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
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power
is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. - anon

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Wikipedia - Deconstruction and Religion


Deconstruction and Religion




This article discusses those who apply deconstruction, a method developed by French philosopher Jacques Derrida, to religion.

Those who take a deconstructive approach to religion identify closely with the work of Derrida, especially his work later in life. Theologian John D. Caputo describes Derrida's work in the 1970s as a Nietzschean 'free play of signifiers' while he describes Derrida's work in the 1990s as a "religion without religion."[1] However, Martin Hagglund argues against claims that deconstruction is a religious discourse seeking transcendence, and shows that the mortal and the transient is the source of value.[2]

Law, Undeconstructibility, Justice

A vital feature of Derrida's work later in life is the notion of "undeconstructibility". In Derrida's thought, deconstruction exists in the interval between constructions and undeconstructibility. The primary exemplar of this relationship is the relationship between the law, deconstruction, and justiceDerrida summarizes the relationship by saying that justice is the undeconstructible condition that makes deconstruction possible.[3] However, the justice referred to by Derrida is indeterminate and not a transcendent ideal.

Justice by Luca Giordano
The law is made up of necessary human constructions while justice is the undeconstructible call to make laws. The law belongs to the realm of the present, possible, and calculable, while justice belongs to the realm of the absent, impossible, and incalculable. Deconstruction bridges the gap between the law and justice as the experience of applying the law in a just manner. Justice demands that a singular occurrence be responded to with a new, uniquely tailored application of the law. Thus, a deconstructive reading of the law is a leap from calculability towards incalculability.

In deconstruction, justice takes on the structure of a promise that absence and impossibility can be made present and possible. Insofar as deconstruction is motivated by such a promise, it escapes the traditional presence/absence binary because a promise is neither present nor absent. Therefore, a deconstructive reading will never definitively achieve justice. Justice is always deferred.

Further reading

Derrida works out his idea of justice in Specters of Marx and in his essay "Force of Law" in Acts of Religion; he works out his idea of hospitality in Of Hospitality; Similarly for democracy seeRogues: Two Essays on Reason; friendship see The Politics of Friendship; the other see The Gift of Death; the future see Given Time: I. Counterfeit Money.

God and deconstruction

Deconstruction-and-religion understands religion in terms of what is shared among the Abrahamic faiths. In Derrida's work, there is a suggestive notion of a quasi-religion locatable in the cluster of concepts surrounding the affirmation of that which is experienced as undeconstructible. Derrida's acts of affirmation go by names such as the "unconditional without sovereignty," the "weak force" of the undeconstructible, and the "possibility of the impossible." Derrida sometimes suggested that such acts of affirmation can be used to describe "God."

Différance and negative theology

Derrida saw the God of negative theology as a crude precursor to deconstruction's central concept of différance. However, the God of negative theology is qualitatively different than the idea of différance because the God of negative theology functions as an ultimate, higher reality where différance does not.

Derrida in the middle-phase of his career re-visits negative theology in his Comment ne pas parler - Dénégations (1987; How to Avoid Speaking - Denials (1989)). Robert Magliola explains at length[4] the several ways—most of them adapted from Talmudic tactics—that Dénégations uses to disrupt or "confound" possible structural solidarity with negative theology (Derrida was a Sephardi Jew very appreciative of his ancestry). Via many examples from Derrida's text, Magliola demonstrates how these Derridean tactics work. A partial list of these tactics:

(1) ambiguous narrative modes, voices, and citations, so the voice of any utterance may conceal another that it may or may not be quoting;
(2) subversive footnotes that destabilize rather than reinforce the text's body;
(3) double binds, so assertions in parts of the essay are designed to contradict other parts;
(4) aberrant reinscription, so double binds proliferate in the text, implying a symploké (GK-"crossing") that precedes the binds themselves: thus Derrida's often-cited différance originaire is itself a double bind;
(5) Trace-words such as sceau, filtre, prétend, etc., that neither mean nor do not mean what they meant in his earlier oeuvres.

Différance is not God
See also: Différance

Central to deconstruction is the idea of différance. Différance is an anarchic nonconcept that makes a conception of language-as-a-play-of-signifiers possible. This French neologism means both "differing" and "deferring," describing in its name its own operation in setting deconstructive language in motion.

