Monday, July 31, 2006

the subversion of community

reflection on Psalm 15.

Psalm 15

A psalm of David.

1 LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary?
Who may live on your holy hill?

2 He whose walk is blameless
and who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from his heart

3 and has no slander on his tongue,
who does his neighbor no wrong
and casts no slur on his fellowman,

4 who despises a vile man
but honors those who fear the LORD,
who keeps his oath
even when it hurts,

5 who lends his money without usury
and does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things
will never be shaken.

Liberal (and many Evangelical) Communities typically become places to repair individuals (such that the community exists so the needs of individuals can be met) or places where the goals of the community replaces the individual (such that the individual must denied her desires/needs). These are the typical poles of community/individual.

But as I said before, the true poles are community and worship. As we look at worship the contours of community with appear. As we gaze at community, we will gather the lines of true worship.

The 'individual' was created when man disengaged from community (from a relationship with the Communal (Triune) God), resulting in alienated/antagonistic relationships among God and mankind, and between mankind. The poles of community/individual assume a fundamental (ontological) violence which governs relationships (even all of reality). But starting w/ the goodness of creation (including mankind) Christians assume a fundamental peace in creation that has been disrupted leading to antagonism. The only way back toward this peace/shalon beyond the violence b/w the community and individual, and between individual (competing) communities is through a prophetic connection with our Creator, which is through worship.

What I mean is not the sunday morning "worship" of singing, reading Scripture, preaching, etc. Too often this just becomes the simulacra of community, the gathering of individuals (but not necessarily). Let's turn to Psalm 15 which started all this in me this week. It begins with the question of worship, the presence/connection of God. "Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on you holy hill?" Answering this question is a one sentence (going on for five verse) explaining the practices of community: people should act righteously, speak truthfully/ not lie or slander, be good neighbors/not cheat, keep promises, and share money. The short psalm ends by bring in the individual, "He who does these tings will never be shaken." At the beginning is a question of worship; at the end is a statement concering the individual, with community tying them securely together. And this is nothing new for the OT prophets continually linked the true worship God with the practices of the people; rites and rituals enacted without righteous relationships are considered vain.

How do we stand against/within a Consumer Capitalism, splintering us into indvidual needs and markets? How do we seek and sustan economic justices amid "communities" of class/race/gender? How do we display an alternative to the Power of desire, the will to dominate through individual choices? How can we sustain unity amid diversity? We won't through the dialectics of community/individual. But as we worship/reconnect with God through worship, as we reorient our direction toward peace instead of violence, as we enter into the communal practices of forgiveness, truth, love, gift-giving, sacrifice (which is true worship) then we will see community flourish, growings spontaneously, organically in the soil of life shared together. Only then will artifical community, its synthetic copy, be seen as it really is. We need to replace the plastic flowers (of simulated community) which we placed around our churches to give it more life, with real plants. Only the will we become of subversive community witnessing of the kindgom.

So, community/individual or community/worship? What have I missed? What do we do now? What is over/under-stated?

Friday, July 28, 2006

Beyond Liberal Community

The idea of "community" is like the sun. The more we stare at it the less we see.

Or rather, community is like Happiness, which if pursued outright always escapes us, leaving a narcissistic void (much like most discusions of worship seem to miss the essence).

Rather than a direct apprehesion or formation of community, we must think more tangentally. We cannot begin with a direct relationship between individuals separate, and then individuals together. Rather we have to ask, What environment leads toward community? What soil is needed? Which nutrients can we add? We can't build community industrially; only prepare for its blooming organically.

In the discussion there are two dialectic poles that we circle around: the community and the individual; the collective and the singular (which comes to us through the modern political tension of state and citizen: one keeps order and limits freedom; the other expects freedom and creates disorder.) But these are not opposites, merely the division of a single concept (the concept of liberal Freedom). But man is communal from the beginning; individuals only come into existence when we forget this, or rebel against it. The individual was created at the Fall. But to be truly human is to be communal, in the image of the Triune God.

