Thursday, 27 October 2011

Radical Orthodoxy Exposed

Listening to the BBC interview, I really do think that Giles Fraser is over-generous to his colleagues. Of course everyone wants to respect the professionalism and position of colleagues. But what exactly is the conscience of the position on the other side?

I don't know, and it is not health and safety: but what worries is the position of the Church as an institution.

My summary book, Postmodernity, by Paul Lakeland (1995), Minneapolis: Fortress Press, has several mentions of what he calls Countermodernity, or what can be seen as the premodern in the postmodern space. This is the Radical Othodox position which, within its Christian Platonism, states that the Church is the Community of Peace (Lakeland, 1995, 70). All history should be read through Church history (properly understood, of course). Christianity is the "exemplary form of human community" (1995, 69, from Milbank (1991), Theology and Social Theory, Oxford: Basil Blackwell) - and this trumps the social sciences' attempt to identify the same.

One can see in the need for Giles Fraser to resign, just what a dangerous position is created by conservative forms of postmodernism. The Church as institution comes first (or, in Protestant cases, the Bible) and it always comes first. It is (in this case) the nonfoundational metanarrative (1995, 69) of ethics.

But here we surely have the proof otherwise. The protesters have a social science reasoning against capitalism. It is demonstrably failing. Against this the Church is now preparing for violence against them. If this does not trash Radical Orthodoxy I don't know what does.


There's a longer and freer flowing explanation in The Guardian online; interesting that Giles Fraser says in it that St Paul's and Wren doesn't do "the incarnation" in the sense that Giles Fraser can imagine Jesus born in a tent and St. Paul (himself) was a tent maker. So this implies a division in the Church, an architecturally identified one in which part of the Church isn't as "incarnate" as the rest. Meanwhile his resignation is sacrificial as there is no other job lined up (and not the Dean of Southwark as a cynical view might have - though perhaps he should apply Linkrapidly). I don't agree with his view of incarnational nor the transfer of the birth narrative, but I can see it is a view held with consistency.

1 comment:

Lapinbizarre said...

One suspects that Sydney Smith remains the beau ideal of some of the St Paul's chapter.