According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for
this world to recreate, reclaim, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of
explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. - anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. - anon
... Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument.
There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is
irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a
power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table
to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace,
reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants
us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. - anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals
and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

John Caputo - "Hoping Against Hope" in Poetic Structure, Chapter 1



I am slowly reading through two books - one by John Caputo, Hoping Against Hope, and the other by Peter Rollins, The Divine Magician. Both authors are friends with one another resulting from Peter's studies with John over the years. And as I am reading through each book I will try to capture each author's very similar journeys to the other by creating a poetic structure to their thoughts and insights. In this initial installment of poems I have attempted, however imperfectly, to put my pen to this task hoping to discover each author's profound vision of life through Continental Philosophy and Radical Theology. And then, at the end of this poetic section I will attempt a commentary  based on each author's approach and use of radical theology. Enjoy.

R.E. Slater
October 28, 2015



A Profane Spirituality

by R.E. Slater*

I see in myself three people -
as a boy in my youth,
a young man in rectory training,
and my older, more mature self.

Each version of myself is lost -

in the fearful wonder of boyhood,
in the zealotry of religious fervor,
in eternal wonder as a mature academic.

Yet each voice conflicts with the other -
resonating through my head and heart and soul,
where none are willing to be at peace,
so unlike each version of myself to the other.

Daily then I bear three existential yokes -
the religion of the Rose haunted by gift,
the nihilism of grace inhabiting reality,
the insistence of God as elusive phantom
    each nestled deep within the unconditional.

And there I lie in unsheltered turmoil -
discovering myself beyond self-made walls,
admitting the more I live the less sure I become,
of my positions, verities, creeds, and even my very self.

And now, as I stretch out my theologic (or philosophic) legs,
I reach for the infinitely eternal in the mortality of my being,
so that in whichever direction or sense of time I am in,
I may at last be found in a kind of constructed peace,
    spanning all three versions of my fractured self.

- R.E. Slater

October 25, 2015

*abridged observations derived from

John D. Caputo, "Hoping Against Hope"

@copyright R.E. Slater Publications

all rights reserved




The Death of Nihilism

by R.E. Slater*


So long as I am,
death is not;
when death is,
I am not.

- Epicurus, ancient Greek Poet

The postmodern condition is existentially nihilistic,
which is incredulous to admit, but more than this, it is inhuman,
envisioning a humanity without memory or monstrosity,
or, without history, which is most unthinkable!
because history depends upon memory,
where hopes or fears are dashed,
dying with the death of our sun by star death.

And when all is done and history set aright,

all thought will have expired unthought,
and in the place of absolute spirit,
will be an absolute nothingness,
a pure catastrophe infinitely consuming,
and truly terminal condition of cosmic proportions,
bearing no hint to any presence of life having lived.

There will then be no feelings of dehumanization,
simply a post-human condition where death has died all deaths,
and mortal immortality is pure negation without reminder,
so that like Epicurus' own view of nihilistic death,
so too will be the end of all cosmic history,
as our universe, which was never ours, moves to oblivion,
and being becomes nothing and hope is no longer.

- R.E. Slater

October 25, 2015

*abridged observations derived from

John D. Caputo, "Hoping Against Hope"

@copyright R.E. Slater Publications

all rights reserved



The Sacredness of My Idol

by R.E. Slater*


Like Adam of old -

I reach for the object of my desire,

but am forbade its holy grasp,
and when thus forbidden,
lust for it's power all the more,
investing into it magical powers,
of being, of presence, of nurture,
as it rises in my eyes like a sacred thing,
made inaccessible by outside denial, lusting
its capture where once there was no fiat constraining.

This thing has now become the fiction of my heart,
tearing me into so many pieces by its holy perception,
become now a sacred thing by other-denial,
transformed from mere material object,
to something God-like,
feared and lusted,
presenting itself as balm of life and salve,
to all known ills or found strife,
giving to me its sacred protection.

Vainly my desires are triply doubled,
inextinguishable, burning,
consuming my every thought,
prohibited its clutch,
filling its magic husk,
with whatever I think it may mean,
for my desires, nay my satisfactions!
reborne as I am,
by its sublime profane presence.

- R.E. Slater

October 25, 2015

*abridged observations derived from

Peter Rollins, "The Divine Magician"

@copyright R.E. Slater Publications

all rights reserved




* * * * * * * * * *


Radical Theology is a philosophical conversation without biblical input to its conservation except for its existential contributions of cultural belief sets drawn from past and present religious communities. What this means is that radical theology is ideally an neutral (not atheistic) conversation of all things religious, irreligious, and all points in between.

For the Christian believer this would present an immediate conundrum and one not easily sorted out and yet, if considered as an hermeneutical tool, may present to the Christian the possibility of examining the underpinnings of the church's faith while attempting to launch a post-Christian, post-secular, (post)post-modern conversation with society at large. One that is very much needed in this day and age of religious argument and cultural wars.

