prefer to philosophically define truth as something that both a Christian and non-Christian could agree to. I quote Moreland:
    There is no peculiarly Christian theory of truth, one that is used only in the Bible and not elsewhere. If there were a peculiarly Christian view of truth, two disastrous implications would follow: claims that certain Christian doctrines are true would be equivocal compared to ordinary, everyday assertions of truth, and Christianity’s claim to be true would be circular or system-dependent and, therefore, trivial. from Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (2003)

    Despite my views expressed above, I see no reason why fellowship cannot occur between secular and sacred on purely creative grounds, as you suggest, John. And I would say that between our blogging and our personal correspondence that this has, in fact, occurred to a degree that is rarely seen. So, I have always been confused as to what your original intention was in mentioning the fellowship issue. I have learned through conversation with you, and I hope that you have enjoyed my company as well. If we have met on the neutral grounds of imagination and creativity then does this not count for something?

    I think the church has missed out on a great deal these last several decades because we haven’t opened ourself up to criticism or dialogue with the secular world. I can understand the reservations. It can be a scary thing to open yourself up to the beliefs that define you. It is a very vulnerable thing to put the essence of your spirituality out there in the dock for people to investigate. In many ways it is putting your entire meaning in life and purpose for being in the hands of another. So, I can understand why many are cautious and just downright scared.

    Maybe we are all taking risks on these blogs, John. But maybe these risks are worth taking. I guess we all kind of have to ask ourselves that question.


    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 8 April 2007 @ 12:56 am

  19. Jon and John, the way church interfaces with the culture in which is embedded is now a rich area of discussion and of change. The question of what marks or makes a Christian and relatedly, what constitutes membership in church or even in the fellowship of Christianity are also being hotly debated. Certainly one of the best things about ’emerging’ is to have forced a fresh discussion and perhaps a more honest one about some of these key issues.

    There is no doubt at all in my mind that traditional answers are wrong, they are wrong first because they are unbiblical and second because they have come out of a distorted vision of what following Jesus amounts to.

    Jason has raised some interesting points and to which, John has responded. I’m not sure that interactions should be sans sarcasm, a bit of dramatisation, or ‘not conflicting’ by design. How drab! Besides, what motivates us to say certain things is not often obvious to either reader or writer, whatever we may suspect about it. So, exploration should also be a natural ingredient. I doubt that we have far to travel to find undue introspection or conflict, we certainly don’t need to go out of our way to create it where it does not already naturally exist!

    So, forgive my little sermon and a very happy Easter to you all!


    Comment by samlcarr — 8 April 2007 @ 1:47 am

  20. Jonathan –

    I’ll comment in keeping with the original personal and psychological tone of this post. I self-reflected on personal unconscious reasons why I happened to write about the Creed. A sense of being excluded was prominent, of alienation from my Christian “blogging buddies.” So now I ask myself how it is that my prime blogging buddy is commenting on a subject that is explicitly Christian. You acknowledge that there are other topics that aren’t exclusive in this regard, yet you are drawn to explore one of the for-Christians-only topics here. Something to think about maybe.

    Also, the topic you address is truth. I understand that it’s your main agenda, on your own blog and elsewhere in the blogospher. This post is about truth, but it’s not philosophical or theological truth. It’s not even psychological truth about the self. It’s truth about my self, what I believe might be true about myself, about you, about others. And it’s about multiple layers of what might be true or false or both at the same time, the conflicting personal frameworks of meaning in which my truths and self-deceptions are embedded. This kind of interpersonal and intrapersonal truth would seem to offer a basis for discussion, maybe even self-revelation, between Christians and non-Christians. Yet your comments and discussion remain embedded in the philosophical, theological, explicitly Christian context. Again, maybe something to reflect on.

    I believe that the Gospel of John describes truth as encounter. An encounter with the Christ. How could I possibly construe this along secular lines? That too seems worth reconsidering. My post was an attempt at truth as personal encounter — mostly an encounter of myself with myself, conducted in public. The personal nature of the post would seem to open up the possibility of interpersonal encounters of truth as well. But you invoke the person of Christ as a barrier for engaging in interpersonal explorations of truth along secular lines, which in this specific interpersonal encounter means me. Do you look to Christ in part to protect you from engaging too closely and interpersonally with the non-Christian? Or possibly he prevents you?

    So, I have always been confused as to what your original intention was in mentioning the fellowship issue. I have learned through conversation with you, and I hope that you have enjoyed my company as well. If we have met on the neutral grounds of imagination and creativity then does this not count for something? What I hear you asking (as they say in the shrink trade) is that you’re confused. There’s an asymmetry between “learned from you” and “enjoyed my company.” Perhaps you’re wondering whether I learn from you, or in fact whether you really do learn from me. Perhaps you’re wondering whether you really do enjoy my company, or whether maybe I don’t really enjoy yours. You speak of the two of us “meeting on neutral ground,” which implies an abstract impersonal quality, in contrast to the interpersonal encounter tone of my post and of your understanding of Christian truth-as-encounter. But then you ask if it doesn’t count for something, which I see as bringing it back to the interpersonal level: something along the lines of “I value this interpersonal exchange, don’t you? My answer is yes, I do, very much. I value discussions of creation and of truth, from both a Christian and a secular perspective, and also about stuff that’s going on in our lives.

