Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Poetry and the End of Theology

After I posted "Our World Without Ambiguity, or humility" this morning, James K. A. Smith posted "Poetry and the End of Theology."

Smith is asking some dangerous questions again:
But how did a discourse so uncreative become the deputized voice of the Creator? How did a genre so flat and sober and unimaginative become the official mouthpiece of a God who created platypuses and larkspur? Frankly, how did the boring disquisitions of “systematic” theology emerge as the authoritative voice for a people who follow a story-teller like Jesus?
And he's making some dangerous comparisons:
The republic of [Christian] theology, like Plato’s city [i.e., The Republic], is built on the exile of the poets whose “fictions” are a dangerous distraction.
Smith sums up his own short story succinctly:
theology picked up some very bad habits in modernity.
What Smith hasn't yet done is to tell the story of where what he calls "modernity" has picked up its very bad habits from.  And yet Smith gives clues:
the language of propositions and syllogisms
Now, who invented such logic and refined the true systematic process of scientific knowing that we call "syllogistic reasoning"?  Who's the one who worked against "images and metaphors" and "fiction and poetry"?  Who's that one who railed against divine "revelation"? 

Yes, that's right.  It's the pre-modern, poetry-despising, anti-female, barbarian-(like-you-and-me)-hating, utterly-objective, father of modernity:


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