Sunday, July 18, 2010

Discipleship and Bourgeois Theology

It took me many years to free myself from I called in my memoirs the 'bonds of my class.'  I know that even today there are many who accuse me of behavior instilled by the 'bonds of class,' especially some feminist women.  Perhaps they are right and one never overcomes the class into which one is born.  I don't know. 
--Simone De Beauvoir

It's an honest, and a bit terrifying, account of her life as an intellectual:  born into a bourgeois family, Beauvoir wonders whether she was ever able to overcome these class bonds and think for and from a different social situation.  Is she able to transcend the class--and the cultural forms that went with it--into which she was born, or does she remain, despite her best efforts, another bourgeois intellectual?  She doesn't know, and this confession is remarkable given her vast erudition and relentless pursuit to understand herself and the world into which she is born.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Why Resettle Refugees?

I met with a pastor yesterday to talk about how his church could be involved with refugees. He mentioned that he had previously helped about refugees from Laos. He talked about how the government had armed locals to fight, promising them a better future, and then withdrew, leaving them to be persecuted. Later, they invited these people to come over as refugees but they gave them barely enough to even get started. He then said, “America has a history of doing this—sadly. They offer to help, promise a better life, and then don’t give you enough to even get started on your way—it creates a lot of frustration. Indians know it, African Americans know it, and I think those Laotians know it.”

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Theology and Obedience: Bound to the Transgressor

As I've spent the past year reading Barth in my spare time, I've slowly started to figure out what he is doing with certain repetitive gestures.  Throughout his Dogmatics, Barth will say things like "the Christian theological tradition has always been in agreement that..." (IV/1, p. 179) and "the mystery which is alone relevant in Church dogmatics [is]..." (177).  He will frequently make a brief aside that such-and-such belief is part of the Christian confession, or such-and-such is an attribute of the Christian God.
It's tempting to read Barth--and I think many people do read Barth--as stabilizing a kind of strong form of Christian theology--theology is done in and for the church.  Theology is the church's reflection on its own grammar, its own language of belief, its own confessions.  The faith is handed down to us and our task, as theologians, is to seek to understand it (faith seeking understanding....).  Barth, on this way of thinking, is ultimately concerned about restoring a properly Christian mode of theological reflection:  theology can speak confidently to the world when it is situated back within the life of the Church.  Theology exists in obedience to the faith that has been, is, and will be proclaimed in the church.