Thursday, November 29, 2012

book of the year..if you are a semiotic (re)signing "Bible stud" nerd like me

 I love signs.

Visit my famous/infamous collection of funny signs here.

But signs are a serious sign of the times.

In a delightful and deep book about signs (semiotics)
that you should buy yesterday.

the amazing writer Crystal A. Downing,

among other things,

helpfully  (re)signs the word "sign."

The book?

"Changing Signs of Truth: A Christian Introduction to the Semiotics of  Communication"  (most of the first eighty pages is here)

The idea?

We are called to create new signs for old realities.
 (see also "How to Pour New Wine into Old Wineskins"  and "Old and new hands, wineskins" and "The signs won't look as you expect them to look").

Read the linked book preview to get ahold of that term.

All pastors...and all Christians..must (re)sign.

And buy this book!
(I think Jesus: A Theography" is probably book of the year, actually. But this one rates!)

Much more to follow, including a full-blown review.

But for now:
Two examples from the book that grabbed me, and got me (re)signing.

1)The sermon:

See her discussion  in the excerpt below  (pp. 44ff )  subtitled "Pastor(al) ideals"
How do we (or do we? "All American pastors know that  the Bible knows nothing of a weekly meeting where a pastor preaches a sermon." ) go about (re)signing the sermon?

2)signs of atonement:

How do we (or how dare we) re-sign the atonement?

This section (pp, 293-298) is not online, but suffice to say it is one of many short sections that are worth the price of the book alone.

For starters, her taxonomy of viewing

  • Penal substitution theory as a (re)signed version of the satisfaction theorue
  • Demythologizing theories as (re)signed versions of the moral influence theory
  • Christus Victor theory as a   (re)signed version of the ransom theory

may sound obvious..

..but it's foundational for her endorsement of a holistic approach to atonement theories, a "heteroglossia"  ( term borrowed from Bakhtin; she later offers Bakhtins "relational semiotic".  I see some studentfans have even created  a facebook group called "Crystal Downing: It's not English class. It's heteroglossia, fool!" ).

"Heteroglossia" is of course, a  much more cheesy academic a term than McKnight's down-home
"golf bag" metaphor (see "Žižek, metaphor, golfbags atonement fetish")
, but for reasons we'll get to, it may wind up being the best and most practical handle we have for

I really think we need more women writing books like this.  Not trying to sound sexist (see
"I need some token women" but so often they are far more creative...and better writers than us male "Bible studs" 

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