Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Scripts, Imagaination, and Worldviews

Coming out of the recent discussion concerning the work of Walter Brueggemann, Anthony Smith raised the concern that all this talk of scripts is really just a throw back to worldviews. I strenuously disagree, and here is why.

During college, and being a faithful evangelic, I was all about discussions of worldviews and apologetics, especial reformed apologetics. Here, worldview indicated the rational basis by which we understood the world- all the presuppositions, attending arguments, and consequences of a particular belief system. The goal of Christian apologetics (which is the defense of the Christian worldview) was to show the consistency of Christianity, and the inconsistency of all other worldviews to explain reality.

Now, of course like many other young evangelicals, I got a good intellectual buzz from all of this, but then it wore off and other concerns crept in; like, why is the church still so screwed up if we have all the right answers? why do we still get divorced, abuse our wives and children? why are we slaves to capitalism? etc... So, one day, while having breakfast with my fiance at the Heavenly Cafe, just before leaving California to go to seminary, I made a shift in my thinking and gave up on worldviews as utterly too rational and unable to form us beyond consumer-capitalism. What I put in place of worldview, was the imagination, by which I meant the internal interpretive filter, or hermeneutic grid, which not only structures our rational ordering of the world, but all the irrational, unconscious desires, dreams, hopes, and fears. Then, during seminary I found that this shift was not all that original, but had been outlined by the likes of Marx, Freud, Lacan, and Riceour (and of course many others). So now I'm armed with words like "ideology", the "unconscious", jouissance, distantiation, and the interpassive subject, to go along with what I already know: i.e. "the clearing", will to power, language games, and differance.

So this is where scripts come in. We live by the scripts we have been give, and those scripts are generally not worked into our worldviews. The way an abused child interprets a raised voice (or raised arm) is very different than children who haven't been abused, regardless of the intentions of the adult. And in politics, words like freedom and democracy are very different in a consumer society than one which has been excluded from that system.

Therefore, back to Brueggemann, when he says that the script of technological-therapeutic-militarist-consumerism promises safety and happiness, he is not saying that this is merely a worldview that best articulates how to promote safety and happiness, but also that is molds and shapes us into thinking that safety and happiness (individual safety and consumer happiness) are the greatest values, rather than, say, justice and peace. So we could say that this presidential election is a war b/w worldviews (how best sustain American military and corporate dominance), but based in the same script (which says the freedom of Capital is paramount). And when we conceive Christianity as a worldview, a set of propositions which needs defending and enforcing, we end up distancing ourselves from the transforming power of the Gospel. But when we see it as a script needing creative interpretation (even as it interprets us) the acts of the Gospel become a transforming power b/w polls Life and Death.

Recent related posts:
Faith and Fantasy
Discipleship and Desire: The Death of the Self

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