All entries for Friday 08 February 2008

February 08, 2008


5 out of 5 stars

I just finished reading this book and as it's relevant to some of our discussions I'll write a review here.

In What Would Jesus Deconstruct? John Caputo [1] writes a postmodern version of Sheldon's In His Steps (the origin of the What Would Jesus Do? (wwjd) movement).


In His Steps is introduced (apparently a far more socially radical book that we might assume) with its Jesus figure in the form of a Tramp who turns up uninvited at a church service. We look at what a (spiritual) journey might look like in the context of postmodernity. We are at least a little lost, we do not know the destination. An introduction to Derrida follows which stresses his relavency for Christianity (Justice, The Gift, Forgiveness, Hospitality and Love are the key topics examined). In the fourth chapter Caputo turns his attention to Jesus; a Jesus whose "divinity lies in the emptying of [his] divinity" and who dies "a prophetic death, rather than [in] a sacrificial exchange". Caputo then asks the question wwjd: What Would Jesus Deconstruct? The example of Bob Riley in Alabama [2], who argued for significant tax breaks for the poor (and hikes for the rich) in Biblical terms. Just War theory is criticised and the issues of homosexuality and abortion, so significant for the religious right in America, are examined. The final chapter looks at two examples of "deconstructive churches": St. Malachy's Church in Philadelphia and Ikon in Belfast, to see how many of the ideas in the book work in practice.


A provocative look at contemporary religion and a clear introduction to Derrida (with respect to religion). Either would justify reading this book. But these are combined with a powerful/less challenge to imitate Jesus, to deconstruct Christianity, that makes it unmissable. 



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The collaborative weblog for Mark Bratton’s Reading Group. Currently we are reading A Secular Age by Charles Taylor which we hope to finish sometime before the end of the decade.


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  • Thank you very much James for this helpful summary. Regarding the 'middle condition' Taylor (if I re… by on this entry

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