New Series: How to Hack the System

16 months ago we started a new project together: a blog talking about Christianity from a computer and religion nerd's perspective.  We called it "Hacking Christianity" and have been tinkering with various Christian systems ever since.

But amidst all the star wars posts and humorous videos, on occasion one may look at the blog entries and perceive there's not much hacking being done.  Or is there?  

Hacking is simply a hermeneutic: a way of viewing an object.  In this case, following the HX Manifesto, we are exposing new or novel interpretations or presentations of Christianity so that they break into people's closed systems of opinions about Christianity.  Some are bad hacks which close up people's perceptions further.  Some are great hacks which open up new biblical interpretations or allow the Spirit to flow easier.  We need to look at what fundamentals are at play in making these hacks work.

Starting July 8th, there will be four weekly entries in a series about what fundamentals are at play in this hacking hermeneutic.  We will be comparing classical definitions of "hacking" with hermeneutics with our approach here at HX.  You will enjoy it.

Here's a short roadmap of the month:
  1. Defining "Hacking" in the Post-Information Age of Church.
  2. Won't Hacked Systems be broken and unsustainable?
  3. Are Hackers really creating Open Source Theology?
  4. Hacking in community: Where will we end up?
Thoughts at the outset?


johnmeunier July 3, 2009 at 9:36 AM  

This will surely be very interesting, Jeremy.

From an outsider, it sounds as if your "hacking" has a bias toward the new and open.

As I consider that, I think of Walter Brueggemann's discussion of the traditioning process. He sees two forces that need to be kept in tension.

1)A normative or canonizing force that wants to close off and clearly define. At its worst, it cuts off all new interpretation under the notion that nothing new need be discovered.

2)An imaginative force that wants to open up new understandings, engage with new ideas and new contexts, and explore new methods. At its worst, this force loses all touch with the tradition and even discounts and dismisses the truths that have sustained and formed a faith for centuries.

Brueggemann argues that there needs to be a tension between these two. Imagination needs to be tethered to the tradition is the way I think of it.

This if probably all useless to you, but it is the framework in which I look forward to your thoughts about "hacking."

Dave July 4, 2009 at 5:58 AM  

My first thought is sure, this sounds like it might be an interesting series. Then I read the comment by johnmeunier and he gets me thinking hard about this. The idea of studying the philosophy and strategies of change is fascinating. I agree that you (Jeremy) show a bias towards change, but that's because you look at the church as something that is at least a little broken and needs to be fixed (and I completely agree). The series still sounds interesting, but I would encourage you to consider John's comment.

To John: Brueggemann has written a whole lot of books. Can you recommend one that is along these lines as opposed to a study on the book of Joshua, for example. Thanks.

Rev. Jeremy Smith July 4, 2009 at 11:31 AM  

@John, thanks for the comments. Keeping with the metaphor, there are two types of hackers: those that want to destroy and open systems, and those that want to tinker with systems to stretch them where they wouldn't go before.

I think the latter (constructive) is more the approach than the former (destructive). At the end of the day, a system or framework that is solidly traditional and responsive is of value.

But I will keep in mind my tendencies towards openness and invite you to keep dialoging with me about it. Thanks John.

@Dave, I think Brueggemann has some aspects of "traditioning" in his Introduction to the Old Testament book. Search Amazon or your library for it.

johnmeunier July 6, 2009 at 3:55 PM  

Dave, a couple of chapters in An Introduction to the Old Testament: Canon and Christian Imagination are ones I go back to again and again. Most of what I wrote above is from that book.

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