Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Christians and Literary Theory

The book, Shaping a Christian Worldview, is a good compendium of essays ranging from foundational, “big picture,” essays to a list of essays addressing specific areas of discipline and what it would mean to shape a Christian worldview among them. One of the more interesting essays is by Barbara McMillin and is on the Christian worldview in the area of literary criticism.

To begin with, I approach this arena with a great deal of skepticism and even distaste for theories such as Deconstructionism and Marxist literary theory. With my prejudices firmly in place, I was pleasantly surprised by a practitioner at a Christian university who thoughtfully engaged several types of interpretive theory and saw things to be learned from each. The value of what McMillin drew from each theory ranged from genuine positive lessons, to the conclusion that a theory can be easily seen as vacuous when compared to a Christian worldview.

I like the sense from a Christian academic that her students need to be positively exposed to every prevailing point of view in their field if they are to be ready to engage the ivory tower. Christian English professors who know nothing about Feminist Literary theory will not teach at Princeton.

I also like the conclusion that when thoughtfully compared to a robust Christian worldview, other theories fall apart. I personally see little to no lasting value to postmodern deconstruction unless you are willing to throw away fundamental concepts like human personhood, God in Christ reconciling the world, and truth.

One great lesson drawn from her essay, and from this book as a whole, is that Christians need to engage every corner of the academic world, no matter how far-fetched it may seem or be. Another lesson, just as valuable, is that there may not be truth in everything. A point of view may be so skewed, that the only worth to be drawn from it is the invaluable lesson about what to avoid.

1 comment:

Arukiyomi said...

Mmmmm thanks for that... I've added that to my wishlist. I'm also appalled at the general lack of engagement Christians have with their target cultures, whatever they may be.

He who is in us is greater...