Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Theology of Trash

Paul Walker is an Anglican minister from Bradford. In his own words, he's struggling to 'emerge from an inherited model Anglican priest to being a missionary in my 21st Century, late-modernity-going-into-postmodernity context.' He's currently studying for an MA in Emerging Church at Cliff College and his dissertation explores the missional implications of Web 2.0 technologies. I'm particularly keen to hear his thoughts on what models of Christian community might emerge from Internet cultures.

On his blog, Out of the Cocoon, Paul has been reviewing Voices of the Virtual World chapter by chapter, one a day, and yesterday he got to me. He writes,

"...although it is obvious that many blogs fall into disuse, there are some amazing 'theological spaces' on the Web. Ideas can be set forth, comments can be made, and ideas can be refined and honed - all in a friendly and generally encouraging climate of co-operation and mutual support. In effect, it has ripped theology from out of 'the ivory tower', where it was the preserve of the learned and the erudite, into the hands of anyone who wants to 'have a go'. Some may sniff at this deluge of material - some of which might well be thought ill-considered, even 'trashy' - but the reality is that this is now a feature of the wired world that we live in and the culture we inhabit - and the academics and 'ivory tower' theologians are simply going to have to take cognisance of it."

Reflection upon any aspect of our existence, whether it's football, tv and film, or fashion, is theology. Sure, these things aren't understood as within the conventional boundaries of theology as they might have been understood by systematic theologians, but these things are the stuff of life. And if life somehow participates in the being of God, all talk about life is God-talk, theology.

My thoughts are that life itself is pretty 'trashy' (at least, mine is) and theology needs to emerge from the midst of life. I'd be happy if this resulted in a theology of trash. After all, one person's trash is another person's treasure. Maybe even God's treasure!

The rest of Paul's post can be found here.


Paul Walker said...

Hello Katharine

Thanks for the link and comments.

I'm reminded of 1 Corinthians 4.13 where St Paul speaks of Christians as 'scum of the earth'. Yet it is that 'scum' (I think another version has 'offscourings') that God chooses as a means of his grace.

The demise of Christendom has had many effects on the Church, but surely one of the most welcome is that it has taught us that God is not only to be experienced in beautiful buildings and mediated by ornately clad priests - he can be found in his whole creation...even the trash!


paul said...

I like to think that God is the best recycler in the business, he can take our trash and make life and light out of it...