What Would Jesus Deconstruct?

Along with Smith’s Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism I am also reading the second book in the series, What Would Jesus Deconstruct by none other than John Caputo. I have enjoyed it so much (if nothing else, it reads like a philosophy book…ah, the good ‘ole days). I thought I would include some of my favorite one-liners from the book so far:

About the (in)famous WWJD:
“My hypothesis is if our friends on the Right really mean to ask that question instead of using it as a stick to beat their enemies, they are in for a shock…It will be an eye opener to the Christian Right, who, having tried to blackmail us with this question, will discover that the slogan they have been wearing on their T-shirts and pasting on their automobile bumpers all these years is a call for radical social justice!”
“In my view, a deconstruction is good news, because it delivers the shock of the other to the forces of the same, the shock of the good (the “ought”) to the forces of being (“what is”), which is also why I think it bears good news to the church.”
“We sing songs to the truth as if it were a source of comfort, warmth, and good hygiene. But in deconstruction the truth is dangerous, and it will drive you out in to the cold.”
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6 responses to “What Would Jesus Deconstruct?

  1. if we are really going to ask, “WWJD?” to answer it with “radical social justice” is, i think, a pretty simplistic answer. while it may be the one to shock those “on the right,” to reduce the gospel to “radical social justice” does it an injustice.

    we would also be called to live as a community of faith, as a family.

    i go to encounter. i’m in a small group. other than saturday night and wednesday night, when do i see these people?

    answer: i don’t. ok, i’m not the most social person to begin with, but at the same time, i don’t think i really count anyone at encounter as a close friend. i’ve never hung out with them on a friday night, never gone out for a drink, once in a blue moon get involved in a conversation more complex than, “wow, yeah, life is busy.” once in a long while we go eat with people after encounter.

    and i can’t help but think that this is what “church” is in suburban america. even moreso, this is what the church is. it’s a group of people that get together for corporate worship, and if they feel like it, small group/bible study. do we really trust each other enough to really get close? or are we too afraid of looking too imperfect, being judged (which the church is so well-known for)?

    the answer to “WWJD?” would a call to radical inward love just as much as it would be a call to radical outward love.

    i admit, i may be projecting a little here 🙂 it’s been a weird couple of, er, days/weeks…

  2. “deconstruction” and “radical social justice.” Sorry Jared, I didn’t pick up what the author is trying to say from your quotes. Does he mean all words and no action? (Hand motions and apparent yelling when you cut off a guy with WWJD bumper stickers?)

    I would make a case that the underlying cause of this as self-centeredness; simply good ‘ole selfishness.

    I’ve recently started a book (Kingdom Triangle by J.P. Moreland) that talks about the change in our society from the biblical world view to the naturalist and postmodernist world view. A change from “God, County, Church, etc…” to “me.” (I personally think this change started when God was thrown out of schools.)

    So take this idea and break it down to the smaller relationships: friendship, husband/wife, church goer/church, neighbor/neighbor and see how often the relationship is about “How can I be happy / full filed as a result of this relationship.” Obviously not a Christ-like quality.

    On to Jared’s question of What are some ways we can begin to break down those barriers?

    Take this social construct and apply it to etc’s example of going to Encounter and the relationships there. (The church is not immune to the changing world view.) I totally agree with his assessment of interactions between people. I absolutely feel there are people that rise above the FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) of relationships, but I am convicted by my own actions towards others. (Deeper question: How much of this is innate vs. environment?) If I ask someone in passing “How are you doing?” have I made the time to wait for an answer besides the default “Good.”? Am I interested (do I love) in that person enough to care, or am I just being polite? Are my actions about me: getting to where I am going, looking for the answer I want to hear, finding a way to affirm my thoughts, not wanting to appear a snob, or do I genuinely care about the people around me?

    Maybe a start is, the next time somebody asks you “How are you?” Tell ’em; instead of giving the pat answer and I’ll make sure to do the same. Maybe the conversation that is sparked as a result of “loving” will start to break down some barriers. (After I finish the book, I may have a better answer.. 🙂 )

    Just my cents,
    Corey

  3. Good call Corey in rooting some of our relationship issues at Encounter to deeper issues of self-centeredness. I know that is the case for me. Relationships are hard work and sometimes it seems easier to be nice and congenial and smile and make small talk than to really engage in people’s lives. Good insight.

  4. relationships are hard work, but sometimes i think the hardest work is at the beginning. it is, as corey said, asking, “how are you?” and really wanting to hear the answer.

    of course, most people will answer, “fine” anyway, because it’s impolite to make someone else, especially someone you don’t know real well, uncomfortable.

    i’ve found sometimes it’s actually easier to not answer and let the person just go on with, “good!”

    i’m not fine. but you’re right, either a) people don’t want to know or b) people don’t have time to know.

    along with the self-centeredness of feeling like we’re keeping up relationships when we’re really comforting ourselves is the self-centeredness of trying to protecy yourself. many people have been hurt and/or rejected by fellow christians, and sometimes the easy way out is to close down and not let anyone in.

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