Because of this, it is my contention that the true dialectic poles are community and worship. Each is the shadow of the other; only through staring at one can we gather the outlines of the other. More on this tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

the simulacra of community

the simulacra of community: the gathering of individuals.

where is community? What does it look like? too often our search for community ends in a cheap simulation, a simulacra, and the church is most complicit in this illusion. Churches aren't called "Church" anymore; they're called "communities" of Christ, faith, friendship, whatever you want. Yet rarely is community reached? Why? Because we reach for the ideal of community without its practices. It's like trying to be spiritual without the spiritual disciplines.

our theraputic culture treats community as merely as the place to repair/fix/reaffirm individuals (this is best seen in our bible studies and prayer groups). Statements like "I want a community that will let me (fill in the blank)..." continue the individualized/privatized nature of our culture. The self-help culture has clothed itself in the garb of Christian community to legitemate a shallow narcissism. The concrete practices of community- forgiveness, reconcilation, repentance, and sacrifice, hospitality- are foriegn to our culture that tries to build community around the motto that "I'm OK and you're OK."

Our culture wants a nice (simulated) community, but Christianity offers a messy (real) community.

So what does this have to say about those in the emerging church who perpetuate/multiply ad infinitum descrete subcultures in the name of relevant community? Is the emerging church a technologically advanced simulation of community? or the real deal?

these thoughts prompted by "Embodying Forgiveness";
and for more on this see post-community and tells me what you think

Friday, July 21, 2006

Zizek on Levinas: Smashing the Neighbors Face

While the argument in this essay meanders among many topics (as do all of Zizek’s writing), I’m going to focus on the twists and turns of Zizek’s complaint against Levinas.


In the face of our neighbor, do we glimpse the Other as transcendent ground of ethical relations, or spy a terrifying monstrosity from which we hope to turn away?


Facing Others

For Zizek, the topic of the Other must be analyzed through the Lacanian registers of the imaginary, Symbolic, and the Real. Imaginary others- “other people ‘like me,’ my fellow human beings with whom I am engaged in the mirrorlike relationships of competition, mutual recognition, and so forth.” Symbolic ‘big Other’- “the ‘substance’ of our social existence, the impersonal set of rules that coordinate our coexistence.” The ‘Other qua Real’- “the impossible Thing, the ‘inhuman partner,’ the Other with whom no symmetrical dialogue, mediated by the symbolic Order, is possible…And it is crucial to perceive how these three dimensions are hooked up. The neighbor as the Thing means that, beneath the neighbor as my semblant, my mirror image, there always lurks the unfathomable abyss of radical Otherness, of a monstrous Thing that cannot be ‘gentrified’”(143).

Or we could say, between the imaginary others (other people) of narcissism and the impenetrable Real Other steps the symbolic Other, gentrifying the chaos.

“In order to render our coexistence with the Thing minimally bearable, the symbolic order qua Third, the pacifying mediator, has to intervene: the “gentrification” of the Other-Thing into a ‘normal human fellow’ cannot occur through our direct interaction, but presupposes the third agency to which we both submit ourselves—there is no intersubjectivity (no symmetrical, shared, relation between humans) without the impersonal symbolic Order.” (143-4)

For Levinas “the Other who addresses me with the unconditional call and thus constitutes me as an ethical subject is—in spite of the fact that this is an absolutely heteronomous call which commands me and so comes from a height—the human other, the face, the transcendental form of the neighbor as radical Other.” 145. Hence Levinas says, “To seeks truth, I have already established a relationship with a face which can guarantee itself, whose epiphany itself is somehow a word of honor. Every language as an exchange of verbal signs refers already to this primordial word of honor…deceit and veracity already presuppose the absolute authenticity of the face” (146, quoted from Totality and Infinity, 202).

This self-referential face of the other is meant to serve as a non-linguistic point of encounter breaking the “vicious circularity of the symbolic order” (146). To encounter the face, for Levinas, is to side step the mediation of the ‘big Other’ of the symbolic order, and engage the neighbor-as-Other. This is meant to circumvent the presencing of "ontology" and "metaphysics" as well as the cultural order.

