There is a tendency by those who hold faith to read the world ideologically. What I mean is that there is a tendency in certain circles to interact with different ideas according to how well those ideas fit into a preexisting schema.
As a graduate student at a Christian university, I suppose I should have seen this coming. But I didn’t. Perhaps this is because it really wasn’t a problem in any of my undergraduate classes. For example:
Derrida argues that meaning is ultimately unknowable in an objective sense because we only ever understand things according to their differences from other things. Meaning, then, is relatively situated. He rejects Western Metaphysics. A response to this I heard was to agree that Derrida has some nice points, but as Christians we know there are certain absolute truths.
Really? Derrida applies unless you are a Christian? I’m all for intelligent disagreement, but this particular ideological response is not helpful.
Because ideology is not an argument. And engaging texts in this way does not actually treat texts with integrity. It does violence to their own contexts and points of genesis.
And I don’t care right now whether Derrida is right or not. Lord knows I only understood 53% of what I read in that small passage anyway.
But I do care about what this way of reading the world says about what we think Christianity is. If Christianity is a set of dogmas or doctrines that must be adhered to, then ideological readings make sense. If, somehow, we believe in a set of revealed truths from the Almighty that we privilege above all other knowledge, then we would use those truths to interpret the rest of the world.
But, if Christianity is a performance, if Christianity is a practice, if Christianity is the way of the cross lived out in this existence, then we have an entirely different way of reading the world. We would read the world with the motto all is Grace. Our essential hope being that Love wins.
And Derrida, right or wrong, wouldn’t be all that scary.
Because Derrida would just be one more point of Grace in this beautiful tapestry of human experience, whom God so loved.