Saturday, September 13, 2014

Is There an Essential Affinity Between A Typological Reading of the Biblical Story and a Providential View of History?

I am reading a nifty manuscript on civil religion.  The author emphasizes that one of the great traditions of American civil religion - Martin Luther King's, for example - reads the Bible narrative as provides types of the themes that we also see in our national narrative.  This is not the same as seeing the Bible as providing literal prophetic markers of current events, as 'End Times' readings do.  Rather, the belief that history has an arc, which we see signs of in the biblical story and in our own, connected-but-different story, is a deep and fruitful way of seeing history as meaningful.

I have also long believed that life has a providential form, which is a way of seeing historical events as a meaningful narrative.

It has only struck me now, though, that these two kinds of readings - a typological reading of the Bible and a providential reading of history - are intimately connected. My intuition is that they are really just different ways of doing the same thing.

But I can 't quite flesh out the argument to prove that intuition.  Any help from you smart readers to make the argument or set me straight?

Sunday, September 07, 2014

It Is Always True That 'Reality Is More Complex Than Your Social Theory'. And That Argument Is Never Helpful.

I have loved social theory since I started reading it in high school because it reveals something of the underlying structure of reality - the reasons behind the human world that we see on the surface.

And when talking about social theory, I often run across someone who dismisses the whole project because "reality is more complex than that."


But the same is true of a map.  A map simplifies, but shows the relations of the main elements.  A map that showed everything in its true proportions, in a 1"=1" scale, would be more accurate than any simpler map.

But it would be useless.

The alternative to social theory is not a completely complex picture of society.  The alternative to the simplifications of social theory is to argue that reality has no underlying structure at all.