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The Devil Reads Derrida - and Other Essays on the University, the Church, Politics, and the Arts Paperback – June 4, 2009
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A great read!
Though the essays and articles are separated by time, audience, and topic, the common strain in all of Smith's writings is the Reformed idea of delight: as Christians we should delight in creation in all of its "creat-ivity," as catalysts for divine experience and thought. Writing from a view of culture that is high, Smith sees popular culture as something of some value that pushes us toward the delight of greater value: an appreciation of art over all of history, not just the past year or so.
Smith is not into top ten lists, the "new," the happening, or the relevant. He instead is into what lasts, the strains of art and narrative that permeate Western culture and artistic tradition from Homer to Harry Potter.
Into this Reformed cultural outlook Smith also throws his nuanced and energetic Anabaptist politics of pacifism and political skepticism. From what other viewpoint could one write about Jim Wallis and the Sojourners crowd espousing a type of leftist Christendom? Yet from Smith's well thought perspective his political viewpoints weave into his unsung mantra: "critique everything."
In the end, The Devil Reads Derrida presents one of the first Christian cultural critiques written for a general audience that is thoroughly postmodern in its stance, one that breaks the rules of modernist thinking by delighting in the beauty of what most consider rubbish, like the movie American Beauty, and critiquing both the Religious Right and Religious Left as being two heads of the same Constantinian beast. Only in such a postmodern world does the popular and the elite mix effectively, as in Smith's capstone essay: "The Devil Reads Derrida: Fashion, French Philosophy, and Postmodernism" when the worlds of Derrida and The Devil Wears Prada combine to form a persuasive argument for the necessity of a postmodern outlook.
So reader be ready: Postmodernism, Reformed thought, and Little Miss Sunshine will be flying at you from all directions, joined by other high and low cultural icons to form a concise critique of delight and beauty.