The Broken Signposts of N.T. Wright: Part 8, Relationships

The last of N.T. Wright's broken signposts is relationships.

As with all the signposts we've been talking about, Wright observes how we need and desire each signpost, but how each signpost is paradoxical, confusing, or difficult in some way. Relationships, Wright says, are no different:
...[A]ll of us know we are made for relationships of one sort or another. All of us are formed, for good or ill, by our relationships, whether supportive or abusive, healthy or unhealthy. Often the abusive or unhealthy relationships are the ones to which we return like an addict. Here, then, is a paradox. As Pannenberg argued, humans are exocentric creatures, becoming the people we are through the relationships we have outside of ourselves. Yet we mess up those relationships and are messed up by them.
We cannot be happy without relationships, yet relationships do so much damage and cause so much unhappiness. We need relationships and we fear them.

Here, then, is another broken signpost. Relationships point us toward flourishing and fulfillment. We see that happy place in the distance. We dream about it. Yet the very thing we need and desire is so difficult and hard for us to pull off. Worse, in our need and desire we often move ourselves away from the goal, into trauma, abuse, and pain. As with the other signposts, we can see a better world on the horizon, but we find it impossible to make it there on our own.

In the next post, I'll conclude this series by gathering up the signposts and sharing N.T. Wright's thoughts about what to do with them and what their meaning might be for natural theology.

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