James K. A. Smith's Who's Afraid of Postmodernism?: Taking Derrida,Lyotard , and Foucault to Church is the opening book in the "Church and PostmodernJames K. A. Smith's Who's Afraid of Postmodernism?: Taking Derrida,Lyotard , and Foucault to Church is the opening book in the "Church and Postmodern Culture" series Smith is editing. Smith's goal in this volume is to introduce the idea of the three thinkers named in the title and demonstrate how their thoughts can in fact be a boon to Christianity. Smith does this well, ultimately showing that the tearing down of Enlightenment belief in universal reason creates room for those in the Christian narrative to thrive.
The biggest failing of this book, however, is that Smith stops short of applying the tools of postmodernism to Christianity itself, instead making a case for Radical Orthodoxy. Smith continually views Christianity as a single narrative (seemingly that of Creation, Fall, Redemption and End), never making room for the other narratives that can be and are born of the same Scriptures and traditions. It would seem that his reliance on tradition as a place in which Spirit manifests in time and place would make room for the evolution of tradition, but he repeatedly places non-creedal Christianity outside of the realm of tradition, generally equating it with modern evangelical Christianity. (As a slight aside, when I do attend worship services, the church I attend is both liturgical and non-creedal, something Smith is apparently completely unfamiliar with.) To Smith it seems that though tradition speaks to the importance of particularity or time and place, some deviations from tradition are simply too far outside it to still be part of the tradition.
Despite the lack to giving Christianity itself a postmodern treatment, and despite the ultimate case made for Radical Orthodoxy, the book is worth a read to those interested in the place of the Christian faith in an increasingly postmodern culture. The first four chapters do an excellent job of introducing the ideas of Derrida, Lyotard and Foucault and a possible relationship between them and Christianity. Just know that if you're looking for the place of postmodernism in Christianity, then you'll have to look elsewhere or use the groundwork done by Smith in all but the last chapter and find that place yourself....more
I quite enjoyed this book on anarchist practices (as opposed to the many and often warring books on theory) and certain forms of outlaw culture. BicycI quite enjoyed this book on anarchist practices (as opposed to the many and often warring books on theory) and certain forms of outlaw culture. Bicyclists, graffiti artists, pirate radio operators, all try to redefine public space in the increasing control and privatization of it, and Ferrell tells their stories well and seamlessly weaves his observations about the anarchist sensibilities behind the action. I look forward to reading it again and making use of the copious endnotes. ...more
This book is an excellent primer on gender theory and queer theory. It's accessible to a popular audience while still tacking the issues surrounding gThis book is an excellent primer on gender theory and queer theory. It's accessible to a popular audience while still tacking the issues surrounding gender and how it is lived. The only thing that would keep me from giving this book 5 stars is that the last chapter is basically a commercial for the author's PAC. It left me feeling like the substance of the book was just the buildup of an infomercial. With that warning I'd easily recommend it to anyone interested in gender....more
Meagan Brothers' Debbie Harry Sings In French very much a young adult novel. By that I mean every little thing that happens is extra dramatic. Death,Meagan Brothers' Debbie Harry Sings In French very much a young adult novel. By that I mean every little thing that happens is extra dramatic. Death, mental breakdowns, addiction and recovery, fickle friends, cliques. Amazingly the author isn't trying to sensationalize all those things to make them seem dramatic. She's just honest about what it's like to be a kid.
Johnny has a fucked up life. His dad has died. His mom has shut down completely. Johnny has to take over taking care of himself, running the house, making sure the bills are paid. Drinking makes it easier. The soundtrack to this fucked up life is filled with bands his babysitter had introduced him to: the Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus. Then Johnny discovers Blondie:
"I thought it was bogus, at first, but there I was. Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky all of a sudden. I realized I didn't want to sit around in a dark room, in love with being in the dark. I wanted some new kind of energy. I wanted something good to happen for a change. Maybe that made me sound like a crystal-toting hippie, but so what? Drugs didn't make me happy. Drinking didn't make me happy. Dancing to Blondie, on the other hand, made me feel all right"
Ultimately Johnny's left wondering if he wants Debbie Harry, or wants to be Debbie Harry. She's "tough but beautiful" and that's what he wants for himself. Johnny's girlfriend, Maria, buys him a dress that looks like one of Debbie's and encourages him to enter a drag show. Somewhere in there Johnny finds his sense of self.
What I love about this story is that it's not a novel built around a lesson about gender and gender variance. It's a story about a kid looking for something that makes sense, and finding it in something that doesn't make sense to most other folks. The way Johnny interacts with gender is central to the story and to the character, but it's just a part of who he is. It's that honesty I talked about above.