Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Say what? liberal religion needs to reimagine a public theology that is historically faithful and culturally relevant.

A Luthern friend who calls herself a traditional Christian (not a conservative because that's too linked to the secular and politics) read Mike Hogue's call for a reformation of Liberal Relgion and asked,

Bill, I don't understand what he is saying here, "liberal religion needs to reimagine a public theology that is historically faithful and culturally relevant."

How would he define historically faithful? And, how does a person marry the culturally relevant with the historically faithful since they are often diametrically opposed?

Hogue wrote back,
I would argue that the idea that the histories of traditions, Christian or otherwise, have little contemporaray cultural relevevance is a symptom of our late-modern historical chauvinism. History has a great deal to teach us. Especially in a time of the increase of global dynamics, it would reward us to investigate the world's religious traditions as carriers of global impulses, inquiring into their constructive possibilities venues for the increase of intercultural understanding, justice, and love.

I think it is crucial to recover a sense of humility before the historic narratives and symbols of the traditions that form us. No tradition, if it is a genuine tradition of thinking, is ever static but is always dynamically bringing its historic resources to bear on contemporary issues. The contemporary cultural anemia of UUism is in some measure the result of many in our movement abandoning the cognitive and practical moral depths of our historical roots.

More specifically, I think contemporary UUism needs to recover, and through recovery to integrate, the insights of the humanistic and theistic patterns of thinkng that are at the roots of religious liberalism. That UUism seems to have spun off from its historical theological framework, and embraced an the politics of identity as its reason for being, is a particularly pernicious instance of the charge that liberal religion is culturally capitulative rather than culturally prophetic. The liberal religious life, if true to its original prophetic origins, needs to be about much more than appeasement of our existential definitional anxieties. If we're not a constructive cultural-political movement, engaging the politics of culture from distinctly liberal theological perspectives, enacting church in a particularly liberal prophetic way, then we'll continue to shrink ourselves into obsolescence.
Culturally capitulative rathar than culturally prophetic is exactly the problem CUUMBAYA surfaced here.

No comments: