Monday, June 01, 2009

The Just Shall Know That They Only Live By Faith


Faith means through a mirror dimly or “through a glass darkly.” It’s what we do. I leave the rest to Caputo whose On Religion and What Would Jesus Deconstruct? are worth looking into. Sans, incidentally, means without:
“Through a glass darkly…means sans apocalypse. Even the Apocalypse is sans apocalypse. That means that the believers in that book should temper their claims about The Revelation they (believe they) have received, since it is their interpretation that they have received a revelation, while not everyone else agrees. A revelation is an interpretation that the believers believe is a revelation, which means that it is one more competing entry in the conflict of interpretations.” John Caputo, On Religion
Interpret away, my friendlies.

13 comments:

dave said...

Interesting quote. I suppose it gets right at the pointedness of faith. A friend and I were talking last night about theological studies not equally piety, etc, because we're both young twenty-somethings getting more into the conversation of theology and philosophy, which in most cases is isolating from the protestant backgrounds that we come from. We were talking about personal experience of God, and this seems like a fitting quote.

As an aside, another Capute that's worth reading, although it's only kind of Caputo, is "Deconstruction in a Nutshell," which is an edited interview of Derrida and then commentary by Caputo. It's a good place to start for people who have only read a little bit about Derrida.

Stephen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rev. Brian R. Dixon said...

This gets me wondering about the distinction between "relativistic" and "relational." I believe revelation is highly relational - in "a tree falling in the woods with no one around to hear it" kind of way. There's probably also a "dead letter office" somewhere in our Father's house of many mansions. Messages, revelation, apocalypse, returned to sender because of our unbelief(?) ...

jdaviddark said...

Yes Dave. I forgot about the Nutshell book. That one helped me out a whole lot. Maybe that's even where deconstruction started making deep sense to me.
Stephen, as I understand him, Caputo ISN'T saying the interpretations are God-given, and this is perhaps the whole point. If we can live with the fact that we're all only a bunch of more or less well-meaning interpreters, we might be more capable of open-ended conversations (i.e. less likely to view ourselves as the persecuted truth-bearers who alone possess the direct line to God, less prone to speak in conversation-stoppers, less scared). I don't think of the "through a glass darkly" deal as a cruel or mischief-making situation. I think of it as blessed finitude. Wonderfully human.
Rev. Dixon, I like "relational" too, though i don't think of unbelief as so much of an obstacle.

B Holt said...

Paul said it well, we only see a reflection now of what is to come and he was interpreting through a dark glass with a real struggling faith. It is a picture/reflection that we quickly convince ourselves to be full, the real deal, absolute and true, which it is in our mind at times but only one dimensional, like shadows in the cave (who was that again). Quotes like this (Caputo) excite me because they leave so much to mystery and the opportunity we have to seek and experience God in things recently unimagined. It is why "the good writers" never author books about what they are against or offended by...at least from what I see. Faith means creativity and not having the answer, doesn't it?

mjaneb said...

Amen!

JJ said...

Hey, sorry for the comment unrelated to the post, but I stumbled on your familiar looking name and wanted to check something. Ages ago did you write an article about the Simpsons being like the gargoyles on the spires of cathedrals who mock the efforts of man to reach the heavens? I think it was in PRSIM magazine? If so, that was a great article that I still reference.

If not, hey, great blog you've got here, keep it up! :-)

jdaviddark said...

That is indeed my bad self, JJ. And I'm glad to hear from you.
Almost everything in that article (YAY PRISM) shows up in the Simpsons chapter of Everyday Apocalypse. I'd like to take this opportunity to note that while the Prism piece was ALMOST my first published writing, it was preceded by a letter of mine that appeared in an issue of The Fantastic Four when I was in high school. John Byrne era. Shortly after Ben Grimm returned from outer space to discover that Alicia was dating Johnny Storm.
Thanks for occasioning the reminiscence, JJ, and I hope this finds you well.

JJ said...

Whoah, well it's good to rediscover you after all this time. I think I met you at a table at Cornerstone and you handed the magazine to me. And then I stood in line for a milkshake behind Rich Mullins. Didn't talk to him. Guess I should have taken the chance.

I will be lurking! And in the front row of whatever the next event is that you do in Japan. :-)

jdaviddark said...

Mullins...Now there was a man. The dude (somehow) abides.
Well I'll certainly plan to look you up if ever Japan calls.
My goodness...that was a rich time to be at C-stone.
glad to be talking,
jdd

daniel said...

Should claims that what has been recieved is a Revelation be tempered as well?

What can a Revelator say about his revelation?

jdaviddark said...

Daniel,
I think your questions highlight Caputo's drift. I once asked a Buddhist if he thought of the teaching of dependent co-arising (pratityasamutpada) as gospel. He responded, "It is to me." I was reminded that gospel, to be gospel, would have to strike someone as verifiably good news. Perhaps whenever we speak of revelation we should say something like, "It strikes me as a revelation" or "It's been a revelation to me."

shane magee said...

LOVE caputo's writing david. he's definitely better in writing than in person - lucid, prosaic, inspirational. in addition to 'what would jesus deconstruct', 'on religion' and 'deconstruction in a nutshell', 'more radical hermeneutics' is also really worth the time ('radical hermeneutics' much less so imho).

we are all interpreters, who, having been touched and irrevocably altered by we know not what, feel ourselves compelled to further explore and explain the mystery.