    You move back to collective terms: the church, we, the secular world, people, many. But you also use a bunch of emotionally charged words: reservations, scary, open yourself up, vulnerable, cautious, downright scared. Does keeping at the level of we and they offer a buffer against personal exposure? But then “we” is also “they,” putting you in the dock, exposing you in public, inspecting you, judging you. In many ways it is putting your entire meaning in life and purpose for being in the hands of another. This is personal again: the ability to trust someone else to handle carefully what’s most important about yourself.

    You conclude with an inclusive statement about taking risks, but you call me by name. You and I are both taking risks. Maybe they’re worth taking — there are unspoken personal and interpersonal hopes that counterweigh the acknowledged fears.

    Perhaps now you wonder whether in my response I intend to reinforce your hopes or to confirm your fears.


    Comment by ktismatics — 8 April 2007 @ 7:19 am

  21. Sam –

    I’m not sure that interactions should be sans sarcasm, a bit of dramatisation, or ‘not conflicting’ by design. How drab! I agree that practicing the rhetorical arts adds savor to the verbal stew. It gets a bit dicey when the conversation turns personal. In this post I was purposely getting personal, which meant subjecting the motivations behind sarcasm and drama and conflict to “close reading.” I don’t know if it adds a different spice to the dish, or if it’s a different dish altogether.

    Besides, what motivates us to say certain things is not often obvious to either reader or writer, whatever we may suspect about it. So, exploration should also be a natural ingredient. I doubt that we have far to travel to find undue introspection or conflict, we certainly don’t need to go out of our way to create it where it does not already naturally exist! Here I have gone out of my way, perhaps creating an unnatural exchange. Again, I’m veering toward starting a psychological practice, so I guess it’s good for me to subject myself to what I might subject others to. Besides, isn’t the unnatural, the artifice, part of what defines the work of human creation?

    Happy Easter to you too, Sam, and to all. It’s lamb for dinner at the Doyle household — how about you?


    Comment by ktismatics — 8 April 2007 @ 7:44 am

  22. How would this conversation be different if we were sitting around a table, drinking our favorite beverage, facing each other? Would we say things differently when confronted with the other’s face which says, “don’t kill me”? Does this interpersonal type of “facing” each other than have anything to add to discussions about truth?


    Comment by Ron — 8 April 2007 @ 8:50 am

  23. Ron, that’s a fascinating thought and one that crossed my mind just yesterday. I think it would add something to be face-to-face, but for me it may also inhibit some of the raw emotion that comes out when I am facing a computer screen. The dynamics would be different too as we would be a group and that feeling is certainly not there as much when commenting on a blog!


    Comment by samlcarr — 8 April 2007 @ 10:18 am

  24. We are having some guests tomorrow so I tried to persuade everyone to keep today’s cooking simple and was overuled by my wife Aruna, so it’s fish today and we have the Indian version of celebratory lamb tomorrow (goat actually) so it’s feast time.


    Comment by samlcarr — 8 April 2007 @ 10:21 am

  25. Ron –

    It’s a good question. I’ve got a feeling that you’re speaking from personal experience, and that you’re also thinking about Buber and Levinas here. I’m only slightly acquainted with their stuff, but you’ve commended them before. The face is tangible, incarnational, personal, which should keep the conversation from getting too abstract and theoretical and should also invoke the empathic response of mutual protection and care. But Sam has a good point: the direct interpersonal encounter can also be inhibiting. Faces also are veils; interpersonal encounters are partly staged presentations of self. The potential for truly meaningful direct encounter is there, but that potential is also a little terrifying. Or, speaking for myself: I have high hopes for direct encounters, but I’m also more discouraged if they don’t go well. You’ll notice that I don’t talk about the exhilaration for when they do go well — it’s been awhile since that happened. But, if we had mutual expectations of getting into these kinds of personal revelations — which is unusual — and if enough time was set aside to get through the poses and the false starts, then something wonderful could happen.

    A couple nights ago we watched a short film, L’Homme Sans Tete — The Man Without a Head. This man, named Phelps, elegantly dressed and lithe, has a date to go to a ball tonight. He really wants to impress his date, so he decides for the first time ever to go to the head store to buy himself a head. The shopkeeper is very helpful; he lets Phelps try on several models, but Phelps doesn’t think any of them looks quite right on him. We in the audience don’t think so either, which is funny because it turns out that one of the heads Phelps tries on is the real head of the actor who plays Phelps. Finally he picks one he’s really pleased with, until he realizes its color doesn’t match his hands (which are white). In the end he decides to go headless. He meets his date, who seems enchanted by Phelps. Hand in hand they walk down the steet to the dance.


    Comment by ktismatics — 8 April 2007 @ 11:30 am

  26. Quickly, as I’m getting ready for a sunrise service (I have no idea if that’s a good idea or not!): Jonatan and John were discussing creativity. That’s part of what I wanted to weigh in on earlier, but did not have time. With John’s notion of emerging gods…I think that effects the possibility or lack thereof of the kind of fellowship or collaboration that he seeks. I’m not entirely sure how, but I’m prett sure it prevents what he seeks from FULLY happening. Again, though, I thoroughly enjoy being here.

