Really though: am I allowed to call myself that? Because I look at the distant authors who call themselves Deconstructionists, and I think to myself: “Wow, they are smart. They’ve thought about this. They’ve done research. They have big degrees. What have I done? Read their books? I haven’t even read a lot of them. I’ve just whined about how I don’t like Christianity today.
That, and I’ve lived.”
So when I think of the term Deconstructionist, I imagine that it is a big word describing a big brain. I think of Peter Rollins and Richard Rohr. They dig deep into the minutia of existence and pull out incredible gems that are amazing in their life-changing complexity, but yet so simple to understand.
Even if I think of a more relatable figures like John Williamson and Adam Narloch from the Deconstructionist Podcast, I find myself lacking. I can follow along for a bit, and then all of a sudden they whip out some 18th century philosopher that everyone seems to know, except for me. God, I feel ignorant.
So let’s go back to the source: A friend that I know personally; The person who got me started; The person who said the word Deconstructionist for first time in my life, all the way back when I assumed it had to do with tearing down physical buildings. He was clearly way ahead of me intellectually, and had always spoke fondly of his favorite Heretic, Peter Rollins. It was this good friend of mine that I asked what I needed to read, and he told me to start with Peter Rollins’ The Orthodox Heretic. He doesn’t even know it, but I have imagined that unless I start at his level, I’ll never be able to call myself a Deconstructionist.
I realize that this is silly, and that you don’t need to be an incredibly deep thinker to be a Deconstructionist, but there is something inside of me that says I should hold off calling myself that until later in my journey.
I realize that many of you may not know what a Deconstructionist is, this is okay. I’ll explain the little I do know.
Deconstructionist are people who are there to play Jenga with their beliefs. Its all about picking apart everything in your life, and finding what is standing at the end of it; what is required to keep going. They are the people who poke holes in the bottom of the boats in order to show that the boat isn’t sea worthy. They are the people who burn the building down to find out if anything will be left standing. They put religion through a trial by fire, and see if it holds up.
I like this. This is what my critical mind has always done anyway, except this time instead of coming up with complex ways of defending my beliefs, I am breaking them down to figure out the mechanics of why I believe these things.
The important thing about Deconstructionists is that they aren’t just leaving a swath of wrecked faith in their wake, in fact, the word Reconstructionist is at the same time applied to Deconstructionist. They tear apart what they believe and look for the good pieces to start over, building a stronger home, and taking nothing for granted in terms of what people just assume to be true. Truth, honesty, doubt, and accepting mystery seem to be themes of deconstruction. And not just accepting that something is unknowable, but poking and prodding at it, and still being okay with the fact that they may be wrong.
I like the term Peter Rollins uses for his belief “system”: Pyro-Theology. Yeah, who doesn’t want to be called a Pyro-Theologian? It sounds like a Prestige class in Dungeons & Dragons (5 more Richard Rohr books and I can level up!). It comes from exactly that thought of the burning building, and seeing what stands afterwards.
I still haven’t convinced myself yet, but maybe one day I’ll get to the place where I can proudly say that I am a Deconstructionist. Until then, I will only call myself one when a Deconstructionist dubs me as a like-mind.
P.S.- In the mean time, here is the three pieces of media that sent me on my journey:
Samuel Wells- Improvisation: The drama of Christian ethics
Peter Rollins- The Orthodox Heretic
John Williamson & Adam Narloch- The Deconstructionist Podcast