Monday, August 11, 2008

Community (Narrative Gospel 5)

In Post-Enlightenment thought, human beings were to be understood first and foremost as individuals. Individual human rationality was virtually deified. While I will note that this development was in many ways a reaction to an epistemology of unthinking compliance with authority, it was also an overcorrecting swing of the pendulum. It would seem that human beings do not have the ability to be objective, and when such objectivity is claimed it serves as a coercive tool that functions to place the proposition at hand in a position that is beyond discussion, investigation, or scrutiny (ironically similar the authoritarian epistemology it was reacting to). In contrast, Walsh and Middleton explain that in Postmodern thought:

“…we simply have no access to something called ‘reality’ apart from the way we represent that reality in our concepts, language and discourse…We can never get outside our knowledge to check its accuracy against ‘objective’ reality. Our access is always mediated by our own linguistic and conceptual constructions.”

It seems that, despite modernity’s insistence on human beings becoming “objective knowers”, such objectivity has eluded us since the dawn of time and will likely continue to do so. Individual human beings appear to be inherently perspectival creatures, thoroughly unable to disembed ourselves from our own subjectivity. If this is our predicament, how can the Gospel, particularly as a narrative, in any way be seen as a means by which truth can be communicated?
The Gospel is contained in a collection of Scriptures that we Christians refer to as “The Bible. This collection of Scripture is fascinatingly communal and frankly defies our individualism and objectivity. Though we profess it to be “inspired” by God’s Holy Spirit, it is written, not by a single author, but by many authors; not in one time period, but over thousands of years; not to individuals primarily, but to communities of believers; not to offer a single, unified perspective, but multiple perspectives on one true God, sometimes offering both “testimony and counter-testimony” . This narrative not only invites us to participation and experience, but also to community; to a place of belonging where we can “know together” .
(To be continued...)

No comments: