Dear Tony Jones,
Thank you very much for taking Theology seriously.
In one old Emergent Village podcast episodes, one in which you were in some form of panel, I heard one of your comments en passant about language along the lines of "language doesn't mean anything" or "we can't really say anything".
And in one article, you wrote that "We are subjective human beings, trapped in our own skins and inevitably influenced by the communities in which we find ourselves."
Recently, Chip & Dale (the names of my 2 neurons) were fed and encouraged - I have to admit - by William Gairdner's "The Book of Absolutes". He went on to say that there are many absolutes out there, and that we can/should assume so. He then went on to quote an anthropology scholar that collected some hundreds of absolutes found across all cultures, including language.
(More recently I was thinking that we don't quite need to fully understand something to embrace it. Examples: Google, airplanes, etc. I don't quite understand how they work, but I can use them or relate to them.)
Perhaps you could elaborate on some questions:
- Can we state anything?
- Do we have to qualify everything we say (with a perhaps)?
One of the things that worries me a bit when I hear emerging friends of the North is a fear of systematic Theology, or 'stated absolutes'. I suspect I know where they are coming from: the Fundamentalists have done a diservice to 'reason', abusing of it.
My main worry is that in the South things such as the Prosperity Theology is ingrained in a Charismatic praxis that often disregards reason or proper theological thought. Other abuses in communities - such as abusive leaders - very often happen when there is no place for reason.
After listening to William Gairdner speaking about his "The Book of Absolutes" in the podcast, I began to wonder if perhaps the 'reason' of the Fundamentalists failed in the North not because it is reason, but because they didn't think the right way. That is, they didn't take Theology seriously (not that that's all there is to it). That they did not go deeply into the theories of Theology, Anthropology, History, and Sociology.
I am somewhat fearful of an abandonement of rationality because here in the South we are seing many abuses by the lack of check and balances of reason.
("been there, done that")
Gustavo K-fé Frederico
This post is part of the Globemerging series. For more information see http://globemerging.pbworks.com/ .