Friday, July 17, 2009

Father-In-Law's Comment Prompts Change to Blog

This is mostly a slice of life post, but it affacts my blogging. My eighty-one-year-old father-in-law and I were talking last weekend when my family and I visited him in Wisconsin. A kind man and a good host, he inquired about my doings. I told him that I had begun working on an essay about Nietzsche's critique of Christian values that starts from a comparison between the Apostle Paul and the author of The Antichrist. He replied, "Say, 'Paul was antichrist; then God healed him.' That's all that needs to be said."

So much for impressing the inlaws. Now, I'm no prophet, but this is a great matter. And a few words are in order about not putting my head on a platter.

I would agree that not many Christians need to concern themselves with Nietzsche. But in an ever-more pluralistic society, we can't just define good and bad according to our ingroup morality and expect others to say, with us, "That's all that needs to be said." So if we don't allow a few Christians to be different with respect to understanding and even appreciating outgroup perspectives, the result cannot be good.

More importantly, if I am right about doubt informing faith, we are doomed to being superficial even in our "in-group" understanding of faith, and precisely because we don't incorporate out-group perspectives. Since Nietzsche's is, perhaps, the ultimate "out-group" perspective." On that view he is our best teacher. I sincerely believe that.

Though I have not had the time this summer to do a proper job of writing about the insights that accrue as a result of taking up Nietzsche's challenges, I am more than ever convinced that there is much to be gained by doing so. If you read my posts the liklihood is that you came to them by way of following Into the World on Richard Beck's Experimental Theology blog. There I took up Nietzsche's view of Pilate's dismissive "What is truth?" comment. I've come to understand that there are equally valuable insights to be mined from his critique of Christian values.

But it is too much to ask of you that you follow my mere explorations on that topic. Since I can't devote more time to blogging till the fall, I will only post when I have a (relatively) finished chapter to present here. That means the posts will be infrequent for the duration of the summer, but I'm convinced that it is more important to leave my reader feeling "That was good, what there was of it," rather than, "That was a lot to read, but it wasn't very good." After all, my father-in-law is already convinced that I can blather on to no point. Why spread that point of view?

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