But for Zizek, via Lacanian psychoanalysis, the human face is already consumed by the symbolic order, it is already engaged as that which gentrifies the “terrifying Thing that is the ultimate reality of our neighbors” (146). The Other qua Real is never revealed in the face of the neighbor, but rather in defacement, when the Real/Unconscious of the Other as Subject breaks through mild manner face; the the inhumanity of the human neighbor is manifest.

The inhuman: the monstrous beyond of the face

“What Levinas fails to include into the scope of ‘human’ is, rather, the inhuman itself, a dimension which eludes the face-to-face relationship of humans” (158). Just as with the undead, which are neither dead nor alive, but rather a monstrous ‘living dead’, so to the inhuman is neither human nor non-human (animal or divine), but “marked by a terrifying excess which, although it negates what we understand as ‘humanity,’ is inherent to being-human.” To illustrate, Zizek turns to reason: for pre-moderns humans were rational beings struggling between merely animal lusts and divine madness. But after Kant, this madness is part of reason itself. In the pre-Kantian universe, when “a hero goes mad, it means he is deprived of his humanity, in other words, the animal passions or divine madness took over, while with Kant, madness signals the unconstrained explosion of the very core of a human being” (160).

Or another example, the difference between animals and humans is not that humans are homeless, deprived of instinctual support, in need of a “second nature”, of symbolic norms and regulations; in short, in need of civilization (the standard anthropological account via Geertz). Rather, the difference which “defines a human being is therefore, not the difference between human and animal (or any other real or imaginary species, such as gods), but an inherent difference, the difference between human and the inhuman excess that is inherent to being-human” (175).

“What Levinas fails to take into account is not some underlying Sameness of all humans but the radical, ‘inhuman’ Otherness itself: the Otherness of a human being reduced to inhumanity” (160). Zizek’s question is whether we understand neighbor as “the bearer of a monstrous Otherness, [the] properly inhuman neighbor” as the same as the “neighbor that we encounter in the Levinasian experience of the Other’s face?” (162). For Zizek the answer is, No.

So what is Levinas’ main failing? It is not trying to circumvent the symbolic order, the ‘big Other,’ through postulating an encounter with the human face as a window toward the transcendent, but by forgetting that there is another Third party, not of the symbolic order, but of the very inhumanity within us, the monstrous Other of which the face of my neighbor covers over. As Zizek says, “Far from displaying ‘a quality of God’s image carried with it,’ the face is the ultimate ethical lure…the neighbor is not displayed through a face; it is, as we have seen, in his or her fundamental dimension a faceless monster” (185)

So the ethical gesture par excellence is not merely suspending the symbolic order and embracing the human face of the Other, but rather to both dissolve the symbolic order, which is even hidden in the face, and embracing the thoroughly inhuman monstrosity which is the human neighbor.

the emerging church is like...

(these are some thoughts I prepared for an interview [an commented on], most of which I didn't say, nor was shown, but I thought, hey why not post it.)

…it is like a renegade stage production. Several of us have been given a role and consumes, but the clothes didn’t fit right, and we didn’t like our lines. We are not getting rid of the scrip, just the producers who have made it into a bad play, and we're movin' out of the fancy theater to wherever we can find.

…it is like taking blinders off. Evangelical had tunnel vision, looking toward the ground, only trying to save souls and build bigger and bigger churches, and thinking they were the only ones. the emerging church takes off these blinders, and sees that there are a bunch of people with them (Lutherans, Methodist, Episcopal, Catholics), and they look behind and remember the past the good and the bad.

…it is like recovering from a hundred year amnesia. Main evangelicals can’t think past 20 to 50 years ago. But the church has been going on for 2000 years, and a lot has happened, for good and bad. The EC is trying to remember its past, so it can live into the future. The reason the Da Vinci Code has made such a stir is that many Christians simply don’t know their own history, so when someone comes along and tells a compelling story, it fills in this vacuum left by forgetting out past.

…it is not merely looking backward, but also to around, not just in America, but all over the world to see what is happening. The EC is looking toward the Taize community in France where Catholics and Protestants are gathering to pray for peace around the world…it is looking to the Global South to learn about how faith can work against exploitation, and care for those with AIDS.