    John also talked about the encounter of myself with myself, and for example said, “Do you look to Christ in part to protect you from engaging too closely and interpersonally with the non-Christian? Or possibly he prevents you?” I would say: No, John, we look to Christ for quite the opposite, really. Or that’s the point, at least…or “the face”, maybe. Christ is “the axe at the root of the tree”, which makes true interaction most meaningful and most difficult. But it marginalizes encounters of myself with myself in relation to encounters with Jesus HIMself – who, for us, keep in mind, is GOD – finally…not emerging.

    Must get in shower…am now running late…



    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 8 April 2007 @ 12:17 pm

  27. To finish my response…

    There was a general thread running through your comment to me suggesting my own arrogance. Particularly at the point where my own sin comes into contact with your minority position. So I will address these genearlly, and then try to move through the rest of your comment. First of all…OF COURSE I’m an arrogant dickhead! Read my Golden Ass profile? I’m a stuborn ass! “Stubborn ass…loved and valued by God as gold”…that’s me! Thanks. Forgiven, washed, loved. But still, for the most part…pissy and stubborn. Doubtful, resistant…I even kick if you don’t watch it…but forgiven and loved. That’s me…thankfully not in a nutshell, however.

    There’s no “tension” in me between my own arrogance and my own patheticness. At the very least, that tension is severely marginalized and itself in tension with God’s unconditional LOVE for me…and actually his LIKE for me too. “Tenderness is what happenes when you realize that you are deeply and genuinely LIKED by someone” (Brennan Manning). And John, your an arrogant dick…but I happen to LIKE you. Welcoem to the arrogant dick club. Will you join me? Still feeling defensive, one who is liked (by me)?

    Which leads me to my second point. You took my own infinitely greater concern with my own sin over your (or my own) concern with your (or my own) minority or suppressed position to be arrogant (at least that was the suggestion). First of all, see above. Second of all, that’s an absurd logic that makes no sense…unless it is taken in light of “me” verses “you”…which, the way I see it…is not the battle being fought. As I said, “Welcome to my arrogant dick club. Will you join me?” Seems like we’re already in that one together anyway! You could even enter “my” “forgiven” club if you would like. But that’s up to you.

    So, to try to go through some of your points more particularly…which Johnathan has already done a bit…

    You said: “I can’t see why ‘a basis in creativity and excellence and difference as well as a combined struggle against the imitative mediocrity of the mass culture’ should be fundamentally at odds with your construct'” (of Christianity). For one, let me try to illuminate why the two constructs are at odds…at least for me. Then from there…based solely on what I have seen on your blog…I will try to illuminate a SMALL bit if I CAN (????) why you wouldn’t – or couldn’t, as you say – see that.

    So, why are the two constructs at odds? Lets go to what I take to be the key phrase in the quote above – “…a basis in…”. I have mentioned “hypostasis” now a number of times. That’s my “basis”. That’s what I “stand on”. That’s what my whole construct is “based on”. Much of or about my construct might LOOK similar to much of or about your construct. But if yours is BASED ON those things that my construct LOOKS LIKE…well…I question if that’s what your construct is actaully BASED on. I’d say your construct is actually BASED elsewhere.

    Also, as I’ve said, I have a strong concern or “origins”. Its a lost concern these days, but not for me. So for me the “basis” or “origin” of something is often the hinging point, the point of gain or loss, of appearance or disapearance, of death or life, of sacrafice or birth. And whether your construct if “based on” what my construct “looks like” or whether its “based” elsewhere entirely does not matter to me…it falls off of my map, precisely because we have different bases.

    But that there are so many things about the two constructs that look similar is why I enjoy your blog so much…along with your knowledge and general/usual good naturedness/your being fun to talk to.

    So that’s what I mean by “the contradiction”. You said you didn’t know what I meant by that. Your story of the world is one of minority and majority…whose language can be found and translated into many arenas, but which is also and primarily a political world and language. My story is a story colored entirely be sin and redemption. Anything involving majorities and minorities is marginal to a question of sin and redemption.

    This does not make ME feel SMALL, because – as I see that story – I’m REDEEMED! So I’m not telling you to feel small. That’s your interpretation of it. If you place yourself in my story, in fact you get quite “BIG”, so to speak (or, you fit into quite a “big” story!)! So, to be explicit…I wasn’t telling you to feel small for being worried about marginality when you should be worried about sinning. First of all, as I said, marginality vs. sin is not my construct in the first place. Second of all, my whole story says you DON’T have to be “worried about sinning”!!!!!!!! And THAT’S the BEAUTY of it!!!!!!!! It’s freakin’ Easter, man!

    My story doesn’t force guilt ON to you (it does not say that you should be worried about sinning). Apparently you’re already good and guilty, sheesh! My story REMOVES your guilt!!!! Which…apparently…as best as littel ME can see it…points to why you can’t see why our differing constructs are incompatible. I don’t want to feel small. I see no need to feel small. I don’t give a damn about my marginality.

