Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical

[CAUMC] Hermeneutics [2007-07-12]

I was SO EXCITED that the topic was "Hermeneutics: approach/method of interpretation/lens." And not just because it was, as Trelawney had said in her e-mail, "leaving off Wesley/poverty for now."

Plus, we had been talking about HP, and I was saying that I loved reading stuff about the OotP movie and how stuff that was (de-)emphasized in it might be indicators as to what will and will not be important in Book 7 since JKR has such close creative control.

The handout was a collection of excerpts, all of which actually had source listings, whee! I excerpt them further and comment behind the cut.
More recent theories divide the interpretation of texts into "hermeneutics of belief", which approaches text as containing truths to be illuminated and "hermeneutics of suspicion" - As practiced by Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx and Nietzsche - which approaches the text not so much to clarify it as to unmask its myths and contradictions.
[from an excerpt from this webpage]
The next was from Christian Discourse in a Nietzchean Age: Mapping a Theological Location for Persuasion by Kenneth R. Chase, and despite not having actually read any Nietzsche myself, at one point I said, "Oh, Nietzsche" (in a sort of indulgent tone). Sadly, I can't remember now what exactly prompted that.

The author says, "Nietzsche's affirmation of the hermeneutics of suspicion rests on a view of Christian ethical action as rooted in ressentiment" [which Trelawney glossed as "fatalistic cynicism"]. The author continues:
Nietzsche advances the interpretive practice of genealogy by presuming that Christians' expressed motives are actually deceptive, masking their true will to power. Nietzsche treats Christian profession [Trelawney: and texts], therefore, suspiciously, seeking the ulterior motivation lying beneath the surface explanation. Nietzsche's own morality is a celebration of the will to power, so his attach on Christianity is not that Christians pursue power, but they do so vindictively [Trelawney: and secretly], by reacting against the true nobility. To interpret Christians suspiciously is to interpret them as reactive moral agents--what appears to be a positive morality on the surface is actually vindictiveness and negativity. Nietzsche, writes Milbank, defines "Christianity as negation " (Theology 286).
Next was the "Hermeneutic of Suspicion" and "Hermeneutic of Generosity" section from http://regula.blogspot.com/2005/02/g-d-is-in-details-facets-and-fragments.html>this post</a>. I particularly liked the "Hermeneutic of Generosity" section:
Yet, there is a danger in suspicion and deconstruction. The greatest danger being that once all has been broken down, the faith journey is no longer possible—more than one seminarian goes down this path at one point or another. So at the same time I do seek for what connects. So I have also been shaped by a "hermeneutic of generosity," to use historian, Margaret Miles', corrective. That's why I can both critique St. Paul or St. Augustine and still hold them up, forgive them their trespasses (or that of their interpreters), appreciate their insights, pray alongside them, and ask their prayers in the great cloud of witnesses, and yet recognize that the way is still open
Next: Gregory L Jones: "Answerizing - commentary on people who avoid direct answers to questions - Brief Article" [The Internet sources this as Christian Century, Nov 18, 1998]
A pastor calls the kids to the altar rail for yet another children's sermon and says: "I am thinking of something that is brown, has a bushy tail, and every fall gathers acorns to itself. What am I thinking of?" After a long silence, a young child pipes up: "I'm sure the right answer is Jesus, but it sure sounds like a squirrel to me."
I cracked up, recalling how the answer to Tim's children sermon [UCN] questions was always The Bible, Jesus, or God. Interestingly, Jones goes on to say:
This joke has made the rounds among preachers as a mocking critique of the triviality of many children's sermons. It can also serve to illustrate a tendency that is polarizing people and crippling our capacity for meaningful discourse: the belief that we know what the right answer is, regardless of the question that has been asked or the issue being addressed.
I hadn't thought of that connection/extrapolation, but it makes a lot of sense.
David James Duncan, the author of The Brothers K, characterizes this attitude as "answerizing." It grows out of the conviction that the only right way to handle any question is to offer The One Correct Answer. In a lecture titled, "Who Owns the West? Ten Wrong Answers," Duncan describes answerizing as "an activity that stands in relationship to truly Answering as the ability to memorize the phone book stands in relationship to the ability to love every preposterous flesh and blood person whose mere name the phone book happens to contain."
I adored this.

Last was the "We Needn't Start All Over, We Must Rather Begin..." section which opens this post.

It opens:
A revolutionary approach tears down the old order to build the new. Dispenses with the past and past generations as of no account. Often a certain utopianism and a failure to adequately deal with Sin is to be found in such a move. A great deal of Progressivisim fits somewhere within this understanding, makes building the Kingdom something we primarily do, and is altogether too easily shaken when fallen reality hits the fan.
I hadn't thought about it quite that way, but that makes a lot of sense.

Trelawney talked about how just deconstructing won't work, that we need to build things up as well. She talked about a hermeneutic of generosity as approaching a text with the belief that it has something to offer. She also explained for me what "docetic" (a term the blogger uses later on) means.

The blogger also quoted someone else on Bonhoeffer, saying:
Bonhoeffer finds sin in both personal relationships and in corporate life. Its consequence is to "break" and fragment the community of God with people and with one another becasue sin is a divisive power which comes between human beings and God and between human beings themselves....at the center of it all was the failure to trust God.
I'd forgotten about that conception of sin.

In conclusion, we read a Scripture passage [Ephesians 4:17-32 ("Living as Children of Light")] and then approached it from various hermeneutical lenses.



Sue said she was always glad to see me.
I said I felt like if we were gonna start current events [This was Trelawney's last small group before she left for Lebanon, and Eric would be leading in her absence, and had said that he can't even pretend to be on her level when it comes to theology etc., that his area of interest and knowledge is current events, so that's gonna be what he focuses on when he leads.] this would be the last week she would/could say that. I said I'm always pleasantly surprised that she's happy to see me. [In case this hasn't been explained before: Sue is something of a raging liberal. And as most of you know, I'm . . . not so much.]

Michelle said that the last time she visited my house I was wearing a pretty dress. (I'd forgotten about that until she mentioned it.)

Mike said his Affirmation of me tonight could be summed up in two words: "Oh, Nietzsche."

Meredith was working on an "angles of love" cross-stitch, which I Affirmed the geekiness of. She said she appreciates the intellectual bent I always bring to the conversation, that she geeks out about that.

Mike did cross-stitch as a kid (and Michelle pointed out, is secure enough in his masculinity to admit it).

Eric said he likes the way I read (which got me thinking about how I grew up -- about being read aloud to and all). He said he had a second Affirmation, a light one, which he forgot.

Eric Affirmed Mike as reverent (even the stuff he disregards/doesn't focus on, that's done because he's thought about it), then said in fact the whole Scout list -- which Michelle also recited with them.
Tags: church: caumc: ya group, church: caumc: ya group: misc, hermeneutics

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