Prior to différance, all Western conceptual schemes relied on one form or another of a "transcendental signifier". A transcendental signifier is any metaphysical, hierarchical principle that presumes to determine which constructions of signifiers are "natural" or "proper." Examples of transcendental signifiers include Truth, God, Allah, Reason, Being, and various political ideologies. Différance is an alternative to and escape from the logic of the transcendental signifier.

Because employing the idea of différance precludes the possibility of positing a transcendental signifier, no historical conception of God can survive a deconstructive framework; even the God of negative theology falls short of différance. John D. Caputo has indicated that différance is not God[5] and that the God of negative theology is a transcendental ulteriority while différance is a quasi-transcendental anteriority.[6] However, negative theology and différance are kindred spirits insofar as they both desire what is absent, impossible, and incalculable.

Further reading

In the essay "Sauf le Nom," Derrida centered his investigation of the notion of God around negative theology and the poetry of Angelus Silesius.[7]

Reading strategy

"Abraham Sacrificing Isaac" by Laurent de LaHire, 1650
Proponents of deconstruction-and-religion believe that dominant contemporary explications of theology are inherently ideological, totalizing, and militant. In response, deconstruction-and-religion expresses itself through acts of interpretation. In taking on the process of interpretation, deconstruction-and-religion follows two tropes: active reinterpretation of the theological tradition and passive reinterpretation.

Active reinterpretation

Deconstruction-and-religion operates actively when it theorizes in a new way. Deconstruction-and-religion begins from a deconstructive framework that is both post-structuralist and post-phenomenological. The framework provides a means of identifying and exposing illegitimate doctrines or interpretations from within monotheistic traditions. Through the use of careful historical analysis, linguistic critique, and logical scrutiny, deconstruction-and-religion resolves interpretive tensions from within theological discourses while at the same time creating space for unforeseen developments in theological expression.

Passive reinterpretation

Deconstruction-and-religion operates passively when it takes a historical, descriptive approach to analyzing the corpora of various traditions of theology. In its passive mode, deconstruction-and-religion examines theological traditions to take note of documented instances of reified or unnatural theological concepts expanding only to later be dismissed or significantly transformed. An example of an unnatural concept rising and falling is the medieval Christian understanding of indulgences. The historical deterioration or mutation of theological concepts is referred to as "self-deconstruction" by Jean-Luc Nancy. The idea of self-deconstruction echoes Friedrich Nietzsche's idea that the highest Western values devalue themselves.

John D. Caputo on weak theology

John D. Caputo has a distinctive approach to deconstruction-and-religion that he calls "weak theology". According to Caputo, the distinctive reinterpretive act of weak theology has resulted in the notion of the "weakness of God". The paradigm of God as an overwhelming physical or metaphysical force is regarded as mistaken. The old God-of-power is displaced with the idea of God as an unconditional claim without force. As a claim without force, the God of weak theology does not physically or metaphysically intervene in nature.

Essentially, the idea of God in Caputo's thought is an alternate name for particular manifestations of undeconstructibility. The idea of God as an undeconstructible follows a line of ethical thinking that moves from Martin Buber to Emmanuel Levinas to Jacques Derrida. Caputo works the idea out in the following way:

"On the classical account of strong theology, Jesus was just holding back his divine power in order to let his human nature suffer. He freely chose to check his power because the Father had a plan to redeem the world with his blood. ... That is not the weakness of God that I am here defending. God, the event harbored by the name of God, is present at the crucifixion, as the power of the powerlessness of Jesus, in and as the protest against the injustice that rises up from the cross, in and as the words of forgiveness, not a deferred power that will be visited upon one’s enemies at a later time. God is in attendance as the weak force of the call that cries out from Calvary and calls across the epochs, that cries out from every corpse created by every cruel and unjust power. The logos of the cross is a call to renounce violence, not to conceal and defer it and then, in a stunning act that takes the enemy by surprise, to lay them low with real power, which shows the enemy who really has the power. That is just what Nietzsche was criticizing under the name of ressentiment."
— John D. Caputo, The Weakness of God: A Theology of the Event[8]

