Category: Traditions

Unradical Theology

Under the pretense of talking about pirate theology, Peter Rollins, Kester Brewer and Barry Taylor gathered to discuss “radical theology” at Fuller this month. Rollins, in particular, analyzed the intersection between psychoanalysis and theology, arguing that Christians need to experience doubt like Jesus on the cross, asking God, the father, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” After much contrived discussion, the panelists concluded that radical theology will lead to the death of Christianity as a religion in order that a new manifestation of Jesus-following might emerge. While I sympathize with Rollins and co.’s intentions, I am not certain how radical theology’s psychoanalytic approach relates to non-western contexts. Moreover, their assessment of radical theology’s (read: Emergent Church) role in church history falls victim to the same dialectical trap that Rollins critiques in his work…

The original unifying function of liturgy becomes lost if we begin to dehistoricize liturgy by shopping among the traditions. Like consumerist postmodern culture, the Emergent Church shops among traditions for forms of spirituality that are useful and pleasurable and incorporates them into general western, melange of religious items….

The state is in crisis in an increasingly globalized world. Christians are called to a post-Constantinian engagement with the political order, embodying an incarnational practice that engages with the local context of believers and an eschatological vision focused on the full flourishing of all humanity and all of creation.

There is a sense when one steps into the produce section at the Whole Foods that one has entered a sacred space. The delicate ambiance created by the well-tuned lights and the gentle purr of background music cloaks the organic kale in an almost mystical aurora. Like a church service, Whole Food’s shoppers dress for the experience, donning bright shades of Yoga pants, organic slippers made with bamboo reeds, or any locally-made organic cotton tee—in a concerted effort to show the completeness of their healthy and ecologically-sensitive lifestyle. Moreover, when they reach the checkout line and fork over what for many normal folks amounts to a whole paycheck, the acolytes gently absorb this small sacrifice as doing their part for the environment and their bodies….

It’s no secret that many bishops, including Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, are incensed with the Obama administration over contraception coverage requirements under the Affordable Care Act. Bishops have missed few opportunities to blast the presidentas hostile to religious liberty – a meme that Mitt Romney has eagerly picked up on in a campaign ad that depicts President Obama as waging a “war on religion.”

But the selection of Rep. Paul Ryan – an intellectual darling of the conservative movement who embraces Catholic teaching to defend his policies – has complicated the Catholic narrative during these final months heading into the election….

Roland Boer argues that both the Right and the Left contribute to a false dilemma and an alienated politics….In the current, sad situation of politics in the bourgeois state, we seem to be trapped in the tired old opposition of big government versus small government. If one is a political-junky of the USA(I find it a snore), this issue has once again come to fore by the selection of Paul Ryan to be Mitt Romney’s Republican running mate in the elections of 2012. Ryan is a classic proponent of small government, trailing the dust of von Hayek, Friedman and the rest. Toss out government programs (national health scheme, age care etc.) and then savagely cut taxes to put more money in the pockets of the owners of capital so they can spend it to stimulate a failing economy. Elsewhere you encounter the slogan of ‘big society’, beloved of David Cameron’s Tories in the UK, with the assumption that the state should thereby be small. And you find it the standard move of ‘privatising’ state assets, assuming that the ‘private’ sector will run them better. In reality, of course, it is merely selling off state assets to one’s buddies in the business world. Through it all runs the mantra that the state should not be in business of, well, running businesses. It is supposedly inefficient, lax and corrupt…..

Joshua Brockway, Director of Spiritual Life and Discipleship for the Church of the Brethren, seeks a path beyond the recent conversations on the survival of Liberal Christianity.