We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
I dare you to try reading this semi-scholarly piece about Liberal Christian Theology in Crosscurrents. I got lost so fast that it wasn't funny. I think their point is that a politically progressive Christian theology is a good, modern thing, but, if so, it is way beyond my poor powers of comprehension.
I'm sorry you were frustrated by the Dorrien piece. It is actually a very good summary of the state of contemporary non-dogmatic theology. I have read many of the authors he named: he has them about right. Most useful is his creation of post facto schools linking the thinkers to their underlying metaphysical convictions. This has been one of the hallmarks of the Enlightenment heritage as it left behind the theological metaphysics of Thomas. As people came, slowly, to the notion that the world was not in fact constructed for their own priviledge they cast about for thought mechanisms that allowed a realistic foundation for theology. This has been the project of most theology since the Enlightenment. The exception has been the retrograde pseudo-Thomistic dogmatic fundamentalists who are still insisting that the world must operate according to their theological views. This has proved to be a bankrupt though politically popular view. It seems to have the latter effect because it is easy to manipulate and supports, by extension, the notion that all things can be turned to ones' own version: that we do not have to accommodate reality. This is the most malignant gift of fundamentalism and its political creations--denial in the service of a bankrupt faith. One has only to review the action of Frist, the Bush family, and DeLay around the Terry Shiavo case to understand, if you choose, the terrrible consequences of the flawed thinking. All of them lied and dissembled without respect to the person in question for political advantage.
"This has been the project of most theology since the Enlightenment. The exception has been the retrograde pseudo-Thomistic dogmatic fundamentalists who are still insisting that the world must operate according to their theological views. "
I just love it when people talk like this. I don't know what he is saying but I just love the big words.
It was a good summary. Thanks for the reference. Actually, it was freer of the theological jargon than a lot of stuff I've slogged thru over the years...
I have to say, tho, that 20 years out of seminary it reminded me what was the hardest part of seminary, enduring contemporary theology. Call me pedestrian, but I went to seminary to learn how to preach and teach the Gospel, offer loving pastoral care to a congregation. Most of the theology that got debated and taught there had nothing to do with the Gospel. As this article points the same thing out
"To put it bluntly, liberal theology has broken beyond its academic base only when it speaks with spiritual conviction about God's holy and gracious presence, the way of Christ, and the transformative mission of Christianity. That is not how a great deal of liberal theology has spoken over the past generation, to the detriment of liberal theology as a whole. In the past a spiritually vital evangelical liberalism sustained religious communities that supported the entire liberal movement. What would the social gospel movement have been without its gospel-centered preaching and theology? What would the Civil Rights movement have been without its gospel-centered belief in the sacredness of personality and the divine good?
When the social gospelers spoke of the authority of Christian experience, they took for granted their own deep grounding in Bible study, family devotions, personal prayer, and worship. Today the loss of the transcendental, biblical voice in liberal theology is one important reason that much of it gets little notice. Liberals often show more concern about the postmodern status of their perspective than about the relationship of their perspective to gospel faith."
I am old-fashioned, believing that Christianity isn't taught, it's caught. So my teachers in theology were saintly relatives and teachers, companions in Bible study, devoted parish priests in the mountain villages I visited as a child in the Andes. Years later, I would thrill to the faithful heroism of the Jesuits in "The Mission." That's a faith worth both living and dying for!
When I was in seminary, process theology was what the cool people were into, and it was tantalizing. Then there was a lot of liberation theology that I could relate to having seen the viciousness of society in Latin America thru my childhood, and I was friends with Jesuits who foul Ratzinger persecuted and labelled Communists some of whom died because they loved barefoot peasants and tried to bring them the sacraments and teachings of Christ. But the American versions of liberation theology, the rabid feminism, gay rights screeching, WICCA whining for equal status, and general everyone-is-a-victim stuff nauseated me.
The article makes a good point about the separation of academic theology from the congregations.
I still consider myself theologically illiterate in the modern stuff. Because most of it is unreadable, and because there really are no greats in the field. We are in the middle of Munchkin Land right now.