Friday, July 17, 2009

vacationing and reading

We're heading for a long weekend to Michigan to see my family and some family friends. Aside from going out on the lake, I've been trying to figure out what book to bring.

I had resolved to culture myself and actually read some literature for once, but the tug of too much research-related stuff to learn won out (yet again), and I think I'm going to bring along Paul DeHart's The Trial of the Witnesses: The Rise and Decline of Postliberal Theology. I grew up with a generally postliberal Barthian theological background, but only put two and two together and learned that this was my pedigree when I was exposed to the nomenclature in college. I've been meaning to read DeHart's book since it came out (as usual, I cataloged the book for library patrons and posterity, but have had no time to actually read the thing), and even more so now that I'm at DeHart's alma mater, I imagine the exercise will be beneficial in orienting myself. Plus I'll actually be able to get back into theology a little bit, which will be a lot of fun. This past spring I've spent much more time in history and philosophy, and I do need to return to the queen of the sciences before those profane endeavors begin to rub off on me.

Ben Myers wrote an extensive review of the book when it came out, if you'd like to get a sense of DeHart's thesis.


  1. What does it look like to grow up with "a generally postliberal Barthian theological background?" Are your parents theologians?

    Good choice on the book, by the way.

  2. :)

    No theologian parents... I suppose this was more the tradition I grew into at church. I was baptized ELCA but grew up in a PC(USA) church until I went to college (since then I've attended an Anglican church, but I'm not one of those die-hard Anglican converts).

    We had a Sunday School teacher in my church growing up- he actually taught adult courses, but my brother and I sat in on them periodically in middle school and high school- and he would hand out photocopies of Barth... I think from Evangelical Theology mostly, but also from the Church Dogmatics at times. He attended Fuller, and while he wouldn't say so explicitly, I think I came to college with a general postliberal bent already ingrained into me from his influence. That bent has remained, I think, but not with so much attachment. Perhaps what DeHart is talking about when he speaks of "generous" liberal orthodoxy- though I haven't gotten to this part of the book yet.

  3. The fact that Evan is paddling backwards in the picture shouldn't mislead anyone into thinking that he is equally discombobulated and disoriented in what he writes here. It probably came from years of rowing, where you're supposed to face the stern.

  4. My guess is you would have totally missed the fact that I was stern-forward if I hadn't mentioned it. I cropped the bow out of the picture, but I suppose you can still tell.

    Not that it much matters when you're alone in a canoe on flat water.

  5. I was going to ask the same thing "Flyer" did ;-) . . . enjoy your vacation (they go by way too fast).

  6. Being largely sympathetic to Lindbeck (perhaps maybe too much) it will be interesting to hear your thoughts on this book when you get back.

  7. Obligatory contrarian note: You must read some literature, old boy. Too much ingestion of books that purport to be wholly theological, not least modern ones, can utterly ruin the imagination.

    May I suggest dusting off that Dickens and getting down to it?