Wednesday 27 July 2011

Theology isn't all hermeneutics and exegesis

Theology is such a useful subject. You can apply it to anything and nobody can contradict you. It uses strange words like "hermeneutics" and "exegesis", which allow you — if you're so inclined — to bamboozle the uninitiated. But the greatest thing about theology is that with it you can sound superficially intellectual even without the big words. All you need to do is link what you're saying back to scripture, and you will imbue your mundane rhetoric with the authority of holy writ.

But be careful not to overdo it, otherwise your fatuous ramblings could be seen for what they are, and you'll be in danger of exposure as an intellectual fraud.

Giles Fraser, Canon Chancellor of St. Paul's Cathedral, doesn't use the big words when he's on Radio Four's Thought for the Day. Three minutes isn't really enough to get down and dirty with the exegetical ramifications of a Bible verse, especially not at breakfast time. As for hermeneutics, unless they can be eaten with milk, sugar and added bran his audience probably isn't interested.

On Tuesday morning Giles took his cue from Rowan Williams and talked about debt. He laid out his relevant qualifications, just so we can be in no doubt of his authority on the subject. "I'm not an economist," he said. Nevertheless he went on to explain that America's current problems are the the same as those of Adam and Eve, and the reason Greece needs to be bailed out by the Eurozone is because of "the fall of man".

I'm not a theologian, but it seems to me that the Rev. Canon Dr. Giles Fraser has once again amply demonstrated theology's utility1 and its relevance to the modern world.

Behold — for thirty days and thirty nights — the Fraser thought here (mp3):

1. I think there should be an "f" in that word somewhere.