The Rule of Non-Imposition

Rick Mattson Uncategorized 2 Comments

One of the inviolable doctrines of the postmodern university is what I call the rule of non-imposition. It means that no group on campus can impose its understanding of the world on any other group.

Picture the university as a huge bowling alley, with every lane occupied by a different group. These groups, or “tribes” as they’re often called, could be ethnic, religious, political or departmental. The rule of non-imposition, which is bundled together with other concepts such as tolerance and respect, forbids tribes from critiquing each other.

“So what?” we may say. People with similar backgrounds/interests hang together in groups, and the groups are supposed to be nice to each other. Not too profound.

The profound part is where it all came from and what it means for the deep epistemology of the university—and the marketplace and church, ten years later.

What a second, the ten years is up, it’s here . . .

QUESTION:  Do you see tribalism in your town, job setting, campus? As a Christian, do you feel the pressure of the “rule of non-imposition”?

NEXT WEEK: the origins of tribalism and the RADICAL implications for campus ministry—and your church.

Comments 2

  1. Depending on how you define “impose”, I am OK with this situation (though I lament the fact that most of human creation lives in the dark, apart from God's truth). But what I mean is, a Christian should NOT impose his faith or belief system on anyone else. We should love people into the Kingdom, not “impose” them in.

  2. Almost all, if not all of human interaction is an action of imposition – politics, religion, government, education, medicine, law, marriage, children, friendships – we rub up against each other and in that exchange we impose on each other our expectations, our desires, our moral views.

    Even the rule of non-Imposition is imposing upon others the rule that you shouldn't impose your understanding of the world on another group. Therefore, whoever imposes the rule of non-imposition is violating their own rule.

    It's a self-defeating position.

    Rather silly. Even more silly is that people believe the position has some sort of moral authority over any other position.

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