Two new books
I received a couple of books in the post today, the sort that I haven’t read for quite a while, so I’m looking forward to reading them.
The first is Peter Rollins’ How (Not) to Speak of God (Paraclete Press, London: 2006), and the second Karen Sloan’s Flirting with Monasticism (IVP, IL: 2006). While I haven’t started the latter, I dived into the first this evening.
Thus far, How (Not) is a very enjoyable and thought provoking read - even if, to be fussy for a moment, a few statements are not altogether true. For example, his use of 2 Cor 5:7 on page 16 is dubious. He ironically ‘modernistically’ understands the text so as to pretty much read it as a universal principle concerning ‘human abstractions’, and is based upon, in my opinion, a mistranslation of ouv dia. ei;douj (ou dia eidous). ‘Sight’ is not a good translation, despite most English bibles! I believe the best is ‘not by appearance’ – i.e. the appearance of the apostolic ministry in its weakness and suffering. But I’m really just being fussy as this is turning out to be another gem from the heart of the ‘emerging conversation’. I leave you with a coupe of quotes, the last of which won’t let go of my thoughts.
‘Western theology has all too often reduced the beautifully varied and complex descriptions of God found in the Bible to a singular reading that does violence to its vibrant nature. The Bible itself is a dynamic text full of poetry, prose, history, law and myth all clashing together in a cacophony of voices ... [involving] inconsistencies that make any systematic attempt to master the text both violent and irredeemably impossible’ (pp. 12-13).OK, I cut quite a bit out of that one; I lost motivation about half way through! But it was listening to Walter Brueggemann make this very point all those months ago that helped open me up theologically, and gave me the necessary sweet kick up the for-all-intents-and-purposes-Fundamentalist backside. The argument left me shakened but changed. The second:
‘[R]eligious truth is ... that which transforms reality rather than that which describes it’ (p. 23)A false either/or? Either way, this thought will go with me to bed!
A final thought. I wonder if this book, if it touches on this issue, will attempt to respect the tried and tested epistemological value of scientific research, rather than lumping all means of knowledge together in a postmodern one size fits all? I hope so, as the more I discuss these matters with friends, the less confident I am that we should speak of postmodernism at all (at least in terms of epistemology), and think of it more as a blip on the screen of late-modernism that has helped to add an important ‘critical’ before our realism. Though I have preferred two ‘criticals’ in the past (see my biblioblogs interview here), in retrospect I think that was just being pedantic! In other words, I’m uncomfortable with saying ‘Postmodernism, therefore ...’. But whether Rollins touches on this matter or not, I'm eager to read on, so I'll say 'goodnight'.