Life is contextual. We often speak as though we possess a great deal of objectivity. Occasionally we state the obvious influences in an attempt to work ourselves out of the subjective and into the objective. From our perceived position of objectivity we can make grand assertions as though we speak to some one about some thing authoritatively. We could call this the delusion of idealism. You know, the kind of posture wherein you take apart (deconstruct) something in hopes to find the essence. You strip it bear of all things considered periphery and look to live in the new found construct. The problem – we cannot complete the project because we ourselves are bound to our own context and some of the very influences we believe unimportant to consider may indeed be more important than we realize. Since we assume the position of authority, these blind spots become difficult if not impossible to see.
Take for example a recent post by my brother Paul. At the outset let me say I agree with him. We often talk about these very themes and issues. The reality of discovering the “enculturation” of the church leads many to the process of deconstruction in hopes of constructing something new out of something jumping, as it were, from the pages of the New Testament. The result is a form of ecclesial idealism. Maybe you have been or are there.
I recall an incident from college. The church to which we belonged experienced some rough times. An anonymous group designated itself, “The Committee to Restore (said church) to a New Testament Church.” Aside from the insidiousness of anonymity, it created the question for me, “Can we find such a church?” Now some years later serving a local church and taken part in my own periods of “deconstruction” and “reconstruction.’ I find it very difficult to think we can reduplicate what was surely embedded in a particular culture at a specific time and space. Is it realistic to think we can find that for which we look. Paul offers a couple of follow-up posts (here and here).
So, as I read a series of posts by Dino (#1, #2, #3), I thought this is at least one way forward for us. Can we address our own operative narratives and locate our stories in the narrative of Jesus? Certainly as Dino points out we will jettison competing cultural narratives like the American Dream. But, what other narratives of our own creation will compete for the narrative of Jesus?
Yes, I do realize the questions a post like this may well generate. But, in those dark nights of the soul, these questions come to me too.
Thanks Dino for sharing your story and the way in which the Story of God intersected you and how the narrative of Jesus re-creates your story.