This is my first post as one of several newly named contributors to the conversation being engaged in here at Church and Postmodern Culture. I am a relatively recent convert to Roman Catholicism. I was a Lutheran. I am a graduate student at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology (DSPT), a member of the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) located at Berkeley. Prior to becoming a graduate student, I was a securities lawyer for twenty-five years. My undergraduate education is in international business. I obtained my undergraduate education in the late 60’s and early 70’s. I am a witness to the proceedings now commonly referred to as “the 60’s.” I lived them, more and less.
According to Stanley Grenz, “[p]ostmodernism was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on July 15, 1972, at 3:32 p.m.” On this day, time, and place the Pruitt-Igoe government sponsored housing project representing the culmination of all the best ideas born of modernity was dynamited into rubble by the sponsors as unworkable. Grenz goes on to discuss the emergence of postmodernism as an historical, cultural, and philosophical epoch.
Notwithstanding the views of Grenz and others, including some contributors to the conversation here at Church and Postmodern Culture, I am not yet convinced we are in a new historical, cultural, and philosophical epoch. Rather, I tend to think of the contemporary period as a “corrective.” The significance of the distinction, in my opinion, is that a new epoch is indicative of a paradigm shift, but a corrective involves only the redrawing of the boundaries of the established paradigm. I do not believe that notions born of modernity, or even the Enlightenment project, are dead and buried. In that regard, the general population may well be noncontemporaneous. There is no question, however, that there is an important and potentially productive conversation taking place that cannot be ignored and in which I am very interested and wish to participate.
David Tracy in his book Plurality and Ambiguity states, “Conversation is a game with some hard rules: say only what you mean; say it as accurately as you can; listen to and respect what the other says, however different or other; be willing to correct or defend your opinions if challenged by the conversation partner; be willing to argue if necessary, to confront if demanded, to endure necessary conflict, to change your mind if the evidence suggests it.”  Conversation takes place within some relationship (respect, community, friendship) and has as its end a meeting of the minds. Consider, for example, the interaction between Job and God contained in the book of Job. God with Job are not engaged in a dialogue but a conversation—Job changes his mind.
What, you may ask, can a Roman Catholic deep in the throes of obtaining a Dominican education possibly contribute to this new, emerging, developing conversation on church and postmodern culture? I suggest that the possible answer to the question lies in the notion of “productive noncontemporaneity,” as expressed by Johann Baptist Metz.
According to Metz, “[a] Christian religion worthy of the name… is in the highest degree and almost irritatingly noncontemporaneous.” The “exclusively contemporaneous [human being]” who ignores the seeming anachronisms of religious noncontemporaneity narrowly and fortuitously abandons the irritation and the tensive, and perhaps tensile, nature of religion and at the same time the creative character of religion and its ability to provide the basis for ”a new individual that differs from the tiny unit of labor power, from the cunningly adaptive animal, from the smoothly functioning machine, or from the individual as a potentially criminal clog in a totalitarian grip?” It seems to me that the contemporaneous debate over the justification of the use of extreme forms of torture such as water-boarding on “captives” is an excellent example of a situation where the use of noncontemporaneous religion might be inspirational and productive.
In conclusion, I can be counted on to contribute to the contemporaneous conversation taking place here at Church and Postmodern Culture in a manner that is irritatingly, but hopefully productively, noncontemporaneous. On the other hand, I am particularly interested in and have written on the contemporaneous field of relational theology and the role of community and within community, friendship, as it relates to theology, and especially ecclesiology and ecumenism. It is in the spirit of friendship that I offer my remarks. I thank Dr. James K. A. Smith and Geoffrey Holsclaw for inviting me to be a contributor to the conversation.
 The views expressed herein are solely my own and not necessarily those of DSPT or GTU.
 Stanley Grenz, A Primer on Postmodernism (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996), 11.
 David Tracy, Plurality and Ambiguity: Hermeneutics, Religion, Hope (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987), 19.
 Johann Metz, “Productive Noncontemporaneity,” in Observations on “The Spiritual Situation of the Age” ed. Jürgen Habermas, trans. Andrew Buchwalter (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1987), 169-177.
 Ibid., 169.
 Ibid., 177.