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24 August 2011

Decidedly Unsexy Theology

Another friar and I enjoyed lunch at our favorite Dominican restaurant on Washington Street Yesterday.  It is always a bit awkward ordering there: I want to speak Spanish, the wonderful lady behind the counter automatically responds in English.  I end up speaking both English and Spanish, she ends up speaking English for the most part, but inevitably slips into Spanish words that mystify me.  

One of the fundamental problems of this dining experience is the lack of nuance involved in the discussion.  (I should note, the food is absolutely spectacular -- once the order is complete the balance of your time is glorious.) There is no nuance because as soon as one party in the conversation moves to English or Spanish the other parties are inevitably thrown off. 

And thus it goes in theological discourse.  It seems that to take a particular position on a matter of fundamental, moral theology or systematics (the list goes on and on) automatically marks one as liberal or conservative.  (Whatever those words mean.)  Subsequently, theological discourse is hampered because a person taking a "liberal" or "conservative" position on matter is forced to embrace the stock position of the right or left on another.  Nuance has been dis-invited from our theological conversations.

I am relatively certain that with only a bit of thought those reading this can note some examples of this (feel free to share them below).  I'll refrain from naming them here; my musings here do not directly pertain to the issues, but rather the method of going about the discussion of these issues.  

Theology, at least from my limited perspective, is a fundamentally unsexy discipline, naturally predisposed against sweeping statements and pigeon holes.  To stand with a certain opinion on one matter does not obligate one to stand with those who share your opinion on other matters.  Unlike folk literature, stock characters do not exist within speculative theology.  

Sexy, no; helpful, yes.

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