Christ Carrying the Cross

Christ Carrying the Cross

Monday, 2 January 2012

The "little other" and the Sublimity of the Event

God is patient, God is kind.  God does not envy, God is not proud.  God does not dishonour others, God is not self-seeking, God is not easily angered, God keeps no record of wrongs.  God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth,  God always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 
- a variation on First Epistle to the Corinthians 13: 4-7 
Over these Christmas holidays I have had the honour of reading John D. Caputo's What Would Jesus Deconstruct? and Peter Rollins's Insurrection, both of which place God far beyond the metaphysics of traditional Western theism.  Both books are wonderful, engaging reads, and both are incredibly troubling for the average layperson.  One need look no further for evidence of this than Creston Davis's 'glowing' description of the latter author: "Peter Rollins is the Anti-Christ for all fake Christians."


For the postmodern Christianity that Caputo and Rollins espouse is no intellectual affirmation of a set of historical or metaphysical principles, but a call to the radical life of love beyond the death of the self.  Rollins in particular is interested in doing away with what Žižek would call God as the "Big Other."  If we can no longer affirm the wholly Other Being who lives in the sky and justifies and gives inherent meaning to our existence, the natural first reaction is one of anxiety and despair; and believe me I have felt both recently.  Some have worried that Rollins gives us nothing more than God as a psychological process or reality, one that no longer has any sense of the Other that made the apophaticism of his early work so fascinating.


If for Rollins Lacan has seemingly overtaken Eckhart, I believe we still need to situate his project in terms of the larger postmodern Christianity.  This inevitably means bringing Caputo into the mix.  Nobody has been more influential in terms of putting religion and deconstruction into conversation; he was making this connection before Derrida himself took an explicitly theological turn towards the end of his career.  As Caputo states in What Would Jesus Deconstruct?, deconstruction is always pointing towards a future justice, that which is "to come"--the Event that is on the horizon but never fully in the present, lest we become complacent.  In both the thought of Caputo and Rollins, God is always an Event, a material actualization of the unconditional claim.  In this way God can indeed be seen, experienced, and indeed loved, but because the Event is always necessarily just beyond our grasp, calling us towards itself, it maintains its mystery and otherness.


Perhaps the Big Other is dead, and we cannot go back to Him without disassociating ourselves from modern philosophy and culture in a most egregious and painful manner.  That's fine, I think; God is too important to leave to questions of existence or being.  If we are to take the notion that "God is love" as important to theology, then I believe we still have the possibility to affirm that God on the horizon, the love that calls us ever further into the world.  We can still affirm the "little other," not the God who manipulates, but the one who seems distant but is manifest when we love our neighbours and enemies anyway.  The self-emptying God identifies Godself with the widow and the orphan, so it only makes sense that they should now be glorified and loved and seated in the abdicated throne of the Other.  As love has "no pride," nor should there be any in God, who always steps back to shine a light on the beauty in the broken other. 


Of late I have become ambivalent, borderline agnostic about the existence of the supreme being God.  However, let me always remain faithful to Christ and God the little other. 

11 comments:

  1. Spirituality 101: Spirits puppet people. "Filled with the Holy Spirit" means it puppets you. Tongues is being puppeted. Ouija board is being puppeted. Crack open a book randomly after talking to God for a while.

    ReplyDelete
  2. God says, "rapture admiration vowing petulantly infidels tribute Prelate See comparison distinction tame around haply covenanted
    You genius donation smells liberality foreconceived creating
    tax THE scholars Lamentable cleanse clouds travailed severer
    fruitfulness drunkards grossness time orderest reformed
    confine "

    ReplyDelete
  3. 1 Corinthians 14 discusses tongues http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Corinthians+14&version=NIV

    God said it was a covanent that I do an offering before consulting Him. He said it was like communion preparation. I joke that Cain and Abel is the most important story in the Bible because the purpose of life is to KNOW God, love God and obey God.

