I did my graudate education in literary/cultural theory in the late 1980s and early 1990s, which means I was thoroughly immersed in deconstruction and post-structuralism: truth is relative, our thinking and reality are limited by language, human relations are all about power, etc. I was hit with Derrida in my first semester of grad school and the theories of Michel Foucault figured prominently in my dissertation.
Some would find it odd, then, that I became a Christian in the midst of this education, what with faith’s appeal to universal truth and the institutional nature of Christianity. I find deconstruction and post-structural theories interesting, useful and basically sound, but in retrospect, I think my embrace of faith represented an ultimate rejection of those theories. If you completely embrace those theories, the end result is hopelessness: we are each stuck in our own little reality–which itself might be an illusion–unable to genuinely communicate with others.
I guess I refused to go that far. I wanted and want to believe that there is some meaning to life. I’m not even sure that it’s God, but in a community of faith, I found a group of people who also want to believe that it’s possible to connect with others in a meaningful way (whatever that means).
Oh, I feel great ambivalence about the institutional nature of the church. And it’s damn hard to cut through all the crap that constitutes our daily lives to get to know others intimately, but at least the members of a faith community profess to believe it’s possible to do so. It’s that belief–that faith–that counts. And occasionally, I actually glimpse that connection.