    I already have plenty of stubborn assdom asking me to feel small, to feel guilty, to feel marginalized. That Jesus fella tells me otherwise. I like his construct best. I’ll stick with that one…me, myself, thanks. In that LIGHT, John – I – me, myself – don’t see YOU as guilty, marginalized, small, either…

    I went to church this morning…and I have that hallelleuha feeling…(the accepella – an old black man, a young black man, a middle aged big black woman, a young little white girl, a young adult fat white guy, a middle aged asain woman, and a couple others I don’t remember – sounded like Dante’s angelic choir)…made me want to jump out of my skin, dude man…


    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 8 April 2007 @ 10:38 pm

  28. Is there anything that’s essentially different or unique about one Christian talking to another as compared with one Christian talking to a non=Christian, or two non-Chritians conversing?

    Is ‘fellowship’ something that occurs between any two human beings ar does it only ‘happen’ when the two are in the same self-professed camp?

    From where I stand the dichotomy is a false one. I don’t think that like-mindedness has anything to do with it. It is purely a question of mutual commitment that is at stake.


    Comment by samlcarr — 9 April 2007 @ 11:28 am

  29. samlcarr,
    To me, mutual committment is one side of the coin. The other side is that the body is the new temple, the new dwelling place.


    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 9 April 2007 @ 2:32 pm

  30. Jason –

    This is an exercise in interpreting interpersonal subtexts. In that spirit I carry on…

    No, John, we look to Christ for quite the opposite, really. This is a “we” response to a question I posed to Jonathan. It suggests that you believe that Jonathan as an individual does not experience any thoughts or feelings contrary to the creedal position of the “we.” The axe at the root of the tree was an interesting choice of metaphors here, I thought.

    There was a general thread running through your comment to me suggesting my own arrogance. I wasn’t aware of this thread as I wrote it. Maybe when you were telling me that no one forces me to take the arrogant road, you were thinking also about yourself. Anyhow, now you’re telling me that you’re arrogant. Okay, I’m not sure I’m ready to accept your word for it, but okay for now. Then you call me arrogant also, and welcome me to a club based on arrogance. I said I wasn’t prepared to label myself as arrogant, but apparently you are. Okay again. I believe that for both of us arrogance is a subtext, maybe a besetting sin, something we have in common. Perhaps we can help each other out. That’s good.

    I did identify the specific place that I found arrogant in your last comment, namely what I interpreted as your concern about being a sinner as being more important than what I was concerned about. But this is the one area that you explicitly say is not arrogance on your part. Okay, maybe I’m wrong; it’s just how it sounded to me. You tell me that’s an absurd logic that makes no sense. Well it makes sense to me — I’m reporting my subjective reaction to what you wrote. But you’ve just dismissed my reaction. Subjectively it makes no sense to you therefore it is an absurd assertion on my part?

    I asked about a basis in fellowship, a common cause that we could pursue together, not a basis of being. I wasn’t using “basis” as strongly as you do; I should have known better, having had other conversations with you about “basis.” So call it “common cause” instead. But you’ve already locked down: it doesn’t matter to you; it’s fallen off your map. What’s important to me as common cause for fellowship has been effaced from your territory. I feel rejection. Then to say you enjoy my blog because my appearances appeal to you and that I’m fun to talk to, but we have no basis for fellowship? And this you say to someone who’s just made a personal appeal for fellowship?

    Immediately you’re back to characterizing my basis as minority/majority, as political, which is something in my last comment I explicitly explained was not the way I saw it. So either you missed my point, or you think I’m deceiving myself, or deceiving you…

    And so on. It’s difficult to communicate clearly. We might eventually agree to disagree, but it’s hard to agree on what we’re trying to agree on. We have a hard time arriving at a shared framework for having a fully and mutually meaningful exchange. Intentions aren’t always communicated. Words trigger subjective reactions that might not be in the text but that nonetheless are real and meaningful. Things that aren’t said are interpreted as if they were. Interpersonal hermeneutics: the new frontier?


    Comment by ktismatics — 9 April 2007 @ 3:43 pm

  31. Sam –

    I can’t speak to your question from within the Christian point of view. However, I would echo your question from the non-Christian viewpoint. I also agree with your answer. Does that make it the right answer? Yes! (Just kidding.) Put it this way: it makes it the right answer for you and also for me, which opens the possibility of our mutual commitment to fellowship. It makes me happy.


    Comment by ktismatics — 9 April 2007 @ 3:51 pm

  32. Jason, I’m not entirely sure that I get all that you mean. Are you saying something like, if two people have the same vertical relationship then this is the treu basis for fellowship. Interpersonal commitment is then does not settle the question of whether fellowship can take place or not?

    John, that brings us back to Gadamer, do the two horizons have to match up for there to be effective communication? I don’t think one has to agree with what is communicated in order to understand it but this gets hazy for the process of understanding implies getting into the other’s mindset, or at least attempting to, so that means that we can participate in another’s thought while still holding our ‘selves’ apart. Schizo again? I think I’ll get a headache trying to keep up with you guys!


    Comment by samlcarr — 9 April 2007 @ 8:20 pm

  33. Sam –

    It does almost seem that two people would have to see things the same way if their horizons are going to match up. It feels as if perfect understanding would converge on perfect agreement. But I think that’s a false dream. It’s an interesting question about whether someone can attain at least close enough understanding of an other that the other feels understood. I believe it can and does happen. It’s not an independent objective understanding, but rather an intersubjective understanding based on empathy and care and being together in the world — Gadamer and Heidegger. To remain yourself while projecting yourself into another’s perspective does suggest either schizo or less distinct ego boundaries than we’re accustomed to. Letting yourself come out of yourself and reach across the gap.

