Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Derek Flood And Søren Kierkegaard
Two theologians, but only one philosopher between them. I thought long and hard about how best to describe Derek Flood here, but it's hard to top his Huffington Post author bio:
A longtime voice in the post-conservative evangelical movement, Derek’s focus is on wrestling with questions of faith and doubt, violence in the Bible, relational theology, and understanding the cross from the perspective of grace and restorative justice.
Yeah. Stick that in yr pipe and smoke it. In his HP icon Flood's mane of hair looks a bit like Kierkegaard's. Like Kierkegaard in that one portrait of him we all know, Flood stares at you earnestly, but while Kierkegaard has a twinkle in his eye and the hint of of a smile, Flood looks deadly dull. Kierkegaard looks like he might actually be interested in you and what you have to say. Flood looks like he thinks that what he has to say to you is so important that it may not even have occurred to him to listen to you unless it's to see whether or not you've understood him. In every piece I've read by him, Flood can't go for 2 sentences in a row without being unmistakeably Christian. Kierkegaard talks about all sorts of things other than Christianity without constantly distorting them in that theological way we all know and love. Not only does he quote many pre-Christian Greek authors, he clearly also likes them the way they really are. No distortion required. He sometimes goes dozens of pages at a stretch without giving the slightest sign that he's a Christian theologian. This of course is what makes Kierkegaard the most appealing of all Christian theologians: he's the one who least resembles a Christian theologian. All the others have no end of urgent things to tell you, such as how they understand the cross from the perspective of grace and restorative justice. Kierkegaard's interests are much wider. He's receptive.
Of course, autistics, such as myself, are not receptive so much, that is to say: one of the major ways you can tell we're autistic is that we have a hard time switching from telling everybody what's what, to listening. At least when it comes to face-to-face conversation. We may be good at absorbing written communications -- although there can be problems there too -- but that often breaks down in face-to-face communication. "Face to face" is even a misnomer in some conversations with autistics, because some autistics have a very hard time maintaining normal amounts of eye contact. I pretty much can't do it with most conversation partners. Don't take it personally, I have a problem.
But at least I know that it's a very serious problem. And I know that a lack of eye contact is just one of the ways in which I routinely fail to achieve what most people think of as the normal back-and-forth and give-and-take of conversation.
But that doesn't mean that I don't want to have more give-and-take with you. I doesn't mean I don't care. I realize that it often looks like I don't care, if it doesn't look even worse, as if I'm hostile or something like that. It's a technical problem with the interface. Don't worry, people are working on this.