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Complicity Revisited

In a recent post the issue of the complicity of theology bloggers in the world’s horrors has been raised. After all, how can you voice opinions about things being wrong with the world when you have computer to write about it on? Well, for anyone who cares, here is a post I wrote a while back on this very topic.

And as an aside I always find the argument that if you critique capitalism/modernity/America you should have to refrain from using computer and go live in the woods to be a pretty funny claim.  Those who disagree with certain forms of establishment should either change their mind and become endorsers of whatever the status quo is or just shut up and go away? You’d have to be an idiot not to see whom that serves.

The truly challenging path is the one that does not allow complicity and situatedness to become permissive resignation. What is truly difficult and truly right is to strive for conversion. Our own and the world’s.


  1. Tom wrote:

    I and others have merited a response. There is nothing more vindicating then when the herd proclaims you crazy or stupid because you fail to understand them on their own terms. Indeed we are all complicit, but the nature of this blog is so caught up ino the dialectic hemospher that it can provide no solid reason for a non-salvific motivation for the imbetterment of the world.

    Its orientation is sardonic, biting and ultra qualifying of those things which even those who suffer all of the world can find some good in. In the name of fundamentalist-alternative community, it refuses to grant, concede or compliment in uncategorical terms the good that takes place outside of its therapy community in the fear that it will lose its meaning of existence. But I truly wonder how much the author of this blog has really experienced of the world. Why should we believe what his take is if there is no good reason to believe that it has been earned?

    We grant that the exception to responding to stupdity is valid when it reaches the point where the impressonable – unable to consider that there is a great chance they could entirely be in error – begin to take such lunacy seriously.

    Thursday, January 22, 2009 at 6:02 am | Permalink
  2. Chris Donato wrote:

    Tom, take some advice from an editor. Remove every qualifier from your response. Allow no sentence to be longer than 23 words. Then remove every word four syllables and over and replace it with a clearer, more succinct phrase or word. Then revise. Then revise again. And again. And then click the “submit comment” button.

    Thursday, January 22, 2009 at 9:02 am | Permalink
  3. Wow tom, are you going to throw yourself to the lions as well? For someone who disdains martyrs, you sure have a martyrdom complex, sans gospel. Oh, and if you’re not aware, the whole idea of conversation, theology, and academic discussion is predicated on understanding what the other person says, on their own terms and in their own context before one launches into a rigorous critique (although, you aren’t doing this, rather just moving to conclusion) — otherwise you don’t actually engage with them. They should be able to recognize themselves in your representation of them, at least on a factual basis. You’re being questioned here because you build straw-person arguments, with very little detail to back up such an image, and then launch into a self-righteous condemnation. How does that do anyone any good? And now you have the audacity to justify yourself because of the reaction that questions your simple assertions? This is laughable. If you want to be heard, you have to adequately communicate your critique.

    Thursday, January 22, 2009 at 9:13 am | Permalink
  4. Chris Lim wrote:

    Hi Tom,

    This response is more to one of your earlier posts than this one, but I guess at the heart of things, they are all related…you noted in one of your earlier posts that “a fundamentlist (sic) has a nostaligia (sic) for the pre-modern and attempts to some how revive it…a fundamentalist invokes apocalyptic language and imaginary (sic). A fundemantalist (sic) is ultimately a blinded modernist, taking advantage of the benefits of the era yet denigrating with out cessation.”

    Well, just several points in response:

    1. Actually, there is a contradiction between your points about a fundamentalist being nostalgic for a pre-modern past and his/her invocation of apocalyptic imagery. I agree that Hayden does come from an apocalyptic position when critiquing American society (see Yoder’s quote at top left!), but that does not mean that Hayden is being nostalgic for a pre-modern past. If anything, Hayden’s apocalyptic presuppositions mean that he is yearning for an unfulfilled future. To critique society apocalyptically means to hold up said society against the vision that the Judeo-Christian God has for his creation – new heavens and new earth. It critiques only because it realises that the status quo is far from the final vision of the Judeo-Christian God, and seeks to shake those entrenched in the status quo to fix their eyes instead on this vision. From what I can see, Hayden falls more into this category than the one you place him under.