    I think this post and discussion has been very intense, possibly even destructive in certain ways, but informative to me at least. Personally, but also theoretically. It feels like a case study of interpersonal hermeneutics and deconstruction pushed to some extreme limits. I appreciate you guys putting up with me. Maybe it’s getting to be about time to set it aside and move on to other concerns.


    Comment by ktismatics — 9 April 2007 @ 8:33 pm

  34. I don’t know enough about Gadamer to know his particular notion of horizons. My guess is that when he says “vertical horizons” he is speaking in reference to some hierarchical relationship between some sort of immortal being and us mortals…probably in very different language. And when he speaks of horizontal horizons he is probably speaking of interpersonal and subjective relationships, with all kinds of baggage in personal experience, ect. Someone correct me if I’m wrong, because I’m about to proceed as if I were right about that. Because – I guess – either that or Gadamer is sayng that the self has its own ground, or that there really is no essential ground, that it is established in “horizontal” intersubjective relationships in time? Or that there is a ground, and we can’t know it, so in reality it is still established in “horizontal” relationships…???? Or something I don’t know or understand and I freakin’ need to go read Gadamer.

    So…with that said…yes, basically, I am saying that the same “vertical relationship” is necessary for FULL fellowship. I’d say committment is another question, more just a choice of what you choose to committ yourself too. But as for “full fellowship”…this only possible in a similar “vertical relationship” because – the way I see it – intersubjective relationships with mortal humans occur THROUGH those “vertical” relationships”…or, rather, all things that appear to us appear primarily and firstly on the basis of something bigger and higher, whatever it is and however exactly that works. I said that relationships occur “on the basis of” the “vertical relationships”, but at the same time the beings, essences, gods, Gods, whatever – they appear to us and are “at work” THROUGH the “horizontal” relationships.

    Its not a bad idea for an ancient Jew to go to a Baal temple because he might get an STD, but because he was going to worship Baal and not Yahweh. Not only that, but I’ve heard it said that “everyone worships something”. That’s a crude way of putting it that, I think, is often not so well thought out…but it has a very good point, if you ask me. Everyone has some foundation, some “basis”. Through everyone’s “works” there is something “beyond” “working”…or appearing. So the only “basis” for true “fellowship” is a fellowship that points to Yahweh and through which Yahweh is at work.

    Part of this really is the “invocation” of His Name IN the fellowship AS the foundation! BECAUSE there really is some binding relationship between name and reality. Religio – to bind. This was another tough lesson I learned at “Expression Mondays” (see below). I loved Expression Mondays, and the people. But its also where I lost interest in the Universal Spirit Thing-Bob of modernity. To which I had actually committed myself – without realizing it – to which I was actually BOUND!!!

    The thing is, though…I’d have a real hard time believing someone if they told me they were worshipping Yahweh but then didn’t demonstrate that they gave a shit about John Doyle. I say that out of experiences with folks who took a genuine interest and concern in ME. I’m very down with the notion of “intersubjective understanding based on empathy and care and being together in the world”. “To remain yourself while projecting yourself into another’s perspective” is I think exactly what Jesus did. I’m not sure about some of the language there…particularly the word “project”, but nonetheless.

    I probably haven’t demonstrated enough care for John here, nor really made it the first priority – with my written words here – to see that I understand where he’s at and to see that he sees that I understand where he’s at. I usually do a lot of mental gymnastics before I ever put a word down, and then probably as well don’t end up putting enough words down to really reflect all the gymnastics that occurred…including how what I’m saying – in my own mind and soul – took into account what the other has said, and how I think he might feel (which, especially on the feelings thing, I see I have definitely misinterpreted in some cases with John). But what’s the point of explaining that now!?

    But the point I was trying to make above, about the “fundamental contradiction”, nonetheless, simply hinges on the question of whether what John is saying is based on God. See the rest of this here comment above. I was pretty much just cutting to the chase. Getting to the heart of the matter, the way I see it.

    Additionally…I should explain that I spent two and a half years of my life committed to “Expression Mondays”…which John has heard me speak about a lot…and that was definitely a fellowship committed to a common cause based in something not Christian (that actually, however, claimed to be either very close to Christian or even explicitly Christian…and nonetheless the whole endeavor looked very similar to what the church is trying to do, and in some ways was actually more successful).

    I am very weary of these committments now. I spent a lot of my energy and my soul in that committment…and I still don’t know what to do with those very-tight relationships that formed…and some of the most important of those relationships are now hung in wierdness now that Expression Monday’s is done (dead) and those folks are off persuing what calls them from their own bases…while I am here doing my church stuff.

    They think I don’t care about them, that I don’t love them, ect. Its not true. I just don’t know how to deal with that wierd relationship between my actual care for them, simply my actual emotional attachment to them as friends of mine (still, over a year later), and yet ultimately our differnet persuits.

    It almost reminds me of a Christian trying to date a non-Christian. I have no idea how that would happen. I’m NOT questioning John’s marriage…I’m just saying I don’t know how it would work if I were dating a non-Christian…as an example, of course – in terms of the relationship beteen committment/investment and foundation/”basis”/”hypostasis”.