… seeing God’s work as much bigger, not just saving our souls, but extending peace, justice, and love all over the world. The emerging church movement is asking again, What is salvation? not just of my soul.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Universalism, Truth, and St. Paul: interview w/ Badiou

Here is a great interview with Alain Badiou.
It is a great intro to his thought in the area of St. Paul, universalism and truth.

Here is a bit of it:

What is this new conception? For me,
something is universal if it is something that
is beyond established differences. We have
differences that seem absolutely natural to
us. In the context of these differences, the
sign of a new truth is that that these
differences become indifferent. So we have
an absorption of an evident natural
difference into something that is beyond that

A striking example, which is completely
different from the Pauline example, is the
example of the creation of a new physics by
Galileo. Before Galileo, there is a clear
difference between natural movements and
abstract mathematics. From Aristotle to the
16th century natural movement is conceived
of as something with local determinations,
as a kind of movement that is part of a
closed cosmology. With the Galileo-event
we have a completely new conception of
movement in which the difference between
concrete, natural movement on the one side
and mathematical analysis on the other side
becomes indifferent. This happens because
Galileo declares that the world itself is
written in mathematical language. The old
difference simply loses its pertinence.

Traditionally, universalism is conceived
as the realization of a universal judgment
about some real thing. This is something like
a grammatical conception of universalism.
Universality as a judgment is something that
you can find from Aristotle to Kant to
analytic philosophy today.

My conception is, on the contrary, a
creative one. Universalism is always the
result of a great process that opens with an
event. To create something universal is to go
beyond evident differences and separations.
This is, in my conviction, the great
difference between my conception of
universality (which, of course, is not only
my conception) and some traditional
conceptions of universality. It is also the
difference between a grammatical
conception of truth and my conception of
truth as a creation, a process, an event.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Ethics of the Other? Badiou on Levinas

Alain Badiou on Emmanuel Levinas:

concerning the 'ethics of the other' and whether it has a future...from Alain Badiou's Ethics:

Summary of Levinas: The greek origin of metaphysics has subordinated all thought to the logic of the Same, that of substance and identity. The metaphysics makes it impossible to encounter the Other in its alterity, incapable of recognizing the Other without violence, and therefore allows for no truly Ethical relations. So, Levinas argues, we must leave the Greek origin and return to the Jewish tradition. In the Jewish tradition, the ‘thou’ immediately disarms the ‘I’ of the reflexive subject. The encounter with the Other precedes, is beyond, a relation of similitude.

Badiou’s question is: how to decide that the encounter with the face, touch, of love with another is really with an Other, and not really a mimetic recognition? Mimetic recognition is when I see the other reflected as myself (narcissism, which is outlined preeminently in psychoanalysis). Badiou says that the encounter with the Other is just as likely to be merely mimetic recognition when view phenomenologically (which is how Levinas is grounding it). But the choice is not decided between the Other or the Same based in the phenomena.

So, Badiou claims, Levinas must undergird the encounter with the Other by an altogether Other, God. In this move, Levinas conflates the thoughts of philosophy to that of theology. And not even a theology as such, but really into an absolute Ethic. In this way, Levinas shows that all ethics freed of metaphysics must ultimately be pious discourse.

So, the first conclusion, is that all derivations of Levinas’ ethics, which go under the names of ‘ethics of the other’, ‘ethics of difference’, ‘recognition of the other’, ‘multiculturalism’, and also attempts to suppress the pious, religious discourse will inevitably regress into mere ideology supporting the reigning capitalist-liberalism.

Second conclusion... “the whole ethical predication based upon recognition of the other should be purely and simply abandoned” b/c of its religious affiliation. Instead, “the real question…is much more that of recognizing the Same” (25).

Argument: Badiou’s axiom, “There is no God. Which also means: the One is not. The multiple ‘without-one’—every multiple being in its turn nothing other than a multiple of multiples—is the law of being.” This ‘without-one’ of reality of overlapping and situated multiplicities admits of infinity in the ordinary fabric of life, rather than as a transcendent intrusion as for Levinas. According to Badiou’s axion (and here is his speaking of ontology via mathematical set theory), all this is is already infinite difference. This infinite overlapping of differences (from physics, to biology, to animals, up to cultural difference) is not a surprise, nor need for special comment, and especially not the creation of an ethical theory. Difference is all that there is, but is that what has to be.

