Who's Afraid of Postmodernism?: Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church (The Church and Postmodern Culture)  -     By: James K.A. Smith
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Who's Afraid of Postmodernism?: Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church (The Church and Postmodern Culture)

Baker / 2006 / Paperback

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Product Description

The philosophies of French thinkers Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault form the basis for postmodern thought and are seemingly at odds with the Christian faith. However, James K. A. Smith claims that their ideas have been misinterpreted and actually have a deep affinity with central Christian claims.

Each chapter opens with an illustration from a recent movie and concludes with a case study considering recent developments in the church that have attempted to respond to the postmodern condition, such as the "emerging church" movement. These case studies provide a concrete picture of how postmodern ideas can influence the way Christians think and worship.

This significant book avoids philosophical jargon and offers fuller explanation where needed. It is the first book in the Church and Postmodern Culture series, which provides practical applications for Christians engaged in ministry in a postmodern world.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 176
Vendor: Baker
Publication Date: 2006
Dimensions: 8.5 X 5.5 (inches)
ISBN: 080102918X
ISBN-13: 9780801029189
Availability: In Stock
Series: Church and Postmodern Culture

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Publisher's Description

The philosophies of French thinkers Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault form the basis for postmodern thought and are seemingly at odds with the Christian faith. However, James K. A. Smith claims that their ideas have been misinterpreted and actually have a deep affinity with central Christian claims.

Each chapter opens with an illustration from a recent movie and concludes with a case study considering recent developments in the church that have attempted to respond to the postmodern condition, such as the "emerging church" movement. These case studies provide a concrete picture of how postmodern ideas can influence the way Christians think and worship.

This significant book, winner of a Christianity Today 2007 Book Award, avoids philosophical jargon and offers fuller explanation where needed. It is the first book in the Church and Postmodern Culture series, which provides practical applications for Christians engaged in ministry in a postmodern world.

Author Bio

James K. A. Smith (Ph.D., Villanova University) is the Gary & Henrietta Byker Chair in Applied Reformed Theology & Worldview at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In addition, he is editor of Comment magazine and a senior fellow of the Colossian Forum. He is the author of Introducing Radical Orthodoxy, coeditor of Radical Orthodoxy and the Reformed Tradition, and editor of the Church and Postmodern Culture series (www.churchandpomo.org).

Library Journal

In the second century, the Christian writer Tertullian argued for the incompatibility of Athens (philosophy) and Jerusalem (Christianity). Smith (philosophy, Calvin Coll., Grand Rapids, MI; Introducing Radical Orthodoxy) is no Tertullian; in this first installment in "The Church and Postmodern Culture" series, he baptizes the thought of the three titular French philosophers "for use by the contemporary church in constructing its identity. He opens each chapter referencing a film, in one instance using One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest to portray the ways in which one person can subvert an all-knowing, all-watching power, a subject about which Foucault writes. Smith believes that the church can use Derrida's notion that "there is nothing outside the text" to reinvest its focus on community, interpretation, and Scripture with new meaning. Similarly, he feels that contemporary Christianity can embrace Lyotard's emphasis on meta-narratives as an affirmation of the power of storytelling and adopt Foucault's ideas of discipline as a new way of understanding discipleship. While Smith's writing can be lively, his discussions often bog down in academic jargon. The book will find a home in seminary libraries, where these issues might be debated, but not in public libraries, where they are of little consequence. Henry L. Carrigan Jr., Lancaster, PA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Publisher's Weekly

Christians who think that "Lyotard" is something worn by gymnasts ought to investigate this unusual book, which aims to make accessible the philosophical and religious contributions of three postmodern thinkers: Jacques Derrida, Jean-Fran ois Lyotard and Michel Foucault. Smith, a philosophy professor at Calvin College, does this cleverly by employing illustrations and examples from such films as The Matrix; Memento; One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest; O Brother, Where Art Thou?; and, surprisingly but successfully, The Little Mermaid. Along the way, Smith also dissects the popular teachings of postmodern writers like Brian McLaren (reviewed and interviewed in this issue), Leonard Sweet and Robert Webber. At times, the language is decidedly academic ("heuristic," "metanarrative" and "epistemology" make routine appearances), and the book tends to assume a basic familiarity with philosophical debates. Still, it's one of the most accessible introductions to postmodern thought to date, and its concluding chapter-in which Smith brilliantly employs the movie Whale Rider to explore how Christianity might be simultaneously faithful to tradition and open to change-is alone worth the price of admission. Ironically but persuasively, Smith argues that postmodern Christianity's most powerful contribution could be a return to ancient, premodern church traditions and liturgy. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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  1. Dayville, CT
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: male
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Bogeyman?
    March 18, 2011
    Russ
    Dayville, CT
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: male
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Smith has delivered a good primer with his treatment of Postmodernism as (1) he "unpacks it" (i.e., provides guiding explanations, etc.) and (2) shows why rather than being the "bogeyman" of the Church, Postmodernism may be of profit in its ability to call the Church to return to what truly made her unique. Smith's picture of what a church could be (144-146) so resonates "community" as to make us ache as we perceive the lack of community within much of Western Christianity.

    On a personal note - this is one book that (1) engaged my interest the entire time, (2) in which I did not sense the author repeating himself simply to make the book a "bit longer", and (3) has been cited often and highlighted even more.
  2. 5 Stars Out Of 5
    March 18, 2008
    Aaron Denbo
    The book is an excellent book on the Christian adaptation of post-modernism. Smith effectively decodes the sometimes difficult concepts of the likes of Foucault and Derrida (if you've read their work it is rather difficult to parse) and shows how a fresh appropriation of postmodern themes, already simmering in Western culture, can and should be used in the Christian life. This is not unlike Justin Martyr or any of the early apologists applying Greek thought into a defense and appropriation of Christianity in their time.
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