    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 9 April 2007 @ 11:28 pm

  35. Lots to think about here. I meed to ruminate, so while i can sense John’s raw edges, just a bit more time and I will respond as soon as I’ve sorted out some jumbled thoughts.


    Comment by samlcarr — 10 April 2007 @ 6:40 am

  36. Jumbled thoughts…the Zim Zum, dude. I’m fairly certain I spelled that wrong.


    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 10 April 2007 @ 7:26 am

  37. I never heard of Zim Zum, but per google exploration I arrived at tzimtzum, a kabbalistic form of negative theology whereby God is known by his unknowableness, or something, it’s not quite clear to me…


    Comment by ktismatics — 10 April 2007 @ 8:20 am

  38. Jason –

    I don’t know Gadamer well either, but I think for him the “horizon” refers to the limited perspective on understanding that comes with being in the world. Gadamer envisions no verticality, only the possibility of overlapping horizons achieved through conversation of one limited human with another. So yes, you and I see Gadamer the same way based on our limited understandings so far, but with more info we can do better: limited but joint contextual views of Gadamer appearing on this side of the horizon. As far as I know Gadamer has nothing to say about God or verticality in human understanding of the world. More later.


    Comment by ktismatics — 10 April 2007 @ 8:30 am

  39. John, I think tzimtzum is kind of like Tohu Va Vohu, or however you spell that idea that you had talked about once. To me its like the breath of God; its about formation. Wickepedia talks about it as a contraction, but I think that’s only the tzim. Then the tzum is the re-expansion…which is actually also sort of a re-contraction of God back “into” Himself. Two-sided, dude.

    Interestingly, now that I looked it up, after having forgotten, I see that it has influenced my thoughts on Catholicism, “limits”, bodies, Neitche, infinite space, ect…that conversation I was recently having at churchandpomo (with Carl) and on my own blog as well on “transparency.” “The function of the Tzimtzum was “to conceal from created beings the activating force within them, enabling them to exist as tangible entities, instead of being utterly nullified within their source.”

    And interesting implications for theology – for the Thomists out there: “It is understood that the concept of Tsimtzum [not really a concept, I don’t think, but moving on] contains a built-in paradox, requiring that God be simultaneously transcendent and immanent.” John, you had asked me about this, I think, on my “Standing in the Doorway” comment conversation. Whether its a meaterial angel, or wholly transcendent.

    And thanks for the Gadamer lesson. No vertical horizon…I guess that would explain why Heidegger was “unimpressed” by he and Arendt, do to their disregard for metaphysics…based on what someone said recently at churchandpomo, at least.


    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 10 April 2007 @ 3:26 pm

  40. Interestingly…difference also…

    I read the first two paragraphs and it arose so much in me that I got chill bumps in my anger at Barth. Unusual, these days. I think it was the audacity of his comment: “invention of the anti-Christ” and “the only good reason not to become Catholic”! Good gosh. Put a knife in my heart and twist. I see your expereinces, John, as better “reason” not to become Catholic. Or, at least, they don’t give me angry chill bumps.


    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 10 April 2007 @ 5:03 pm

  41. Jason, I guess as far as fellowship is concerned, i approach it from the standpoint of the incarnation. If God could be Immanuel ‘while we are yet sinners’ there’s no reason, in fact there is an imperative that we should follow suit. This does not contradict hypostasis it just shows that hypostasis is big enough to encompass fellowship with the other.


    Comment by samlcarr — 10 April 2007 @ 7:53 pm

  42. Sam…well, see, I like what you’re saying…so what, then, do you mean by fellowship? What do you see as the role of the body of Christ? I mean…lately, from things I’ve been reading…I’m attracted a bit to the Anabaptists, to J.H. Yoder, things like that. I mean, if by fellowship you mean eating together and being close friends and having interpersonal relationships…yes, I’m very much with you. But if by “fellowship” you also mean the persuit of something resembling an ultimate end or goal, then that changes the picture. I mean…this idea of the persuit of some end is embedded in how groups of people interact with one another; that’s just the way it is (from my experience and obseration, as discussed above).

    I guess, too…what does JOHN mean by “fellowship”? Ultimate ends and/or goals don’t seem to be on his (your) horizon, at least not in any religous sense (I guess it would have to do with evolution). But then from where I stand, that would be an ultimate end.


    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 10 April 2007 @ 8:13 pm

  43. B.T.W., when I said “But then from where I stand, that would be an ultimate end” there, I wasn’t referring to hell, at least the way we normally think of it. When I wrote it, though, I wasn’t thinking of hell at all, in any way, much less how we normally grow up thinking of it.


    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 10 April 2007 @ 8:17 pm

  44. I should clarify. When I thik of fellowship, I think of sharing our struggles, our pains, our victories, even our outlooks, just getting to know one another. But the reason why John’s “fellowship”, or what he (you) seems (or seem) to mean by it sort of scares me off to a degree is that it does involve some purpose to help change or work in the world for the better in some way. Obviously, I see that as being possible in some way outside the body of Christ, or else I would not have been inovlved with “Expression Mondays”. At the same time, though, the body of Christ has a unique calling and claim on its role in relation to the world’s being made right, or better, or whatever…in whatever way. Its a bit of a two edged sword. “Who you are” gets wrapped up in your persuits (the most radical question from this logic would be to ask if I was even “a Christian”, whatever that means, while at Expression Mondays); but then, obviously, a common persuit among different folks can be undertaken as well.