So, “philosophically, if the other doesn’t matter it is indeed because the difficulty lies not on the side of the Same. The Same, in effect, is not what is (i.e. the infinity multiplicity of differences) but what come to be. I have already named that in regard to which only the advent of the Same occurs: it is a truth. Only a truth is, as such indifferent to differences…the truth is the same for all”(27).

The ‘ethics of the other’ then does not cast anything new on the field of humanity, but merely assert that differences should be respected, which easily deflates into the rhetorical tolerance of liberal democracies by which capitalists continue on in their exploitation with much protest but little action.

Differences are, but the Same is what will come. Unlike the Same that comes before and tames the Other in Levinas, it is the Other with is and the Same is worked toward, the Same which is also called equality. Ultimately for Badiou, the ‘ethics of the other’ degenerates into a way of keeping things unequal, while the truth that we must strive for is that we are all equal, we are all the Same in our humanity.


questions for further reflection:

So how should those who believe ‘God is’ respond?
Should we herald Levinas’ return of ethical discourse to the religious?
Can we agree with Badiou while still claiming ‘God is’?

Friday, July 14, 2006

new feed

if any of you care. I've got a new feed by feedburner.

Escape from the ‘Now’, or Return turn to the Present? toward an answer (pt. 2)

I would say that philosophically and cultural/pastorally our problem is not our abandonment to the present, but rather the inability to receive the ‘present’ time.

on answering the philosophical objections to the present (if that can be done): as I mentioned in the comments the either/or the modern/postmodern discussion seems to be a univocal present which guarantees ‘presence’ of ideas and universal accessibility. While under the aegis of progress (moving forward), we really end up with the end of history, and the eternal now of philosophical or political thought.

Against this is an equivocal casting of our anchors into the past (for Levinas) or the future (for Derrida). But these anchors never reach the bottom (nothing determinate) and therefore we are still lost in the see of time, confronted with the Other that faces us, but we can never bring into our present (time) or presence (space). [In light of this I could add two things: 1) much of American pragmatist conceptions of truth and its political relations are similar. and 2) much of currently theological eschatology adopts the above positions, separating the future Kingdom of Christ from the present Church/Body of Christ.]

So against the univocal and equivocal, I would insert the analogical via the time of incarnation. The time of the ‘already-not yet’; the time which splits time in the middle (of the incarnation/crucifiction/resurrection) awaiting it culmination in the future. But his eschatology is not totally separate from the present (working toward the Kingdom, but without claiming too much [Reformed and Pragmatist conceptions do this], but the bears upon the present and we work to participate/create/appropriate the future right now.

And of course I would say that this shift from retreat to the past/future to fully engaging the present, is correlative to shifting from the ethical (what can we do/say) to the political (what must to do/say).

so, concerning the cultural ‘now’ of capitalist modernity: well, I don’t think there is more for me to add then I did in my response to Jason, so I’ll leave it hear for now.

disclaimer: yes I know i've oversimplified Levinas and Derriad. It is much more sutble than this. But hey, this is a blog not a term paper. And while all for rigorous thought, there is also the time to step back and argue the big picture.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Escape from the Now, or Return turn to the Present (pt 1)

what is the situation of the 'present', or the 'now', in the current philosophical and cultural perspective?

The ethics of the Other, recourse to the Past/Future, are all attempts to escape a totalitarian conception of rationality and correlated politics. With Levinas’ turn toward a forgotten past where ethics preceeded ontology, and Derrida’s endless deferral to the future, the present time was vacated as a means to guarding against the ‘presence’ of modernity, the immediacy of Enlightenment rationality, and it politics of certainty. Is the future really what we should be longing for? A ‘messianism without messiah’ for Derriada? A future without determinate content, b/c otherwise it would be rendered 'present.'

but I ask, might we instead return to the present? Not to demand, control, or institute the ‘presence’ of some idea, but to be present to receive the gift of the present.

