Friday, May 01, 2009

Thesis Structure - April 2009

Another Panel Review document I submitted this year was an annotated plan, presenting the panel with my thesis in detail, from chapters to sections to subsections. I can't very well post all of that here (my annotated plan is 6,200 words) but I thought it could probably edit it down to something more readable. It might also be useful to have a look at the one page summary of my thesis argument thta I also submitted to the panel (here).

Thesis title (at the moment):

Emerging Truth/Justice: Towards a Poetic Understanding of (Christian) Truth.


Chapter One, Contexts
  • Presents the emerging church as a diverse milieu in which familial resemblances can nevertheless be drawn between those within it, providing the reader with an understanding of the context in which the research questions were asked.
  • Places the emerging church milieu in the context of current research within the disciplines of the sociology of religion and continental philosophy of religion, positioning the milieu in the wider religious and spiritual landscape and demonstrating the wider value of the research questions.
  • Explains my own position as a researcher in relation to the UK emerging church milieu.

Chapter Two, Methods
  • Reviews the research methodologies of currently available studies of the emerging church.
  • Gives the rationale behind my multi-methodology and presents these methods of data collection.
  • Justifies in particular my use of Internet-mediated research methods.

Interlude, Researching Truth
  • Problematizes the preceding chapters through a consideration of this thesis’ interdisciplinary position in relation to the philosophy of social science and continental philosophy’s critiques of representationalism.
  • Suggests that John D. Caputo’s distinction between logics and poetics (The Weakness of God) is not only useful for thinking about the nature of this thesis as a piece of writing, but also hints at a distinction between two understandings of truth explored below; namely, truth as representation and correspondence (logics) and truth as transformation (poetics).
  • Plays with the word “icon” and concludes that my work exists on the Derridean slash of undecidability in the word “i/con.”

Chapter Three, Truth(s)
  • Argues for the aptness of pluralism about truth, supplementing the recent work of Michael P. Lynch (Truth as One and Many) through suggesting that the concept of truth needs to also be explored as it operates in the domain of religion.
  • Constructs a set of truisms about religious truth (at least as it is viewed within the UK emerging church milieu) from interviews with participants.
  • Uses participant data to suggest the truism that truth in the religious domain is transformational.
  • Distinguishes between truth as transformative proposition and truth as transformative event, aided by Michel Henry (I am the Truth) and Jack Caputo (The Weakness of God).

Chapter Four, World
  • Argues that, for the first strand, connecting the truism of transformation to propositions results in a realist assumption about truth: ‘truth hinges not on us but on the world’ (Lynch, The Nature of Truth, p.9).
  • Shows why this assumption is questioned by the second strand.

Chapter Five, Event
  • Argues that, for the second strand, understanding transformative truth as an event of truth itself results in an important relationship between religion and deconstruction.
  • Shows why the first strand are wary of deconstruction.

Chapter Six, Justice

  • Argues that the property that satisfies the truism of transformation and therefore manifests truth for religious/spiritual propositions is the norm of justice.
  • Demonstrates that the event of “truth” itself can also be translated as “justice,” thereby augmenting our folk concept of truth as transformation.

Chapter Seven, Poetics
  • Demonstrates that the foregoing exploration of the notion of truth within the UK emerging church milieu enables an assessment of the extent to which two contemporary theologies that have been suggested as apt for the milieu are indeed appropriate.
  • Argues that, following some revisions, both Radical Orthodoxy and deconstructive theology are practically viable for the milieu.
  • Recalls the distinction between representational logics and transformative poetics to defend Caputo's theological agenda from James K.A. Smith's criticisms ("The Logic of Incarnation")
  • Uses Gavin Hyman's The Predicament of Postmodern Theology to argue that the latter option remains, however, preferable in my opinion.


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