Kerr finally got to the goods in the last chapter of Theology after Wittgenstein. And not that the other stuff wasn’t worth it. I was just worried he wasn’t going to go in for the kill, but he does. Oh, he does.
Perhaps the most striking observation that Kerr makes is that a view of the self that emphasizes the body and community as far more fundamental than some sort of hidden, inner ‘I’ is one that can defend life more properly, particularly in terms of the imago Dei. Traditionally, the church fathers and reformers alike (to my knowledge) have placed the most emphasis on the image of God as being mental, rational, or logical, though some have gone so far as to say ‘creative’ albeit, creative in an ‘inner energy’ sort of way. But if life and the imago Dei in particular are rather seen in more physical terms I.e. the body and community, then an unborn child is a living human being by virtue of these things. The Cartesian ego has been so concerned with backing external reality with mental sensation, that mental sensation has become the standard of relevance. And as Kerr points out, paradoxically, the more animalistic, instinctual, habitual we view human life (as Wittgenstein would assert) the easier it becomes to defend life.
Based on these observations, there are other implications particularly for worship and liturgy. The modern fear of repetition or ‘mindless’ chattering of prayers and responses is less founded than we might think. Meaning is not found in our heads. It is found in the world that God made. It is found in our actions and words and interactions with the world and other people. And it is not as though repetition and form prayers can be avoided, it’s just a matter of how much thought is going into them, likewise bodily actions and movements. Whether we go to a straight laced old school Presbyterian church or a free-swinging Baptist church, our bodies are intimately involved and as Kerr (via Wittgenstein) would assert those movements, words, interactions are highly influential in creating and molding the people that we are. It’s not whether; it’s which and what.
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