My last post examined some of the reactions of Jacques Derrida, the father of deconstruction. I mentioned that I'd previously misunderstood deconstruction, and this is true: I thought deconstruction was de-struction, that it was a purely negative critique. So, I thought, to "deconstruct" something was to tear it apart until nothing was left, to show all the ways that something which is trying to be something good is, in fact, not, and at the end of the process you're left with nothing, just the wreckage of what you started with.
I know plenty of people who still think that is what deconstruction is. An acquaintance of mine who runs an alternative expression of church helped a friend "deconstruct" God, so that all my friend had left after the process was...nothing. And my acquaintance thought this was a good thing, that he had somehow performed a valuable service.
He is wrong. He did not "deconstruct" God, but rather de-structed God, destroyed God, collapsed my friend's idea of and relationship with God so that he was metaphorically left writhing on the floor in pain, having had God effectively removed from him.
That is not deconstruction, I am pleased to say (and was relieved to discover). I would denounce the process my friend went through as almost abusive (and I've chosen to distance myself from and not engage with that acquaintance of mine any more, because he is dangerous) and so write this post to those who think that when they critique the church and God in a purely negative way, they're doing the noble work of deconstruction. They're not. They're just breaking stuff. It's easy to point out the flaws in almost anything and everybody can do that. The more difficult - and the more affirming and creative - work is what deconstruction calls us to.