Can We Name Our Age?

Light of truth

“We live in an age that cannot name itself. For some, we are still in the age of modernity and the triumph of the bourgeois subject. For others, we are in a time of the levelling of all traditions and await the return of the repressed traditional and communal subject. For yet others, we are in a post-modern moment where the death of the subject is now upon us as the last receding wave of the death of God,” David Tracy wrote. Our modern age and its ego are mortally wounded. We are fed with “more of the same.” The differences are continuously despised and fundamentalism is on the surge is all religions and all the religions are facing a degenerative process in the consumer market system, which is the hall-mark of our present age. Everywhere there is the threat of decimating the local cultures and there is the deep sense of nostalgia felt. Uprooting from own soil and land is causing terrible home sickness, which finds expression in things like ghar vapasi. This return to home is in effect a return to fundamentalism and tribalism.

There is the death of God culture dominated by the market; the values of life are continuously eroded. Being in history is, to be born, live, and die bounded by a particular sex, race, class, and education. There is tremendous violence expressed by various groups which feel a loss of their roots. Actually, globalisation is result of modern science and technology. Science and technology are both a blessing and a bane. It makes man a wanderer in the world, but many cultures are embedded in the culture of soil and their gods. Many religions are responding to this wandering fate by aggressively returning to tradition, often created out of imaginative and illusory attempts. The violent imposition of cow slaughter ban is simply one example where the Brahminic kitchen laws are being forcefully imposed on an entire nation. There is considerable hate and animosity connected with it.

Do Christians know what they are? We may surely know what we are not!

ls it worthwhile to ask whether our goals, purposes, and ideals are themselves worthwhile? Can we understand and affirm such a demand for worthwhileness without affirming an intelligent, rational, responsible source and ground for them? We must keep alive the sense of the religiosity of our situation. We must fight against all temptations to canniness – to those bogus affirmations, those principles of domination, those slack feelings which tempt us beyond mere error and even illusion to final distortions of indecency. We belong to history and language; they do not belong to us. It is a game where we learn to give into the movement required by questions worth exploring. The movement in conversation is questioning itself. Neither the present opinions on the question nor the text’s original response to the question, but the question itself, must control every conversation. It is not a confrontation. It is not a debate. It is not an exam. It is questioning itself. It is a willingness to follow the question wherever it may go. It is dialogue. Above all, religions are exercises in resistance of positing religion as a possible mode of post-modern resistance, a shift from the language of “manifestation” and “proclamation” to the “mystical-prophetic.” The shift in language allows more broad religious scope and recognises a more spiritual nature to theological discourse. It is a conversation with the radically other.

The hidden God is deus crucifixus, a God of suffering and oppressed peoples. This is the God who is “beyond the world.” “What the ‘essence of Christianity’ might be after Christians seriously acknowledge first, the plurality within their own traditions, second, the import of the many other religious traditions for Christian self-understanding, and third, the profound cognitive, moral, and religious ambiguity of Christianity itself is, to put it mildly, a very difficult question,” states Tracy.

The Christian narrative is not of Christendom but of Christianity. In order to preserve the Christian vision free of distortion, we have to correlate Christian beliefs with more general claims about human experience. We must get Christian theology involved in the public conversations of our culture, without appealing to assumptions about universal criteria of rationality or the superiority of one particular cultural conversation. There is no revelation without salvation. There is no theological theory without praxis. There need be no hermeneutic without pragmatics.

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