Thursday, November 13, 2008

The relevance of irrelevance

"I am doggedly sworn to irrelevance, insofar as relevance implies a corrupt indebtedness to modernity. . . . My deepest desire as a theologian is to be permitted to study the unchanging God without some pragmatic reason. I simply want to enjoy the study of God -- not write about it, not view it in relation to its political residue, or pretentiously imagine it will have some social effect. The joy of inquiry into God is a sufficient end in itself. . . .

I relish those times when there are no responsibilities but to engage in this quiet dialogue that is my vocation. Then, I readpray, studypray, workpray, thinkpray, because there is nothing I more want to do.

So when old activist friends ask why I'm not out there on the street working to change the world, I answer that I am out on the street in the most serious way by being here with my books, and if you see no connection there, you have not understood my vocation. I do not love the suffering poor less by offering them what they need more."

Thomas C. Oden, "Last Wednesday's Theology," Christianity Today, 10 February 1992, page 9.