    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 10 April 2007 @ 8:28 pm

  45. Oops…I should clarify again, for John. Obviously, from within the Christian framework – of “good news”, which really is “good news” – this “unique claim” is not “arrogant”. I think it has certainly turned something resembling arrogant with the modern re- or dis-ordering of our being, to which the modern church gave itself. But its a foreign epistemology that “turns” (alethia) it arrogant; it is not inherently so. Again, this is my take as a Christian, which, from my own position, however, isn’t really just “my” take. We are “sent”, we are “representatives”, we are “ambassadors”.


    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 10 April 2007 @ 8:41 pm

  46. Jason, I can see where you are coming from. I read this tendency in two ways. First, we talk about fellowship ‘within the body’ where it’s Christians getting together to do what they do, worship, teach/learn, pray together… Second is when we are looking at friendships and generally relating to others. I’m talking about the second type of fellowship and it is here that likemindedness comes into play. We are naturally drawn into relating to people who have the same interests, read similar kinds of books or whatever. For a Christian it seems to me that these relationships have to be open. They are an essential part of the ministry of reconciliation that we are sent to accomplish. We do that by being faithful followers of Jesus and this is what Jesus did.

    My own thinking on salvation is a bit weird. I don’t believe in ‘assurance of salvation’ the way in which it is usually expressed. I don’t think Paul believed it either. Matthew 25, the parable of the sheep and the goats really expresses a lot about reality.

    None of us knows whether God is ‘happy’ with us. We are to strive to run the race and to win. So, in essence, I don’t know, can’t know, if when I am interacting with someone whether they are ‘saved’ or not (even within church). Instead of worrying about whether or not they are saved, my life and my interaction have to be a witness to my Lord.

    God is the judge, I can trust Him to be fair and He knows what is in each person’s heart. He stands constantly at the door knocking and asking to be brought in so that He can fellowship, so that by default is what i too must do.


    Comment by samlcarr — 10 April 2007 @ 9:38 pm

  47. Jason –

    I’ve fallen behind. Going back from where I left off… Your close friendships with non-Christians at Expression Mondays and your uncertainty about what to do since you don’t share the same spiritual foundation… I think that speaks highly of your ability and willingness to get close to people, to go “all the way” in your commitment to them. To establish that level of intimacy without a shared basis and a shared vertical relationship leads you into what you beyond where you feel you should go. Having had that experience, having found it wearying to fight that battle, you’ve become more wary and vigilant. People claim that something important to them, and potentially also to you, has no “basis” and so is not in conflict with your faith. Your experience is that it really does have a basis, and that basis conflicts with the one you are grounded in. So it’s a bad idea for you. If that’s what you’re saying, then that makes sense and I can understand your point of view better. If fellowship can never arrive at the fullness toward which it leads, then it will inevitably lead to conflict for you. Okay.

    Sam –

    I hear your point too, that God can be with us even if we aren’t with him. Perhaps God is foundational to all relationships, perhaps all relationships are incarnationally participated by God, even if not everyone in the relationship realizes it. I use “we” here a one of those who doesn’t realize. Maybe lack of belief is lack of realization. Certainly I find that more accepting of me. On the other hand, if Jason believes that relationships should be symmetrical in realization of God’s participation, then that’s a belief he has to live and work on without my trying to coerce him out of it.


    Comment by ktismatics — 10 April 2007 @ 10:34 pm

  48. John,

    I think you pretty much hit the nail on the head with where I’m at. I don’t know about the word “should”…”where I should go”. I identify strongly with what you were saying in the following:

    “People claim that something important to them, and potentially also to you, has no ‘basis’ and so is not in conflict with your faith. Your experience is that it really does have a basis, and that basis conflicts with the one you are grounded in. So it’s a bad idea for you. If that’s what you’re saying, then that makes sense and I can understand your point of view better. If fellowship can never arrive at the fullness toward which it leads, then it will inevitably lead to conflict for you.”

    The “bad idea” part sort of rings similar to “should” to me, but I think we’re on the same page anyway.

    HOWEVER…I ALSO like: “God can be with us even if we aren’t with him. Perhaps God is foundational to all relationships, perhaps all relationships are incarnationally participated by God, even if not everyone in the relationship realizes it.” That’s what I was saying about something beyond/above working “through” or “in” relationships, or through or in what appears. I like this, becuase you can’t really get away from God (the way I see it).

    But then its specifically a question of one’s own committment, I suppose. I mean, that’s pretty much what a covenant is, no?

    Anyway, I’m glad we got that more straightened out. At least some. I’m actually still feeling a bit in the dark myself, but…in waiting, I guess…



    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 10 April 2007 @ 11:16 pm

  49. Oh crap – Sam – I missed your comment that came before John’s,

    I really like what you were saying there about salvation! I haven’t studied enough theology…I’ve heard tidbits of stuff like what you are saying…but I am very drawn to the likes of what you’re saying. My guess, if I had to give one right now, is that you are probably right, and who wants to admit that? Its such a loss of control, lol! Nonetheless…that’s where committment and covenant come into play for me. I don’t think that the church is a community of folks who are “certain” (better word, I’d say) of their salvation together, so screw you world who is not; but a community of folks who are committed to the same “end” and are “called” to that end from that home-place BEYOND their OWN “end”. The horizon of the community is a “turning” one that both allows the community to “gather” together into the fold, and as well allows the love of God to flow out into the world…from a “body”.


