Search Magazine article on open source religion
I was interviewed a while back by Sam Kean for an article on open source religion for Search Magazine (‘a non-profit, non-partisan, non-sectarian magazine exploring the intersection of science, religion, and culture’). The article has now appeared with a good few paragraphs about Open Source Theology. It is a little disconcerting to find this website in the company of such esoteric movements as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Open Source Judaism, and Yoism. But if allowance is made for the inevitable distortions (or perhaps insights?) that come from such an alien perspective, the article does a good job of getting across my original thought that ‘open source’ is a useful ‘metaphor for a much more transparent and collaborative approach to doing theology within what is to my mind still a mainstream Christian tradition’.
One section puzzled me a little:
I agree that the open source metaphor places the emphasis on the process of developing a viable and versatile theological mindset rather than on any dogmatic end-product. But the important thing to keep in mind is that this is happening in engagement with – and in reaction against – more rigidly formulated theological positions. The assumption is, I think, that it is not the open source process alone but the overall engagement or interaction – the dialectic between thesis and antithesis, between order and disorder, between tradition and the critique of tradition – that will ultimately prove fruitful for the renewal of theology.
In that respect, I’m not sure that Kean’s legal metaphor really works. I must say, I recoiled at the word ‘legalistic’ - and perhaps the point is that the ‘open source’ metaphor also breaks down here. If one of the principle objectives behind emerging theologies is more hermeneutical than doctrinal – more about a change in mindset than about tweaking beliefs – we are surely dependent on a much messier cultural and historical ‘process’ than is captured by either the legal or the open source metaphors.