September 14, 2009

Whose Right(s)?

I'm offering some reflections on the Moltmann conversation an Emergent gathering held by JoPa. Moltmann in many ways has given me hope and grace for the journey, especially when I was in need of reconstructing my faith in seminary. I've several of his works and often return to his books for centering.

My first reflection comes from a mixture of statements from Moltmann:

In a "lightning round" Moltmann had to sum up a person in one sentence, ie "John Paul II"..."Good Pope."

In reference to Derrida, Moltmann only stopped after one paragraph saying, "Postmodernism is another form of modernity. Universal dangers exist toward humaity that we must meet united; so we cannot split up and everyone go in relative direction. whether we live in big or small narratives we all live under the threat of atomic bombs, ecolocial crisis; so extinciton of all is a possibility for all. So I don't see why we have to up universal questions or problems."

Also, in reference to the question of universal human rights, whether they exist or are unicorns; Moltmann answered in the affirmative. They are true, "this is good, for the growing world community based in human rights- or there will be no world community at all."

One of the things I truly appreciate about Moltmann's theology is that it is grounded in reality. His focus is less about the ontological reality of inalienable rights, but rather the need for justice and human dignity. Moltmann does not want people in any cirucmstance to suffer under the hands of dictators (his story is good cause...serving ignorantly under Hitler's Youth).

But, I am not sold on the modern idea of universal human rights, nor their ability to bring justice to peoples, nations, or even individuals. Instead of give my arguments, I thought I'd start with this issue because a good debate is already taking place online. Ben Myers argues against them here, Cynthia R. Nielsen responds, before Ben answers.

So, while I immensely respect Moltmann's theology and understanding of the world, it seems he is still conditioned to to embrace very modern ideals that simply don't exist and can't prove what they contend to prove: that apart from community humans have innate rights. I'm not sure I'm ready to locate universal realities outside of human reality, for then can be used as imperial weapons.

Some more blogs with reflections from the Moltmann Convo: TheSuburbanPastor and TwoEmptyHands. And Julie Clawson has her second reflection up.

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