Jean-Luc Nancy on self-deconstructed Christianity

Following Derrida's criticisms of the metaphysics of presence and logocentrism, Jean-Luc Nancy understands Christianity to be act-based and focused on an undeconstructible understanding of hope. Nancy thinks of Christianity as the "religion that provided the exit from religion," and posits that it consists in the announcement of the second coming of Christ, known as parousia. For Nancy, because Christ is central to the formation of value and meaning in Christianity; because parousia is an announcement of a Christ to come; and because the promised return of Christ involves the return of a person who lived in the past, then Christianity as a framework of thought supports the notion that 'traces' of the non-present (i.e. past and future) are constitutive of the present. As a result, the Christian concept of parousia poses ontological questions about the conditions of possibility of concepts like identity, subjectivity, consciousness, and experience, among many others. In Nancy's thought, the concept of parousia reveals that we humans are no longer mortals who are saved by faith in an immortal being. Rather, the concept reveals that we are beings who are capable of accepting or rejecting non-self-presence. The acceptance of non-self-presence is what Nancy understands to be the heart of Christian 'faith.'

"[F]aith, in any case, is not about compliance without proof or the leap above proof. It is the act of the faithful person, an act which, as such, is the attestation of an intimate consciousness of the fact that it exposes itself and allows itself to be exposed to the absence of attestation, to the absence of parousia. ... Christian faith is distinguished precisely and absolutely from all belief."
— Jean-Luc Nancy, Dis-Enclosure: The Deconstruction of Christianity[9]

Bernard Stiegler on the prosthesis of faith

The French philosopher Bernard Stiegler, following the archaeologist André Leroi-Gourhan, understands the human distinction to consist in a third kind of memory: in addition to the genetic memory recorded in the DNA molecule, and individual nervous system memory, human beings are the creatures capable of using organized, inorganic matter, that is, tools, technology, writing, and everything that records a human gesture (as Stiegler puts it: "humans die but their histories remain").[10] Stiegler calls this tertiary memory, and it is the beginning of the human possibility for the individual to adopt a past they did not themselves live (when, for example, an immigrant to the United States adopts George Washington as part of his or her past). In his article, "Derrida and technology: fidelity at the limits of deconstruction and the prosthesis of faith," Stiegler uses this concept of tertiary memory to conduct a reading of the Derridian corpus. In so doing he reaches the following conclusion:

"An intelligence of faith—which is impossible, which we can do nothing but promise, which we have to promise in its very default—must/fails to account each time for the conditions in which faith yields to the trust that we have or do not have in tertiary memory. No politics of memory or of the archive, of hospitality or of home, no future is, perhaps, promised outside this "must/failure" of life that the dead haunts in life's technicity. The tertiary trace refers to the arche-trace, older than any empiricial or meta-empirical trace; it refers always to the absolute past. But the absolute past only constitutes itself "as such" through this referral. It is why a logic of the supplement, without ever simply being such a history, must also be a history of the supplement in its epochs, epochs that are each time singular and must each time form the object of a technical history constantly renewed. Faith and tele-technology are for this reason mutually insoluble and mutually inseparable—transductively (re)constituted by each other. It is why, finally, fidelity is always at the limits of deconstruction qua undeconstructible justice. Such would be faith: at the limits of deconstruction. Such would be faith at the limits of deconstruction."
— Bernard Stiegler, "Derrida and technology: fidelity at the limits of deconstruction and the prosthesis of faith"[11]

Writers


Notes

  1. (2002) Raschke, Carl, "Loosening Philosophy’s Tongue: A Conversation with Jack Caputo" http://www.jcrt.org/archives/03.2/caputo_raschke.shtml
  2. (2008)Hagglund, Martin, Radical Atheism: Derrida and the Time of Life, Harvard University Press, 2008.
  3. (2001) Derrida, Jacques, Acts of Religion, p. 243.
  4. Magliola, Robert, On Deconstructing Life-Worlds: Buddhism, Christianity, Culture (Scholars P. of AAR, 1997; Oxford U.P., 2000), pp. 157-165, especially pp. 160-164.
  5. (1997) Caputo, John D., The Prayers and Tears of Jacques Derrida, p. 2.

