Reducancy And Communities Of Resistance
One of my frustrations these days is how much crap is being published. There are many good books being published, but some are just terrible. Even people I respect have published books that are poorly written, with half-developed ideas. I sometimes wonder if some people care more about writing a book than they care about […]
One of my frustrations these days is how much crap is being published. There are many good books being published, but some are just terrible. Even people I respect have published books that are poorly written, with half-developed ideas. I sometimes wonder if some people care more about writing a book than they care about having something to say. I’ve daydreamed about writing a book–lots of us have. But I only want to write a book if it really serves the church
I have previously lamented my publishing failures, but the flipside of those failures is expressed in the quote above from vans.missionthink.com. Sure some folks get book contracts and I do not, but nonetheless, a small but significant percentage of books published in the field of theology (particularly theology and culture) are so poorly conceived and shoddily written that it is hard to accept they ever even made it to print, regardless of who wrote them.
Many books are contracted well before they are actually written, often when the ideas for the author’s ideas are still in their infancy. At that seed-stage, it is hard to discern which ideas will germinate and which ideas will not. Editors and publishers have experience with this, but it is far from an exact science. More than a few times I have witnessed books and articles being commissioned on the flimsiest of premises (sometimes with borrowed terminology and more hype than substance) and as the work developed, it simply lacked gravitas. Morever, with the contract in hand, the author lacked the urgency to, as the Americans say, push their work “to the next level.” It is a growing trend and maybe a few of the ‘cutting-edge’ books on our shelves today suffer from the same problem of being commissioned ‘too soon.’
To that end I welcome vans.missionthink’s suggestion for a work on “Cultivating Communities of Resistance,” because such a book, if handled well and nurtured over time could work against this trend in Christian publishing. In part I resonate with this idea becuse it seems to me that resistance, along with discipline and subversion, are essential qualities for a viable ecclesiology in a mixed culture, saturated with the marketing of both religious and non-religious products.
Along this line of thought I came up with a word, some 5 years back, that summed up a lot of my thinking on theology and culture and my experience in ministry; that word was reducancy.
In fact, I even made up a logo! The word combines reduce, not just in the sense of fewer things, but also in the older sense of subdue, convert, adapt, remedy and bring to obedience – together with recusancy, which means refusal to attend a state church. I saw the word as encapsulating a resitance to Christendom and the easy answers of culturally-domesticated Christianity (what I then called the technology of Church) and a move to minimalist sense of the creative mission of believers. Reducancy is deeply tied to the idea of the theologian-in-residence (put theologians on the missionfront, not in academies) and with the intuition that refusal, in a Christian sense should be understood as an open and creative act, rather than as a negative destructive act.
I don’t know if we can fix the problems in Christian publishing, but I have a hunch we might get a little closer to a better state if we practice a little reducancy now and then.
[tags] Reducancy, Ecclesiology [/tags]