Friday, September 17, 2010

Theology as craft

Theology is not who you have read most recently. It is not the newest jewel in your cap of jargon. It is not the recognition that the argument has been better traced by another. It is not understanding of the history of ideas. It is not the playground of the leisure class. Theology does not require your razor wit or applicable metaphor. It is not necessary for it to prove anything, nor does one who needs proof go to it. It does not swell with victory over its enemies, nor is it threatened by them. It fills dogma as a vessel. Yet, dogma does not exhaust it. If one learned the Summa by rote for recitation, would it make one a theologian? Doesn’t the Devil quote the bible chapter and verse?

I have degrees. What did I learn?
I have spent. What did I buy?
I have read. What did it profit?
I should know better, and yet have so often regressed.
I should be a teacher, but do footnotes teach?

What is theology, then? I deny it as a footnote or a name. I forbid it to be bound hand-and-foot by historical situation. I forbid it to be owned. And so, not philosophy or taxonomy, it must be something else, something ignored and of little account in modernity. Ah, yes, it is that thing behind the work of self-discipline--that is the way. Theology is rules that engender ways of being. In short, it is a craft.

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