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What Would Jesus Deconstruct?: The Good News of Postmodernism for the Church (The Church and Postmodern Culture) [Paperback]

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Item Number 85070  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   160
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.47" Width: 6.48" Height: 0.46"
Weight:   0.44 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Nov 1, 2007
Publisher   Baker Publishing Group
ISBN  0801031362  
EAN  9780801031366  

Availability  14 units.
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Item Description...
This lively and accessible analysis of deconstruction offers the church a constructive "way forward" that will appeal to students and scholars in philosphy, theology, religion, and ministry as well as those interested in the emerging church.

Publishers Description
This provocative addition to The Church and Postmodern Culture series offers a lively rereading of Charles Sheldon's" In His Steps "as a constructive way forward. John D. Caputo introduces the notion of why the church needs deconstruction, positively defines deconstruction's role in renewal, deconstructs idols of the church, and imagines the future of the church in addressing the practical implications of this for the church's life through liturgy, worship, preaching, and teaching. Students of philosophy, theology, religion, and ministry, as well as others interested in engaging postmodernism and the emerging church phenomenon, will welcome this provocative, non-technical work.

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More About John D. Caputo

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John D. Caputo is the David R. Cook Professor of Philosophy at Villanova University and is editor of Fordham University Press' Perspectives in Continental Philosophy Series.

John D. Caputo has an academic affiliation as follows - Villanova University.

John D. Caputo has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Church and Postmodern Culture
  2. Indiana Series in the Philosophy of Religion (Paperback)
  3. Perspectives in Continental Philosophy (Paperback)
  4. Studies in Continental Thought (Paperback)
  5. Thinking in Action

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
A Sympathetic Introduction  Dec 18, 2007
I take the publication of this book as an announcement of sorts. It tells us that what could be loosely called post structural Christianity is going public. There have been a number of other books that deal with Derrida's work in the Christian context but What Would Jesus Deconstruct? is the first book I know of that attempts to outline the profound sympathy between Derrida's later work and Christianity in a readable, non-academic way. That alone makes this an important book.

The wonderful thing for me about this text is that Caputo did a great job selecting the ideas and themes from Derrida that can be used as a lens through which to read scripture and address Christian faith. These ideas open up a variety of potentials, and energies that just don't have the same resonance when examined without the tools that post structuralism generally, and Derrida specifically provide us. Some of these themes include the journey, the unavoidable nature of impasses; the idea that the moment when we are faced with the impossible is the exact moment when real potentials are opened. He also addresses Derrida's unique understanding of justice, the economy of the gift and hospitality, to name a few.

What makes Caputo's summary of Derrida useful is that it directs our attention to the structure of how themes such as love, or loving God, or one's neighbor (as only one of many potential examples) are articulated in scripture but also the significant pragmatic and philosophical challenges posed by such themes, their aporias, and the difficulties we face when we are willing to take this kind of challenge seriously. This is important work and frankly it strikes me that Christianity in America today is often dead set against doing this kind of work. This leads to another reason we need a book such as this. At no other point in my lifetime has Christianity been so defined by political affiliations, reduced to partisan politics in the most cynical way. The all-to-common and easy conflation of Christianity with specific political views means that Christianity is often robbed of its content and of the specific challenges it poses to us. Addressing Christianity through a Deconstructive hermeneutic is an important way to counteract this trend.

All that being said I think the book has two significant problems. The first is the way it describes its themes. Caputo often under describes them to the point where I'm not sure the uninitiated will be able to see what is so remarkable about the interaction between post structuralism and Christianity.

The other difficulty I have with the book is the way it addresses politics in the final chapter. Politics desperately needs addressing but the way he does it here is disappointing. He spends a great deal of time simply beating up the Christian right. Granted my own politics area very similar to Caputo's but in the last chapter he obviously ignores his own call for a strong argument, and his criticisms are not deconstructive in nature at all. They are, more or less, common leftist critiques. The problem with this is that the full scope and impact of deconstruction is masked, and readers are definitely going to get the idea that deconstruction is merely a patsy for leftist politics. I think Caputo knows better and deconstruction deserves better. There are times when his readings could have become more vital, such as in his discussion of abortion, where he hints at the potentials of a deconstructive engagement; but for whatever reason he chooses not to develop those potentials.

So in the end I am ambivalent about this book. This book is necessary, and I hope it will get readers interested in the very rich interaction between Derrida and Christianity, but at the same time readers should seek out what's missing, and not be willing to take Caputo's word for it when he reduces deconstruction to the political. Caputo is right that there is good news in post modernism for the Church, and I hope more people will be willing to seek it out.

Deconstruction Work  Nov 15, 2007
In this short, accessible, and often humorous book, Jacques Derrida scholar John D. Caputo introduces introduces Christians to deconstruction using Charles Sheldon's In His Steps and the gospels' portraits of Jesus. Countrary to what most conservative Christians assume, Caputo argues (and succeeds, in my opinion), that deconstruction is not anti-thetical to Christianity. Indeed, Caputo suggests that we find a model deconstructor in Jesus himself, who regularly challenged the received hierarchies and human regulations of the day insofar as they inhibited the love of God and neighbor (much as Derrideans deconstruct human laws in the name of the undeconstructible goal of justice).

This six-chapter book is divided into two parts, with the first three chapters explaining the theory behind deconstruction and the last three applying that theory to contemporary Christianity (focusing especially on the Religious Right). The first half of the book is excellent, the most lucid, inspiring explication of Derrida I've read to date. The second half is good, though chapter 5 is quite mediocre.

Earlier in the book, Caputo denigrates the Christian Right for using the question "What Would Jesus Do?" as a weapon to attack those who disagree with them; the answer often given is effectively, "Jesus would endorse what we do and challenge all those who do things differently." The question becomes a veiled assertion of power, in the same way personal interpretations of the Bible are prefaced with "the Bible says" to grant them legitimacy. Caputo warns us of this danger, but, in my opinion, he never adequately works out how can answer that question in a way that avoids simply using it to endorse our perspective.

This becomes especially problematic in Chapter 5 (titled "What Would Jesus Deconstruct?), which is essentially answered with a rant against the Christian Right, somewhat disconnected from the rest of the book. I actually agree with most of his political conclusions in that section (the Religious Right certainly needs to be demolished), but disagree with his implication that he is simply being a "conduit and a witness" (as James K.A. Smith puts it in his intro), objectively informing us of "what Jesus would deconstruct." The problem seems to be that any answer to that question (including Caputo's) is inevitably someone's answer to it. I think deconstruction can and should be used to challenged the Religious Right. I do not think Caputo presents us with a compelling model of what that might look like.

Nevertheless, this is a very informative, often exilirating read, and I highly recommend it to students, scholars, and pastors interested in exploring the ways in which postmodern philosophy and Christianity may mutually inform each other. A great second installment in Baker's "Church and Postmodern Culture" series.

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