This perspective seems to also accord with recent articulations of the social/cultural milieu of forgetting the historical (past) and lacking utopian dreams (future) [see Jason Clark and my response]. Because of this there is the contemporary desire to remember and hope for the future (See Fredrick Jameson’s Archaeologies of the Future [which i want to read, and would fit with SciFi Fridays]).

So, again, should the goal of contemporary philosophy and pastoral cultural critique be to get us out of the present, the keeper of presence (philosophically), or escape the Now of consumer capitalism (culturally)?

I say No! I think the situation is exactly opposite.
But I’m not telling why ‘til later.

What do you think?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

been working

Well I've been working a bunch for church and at the 'bucks. But I did manage to finish The Worthing Saga. I'll post my reflections for SciFi Friday.

Very thoughful posts on Senator Obama and that lack of the Christian Left from Jamie Smith (Barack Obama: Another Reason to Leave the Christian Left) with expansion by Eric Lee ( Modernity attempts to subvert Christianity's particularity).

Also, I'm working through Lacan again. I love it. I'm working throug Book I of his seminars: The Seminar of Jacques Lacan: Book I : Freud's Papers on Technique 1953-1954

And I'm reformatting a bit of the format here, trying to make categories and update my reading list.

i'll try to post profound thoughts soon.

Friday, July 07, 2006

detecting prejudice in the brain

I've been in a discussion with Kester Brewin over at Complext Christ concerning the relationships of gift, market, and plunder economies.

And then I came over this this morning. Very disturbing: "Dehumanizing the Lowest of the Low: Neuro-imaging responses to Extreme Outgroups".

If you believe someone is not human, they even your brian acts as if they are not human!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

the presence of the present

“Contemplation means ‘being’ with God within the reality of the present moment”

“We don’t know how to be with your kids
We don’t know how to be with ourselves.
We don’t know how to be with God.” (from CYM)

Especially with the advent of Information Technologies, we never know when or where we are. This goes back to the question before concerning if we are trapped in the ‘NOW’ of an endless present (because we have forgotten the past and no longer hope for the future), or rather are we kept from ever entering the present.

As I’m working though thoughts on spiritual direction, youth mentoring, and a general youth ministry here at LOV, I’m leaning more and more toward thinking that our biggest problem is that we don’t know how to be present with people…we don’t know how to just sit with someone and be there fore them. Rather we are off in the future dealing with the next project or problem, or we are thinking of the past with regret or nostalgia. Or while physically present, we are mentally across the world or neighborhood thinking about different places/people. We are rarely present, even to ourselves.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

SciFi and the Body

So I’m about to start reading something that intersects with something I just read. Riding in the back of a friends car, I saw a book by Orson Scott Card, and asked about it. He said it was better than Ender’s Game (which is hard to believe), so I borrowed it, The Worthington Saga. The premise is that a drug called Somec drastically increased people’s life span, but only for those who can afford it, creating two societies: the who live long and those who live short.

Now sometimes it is reality that imitates fiction, but a book was just released and reviewed over at New Left Review. In it the author, Herve Jurin, describes the new movement toward the ‘body’ in capitalism. This is not the old biopolitical refine that our bodies are the symbolic territory fought over by different ideologies (a la Foucault and many feminists theorist…who of course are on to something there). Jurin is not talking about what the ‘body’ means in different contexts (manufacturing meaning of ‘body’), but the actual manufacturing and disposal of bodies through alternative birth strategies and end of life options.

“In between entry [birth] and exit [death], meanwhile, the body-shops of maintenance, repair, transformation and perfection are proliferating, as expenditures on dietetics, health care, cosmetic surgery, embellishment soar…announc[ing] a time when the human body has started to pre-empt all other measures of value in the West, separating the experience of contemporary generations from that of all predecessors, and the rest of the world."

This is the human body turned into property to enhance value, and ultimately to extend life, separating the need for regeneration (or procreation as the old term goes). Jurin argues that capitalist industry will in fact move dramatically toward the maintenance of the human body as its priniciple industry, away from information technologies.

Pretty scary thoughts. Anyway, check out the review, and I’ll start in on the Worthington Saga and see what it is all about.