  6. (1997) Caputo, John D., The Prayers and Tears of Jacques Derrida, p. 3.
  7. (1995) Derrida, Jacques, "Sauf le nom." In Thomas Dutoit (ed.), On the Name.
  8. (2006) Caputo, John D., The Weakness of God: A Theology of the Event, p. 44.
  9. (2007) Nancy, Jean-Luc, Dis-Enclosure: The Deconstruction of Christianity, p. 221.
  10. Stiegler, Bernard, Our Ailing Educational Institutions; cf., Stiegler,Technics and Time, 1: The Fault of Epimetheus (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998).
  11. Stiegler, Bernard, "Derrida and technology: fidelity at the limits of deconstruction and the prosthesis of faith," in Tom Cohen (ed.), Jacques Derrida and the Humanities: A Critical Reader (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), p. 263.

References

Primary references


Secondary references

  • (1982) Deconstructing Theology, by Mark C. Taylor
  • (1987) Erring: A Postmodern A/theology, by Mark C. Taylor
  • (1993) Theology of Discontent: The Ideological Foundations of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, by Hamid Dabashi
  • (1995) Desiring Theology, by Charles Winquist
  • (1997) Deconstruction in a Nutshell: A Conversation with Jacques Derrida, ed./auth. by John D. Caputo
  • (1999) About Religion: Economies of Faith in Virtual Culture, by Mark C. Taylor
  • (1999) Epiphanies of Darkness: Deconstruction in Theology, by Charles Winquist
  • (1999) Ethics-Politics-Subjectivity: Essays on Derrida, Levinas, and Contemporary French Thought, by Simon Critchley
  • (1999) Truth and Narrative: The Untimely Thoughts of Ayn al-Qudat al-Hamadhani, Hamid Dabashi
  • (2000) "In the Absence of the Face," by Hamid Dabashi. In Social Research, Volume 67, Number 1. Spring 2000. pp. 127–185.
  • (2001) "Derrida and Technology: Fidelity at the Limits of Deconstruction and the Prosthesis of Faith," by Bernard Stiegler. In Tom Cohen (ed.), Jacques Derrida and the Humanities
  • (2001) On Religion, by John D. Caputo
  • (2004) Portrait of Jacques Derrida as a Young Jewish Saint, by Hélène Cixous
  • (2004) Sufism and Deconstruction, by Ian Almond
  • (2006) Philosophy and Theology, by John D. Caputo
  • (2006) The Weakness of God: A Theology of the Event, by John D. Caputo
  • (2007) After God by Mark C. Taylor
  • (2007) After the Death of God, with John D. Caputo, Gianni Vattimo, & ed. by Jeffrey W. Robbins
  • (2008) Radical Atheism: Derrida and the Time of Life, by Martin Hägglund
  • (2010) Sekstant by Mario Kopić

External links

Online reading


Sunday, October 2, 2016

Post-Structuralism in the Life of Prophetic Christianity




Post/Movement:
Sturcturalism - PostStructuralism-Structuration


As you know, I love anything preceded by the word "post" in it. Like, post-structural, post-foundational, post-fundamentalist, post-evangelical, post-religion, post-faith, post-ideology. Why?

1 - Because "post" conveys movement away from something. Usually something that is broken, not working, unrealistic, disconnecting with reality, oppressive, etc.

2 - It also is filled with the idea of disenchantment, personal or societal chaos, unhappiness, brokenness, darkness, unknowing, confusion, etc.

3 - Lastly, it is always used in relation to something immediately preceding itself: an era, a movement, a troubled period in one's life, a lostness, people, etc. But it revolves and reflects and bounces off relationships to things and ideas.

To admit to this kind of personal or societal movement must always be accompanied by abandonment to one's past fidelities, opinions, commitments, beliefs, old world values, habits, or way of life. This can be dangerous for many when foundations in life are removed. Especially epistemologic foundations.

But it also requires hope above all things. Plenty of courage. And sometimes a deaf ear to what people are saying around you. Why? Because usually they don't understand, or don't want to understand, or feel threatened, or, too often, serve as obstacles to growth and change.

And many times there must be a deep willingness to push past barriers, fears, and uncertainties to discover a new paradigm, new epistemologic, even ontologic, structures and foundations, and ever more questions without answers and uncertainties without resolve. to say the least, this can be difficult if not impossible.

