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Who's Afraid of Postmodernism?: Taking…
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Who's Afraid of Postmodernism?: Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to…

by James K. A. Smith

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Absolutely must-read if you feel that the church's response to postmodernism is a bit reductionist. This is not quite in layman's terms, but if you can comprehend the New York Times, you can understand this book. ( )
  alissamarie | Oct 25, 2009 |
Absolutely must-read if you feel that the church's response to postmodernism is a bit reductionist. This is not quite in layman's terms, but if you can comprehend the New York Times, you can understand this book. ( )
  alissamarie | Oct 25, 2009 |
Writing to Christian pastors and leaders, Smith argues that consistently postmodern thought will liberate the church from its modernist dependence on abosolute (scientific) knowledge and universal rationality--allowing the Church to reinstitute a confessional, catholic (in the creedal sense) practice, locally fixed and informed by tradition. Smith uses the theoretical work of Jacques Derrida, Jean-Francois Lyotard, and Michel Foucault to explain how postmodernism support the work of the Church.

Smith's reading is strongest on Derrida, where I believe he's done the most work. He rejects the argument that normative rules and discipline contain violence (Derrida and Foucault) as not postmodern enough, being still grounded in modernist notions of universal rationality. Smith is most critical of Foucault, accusing him of being a closet modernist and arguing that work on discipline is too dependent on an idea of the modern individual who operates seperately from the community. Considering Foucault's dependence on Nietzsche and his insistence that his work not be taken as suggesting positive solutions to the problems he poses, I would argue that Smith misreads Foucault and therefore passes up an opportunity to integrate a better understanding of power and violence into his project.

Overall, this is an interesting book, and I would certainly recommend it as more rigorous than McClaren's books. If you haven't read the authors Smith cites, however, you should know that he is doing a very quick and dirty gloss on some of their theories.
  ozscript | Aug 23, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 080102918X, Paperback)

The philosophies of French thinkers Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault form the basis for postmodern thought and are seemingly at odds with the Christian faith. However, James K. A. Smith claims that their ideas have been misinterpreted and actually have a deep affinity with central Christian claims.

Each chapter opens with an illustration from a recent movie and concludes with a case study considering recent developments in the church that have attempted to respond to the postmodern condition, such as the "emerging church" movement. These case studies provide a concrete picture of how postmodern ideas can influence the way Christians think and worship.

This significant book, winner of a Christianity Today 2007 Book Award, avoids philosophical jargon and offers fuller explanation where needed. It is the first book in the Church and Postmodern Culture series, which provides practical applications for Christians engaged in ministry in a postmodern world.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:51 -0400)

The philosophies of French thinkers Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault form the basis for postmodern thought and are seemingly at odds with the Christian faith. However, James K.A. Smith claims that their ideas have been misinterpreted and actually have a deep affinity with central Christian claims. Each chapter opens with an illustration from a recent movie and concludes with a case study considering recent developments in the church that have attempted to respond to the postmodern condition, such as the "emerging church" movement. These case studies provide a concrete picture of how postmodern ideas can influence the way Christians think and worship. This significant book avoids philosophical jargon and offers fuller explanation where needed. It is the first book in the Church and Postmodern Culture series, which provides practical applications for Christians engaged in ministry in a postmodern world.… (more)

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