Who knows, maybe I’ll try to revive Science Fiction Fridays.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Objectivity and Truth: the new war (part 2)

(continued from yesterday)

new war

This new, and I am persuaded more important, battle lines are being drawn within the ranks of those who have already dismissed the modern project. These postmodern pragmatists, instead of rejecting truth and objectivity (which is the inversion of the modern project), argue that Truth is in the Objectivity. Or rather, Objectivity is Truth. These pragmatists do not want to jettison Truth or Objectivity, but to retain both via modification. Pragmatists, like modernists, desire to retain the link between objectivity and truth, keeping a robust account of the objectivity as social norms and practices, and expounding a minimalist form of the truth. So, unlike the modernists who understand objectivity as something like universal access to all rational observers, pragmatists argue that objectivity is situated not in individual, rational subjects, but is found in the rationality of social practices and those properly trained into them. And, unlike a modern theory of Truth which claims the complete correspondence of statements and objects, usually assuming a type of metaphysical supplement, pragmatists argue for Truth as a partial, provisional, and falliblist part of our everyday practices which is non-relative (not subjectively constituted) and non-metaphysical.

Now of course, this account of Truth is not very different than other postmodern versions of contextuality and interpretation. But the firm linkage of this Truth with a social understanding of Objectivity becomes the new war over words. This old linkage with revised concepts, while at the same time attempting to under gird rational discourse within democratic society, becomes the new area of exclusion for authentic theological discourse.

For it seems to me that this new war is that between Truth as Objective and Truth as Subjective. In a good old reform adage, we cannot come to know the Truth unless we have been converted/changed/redeemed, and this entails a Subjective transformation; a transformation by the Truth. The Truth makes us, not the other way around. We practice the Truth (subjectively), we do not observe it (objectively).


If we accept, or fail to understand, this new movement of philosophical/political theory, within the various postfoundational discourses, we will again fail to articulate a truly Christian vision of the present/future, and mistakenly underwrite the “violence inherent within the system.” To link Truth with the Objectivity of social practices, again block the New Revelation of God in all historical situations, it again binds us to the imminence of this world.

So instead we should assert that Truth is out there, but it is not Objective. Truth is embattled, fragile, and hard to find, it is not Objective as a rule to be followed, but rather written on our hearts as a gentle wisdom.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Philosophy and Critical Theory

Philosophy, Politics, and Critical Theory


"If the Lord is Risen, why can't we see Him?"

Badiou: Event, Truth, Subject

Badiou on Heideggar on Truth

Badiou on Truth and the (re)turn of Philosophy

Theology's Conversation Partners: Continental, Analytic, or Beyond?

Ricoeur on Levinas: “Self” between the “I” and its overthrow

Levinas' Infinite Trauma

Levinas on Levinas

Zizek on Levinas: Smashing the Neighbors Face

Universalism, Truth, and St. Paul: interview w/ Badiou

Ethics of the Other? Badiou on Levinas

Escape from the ‘Now’, or Return turn to the Present? toward an answer (pt. 2)

Escape from the Now, or Return turn to the Present (pt 1)

Objectivity and Truth: the new war (part 2)

Objectivity and Truth: the new war (part 1)

With Friends like Rorty, who needs Enemies.

Reviews of "Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire

Realism, not Empiricism

Multitude, People, or...

Critical Theory

Political priests and Sectarian Theologians: is the shrine empty? (3)

“empty signifier vs. the empty shrine”: EC and American Political Discourse. (2)

Emerging Church as “Empty Signifier”: Labels don’t fit because the container is Empty (1)


Advent Explorations

Third Party- christians and politics

“It’s not about racism, it’s about law and order.”

christians and the political

Emerging Church

Post on the Emerging Church

“empty signifier vs. the empty shrine”: EC and American Political Discourse. (2)

Emerging Church as “Empty Signifier”: Labels don’t fit because the container is Empty (1)

Culmination-Culture, not Counter: of temporal refugees

Lines of convergence: global-urban-postmodern

Science Fiction Fridays

Series on Science Fiction, Ideology, and Theological Hermeutics

Science Fiction Fridays: Weekly Series

Science Fiction Fridays: C.S. Lewis on SciFi

Why Star Trek is liberal ideology.

SciFi and the Body