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Preaching Deconstruction


Robert J. Thomas Libri


Deconstruction is usually denigrated (or praised!) for being esoteric, abstruse, a method and a language restricted to a self-appointed academic elite. Its critics object that Deconstruction is a mind-game with no connection or relation to the real world. Perhaps the very opposite kind of speech is pulpit preaching, a dispensing of comforting bromides and pious clichs aimed at reinforcing the prejudices of the pew potatoes. What could Deconstruction and Postmodernism possibly have to do with preaching? They seem alien even to social activist liberal Protestant cheer-leading. In this book Robert M. Price applies the philosophy of Jacques Derrida and the radical theology of Thomas J.J. Altizer to real questions of spirituality and biblical interpretation. Price preaches from both Old and New Testaments, as well as the Koran and the Gospel of Thomas. Other influences on these sermons, delivered in a Baptist church, include Paul Tillich, Paul de Man, Rudolf Bultmann, Robert W. Chambers, Ingmar Bergman, Malcolm Boyd, and Thomas Ligotti. The book features a foreword by Thomas Altizer, an important new essay in its own right, as well as Price?s introductory discussion of Deconstruction, then a set of innovative sermons. The sermons are not about Deconstruction. They are about spirituality and the Bible. But Deconstruction is everywhere present as an atmosphere and a medium. It quickly becomes clear, not only that no theological orthodoxy is any longer possible, but also that it is not necessary for Postmodern man (and woman) to blaze a path on the new spiritual frontier. The radical theology that erupted in the 1960s has long been relegated to a pop cultural time capsule along with lava lamps and Nehru jackets. But it is not unusual for the majority to (nervously)laugh off what makes them uncomfortable. In the 1990s, Deconstruction revived the theology of the Death of God, providing a much-needed theoretical reformulation. The significance of Deconstruction can be measured by the amount of controversy, even hysteria, that it provoked. The publication of these unique sermons is an attempt to keep that witness alive. And to demonstrate that Deconstruction provides a new way forward in religious exploration.
 
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