Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Spiritual Rhythms of Life for Today

Literary genres in the biblical text are not merely formal structures or conventions, but function as theological directives concerning the complexity of the character of God. Theodiversity, in the biblical theodrama, opens horizons and dimensions of God that no single genre can contain. Scripture, as revealed through the communicative interaction of God in narrative, wisdom, poetry, hymn, prophecy, and apocalyptic attempts to portray in words that which is ultimately beyond capturing: God is the creator, redeemer, and mystery of the world.


Nita said...

Dear Greg,
I was away attending conferences in Argentina (phenomenology), SP (Humboldt Kolleg) and philosophy of religion. Especially re the latter, the more I hear colleagues trying to use analytic philosophical arguments to persuade atheists and agnostics that God does exist, the less credible this whole business of talking about God becomes to me –perhaps, it's only my suspicion that it is far from self-evident that these arguments prove anything at all! I tend to fully agree with your take on biblical literary genres as "theological directives concerning the complexity of the character of God." After all, who is God and what does exactly mean to say that God is a person, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving? I do not see any philosophical account of personhood, selfhood and infinity (infinite ontology and the like) that has helped me anyhow but this is perhaps my overreaction against rationalist theology, reformed epistemology and Van Tilian-like criticisms of Schaeffer. The "communicative interaction of God in narrative, wisdom, poetry, hymn, prophecy, and apocalyptic" literature seems to make a lot of sense insofar as revelation, historicity and self-formation are concerned: I tend to believe that the Word of God is a sovereign event and the only way to make sense of the accounts of creation, redemption, and the ongoing mystery of the world is by responding to its call, which is ultimately a call from the Other. So my only hope lies in an ethic of alterity –and this has been, at least for me, in my limited experience, the only way to encounter God: as the Other, the God of the Other, the God of the orphan, the widow, the poor, and the foreigner.

Greg said...

Thanks. Trust the conferences gave rise to thought. I agree with your comment about the analytic philosophical argumentation lacking credibility and not proving what is supposedly self-evident.

I received much on selfhood from interacting with Oneself as Another by Ricoeur. His more theological essays in Figuring the Sacred include some of the material he purposely left out of Soi-même comme un autre.

I like what you say about the Word of God. I have thought along the lines of some kind of inspired reflection that is revelatory. In reading Merold Westphal's new book Whose Community? Which Interpretation? I was reminded again of Nick Wolterstorff's Divine Discourse, which though written by an analytic philosopher has some interesting suggestions about Scripture.

Reception of the call from the Other, I think, then opens up possibilities for serving others in a meaningful way that risks embracing life, for both self and other.

Greg said...
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nita said...

Hi, Greg! Thanks for all the insightful posts and comments! I went back to delve into Ricoeur's Oneself as Another and Figuring the Sacred (I didn't know this one, not in this version). Thanks for recommending Merold Westphal's Whose Community? and Nick Wolterstorff's Divine Discourse. As I told you before, I would have to take one semester off in order to sort all these ideas out (ideally at Swiss L'Abri!), but I'll try to do all these readings during my Summer vacation down here (after Xmas in the Southern hemisphere!) One of the most striking and attractive features in Ricoeur's texts is his consistent intellectual honesty and openness to different accounts of so many problems. I realize that lots of analytic philosophers today no longer believe in the self or personhood, and the way they get so close to postmodern nihilists (minus the postmodernist features of course!) just attest to the conflict of interpretations in the 21st century, in many ways very reminiscent of the debates that were taking place at the very beginning of the 20th century, esp in reference to language, ontology and subjectivity...

Greg said...

Thanks. Just back from gliding through the Alpine mountainside on a bike ride thinking about relativity and relativism, among other small matters, which I hope are significant.

Westphal's new book is a refresher, but he tends to formulate thoughts in interesting ways, albeit if you know him, it's not hard to detect his important caution about things divine and human not crossing paths. We posed some questions on this perspective when Merold lectured here and had some good discussions.

Seriously, if you can ever find a way here, it would be very special to have some time to interact on all these thoughts and questions.

We are fortunate to have Cees Dekker coming from Holland in January. We look forward to getting into some of the theology and science issues with him, and as we have done a bit more on the theological side, he wants to interact with us on that.

Yes, I too appreciate Ricoeur. He raises and adopts the conflict of interpretations, but also argues that not anything goes. Tension.