Showing posts with label Jesus and the Meta Narrative. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jesus and the Meta Narrative. Show all posts


Tanner and Poet


It is comic for an over-80 to be reading systematic theology, as it not likely to be on the final exam.  It has more to say to those who are responsible for the Christian witness to the world, pastors, preachers. Teachers and even poets.  Still, since the middle of the summer I have reading Tanner, and find myself in kind of rear-guard movement, wanting to witness to the importance of her systematic theology.  Thus, we have this Face Book page, “Tanner Talk of Omaha,” a sister page to “On Giving My Word Tancreti.”   The two pages might seem unrelated, but they do bare on one another.  Retrospectively, I recognize that the theology that underlies the poetic of On Giving My Word is similar to Tanner’s and gains clarity from it.  It is similar because my reading in the Seventies and Eighties, Rahner, Schleiermacher and Bart, was similar to Tanner’s.  Had I been aware of it at the timeing I was writing that poetry, it would have served as useful guide to the coherent God talk I was attempting, now can gain by being judged by it. 

I would illustrate this with a quick reference to a short poem you will find in On Giving My Word, page 248, “As God Will’s.”  One of Tanner’s principles of coherent God talk, is that God’s agency does not compete with human (creaturely) efficacy.   I wrote:

                               It is God’s will that I chose.

                                             I would like God to tell me

                                             If I should go to the right or the left.

                                             If God did, then I would not have to choose,

                                             Which is not God’s will for me.

                                . . . . 

                              So, I shall choose, which is God’s will for me,

                                             and if I prosper and live, I shall be a communion for God.

                                             And if I dimmish and die, God will be a communion for me.

                              As God wills.

 God’s will does not trump human will, because God’s will works in a different plane than human will. We might try to imagine that by drawing a line on a paper, make a diagonal from one side to another.  This line represents God will, agency.   Everywhere an act of human will is possible, God is will it.  So, at any point on the paper draw a short line.  That represents an act of human will.  Save for a parallel, line they will intersect, share a point, which the possibility of communion.

 For me “Tanner Talk” will not be so much a guide to the future, as a reflection of the past.


Jesus and the Meta  Narrative

     My hope with this label is to open up ways in which Jesus can be restored to being the subject of a narrative rather than being  the object of doctrine, or of myth, ancient or modern.  To my mind much of the inability of Christianity to commend itself and/or deal with its internal problems comes from allowing Jesus to be detached from the narrative.  So too, I would claim, is the inability of secular humanism to find its meta-narrative.  Most of what will follow under this label will be offering and discussing my own attempt to use a lyric poetic to reestablish the narrative Jesus, as well as inviting you to share your own.  What follows immediately in this post is a theoretic ground work for my claim and which can serve as a guide to how the effort might proceed.

     There is some kind of dynamic in human experience which embraces narrative, only find itself rejecting it or marginalizing it .  The narrative energy of the Hebrew experience, first in an oral tradition and then somewhere in 10th century B.C.E. as written text is exceptional from any frame of reference.  It continued down to the 5th century B.C.E., past the traumatic loss of its must prized possessions, the Temple and Court of Jerusalem, after which it progressively codified itself and looks for an alternative to the narrative.  In the first century, its narrative instinct is barely alive, only to be resuscitated by the figure of Jesus of Nazareth.  Beginning with a renewed oral tradition and a burst of epistolary activity, it matured into a Gospel tradition, which in turned spread out in a wide, if uneven, hagiography.
      It might seem that the claim that the Hebrew experience lost it genius for the narrative tradition after its return from the Babylonian exile, is an anti-Jewish bias seeking to commend Christianity at the expense of Jews, making the Tanach into the Old Testament and the Christian literature into a replacement, a New Testament.  But as the reader will soon see, the same critic will be applied to Christianity, which has in successive moments loses its narrative genius, a genius not unrelated to the narrative genius of the Hebrew-Jewish community.  As early as Marcion, circa 235,  there was an attempt to extricate Christianity from the entire Hebrew narrative.   It was widely understood that the amputation of the Hebrew narrative would be fatal to Christianity’s own narrative genius as well.
      Among the succession of crises which attempt to terminate or marginalize Christianity’s narrative foundation, one that always interests me is the crisis of the high medieval church of the West in which the western church was transforming itself into a monarchy found on a newly defined body of canonical law.  How else could it compete with the rising medieval monarchies?  What halts its triumph is the “little poor one” Francis of Assisi, who builds outdoor creches to point to the narrative and in general acts out the life of Jesus.  It is an example of the reassertion of narrative, a reassertion that rescued the Western Church for a fatal transformation of itself into a monarchy, competing with other monarchies.
      There are many other example of this dynamic before and after Francis: for example  Arianism, Catholic and Protestant Dogmatic, Evangelical Fundamentalism.  My argument is that the present crisis of the church is caused by the transformation of the church into ideas which internally divide it and externally make it irrelevant, and what is required is a concerted effort to repossess its narrative core.   A Franciscan style movement to re-evangelize the church is called for.  By this the church would not only find unity within its self, but relevance to the world whose on dysfunction lies in the absence of a narrative.     
     Under the Label Jesus and the Meta-Narrative this blog hopefully will explore ways to repossess the Jesus Narrative and to place it in the context of an overarching enabling narrative, or what is generally called a meta-narrative.

  Isaiah Project: An Annotated Bibliography   For those following the Isaiah project this is a current list of my reading.     Josep...