Saturday, June 18, 2005


I'm seeking to add FaithInSociety to the Progressive Christian Blogger Network, which I have also included at the bottom of my links section [on the left]. Needless to say, there is no guarantee of agreement between the various originators. But that's not the point. There is a growing need to encourage discourse among those who define their Christian identity and understanding in terms of openness, generosity and exploration within the tradition -- and that works itself out in a variety of ways. The variety is life-giving, if occasionally disturbing.

For myself, I find it increasingly helpful to talk about they way I approach theology as 'subversive orthodoxy', taking 'orthodoxy' to mean not some imposed dogma (as the word is popularly misused), but as a field of understanding mapped by an underlying grammar of faith rooted in fluid reason and communicability. I'd call it the 'discovery as re-discovery' method.

Others I know and respect take a more overtly 'revisionary' or 'constructive' stance in their theological writing. That's more where I was five years ago, I'd say -- but writers like Nicholas Lash and Rowan Williams (whose new Grace and Necessity is definitely worth a look) have persuaded me that the tradition is far more subtle, capacious, ironic, varied and adaptable than its liberal critics give credit for. And Nick Adams, too, has chastened me.

One thing that has made this possible in a way that I might not have granted a few years ago is a post-metaphysical twist in my thinking, which means that one is not forever trying to ground speech in an extra-contextual epistemology or ontology. It is more a question of honouring the 'excess' of the language and the phenomena by which Christian (and other) gifts come to us, recognising that we have to decide whether and in what way we will claim -- and be claimed by -- the Mystery, but knowing that we will never possess it.

John D. Caputo and Jean Luc Marion represent contrasting ways of going about this. I oscillate between the radically experimental and the radically traditional, seeing radix as both 'routes' and 'roots'.

Not that you necessarily needed to know that. Anyway, I shall be interested to explore what others who think of themselves as 'progressive Christians' are writing about. And, yes, the concept of 'progress' is indeed problematic, and begs lots of questions. Let's just rest it as "seeking a future not our own" for the time being -- rather than some hubristic claim about historical development, say.

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