Tuesday, 2 August 2011
PACKING AND POLYDOXY
I'm off on holiday from the end of today. We are going in the camper van to Wales for a couple of weeks. I'm looking forward to the space - I get to walk and chill out in lovely countryside - but I can't stop reading and I can't stop reading theology, sad person that I am. This holiday I'm packing some exciting stuff . I'm concentrating on the work of three North American theologians - Catherine Keller, Laurel C Schneider and Beverly Lanzetta. I dipped into some of Keller's and Schneider's work earlier today and it looks wonderfully promising:
In recent years a discernable movement within theology has emerged around a triune intuition: the daunting differences of multiplicity, the evolutionary uncertainty it unfolds, and the relationality that it implies are not problems to be overcome in religious thought. They are starting points for it. Divinity understood in terms of multiplicity, open - endedness, and relationality now forms a matrix of revelation rather than a distortion, or evidence of its lack. The challenges and passions of theological creativity blossoming at the edges of tradition and at the margins of power have shown themselves, far from being distractions from doctrinal or doxological integrity, to be indispensible to its life. And this vitality belies at once the dreary prophecies of pure secularism and the hard grip of credulous certainty.
Really, given the venerable pronouncements of the death of God, theology at the start of this millenium should be worse off than it is. The undeniable atrophy of those denominations that still support educated clergy limit the resources for even discerning just which God it is that is presumed dead. The hard questions remain hard; the institutional fragilities remain unsparing. And so the buoyancy we see in theology right now is all the more remarkable. Its life and movement, which in this volume we are nicknaming "polydoxy", has multiple sources. Indeed multiplicity itself has become theology's resource. What had always seemed a liability for Christian theology - multiplicitous differences contending from within and competing from without - has miraculously turned into theology's friend. Indeed emergent commitment to the manifold of creation as it enfolds a multiplicity of wisdoms may be functioning as a baseline requirement for theological soundness. A responsible pluralism of interdependance and uncertainty now seems to facilitate deeper attention to ancient religious traditions as well as more robust engagement with serious critiques of religion. This is an approach that no longer needs to hide the internal fissures and complexities that riddle every Christian text or that wound and bless every theological legacy.
These intuitions and starting points find grounding in the Christian tradition not only because of the rich history of texts and practices therein that support doctrinal and ethical formulations of multiplicity, evolutionary openness, and relationality. But also, like other global religions, "Christianity" was never merely One to begin with. Internally multiple and complex, it has always required an agile and spirited approach to theological reflection. We sense that the current resilience of theology in its becoming multiplicity of relations is a sign and a gift of that Spirit.
Catherine Keller and Laurel C Schneider (Eds) Polydoxy : Theology of Multiplicity and Relation (Routledge 2011) p1
Hopefully, I'll be back posting towards the end of August with an interesting book review from Andi Smith Minister at Saltley Methodist Church in Birmingham who has been enjoying reading Allah : A Christian Response by Miroslav Volf