The New Christians

OK, this is the final part of what was meant to be a brief tangent. But Jimmy brings up an important caveat in his comment
below. My not-so-hypothetical situation of a troubled teen in the
school counselor’s office was sanitized of the real-life complications
of power. Being a trained
social worker, and a special ed. teacher, Jimmy knows the power
dynamics at work in a situation like this. It should come as no
surprise that the pediatrician will come out on top in this hierarchy;
not only does she have the most schooling, but physicians — and the
scientific reasoning they employ — are highly regarded in our society.
In contrast, social workers, psychologists, and youth pastors are often
seen as dealing in data that is “soft,” over against the “hard”
scientific data of a physician.

However, the postmodern, hermeneutic turn has done a great service,
for it has leveled the playing field. Even the “hardest” scientific
data is rife with agendas and money from pharmaceutical companies. In
other words, no one is capable of delivering a straight, objective
account of what’s going on with this boy.

There’s been lots of good work done by postmodern theoreticians about power dynamics. The most famous theorist of power is Michel Foucault; I think that Pierre Bourdieu
also deserves serious consideration. Both attempt to deal honestly with
power dynamics at play whenever human beings are attempting to
negotiate a situation, and both are downright pessimistic about the
possibilities of getting through power to the other side. Of course,
they’re both lacking the Christian hope that God might have a hand in
this negotiation…

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