Towards a Theology of Shutting the Hell Up

This is a gratuitous and unserious rant about one thing and one thing only: the use of the phrase “towards a theology of.”

First, the invariable use of “towards” by American academics instead of the more standard American spelling of “toward.” The S imparts no etymological variance or shade of meaning whatsoever; its only purpose is to bolster the stilted sibilance of a faux-intellectual lisp, like that of my freshman-year English teacher whose appreciation of Derrida fixated entirely on the stupefying length of the philosopher’s paragraphs.

Second, the phrase itself is a terrible cliché that keeps popping up in theological publications like whack-a-mole. There is nothing original, there is nothing smart, in using this phrase now. It brands you as a tiresome trundler of thin thought.

Third, speaking at all about a “theology of” is backward. Theology is the Queen of the Sciences, not the science of seminary queens. It is not a thing that can be enlisted to dignify some relatively minor preoccupation. The correct question is “What has theology to say about X?” not “What new perspective has X to contribute to theology?” Perhaps sometimes the former is what people mean when they use the phrase, but in my experience it skews toward the latter.

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THOMAS HOLGRAVE is a conservative but not necessarily a hipster. He is the publisher of The Hipster Conservative. He has never read a comic book he liked. He is an occasional theologian who has been known to become quite exercised over questions of Puritan doctrine and practice. Not much else is known about him.

One thought on “Towards a Theology of Shutting the Hell Up”

  1. I am tired of the phrase “towards a ___ of ___”. Towards a spirituality of culture; towards a sociology of spirituality; towards a culture of science; towards a science of spirituality…. In most cases, what they are speaking fo moving “towards” already exists, and preexisted the writers by decades, centuries or millennia. Thank you.

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