    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 10 April 2007 @ 11:25 pm

  50. John, I think that that is what the bible expresses as the reality whether we realise it or not. The us vs them sort of thinking is unbiblical. It partly stems from reading ithe epistles without realising that for those earliest Christians, the gospel, what Jesus said and did, is the beginning and the end of belief-praxis. it is as Paul puts it ‘the obedience of faith’.

    Theologians have delighted in basing theology on the epistles and common sense should tell us that basing anything on one half of an occasional conversation is silly. i don’t mean to denigrate the epistles as being less inspired or something, it’s just the nature of the beast. A point that you will have noticed, I utterly failed to get Peter and Andrew to take very seriously in the discussions on Romans at OST recently… but that’s another story


    Comment by samlcarr — 10 April 2007 @ 11:27 pm

  51. Jason and Sam –

    I’m feeling a loosening up in myself, more of an embeddedness in mutual understanding and acceptance. I know, it sounds like psychobabble or new age kumbaya, but no joke.


    Comment by ktismatics — 11 April 2007 @ 12:00 am

  52. I used to sing that song at summer camp every year around the campfire under the stars by the lake. That song is all about McLuhanesque simultaneiety.
    someone’s crying, my lord, kumbayah
    someone’s laughing, my lord, kumbayah


    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 11 April 2007 @ 1:46 am

  53. Jason, you are absolutely right (more angst :)) and I think that’s the key to what Paul is saying to the Corinthians about not being ‘unequally yoked’.

    Some are committed to stuff like justice and love, fellowship and self-giving, these are the ones who are following the gospel of Jesus – whether they know it or not.

    That’s the real issue for Paul, coz if two with markedly different ethic get involved in building anything together, then one day, sooner or later, it has to fall apart, and the vision of the new creation ‘in Christ’, that all-important ministry of reconciliation, will falter as it’s forced in a different direction.


    Comment by samlcarr — 11 April 2007 @ 5:46 am

  54. Interestingly, I came across this in my evening’s adventures:


    “Duty”…oogh…I think by association I actually smell pooh when I hear that word. My nose and eyebrows crinkle.


    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 11 April 2007 @ 8:35 am

  55. Jason –

    I’ve heard of the theologians referred to in that link, but I’m not familiar with their work. This is a debate about whether Christians can/should involve themselves in seemingly compatible pursuits that aren’t explicitly Christian? So the radical orthodox, acknowledging that a new Holy Roman Empire isn’t likely or desirable, want to establish the Church as a kind of self-contained heterotopia, defining itself as marginal to mainstream culture but pursuing its own distinctive initiatives toward justice, creation, etc.? And the other side being sort of liberal protestant, or perhaps even liberation theology? It’s interesting, because when I did have a discussion about Genesis 1 with some emerging people, the reaction was kind of, so what does that imply the church should do? And I’m saying, well, you guys are church, you figure it out. But what I’m thinking is maybe step out of the church and pursue excellent creation with like-minded people who nurture the image of creator-elohim, reagardless of church affiliation.


    Comment by ktismatics — 11 April 2007 @ 12:47 pm

  56. I too read the piece (thanks Jason for an interesting link) and while I’m not entirely familiar with this particular debate, it seems more likely that Hauerwas’ opposition comes from the conservative far right Xtians who wish very badly to remake America as the New Jerusalem. They argue that the constitution was written on Christian foundations, that the American justice system is based on Mosaic law and that Xtians should get involved in voting-in ‘born again’ folks at all levels of government who will rightly interpret the constitution and put America on its God ordained path.

    Hauerwas has a much more nuanced approach to ethics and politics and is basically for separation of church and state. He’s also a noted pacifist and both he and Yoder have been trying to bring Christians back to Jesus’s own approach which is more an ethics of justice and concentrates on an entirely different view of the kingdom of God.


    Comment by samlcarr — 11 April 2007 @ 4:27 pm

  57. Having studied a bit my American and my Christian origins, I’d have a hard time wishing that we could go back to our “truly Christian roots” of what the country was supposed to have been (supposedly).

    But anyway, the point of that link was not to detract over to that conversation. The point was just for that conversation to sort of serve as an example similar to what might be going on here…and simply to show a bit of what I migth mean when I think of Christian fellowship in the body of justice-seeking believers.

    I don’t have anything else to say – now – about where we are at in our specific conversation. That link was not meant to give me something else to say here, either, as I’m plain fresh out of good stuff to say at the moment. Need to work through some stuff, I think.


    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 11 April 2007 @ 6:56 pm

  58. Fresh out of good stuff to say? It can’t be!


    Comment by ktismatics — 11 April 2007 @ 7:04 pm

  59. More accurate, then…need to work through some stuff…in time, I think. Of course I could come up with something clever to say, if you want me to…


    Comment by Jason Hesiak — 11 April 2007 @ 7:48 pm

  60. No, that’s okay, rechannel it to where it needs to go.


    Comment by ktismatics — 11 April 2007 @ 7:59 pm

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