I am currently continuing my reading on the writings of former Professor of Pastoral Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary Donald Capps. I hope to write a more detailed review of the book ‘The Depleted Self – sin in a narcissistic age’, but want to write something here that struck me about his one of his comments on psychotherapeutic literature relating to narcissism.
Firstly, narcissism is far more than mere obsessional “self-love”, following Narcissus who fell in love with his own reflection, leading to his own suicide. Capps very helpfully takes the reader through a maze of discovery drawing on contemporary theories, and critiques the Church for failing to distinguish between the old cultural value of guilt and the contemporary ones of shame, a cause itself of anxiety. Theologians and Churches have rather denounced “narcissistic behaviour” and being locked into a “guilt” framework have thus focused on moralistic remedies that address superficial behaviours, and not underlying ontological causes and conditions.
We set up the board as it should be set up. A place for everything and for everything, a place. You go first. Ah, nice move. The Knight advances. My call: A7…. That’s got to be a hit – the aircraft carrier I reckon, well….Eighteen points for that word? How can that be? Lead-piping in the Library is no match for an attack of infantry and cavalry – it’s going to be a blood bath. Your move: Rats! A geography question – If a Lieutenant attacks the Spy, deep into enemy territory – who wins? Draw a picture and I’ll try to guess who! But do not pass go, there is no £200, but there is a jail. Only three 6’s get you out of that, and you know what the fundamentalists think about that!
This is gibberish.
A Christendom model of Church is equally gibberish in a post-Christendom context, a bit like playing the rules of one game whilst playing another! Trying to keep all these games going in some sort of super-human Robo-Cop-Christian kind of way, is demeaning and dehumanising, a bit like what Stanley Hauerwas in Resident Aliens calls being nibbled to death by ducks (p.126).
This is stunning…..
Subversive Preaching in a Postmodern World – A Targum based on Colossians 1:15-20 by Brian J Walsh
In an image-saturated world,
a world of ubiquitous corporate logos
permeating your consciousness,
a world of dehydrated and captive imaginations
in which we are too numbed, satiated and co-opted,
to be able to dream of life otherwise.
A world in which the empire of global economic affluence
has achieved the monopoloy of our imaginations;
in this world,
Christ is the image of the invisible God.
In this world,
driven by images with a vengeance,
Christ is the image par excellence;
the image above all other images,
the image that is not a facade,
the image that is not trying to sell you anything,
the image that refuses to co-opt you.
Gralefrit is so thrilled that this long-awaited book has finally been released and I commend it whole-heartedly. To quote the blurb on the back cover, Relating Faith – modelling Biblical Christianity in Church and World is a “stimulating book [that] contains a selection of reflections that aim to encourage us to approach issues in the church and in life increasingly through engagement with the biblical texts. Robert Knowles argues that Western Christians are often starved of biblical content in their local church contexts. He believes that the Bible is indispensable to building Christian and church identity, thought, and life, and that biblical texts, brought to life by the Holy Spirit, themselves play a central role in Christian formation.
Anthony Thiselton, Emeritus Professor of Christian Theology at the University of Nottingham, writes, “I am glad to commend this book. It combines such technical-sounding topics as speech-act theory and postmodernism to very practical issues in Bible study and the Christian life. Dr. Knowles has shown that these are down-to-earth tools and issues which can be of practical use in everyday Christian discipleship.”
This book is a gold-mine of wisdom! Get it if you can.