The value then for Christian theology might be found in the opportunity to re-examine the church's hermeneutical belief set lately based upon Western Analytic thought since the age of Enlightenment through a combination of Continental Philosophical thought utilizing radical theology's newer development as an existential / phenomenological dissecting tool to re-right Christian hermeneutic thought and convention back into contemporary conversation with society once again.

Alone, present day church culture has gone along its own (secular) trajectories that have not seemed very "biblical" but more "culturally ingrained" and as such, have departed from the "biblical traditions" of the bible to its own re-interpretation of them. However, through continental philosophy and radical theology a return to a biblical hermeneutic laced with possibility and expanded thought might be discovered again. And in the finding re-discover the Person and Work of God in His missional outreach to today's turbulent societies.

Admittedly, using radical theology as an hermeneutical tool may seem incongruous with the overall attempt of examining God's Will and Word through the bible. However, it is through this dispassionate tool set that the possibility of hearing God's testimony again with new ears and new hearts may be reached. How? By breaking down the non-essentials of one's faith and casting these into the fires of darkness so that categories like doubt and uncertainty might be allowed to live in the hearts of the broken to rediscover Jesus' salvific work afresh.

Nor should radical theology be considered simply an atheistic study but rather a non-religious study (or, an a/religious study) that will challenge Christian beliefs at their core. And in the challenging help the Christian church rediscover its faith-life once removed from its culturally-based religious belief sets pre-determining what that faith-life now looks like to what it may become stripped of its religious dogmas and re-focused (or centered) upon Jesus Christ.

Radical theology can therefore be a useful tool both for both the atheist in examining a world without God (or, in Jack Caputo's sense, a world which has absorbed all that God is into its very bones, as a world where God has died and now "divinely insists" within its secular structures). Or, for the Christian church, in examining a world where God may have died in one sense to then "insist within its very structures" while in another sense continues to live as the God we know risen from death with renewed power and vigor to export salvation fully to all the world both intrinsically and extrinsically.

Without radical theology one cannot form a foundation of understanding that would include this "both-and, either-or" sublimity of God's divine work of imputing His sovereign will and Spirit-infused power into humanity's structures (nor even that of the cosmos, inanimate and indeterminately determined as it now exists). But with radical theology a Christian theologian may fully exert a theistic approach above the "roar of religiosity" with an empirical knowledge that even within the nature of nature itself - or, the nature of social structures and humanity itself - that God is there, partnered with us, to bring about His glory and will, however we describe it.

To be sure, an atheistic approach to radical theology would not admit this; or rather, would tell the Christian church that this is an abomination to the usage of radical theology itself. But, this would then portend to the atheistic belief the more superior approach when in fact it is but one approach based upon internal subjectivity prejudiced towards a kind of atheistic "neutrality." For the Christian believer, that prejudice is not his or her internal choice, being smitten by the opposite conviction that God is here and is not dead. That He has been radically transformed by death and resurrection and now made alive in desperately new ways as a Living Being extending throughout the cosmos of His creation. That despite claims of His ontological death, God is very much alive to rule over the evil of this world presenting its generations with existential despair and uncertainty. For the Christian then, radical theology can be a tool set to recover the church's sight - as well as this lost world's vision - of the God who rules and is higher than the wisdom of men and the power of evil.

Used in this sense then, radical theology ironically allows for hope, which is a hope that Jack Caputo looks for too in his own secular, a/theistic approach, though in a different sense from the Catholic tradition he had grown up with - first in naivety as a child, and then as a fervent believer in religious training. A unique training that allowed him to investigate the hermeneutical structures of his faith so that he might do the hard work of examining not only his beliefs, but that of the church's too, as it cross-sects with normative Christian theological structures.

So then, this subject of a "Christian radical theology" can be a hard one to discover, uncover, and move forward given its many premises. But it can be done so long as it is known that what lies ahead is the Scylla and Charybdis of academic biblical criticism:

"Biblical criticism is perennially caught between the Scylla of interpretive freedom
and the Charybdis of irrelevance. Too much hermeneutic freedom and the tradition
disintegrates, losing its epistemological appeal. Too little interpretive freedom and
the Bible becomes merely an irrelevant historical artifact, rather than the living
Word of God." Inherently, evangelical biblical interpretation is unquestionably
caught between a need for relevance and the need for textual validity." - anon

Philosophers of the world, and especially Christian-based philosophers such as Jack Caputo, give to Christian theologians the gift of insight set apart from the church as they are. The church itself has enough of its own burdens let alone to carry the weight of skepticism and disbelief upon its shelf of self-examinations and opportunities. But each theological era must bear its yoke and into this post-Christian era has come radical theology's contemporary insights which may be either (i) demonized by apologetic discourse and excised away or, (ii) addressed with the solemnity and gravity that it deserves. For readers here we would encourage the latter approach in the power and wisdom of the Spirit of God as is possible upon those few men and women expert enough in theology to carry forth this battle of self-examination to the greater good of God's Spirit.

Peace,

R.E. Slater
November 2, 2015