The Myth of Deconstruction

Here is a post I wrote in for a class as we were going through John Caputo’s book What Would Jesus Deconstruct? Some of it may seem quite foreign, especially if you have not had much exposure to what deconstruction is.

I found the conclusion of Caputo’s book quite helpful in the application aspect of deconstruction and also in answering the question, ‘What does deconstruction look like for us preparing for the ministry?’ Typically, (and this is the myth) people believe that after deconstruction takes place, we are left with nothing, and we have to start building from scratch. Caputo turns this myth upside down when he says on page 135, “When something is deconstructed, it is not razed but reconfigured and transformed in response to inner and uncontainable impulses.” Thus, a deconstructing organism or theology or institution has some sort of innate self-correcting tool that helps keep everything on course. In my mind, I have began to think of deconstruction in terms of physics. Everything is built around a core. But as Caputo points out, “Institutions tend to become the enemy of the very event they are supposed to embody, intent on preserving their own existence, even at the cost of the very purpose of their existence.” I think what he is saying here is that an institution void of deconstruction is like a centrifugal force, always moving away from the center or focal point that it was founded upon. But with deconstruction, it moves from being a centrifugal force to a centripetal force, always moving back towards the center. Thus, it has something built into its very threads that create paths that always lead back to the original purpose instead of simply wandering further and further away from it. One final quote from Caputo that sparked much of this thinking: “To engage the gears of deconstructive thought and practice is not to reduce our beliefs and practices to ruins, which is the popular distortion, but to entrust oneself to the uncontainable event they contain, breaking down their resistance to their own inner tendencies and aspirations, exposing them to the call by which they have been called into being, which here, in the case of the church, is the kingdom that we call for, the kingdom that calls on us.”

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