A Real case of OverKILL. Link via News of the Weird 11-16-03 edition.
In July, a judge relented and allowed Richard Quinton Gunn to act as his own attorney in his aggravated-murder appeal, following his conviction earlier in the year in Ogden, Utah, by a jury that deliberated just two hours. Gunn had confessed, saying he killed his tenant using a crowbar, a butcher knife, a handsaw, a fireplace poker, a 12-inch bolt, a straight-edge razor, an ax, walking canes, a pool cue and a large salad fork. [Salt Lake Tribune, 7-16-03]
"Anyone with an interpretation of the scriptures that differs from that of the writer is misled, but not because the scriptures are lying. . . .
Deconstruction is a concept I was first introduced to in the late eighties and I was reading in Art Journals as a discipline to help me be a better designer of fine art exhibitions proceeding with the notion that artists, even ones coming from a deconstructionist grounding tend to want their work to be represented appropriately (a notably non-postmodern idea).
The journals of Art History were full of predictions and struggles to lay hold of the concepts that were filtering into the discipline from Literary criticism and the supposed death of traditional interpretations of texts. Hermeneutics suddenly was all the rage.
At that point (late eighties) scholars were still trying to advance the case that we were living in a postmodern era, a place that was clearly marked off from the modern in many of its characteristics. The conversations typically became embroiled in defining modernism, and very little consensus on the question was to be found.
Roland Barthes took issue of the possibility that the natural must be unmasked as sign.
The university as a world institution has become dominated in its intellectual thought by theorists who took Hegels constructs to their logicus terminus. Heroes of this vanguard would include Foucault, Derrida, Barthes and Rorty.
I think the quote is a commentary on the abject futility of human rebellion against God as described in Romans 1.
A structuralist approach to art takes an attitude towards the sensuous, visual, non semantic aspects of art. Art possesses almost magical magnetism that must be approached at a distance through a discursive aspect that provides a perspective from which to critique it. Critical reflection must take this distancing into consideration. Post structuralism gave these connotations a negative twist.
So the Real becomes unknowable on its own merits- there can be a close encounter with the Real but it is completely Other. It is sort of a vanishing point which is moved towards but never arrived at. Alan Sheridan called it "the umbilical cord of the symbolic".
Representation no longer refers to objective things. We cannot read reality or reach its irreducible figurality. We do not realize we ourselves are contingencies of the Real. We are not autonomous object with freedom of choice in ideology.The modern myth of progress promised and earthly paradise and it led to destruction. Part of the draw of deconstruction is its unwavering assertations in regard to modernitys excesses.
As truth became unknowable, impressionism, abstraction, Dada and Deconstructionalism held successive sway. Duchamps goal was to destroy the viewer from within himself. Much of postmodern art expresses futility, hopelessness and rage. Yet it is not beyond redemption. God specializes in hopeless causes as that is his prime raw material to work from today, ourselves included.
In some ways the dethroning of certain idols of the West such as the ideas that deny the limitations of universal reason in light of the fall could potentially be said to serve the cause of Christ. Our fundamental brokenness is something modernism excludes from the conversation. The biblical mandate is that man is fallen but not beyond the reach of a redeeming god who is infinite in mercy and even turns that which is meant for evil to good for those found in Christ.
The Bible reveals the only coherent way to approach the problem- man is fallen but valuable because he was created in the image of God and God alone is autonomous. Thus the scriptures alone are the key to understanding the deepest longings of man, the greatest needs and the only way of avoiding hopelessness among those in creation who would pursue an authentic life in the contemporary world.
Deconstruction goes beyond saying that the real is mysterious- it says it is incoherent. It is satisfied with this incoherence and sees that as interesting in and of itself. Incoherence may actually be elevated by the deconstructionist to the level of genius.
Any connection between the two is arbitrary. Every cultural artifact becomes a text to be read and deconstructed. Cultural life and intellectual pursuits are intertextualities ant are self referential and circular in meaning. Humans cannot escape the limitations of our bondage to language based meaning.. There is therefore no transcendental logos, no real meaning. Our being is enslaved in a bondage of the word, a prison of language.
With the absence of absolute values to strive for it is an inherently self destructive, not self validating philosophy. Whenever a text is interrogated, critique becomes criticism and a negative connotation is advanced. All truth claims become covert power plays. An intellectually sophisticated contingent of theorists have set forth a rigorous methodology to support their mental gymnastics. The rampant relativism in our culture therefore has a peg to hang its hat on. Truth has become the art of redesigning knowledge since truth does not exist.
While it is true that traditional hermeneutics has operated within the construct of modernism for 200 years, that "interpretation" is in and of itself a modern construct defies the fact that language is essential to humanity and is not in itself a modern concept.
Such an economy produces bubble communities that create their own morals and norms. They are a law unto themselves. So the implications for those engaged in pursuing and presenting spiritual truth are enormous. As this construct become pervasive in the postmodern culture, all constraints are thrown off. One mans chaos is another mans liberty.
In effect every truth claim is turned upside down and becomes the problem rather than the solution. It is a fleshing out of the old chestnut that maybe religion is about perspective- maybe Yahweh is the devil and Lucifer is God.
