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Archive for February, 2010

Slavoj Zizek has written in several places — but here I am specifically referring to Revolution at the gates: a selection of writings from February to October 1917 — that,

“On today’s market, we find a whole series of products deprived of their malignant property: coffee without caffeine, cream without fat, beer without alcohol. . . .  Virtual Reality simply generalizes this procedure of offering a product deprived of its substance: it provides reality itself deprived of its substance, of the hard resistant kernel of the Real — just as decaffeinated coffee smells and tastes like the real coffee without being real coffee, Virtual Reality is experienced as reality without being so.”

Coffee without caffeine, cream without fat, beer without alcohol, war without death (at least on our side, as Zizek claims); but what about the theological (specifically Christian) question: what is Christianity’s (to use Zizek’s language) chocolate laxative today? We could say: Christianity without Christ, Christianity without faith, etc., etc. The problem that I am confronting here is one in which the problem of the chocolate laxative is complicated (obviously so!) in relation to communities of persons. . . So, the question I am asking myself is this: what is the hard resistant kernel of the Real in Christianity? And, subsequently, in Christianity, what is experienced as reality without being so?

[added later]

But Christ, faith, these are not malignant properties, rather substances as such. Or can one consider the skandalon a “malignant” property?

Just a few things I have been thinking about this morning …

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For some reason WordPress hasn’t allowed me to post for the last several days. Here is a nice lecture by Zizek on Materialism & Theology.

Also, check out this fantastic new band:

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This brief interview is fantastic. (Atheist) Jonathan Miller interviews (then Cambridge, now Yale theologian) Denys Turner. This is part 1 of 3.

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“5. How then can we speak of the divine names? How can we do this if the Transcendent surpasses all discourse and all knowledge, if it abides beyond the reach of mind and of being, if it encompasses and circumscribes, embraces and anticipates all things while itself eluding their grasp and escaping from any perception, imagination, opinion, name, discourse, apprehension, or understanding? How can we enter upon this undertaking if the Godhead is superior to being and is unspeakable and unnameable?”

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If anyone does not hate father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, Yea, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. — Luke 14.25ff

“Modern psychologizing interpretation of Jesus has been bothered largely with whether the word hate here should be taken seriously or not. This is certainly to miss the point of the passage. The point is rather that in a society characterized by very stable, religiously undergirded family ties, Jesus is here calling into being a community of voluntary commitment, willing for the sake of its calling to take upon itself the hostility of the given society. The seriousness of the alternative posed before the would-be disciple is underlined by the parables of the builder and the king who too hastily committed themselves to enterprises for the cost of which they were not prepared. Again we could modernize the text and be surprised, and perhaps usefully instructed, by the fact that whereas modern churchmanship tries to make membership attractive to the great number, Jesus was here moving away from the crowd. But again the point is not the tactical question, whether Jesus wanted many disciples or a few. What matters is the quality of the life to which the disciple is called. The answer is that to be a disciple is to share in the style of life of which the cross is the culmination.”                                                                                             — John Howard Yoder, The Politics of Jesus, 37/38

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