For someone to say then that they wish to explore or live in a post-everything world is to measure the rapidity of change from one lone heartbeat to the incredible, the impossible, the unheard of, the nevermore, or the other side of the Looking Glass filled with obsurantism. It goes by many names. Many of them we know through the bible. Bible concepts like reclamation, reformation, recreation, renewal, revelation, resurrection, or just plain rebirth.

To think of these grand concepts in terms of the old vs the new, the past and the present, what is and what can be (eschatological hope) is also very biblical, very ancient, very present in the distraught human breast seeking transformation if not reformation. The Apostle Paul called it new birth. Jesus called it being born again. The Apostle John also reflected upon birth coupling it with the love of God present in the troubled soul seeking fundamental change. The church has come to call it revival, repentance, salvation.

But usually we think of all these wonderful terms as something that is experienced by the "other guy". By someone other than ourselves because, well, when or if this experience occurred within our lives it was many, many years ago and not something we think of in our present context. But what if rebirth and renewal, repentance and transformation were a continual experience rather than a one time, "Come to Jesus" moment? Then what? Well, for the theologian as for the philosopher this might be known as an "overthrow" to all the old world structures we have learned but must now unlearn. Which can be difficult. In fact, very difficult if not impossible.

The word "post" then conveys this sense of forward movement away from one's past formations. Perhaps a fine-tuning, if you will, but more likely, a complete overall of body and soul. When people in our acquaintance go through this experience it disturbs us. Mostly because we don't understand it or know what to do when its affects conflicts with our own "structural" understanding of life. A structural understanding which we don't want disturbed in any way, sense, or word. Then we become the toxic person in the equation of post-structural reform. The one who obfuscates against the penitent seeking deep reform making true transformation even more difficult than it already is. Learning to live in a "post-everything world" can do that. It threatens people as much as liberates them. The same can be said of a society in the throes of anarchy. Whether a true rebirth can be discovered in the chaos or whether all is lost to fundamental idealism unrelenting in its prevention of societal transformation to occur.

A second question. Can this period of life be identified as a prophetic period in one's life? Certainly it seems to bear all the characteristics of prophetic grief and lament over the way things are. As well as all the joy and hope for the way things could be. It also can be a burden of inspiration and illumination heaven sent by the Spirit of God in pressing into this weary world with prophetic insight radiating with laser light understanding for how things must change or be overthrown.


And so, yes, a post-structural reformation or rebirth can be prophetic, even spiritual, and certainly necessary. But as stated earlier, it can also be resisted, obstructed, rejected, ignored, and refused. As example, Jesus discovered His mission to be one of constructing a post-Old Testament, even post-Jewish, view of old world versus new world. In this task He fulfilled the role of a prophet - even as do God's more perceptive servants tasked by His Spirit today. He suffered, was rejected, ignored, and was finally refused. For those luminaries presently within our society the sin of ignoring or refusing is every bit as possible as the honor of accepting and blessing those living prophets around us laboring in our midst.

But like all willing workers no one can say the time or the hour for the completion of God-ordained toil and labor. The prophet senses its burden. Sees its necessity, struggles with its acceptance, and finally succumbs to its call. Struggles too with its implications. Resists the Spirit. Then re-submits to the Spirit to proceed by labor of blood, sweat, and tears into fields of mockery, scorn, abuse, and rejection. And perhaps finally to find death's oppressive cloak drawn upon everything before surrendering to the inevitable as his or her's deepest burdens are witnessed in its greatest harms and destructions upon a people with stopped ears, dead eyes, and deader spirits. Its death can be as much existential as it is physical. And it is a hard death for the prophet to witness against the horrors of his illumined imagination. An imagination unwanted, undreamed, unsought. But an imagination which finally enters into a societies deepest darks unless repentance and change are allowed in.

And so today's living prophets, like Jesus of old, are most typically underappreciated, overlooked, even damned individuals, who would offer us celestial airs in exchange for the burdens we bear. This then is what it means to live prophetically in a post-everything world as bounded by the Spirit of God.

Peace.

R. E. Slater
October 1, 2016