    "God wants praise, not sacrifice; knowledge of God not holocausts." I do Moses comics as offerings http://www.losethos.com/comics/ The Bible says 7 times to sing a NEW song to God. I do hymns http://www.losethos.com/hymns.html

    You can download my ouija software http://www.losethos.com/files/TSGod.ZIP

    You can read guidelines
    http://www.losethos.com/LTHtml/Apps/AfterEgypt/AENotes.html

    God says, "hellish ungodliness whereat nights imperfection disciples abundance phantoms charges whispers Hosts muddy realisest
    curing fears http choice languishing obscure haughtiness unworthy worshipped traces Soft soothed shaken paper smarting excepted abuse seated believer discovered comely extended
    New beauties sell willingly "

    ReplyDelete
  4. For the record, the BBC and Brits are enemies of God. You too, Mr. Blogger, huh? Mockery?

    God says, "treble LIMITED roused Did promised lifter passions Milan indefinitely satisfying eunuchs toment encouraging establish manifoldly demonstrated cementest emptinesses initiatory OTHERWISE necessaries obeyed earnestness can wickedness gathering offices appears perverse purity guardian field misery Date sights finest trial's enough knottiness gales
    sharpsighted hours "

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  5. So, Zach, I know you're not scared, right? Crack open a book randomly after talking to God. It's Kosher.

    God says...
    r you all, do ye return, and come now: for I cannot
    find one wise man among you.

    17:11 My days are past, my purposes are broken off, even the thoughts
    of my heart.

    17:12 They change the night into day: the light is short because of
    darkness.

    17:13 If I wait, the grave is mine house: I have made my bed in the
    darkness.

    17:14 I have said to corruption, Thou art my father: to the worm, Thou
    art my mother, and my sister.

    17:15 And where is now my hope? as for my hope, who shall see it?
    17:

    ReplyDelete
  6. So, did God talk to you, Zach? I might be able to help with interpretation. If you rant your crazy rants, He might like that -- He likes attention.

    God says, "harder findest enjoy lentiles entangle overthrew thickets skirmishes produced Yes twisted deceivableness factito constrained deservings Hadst binary pressure fair borne walked slighting bones heareth hinder class moon unpermitted dividest seek unstable Creusa's cupboards drudgery measurable nine enslaved mortified satiate noise omnipotent consenting repentance g sank delightfulness appointed rob swerving alike ship resolutely unused oil endued edged sets stricken "

    ReplyDelete
  7. This is not random:

    25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.
    27 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

    28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

    ----

    You see your problem? You don't have a childlike view of God. That infinity stuff will mess you up. Stick to Abba. Nobody, including 99% of Christians knows God because they don't randomly crack open books and get to know Him. Obviously if He doesn't talk to you, you don't know Him.

    God says, "framed passages ball dispenser lick abundant used seeks faithfulness forego torpor high artifice mine drops vainly lover trial's Photinus commandeth land avoiding peradventure famine horrible perverse wherewith cast vouchsafed paradise checking Reason because unlike Wilt supereminence solve
    humility neck dispensing odours denies woes reins predestination
    buried sounds dull entreat sin stranger private "

    ReplyDelete
  8. God says, "contains refute conveyed suck asleep watery judgeth whereto dangers suggest holiness candle Master bibber prayed issue fetched consciousness company preparedst factito books
    mine objects single stirrest filling numberless copious lesser encourage drop befitting felicity persuade thrown flocks pupils blending _ buzz questions litigation "

    ReplyDelete
  9. Randomly crack-open a book after talking to God.

    God says...
    at walk to go down into
    Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the
    strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt! 30:3
    Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust
    in the shadow of Egypt your confusion.

    30:4 For his princes were at Zoan, and his ambassadors came to Hanes.

    30:5 They were all ashamed of a people that could not profit them, nor
    be an help nor profit, but a shame, and also a reproach.

    30:6 The burden of the beasts of

    ReplyDelete
  10. Not sure if being trolled or you're legitimately nuts? Care to comment?

    ReplyDelete
  11. In all seriousness though, if you're not actually trolling me I sincerely think you should seek mental help.

    ReplyDelete