If the way things are is good enough, one would take up preservation.
Deconstruction is not destruction – but to those into preservation it often feels like it.
Think of de-construction as a controlled burn (purifying fire) that clears out the old brush and undergrowth to make space for new growth.
Deconstruction is loving something enough to pull it apart and see what might be salvaged – or freed – from the suffocating stagnation bound-up-ness.
When topic or institution has become assumed or presumed, it is in need of this kind of love.
Like a plant that has been in a pot too long – or has gotten to big for the container – the roots can actually begin to grow back on themselves. This is a condition known as pot bound (or root bound) and loving that plant means to pull it out of the pot and to pull (or even cut) at the roots in order to separate and loosen them.
Institutions can be their own worst enemy. Christian ones seem particularly prone to become pot bound. To love the church – or the christian tradition for that matter – requires some tough love. If you didn’t love you could just walk away. If it were ‘good enough’ you could settle in and settle down for the long haul.
Deconstruction is loving the tradition enough to pull at (or even prune it) in the hopes of life and health and new growth.
One of my favorite things to listen to is ‘Ideas’ by the Canadian Broadcasting (CBC). They have recently had a series on ‘After Atheism’ about new developments regarding belief in God.
The first episode was with Richard Kearney on ‘Anatheism: God after God’. The second episode was with Jack Caputo (his book on the subject is great). I would highly recommend giving them a listen.
What those two episodes have got me thinking about is the passion it takes to stick with it and the conviction is requires to believe there is something worth all the labor and care. I know lots of people who were raised with some kind of belief but have walked away. I also know lots of people who are fine with things the way they are who are happy to keep plugging away.
I find myself in neither of those camps. I love the church too much to walk away and way to much to leave it in the condition that it currently rests in.
Deconstruction isn’t for everyone. In fact, one of the most challenging aspects of it is simply trying to convince the preservationists that your intentions are good and that your not trying to kill the thing! To those who assume and presume that things should remain as they are, pulling and clearing feel or seem like destruction.
I have written before about The World Come of Age (Bonhoeffer) or what others call The World Transformed (Hunt) or what Kaufman calls The Nuclear Age. The simple fact is that the 20th Century – between technology and war – changed the world and radically altered what we call society. The reality of living in the 21st century are very different than they were in the 12th – let alone the 2nd.
The questions of the 21st century are not answered by repeating inherited answers or by parroting ancient thought.
Farming, hygiene, reading, telephones, banks, travel (airplanes) …. there are thousands of examples of how different our existence is from those in previous centuries. Even the way was imagine our self (identity) and community (belonging) has changed.
Deconstruction is loving the question enough to dare a different answer. Then turning around and examining the initial questions itself.
We live in world come of age – a nuclear age – that asks something different of us. Theology can not just continue to repeat the same old answers over and over – or louder and louder – and wonder why it isn’t satisfying the demands being put on it by those inside and outside the institution.
From the linguistic turn in philosophy to globalized markets, from Hiroshima to Auschwitz, from twitter to the pill …. we live in a different world than the ancients. Our religious beliefs deserve to be re-examined and longingly pulled at (or even cut at) in order to prune (or bleed) in the hopes of life and health.
Deconstruction is now a necessary part of theology.
Deconstruction. A term used primarily in *hermeneutics (the art and science of interpreting written texts or spoken language) to describe the process of analyzing a particular representation of reality so as to offer a critique of how a text “constructs” a picture of reality. Although deconstructionists are not always explicitly negative in practice, they often use deconstruction as a technique to discredit a text to which they are philosophically or ideologically opposed. Deconstruction, which is sometimes known as poststructuralism, arose out of, and in response to, a theory of literature called *structuralism, which sought to analyze the common structures that characterize various texts or literary works.
Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms (Kindle Locations 361-364). Kindle Edition.