    2. There Is a yearning in some circles to ‘return to New Testament times’ – I would know, as I am an Asian Pentecostal. However, this does not really translate into a ‘yearning for a pre-modern past’. I’m afraid the situation is a bit more complex than that. As I am a Pentecostal, I will cite my own movement as an example: when Pentecostals speak of returning to ‘New Testament times’, what we mean is that we yearn to have the same experience of God in the Spirit that the New Testament idealises. The reason for this, ironically, is not some fixation for retrogression, but because the experience of the Spirit is the foretaste of the Future that is to come in Christ, something which Paul repeatedly emphasises. It is really a looking back in order to look forward.

    3. Umm, I just find your first assertion that they have a yearning for pre-modernism just directly contradictory to your last one that they’re ‘blinded modernists’ who are waging war against the current postmodern era :)

    Anyhow, Tom, this discussion is really getting heated – we’re all Christians here, no? Don’t we all belong to the same community? If not, then at least we’re all rational adults. If anyone have a good point to make, we want to hear it – that’s what blog comments are for; but the tone with which everyone is using to dialogue here is causing this thing to unnecessarily degenerate into a slugfest…must it really come to this, especially when discussing theology?

    Thursday, January 22, 2009 at 9:39 am | Permalink
  5. Chris Lim wrote:


    Sorry, realised my second point was not very clear. I was just trying to highlight that it is possible for someone who apparently looks retrogressive to actually be otherwise on closer examination; the reason for this is because some elements of the past might actually look more like God’s intended future. It certainly does not mean that we want to import the past wholesale into the present – I’m certain that most of us do not want the same threatening Roman Imperialism that the New Testament assumes even when we speak of the ideal NT experience of God. Likewise, it is possible to underline the genius of, say, Aquinas, without wishing to revert back to the Medieval Age and its setting.

    Thursday, January 22, 2009 at 9:50 am | Permalink
  6. Hill wrote:

    Tom could definitely use a spell checker (among other things) but flinging the shit right back at him hardly seems useful.

    Thursday, January 22, 2009 at 11:24 am | Permalink
  7. Tom wrote:

    With my bad spelling and buffonery it just seems like I am continually embarrassing myself (it is good to feel some embarrassment from time to time).

    Nevertheless, it seems like for some reason many here feel compelled to somehow seriously engage with me or to write me off with great flair. Apparently I have struck some type of aggresive chord with some.

    Let me give you a tip so that you can be ready for what is going to happen to you in a few years. Your children will not be able to tolerate this view of the world just like you could not tolerate your parents. Of course, perhaps the best way around this is to put them in home-schools or intentional communities so as to prevent them from having the discursive capacity to transcend this choking holism. Yet apparently your parents putting you in Christian schools, homeschools, intentional communities, or Christian colleges did not prevent you from rejecting what you found grossly statist in their theological commitments. It is interesting that every baby boomer pastor I know was once a hippy as are a lot of baby boomers who live in intentional communities. However, this latter group has replaced a sectarian hippy community for a sectarian Christian one. What the sectarianism that is so radically popular today constitutes is just a bunch of radical 1968ers who have exchanged the hippy counter-culture for a Christian one. Because of the excesses of their hallucinatory fixations as youths, they gave up social experiminations yet kept their bitting critique of the mainstream. They then put their kids in homeschools and Christianschools and inculcated them to reject the mainstream that so characterized their parents generation. This sectarianism is no return to pre-Constantinian Christianty but simply a Christianized version of their parents hippy roots.

    So what you are is the residual leftovers of the 1960s. For most of your children who are inquistive or receive the lucky opportunity to be informed by discourses outside this suffocating box, they will surely recognizes and reject the inherent contradictions that underlie your entirely non-sensible conception of the world.

    Thursday, January 22, 2009 at 5:37 pm | Permalink
  8. dave wrote:

    Perhaps the works of Kenneth Rexroth should be consulted as an interesting demarcation between sustained, committed, thoughtful culture critics (within and outside of the Church) and “hippies”, or whatever terminology that you want to use.

    Has anyone here read anything by him?

    Thursday, January 22, 2009 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

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