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Saturday, 22 November 2008

Against withdrawal

Nicholas Lash is always worth reading - a theologian who is intellectually demanding , engaged with the tradition and an active interlocutor in the intellectual currents that are shaping our lives.

In Theology for Pilgrims, his latest collection of essays he opens up with a vigorous critique of Richard Dawkins' recent cri de coeur The God Delusion. Christian fundamentalists might find it enlightening, or perhaps annoying as Lash explains why each is the mirror image of the other and both are wrong in their assumptions about what believing or disbelieving in God is all about and why both are missing the mark.

In a later essay "The impossibility of Atheism" he notes that there is ... a symptomatic glibness in mos forms of fundamentalism. ... it only seems easy to speak of God in the measure that we insulate our religious speech and theological imagination from the endlessly complex and disturbing world in which such speech finds reference.
....

... it is not insulation but having the courage, taking the risk, of what we might call total immersion in our culture. Not passively, or submissively but energetically, wholeheartedly, salt-of-earthishly, often counter-culturally. Moreover in the last analysis, it is not what we say that will keep the tradition alive and render it intelligible, but who and how we are as communities and as individuals. The Word became flesh and we are called to be that world's embodiment, a message to the world. (p.33)

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