So in this milieu we are left with several possibilities. We can accept the meaningless and embrace the "unbearable lightness of being". We can hunker in the bunker and deny the signs of the times, play the game and take the blue pill. We can focus on our little island of the world, or we can become terrorists and construct our own reality.
One can tell from the foregoing that this has tremendous impact on the pursuit of spiritual truth in our day and age. At one time in history the participants in the dialogue had common presupposition in the existence of absolutes- the idea was to navigate the cultural differences to distill the truth out of the complexity. Kant and Hegel took philosophy down the slippery slope away from this presupposition.
The one place we do not need to retreat from is the Bible. Sensitivity to suffering and an understanding of the effects of the fall must enlighten our discourse with the world, since these two issues produced the excesses of modernity and in turn gave rise to the excesses of postmodern reaction to them. Postmodernism has no basis for truth claims and therefore can only play the role of the contrarian in the discussion.
We have the truth- it is not an idea or a construct, it is a person. Truth is a gift and truth is a call. Forms of spirituality are referential and are only as good as the objective reference of their constructions. We are called to be conformed to a person and that person is truth. Our function which is to glorify and enjoy that person forever gives rise to a multitude of forms that must be critiqued in regard to their efficacy in pursuing and realizing that purpose.
Authentic appropriation of the truth- living, moving and having our being in Him shatters our categories. You have do deal with the hardness of the text- it means what it says. It means that you are to love your enemies. If it shatters orthodox theological categories in submission to the text we have become more of a reaction to modernism than deconstruction could ever dream to do. We would become the ultimate deconstructionists.
That is not to say that we would cease to learn from those entrusted with the faith once given to the saints in every generation. Rather we would appreciate their expressions of faith with a new vigor. We master the timeless truths, yes, but move beyond them to the person who indwells us to lead us to all truth. We would read the spirit 0f scripture, not the codified constructs that limit its ability to separate between bone snd marrow, to be a fire in our bones because weve grown accustomed to the grace displayed there.
That said we can construct a life that flows from our purpose and is not reactionary or needs driven- a life that exists for the sole person of making much of God and little of ourselves, of glorifying Him in declaration, word, deed and very breath itself.
We must not succumb to the notion that we must alter the understanding or even the content of the Christian faith in order to be acceptable to the deconstructionist. Metanarratives must not be abandoned.
Another approach is that people are not actually operating under different paradigms today and that truth is self authenticating= the kerygma- the convicting, illuminating power of the Holy Spirit transcends human frailties. Others would contend that presuppositional apologetics are still effective since men are still rational creatures. I tend to agree with the former but not the latter.
I think we must become instigators of conversations- the great commission is to go, teach, but the methodologies must undergo appropriate audience analysis. The forms must change but the message preserved. This acknowledgement of the complexity of what it takes to be a hearer in the current milieu is tremendously important. The Holy Spirit inhabits the words of God presented faithfully and with shrewd understanding and makes of them words of faith that work regeneration in the hearts of men.
A real way this can work in practical terms is to force the deconstructionist to face the fact that he cannot consistently live out the belief system he has constructed for himself. The art of pushing people to the end of their view may be able to force them to desire to move beyond their approach.
In any discussion of deconstruction and its relation to the faith, it must be declared that much of what one reads in anti-scriptural in its emphasis. Modern evangelicalism reveals its fatal flaw in its approach to deconstruction. Since Christians express their faith through action, not theory, it is said that Christianity has everything to do with the individual. In fact the individual only has meaning in relation to the ONE- it is all about Him and not about us.
Its His kindness that leads us to repentance and all self examination must be related to the one we are in relationship with, for that changes everything.
Most Christian discourse elevates the faith to be ABOUT us- "He took the fall and thought of me above all" is an inherently flawed and unscriptural notion. We are recipients of the overflow of the workings of grace- it is all about making much of God and His glory that we bask in. the notion that id we were the only one in the world he still would have died for us says much more about the obscenity of our own individual responsibility for our personal sin than of our value to a holy and Righteous giver of grace.
Rationalists have even provided for us an alternative "positive deconstruction" approach to presuppositional apologetics. I believe that the more effective approach is an incarnational apologetic of engaging people personally where possible and declaring truth in all places at all times possible whether we have a platform or not. This was the approach to the 7O Christ sent out and Pauls approach before - he didnt take time to be buddies with Felix, but did in other cases make personal relationships the context for his witness. Attempts to reduce truth declaration to certain preferred forms belies the nature of mission- to make His glory know to as many as possible so they can enjoy Him forever.
In the process of living authentically before the throne of grace, we become the art of God. We become the sign , representing the signifier in authentic ways, (and by grace, significant ways) ever new and creative ways, ever glorious from glory to glory in all His ways. This is the call to Christians today- to enrich the semantics of the Christian dialog with the world by the authenticity of the narratives of our lives lived out and our declarations articulated incisively. Influence, compel, enlighten- fan the fire by becoming the flame.
Interesting take from evangelical voices at
Youth resources sites have more pertinent info I think, for instance check outMaybe one of the most spiritually thoughtful men in our generation has a say here and here.
Allelon has some pertinent takes on the discussion
Another good reading room...
From the personal weblog of Anthony Foster @http://anthonyfoster.com/blog/