According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for
this world to recreate, reclaim, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of
explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. - anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. - anon
... Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument.
There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is
irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a
power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table
to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace,
reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants
us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. - anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Post-Structuralism in the Life of Prophetic Christianity




Post/Movement:
Sturcturalism - PostStructuralism-Structuration


As you know, I love anything preceded by the word "post" in it. Like, post-structural, post-foundational, post-fundamentalist, post-evangelical, post-religion, post-faith, post-ideology. Why?

1 - Because "post" conveys movement away from something. Usually something that is broken, not working, unrealistic, disconnecting with reality, oppressive, etc.

2 - It also is filled with the idea of disenchantment, personal or societal chaos, unhappiness, brokenness, darkness, unknowing, confusion, etc.

3 - Lastly, it is always used in relation to something immediately preceding itself: an era, a movement, a troubled period in one's life, a lostness, people, etc. But it revolves and reflects and bounces off relationships to things and ideas.

To admit to this kind of personal or societal movement must always be accompanied by abandonment to one's past fidelities, opinions, commitments, beliefs, old world values, habits, or way of life. This can be dangerous for many when foundations in life are removed. Especially epistemologic foundations.

But it also requires hope above all things. Plenty of courage. And sometimes a deaf ear to what people are saying around you. Why? Because usually they don't understand, or don't want to understand, or feel threatened, or, too often, serve as obstacles to growth and change.

And many times there must be a deep willingness to push past barriers, fears, and uncertainties to discover a new paradigm, new epistemologic, even ontologic, structures and foundations, and ever more questions without answers and uncertainties without resolve. to say the least, this can be difficult if not impossible.

For someone to say then that they wish to explore or live in a post-everything world is to measure the rapidity of change from one lone heartbeat to the incredible, the impossible, the unheard of, the nevermore, or the other side of the Looking Glass filled with obsurantism. It goes by many names. Many of them we know through the bible. Bible concepts like reclamation, reformation, recreation, renewal, revelation, resurrection, or just plain rebirth.

To think of these grand concepts in terms of the old vs the new, the past and the present, what is and what can be (eschatological hope) is also very biblical, very ancient, very present in the distraught human breast seeking transformation if not reformation. The Apostle Paul called it new birth. Jesus called it being born again. The Apostle John also reflected upon birth coupling it with the love of God present in the troubled soul seeking fundamental change. The church has come to call it revival, repentance, salvation.

But usually we think of all these wonderful terms as something that is experienced by the "other guy". By someone other than ourselves because, well, when or if this experience occurred within our lives it was many, many years ago and not something we think of in our present context. But what if rebirth and renewal, repentance and transformation were a continual experience rather than a one time, "Come to Jesus" moment? Then what? Well, for the theologian as for the philosopher this might be known as an "overthrow" to all the old world structures we have learned but must now unlearn. Which can be difficult. In fact, very difficult if not impossible.

The word "post" then conveys this sense of forward movement away from one's past formations. Perhaps a fine-tuning, if you will, but more likely, a complete overall of body and soul. When people in our acquaintance go through this experience it disturbs us. Mostly because we don't understand it or know what to do when its affects conflicts with our own "structural" understanding of life. A structural understanding which we don't want disturbed in any way, sense, or word. Then we become the toxic person in the equation of post-structural reform. The one who obfuscates against the penitent seeking deep reform making true transformation even more difficult than it already is. Learning to live in a "post-everything world" can do that. It threatens people as much as liberates them. The same can be said of a society in the throes of anarchy. Whether a true rebirth can be discovered in the chaos or whether all is lost to fundamental idealism unrelenting in its prevention of societal transformation to occur.

A second question. Can this period of life be identified as a prophetic period in one's life? Certainly it seems to bear all the characteristics of prophetic grief and lament over the way things are. As well as all the joy and hope for the way things could be. It also can be a burden of inspiration and illumination heaven sent by the Spirit of God in pressing into this weary world with prophetic insight radiating with laser light understanding for how things must change or be overthrown.


And so, yes, a post-structural reformation or rebirth can be prophetic, even spiritual, and certainly necessary. But as stated earlier, it can also be resisted, obstructed, rejected, ignored, and refused. As example, Jesus discovered His mission to be one of constructing a post-Old Testament, even post-Jewish, view of old world versus new world. In this task He fulfilled the role of a prophet - even as do God's more perceptive servants tasked by His Spirit today. He suffered, was rejected, ignored, and was finally refused. For those luminaries presently within our society the sin of ignoring or refusing is every bit as possible as the honor of accepting and blessing those living prophets around us laboring in our midst.

But like all willing workers no one can say the time or the hour for the completion of God-ordained toil and labor. The prophet senses its burden. Sees its necessity, struggles with its acceptance, and finally succumbs to its call. Struggles too with its implications. Resists the Spirit. Then re-submits to the Spirit to proceed by labor of blood, sweat, and tears into fields of mockery, scorn, abuse, and rejection. And perhaps finally to find death's oppressive cloak drawn upon everything before surrendering to the inevitable as his or her's deepest burdens are witnessed in its greatest harms and destructions upon a people with stopped ears, dead eyes, and deader spirits. Its death can be as much existential as it is physical. And it is a hard death for the prophet to witness against the horrors of his illumined imagination. An imagination unwanted, undreamed, unsought. But an imagination which finally enters into a societies deepest darks unless repentance and change are allowed in.

And so today's living prophets, like Jesus of old, are most typically underappreciated, overlooked, even damned individuals, who would offer us celestial airs in exchange for the burdens we bear. This then is what it means to live prophetically in a post-everything world as bounded by the Spirit of God.

Peace.

R. E. Slater
October 1, 2016