Both books follow a similar structure, they start by explaining their subject in reference to something else (perhaps not that surprising as Caputo states that Derrida presents his views by reflecting on a previous text). Caputo uses the book "In His Steps" (which introduced "What Would Jesus Do" to the language) as a way of discussing Derrida whereas Smith uses The Matrix, Memento, O Brother, Where Art Thou and One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest to discuss the general topic of Post Modernism, Derrida, Lyotard and Foucault respectively. So far so good, and as a non expert in these topics I found these explanations enlightening and exciting. They then go on to explore the implications for their analysis in the wider church, and at this point I started finding myself unconvinced. Smith believes that Post Modernism leads to Radical Orthodoxy and I have to say that I did not follow the link. Caputo retells the story of two books as examples of Post Modernism. The first "Diary of a City Priest" tells the story of a seemingly "normal" Catholic Priest in inner city Philadelphia, the other, "How (Not) to Speak of God", by Peter Rollins (who has starred on this page before) tells of an innovative worship collective in Belfast. Again I am not convinced that the preceding explanation leads to the examples - but of course one of the critiques of Post Modernism is that it can be used to justify anything! Not that I have a problem with that - after all, I have blogged on giving up certainty and control!
Below the fold a bit more in depth stuff!
Smith takes the catch phrases associated with Derrida, Lyotard and Foucault and explains what they are really saying. So Derrida:
"There is nothing outside the text"really means that interpretation is all, something that perhaps chimes with narrative Biblical criticism.
"incredulity towards metanarratives"is in fact incredulity towards stories which
"claim to be able to legitimate or prove the story's claim by an appeal to universal reason"something which for me denies the need for faith.
"power is knowledge"is again a simplification:
"what counts as knowledge is constituted within the networks of power"I have discussed Caputo's main idea elsewhere in this blog, so will not repeat myself.
These books have given me a lot to think of and have already affected several of the posts on this blog, as well as several sermons, and will continue to do so.