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On the beach at Lake Texoma
Rhizone is an ongoing reflection on spirituality and the arts in these curious times in which we live.
Interests: going places where no one has gone before (because god has sent us there).
Recent Activity
By Carl Raschke It’s another gray and misty morning here in the second district of Vienna. The church bells toll to invite the sleepy-eyed revelers from the night before to churches that, except for Christmas tourists, will probably remain mostly... Continue reading
I notice that, according to news reports, the Occupy Charlotte movement staged a coup against their self-proclaimed leader - you can't have a leader in a leaderless movement, can you?. In pique, he groused to the local CBS station that... Continue reading
Posted Oct 21, 2011 at Rhizone
Okay, CNN today just outed the "1 percent" whom we have to overthrow, because they're sucking us dry. Extra, read all about it! It's right here: I'll bet all those guys in the black, stove-pipe hats twirling their mustaches... Continue reading
Posted Oct 20, 2011 at Rhizone
I said yesterday I was going to write today about the most common and addivctive intellectual Peter Pan pipe dream when it comes to political economy - a worldwide "Communist" revolution that ushers in a worldwide Communist millenium where everyone... Continue reading
Posted Oct 19, 2011 at Rhizone
There is an interesting, provocative, and disturbing article by a staff editorial writer in The Washington Post this morning entitled "What the Occupy protests tell us about the limits of democracy." Anne Applebaum, the staff writer, hits the nail on... Continue reading
Posted Oct 18, 2011 at Rhizone
It all started when a 14-year-old daughter of a pastor of mine came up two weeks ago and gushed, "I'm really into the Sixties now." I smiled. I wasn't sure why, but I went through the Sixties (actually what we... Continue reading
Posted Oct 17, 2011 at Rhizone
Multiple Specters Perhaps we can adapt just one more time Marx's well-known and overadapted opening to The Communist Manifesto that a "specter is stalking" us. It was this same "specter" that Derrida back in the mid-1980s adapted in Specters of... Continue reading
Thanks so much, Doug and Adam. Adam, I wasn't familiar with your book, but I'll now certainly take a look at it and give you my feedback. Thanks again. Carl
It's been said that reformations and revolutions in Christianity begin with a re-reading of Romans. That is certainly true of the Protestant Reformation with Luther's epoch-shaking insight into the meaning of the phrase "the righteousness of God." It is true... Continue reading
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Mar 15, 2010
Erik Raschke. The Book of Samuel. New York: St. Martin's, 2009. 264 pages. Paperback. $9.99. Website: ________________________________________________________ Plato's famous observation in The Symposium that both progeny and publishing can be considered gestures toward creating something immortal has always been... Continue reading
Posted Dec 1, 2009 at Rhizone
source Merold Westphal's Whose Community? Which Interpretation?: Philosophical Hermeneutics for the Church (Baker Academic, 2009) is the kind of book that you can give to your Aunt Gussie after she queries you across the table at Thanksgiving: "Now I understand... Continue reading
The new German awakening Unbeknownst to most of us who try to keep albreast of these things, Germany – the largest nation in the European Union, the site of the Protestant Reformation, and the historical homeland of modern theology itself... Continue reading
David, I've added the references at the end of the post. I couldn't figure out how to place captions beside images in the Typepad format.
The debate over who is a theologian and who isn't a theologian, which has been going on as long as I've been in the field (which is a long time), sometimes reminds me of the debate over what's cool and what isn't. It can get passionate, but it's purely arbitrary in many respects. FYI I think that BOTH Milbank and Žižek can be considered theologians - the question is not "whether", but "what kind" of theologians they are. But "arbitrary" has its boundaries as well as criteria, and is always contingent on a certain criteriology one either buys into, or doesn't. The same debate BTW has been going on for decades over what's pomo and what isn't. The question of whether you can have an "atheist" as a theologian (Altizer), or what Taylor terms an "a/theologian", is sort of beside the point. If the community (academic theological community at least) accepts that sort of definition, which in the case of these guys it has, then there's really no question any more. If we follow Wittgenstein's famous dictum of "meaning as use," then the evolution of language alone settles the point. And even before Altizer and his cronies unveiled in the late 1960s what came to be known as "death of God theology aka radical theology" the possibility of an "a-theist" theology had already gone down fairly well (at mainline Protestant seminaries no less) with the writings of Paul Tillich. Tillich's "God beyond God" enunciated in THE COURAGE TO BE is a pure statement of theological immanence (even more simple and elegant than Deleuze's "pure immanence") that caught fire, believe it or not, in the Eisenhower era. Schleiermacher in the early 1800s was the first to make the point forcefully that you don't need "transcendence" as your chief ingredient in theology. Most so-called "liberal theology" since Schliermacher has been built around some controlling principle of immanence. It is debatable how much of all this is truly "Christian theology," but it is still theology. I would call Žižek a theological Dadaist, or a Dadaist theologian. Dadaists by their very nature are party crashers, breaking into someone else's quiet reserve in order to force the question about whether the space in question really has the credentials to be the exclusive club that it claims to be. When Dadaist found Marcel Duchamp, in order to make a statement about the criteriology of art, right at the end of WWI took a "ready made" toilet, entered it in an exhibition, and declared it was "art," art was never the same anymore. But Dadaism is now studied as equally part of the "tradition" of art history the way the British landscape painters of the 18th century are. Žižek is our Duchamp. Personally, I find the debate between Milbank and Žižek not all that interesting. Žižek is simply doing what many intellectual Marxists (including Tillich when he was still in Germany) were doing in the 1920s, when they were seeking to develop a new theology compatible with dialectical materialism. Same thing was going on in the 1970s with Liberation Theology. Žižek uses a lot of Hegel (a lot more than you realize), as do all Marxists. What troubles me is how historically old-hat and stale the kind of debates you find in THE MONSTROSITY OF CHRIST really are. Unfortunately, the great age of postmodernist innovation and radicalism seems to have faded into the sunset, and American academics are now doing what they've always done all my adult life - hanging on every word of some self-made European celebrity (they're celebrities because they're European) instead of digging into their history and the very legacy these guys are mining. The recent fame of Žižek astounds me, because I think French thinkers like Derrida, Deleuze (the last two admittedly recently dead, but that doesn't negate their significance), Marion, and Nancy (admittedly old guys, which may make them less appealing) as well as German philosophers such as Peter Sloterdijk), all of whom talk about religion and "theological" matters have a lot more to say on the topic. Žižek is a great entertainer, and someone whose captured the American academic "tonight show" circuit, but that doesn't mean he's got more depth. Rather less. Žižek decoded Lacan for theologians - I think that is his greatest contribution. This blog is called "church and pomo." I would remind readers that as someone present at the creation of "postmodern theology" in the 1970s, and as one who along with people like Taylor birthed it and shaped it in its early stages, that the same issues were then up for grabs. In those days it was "assumed" that the only theology was Neo-Orthodox theology (unless you were some sort of sectarian fundamentalist who attended schools where they read anything except the Bible, anti-evolutionist tirades, and perhaps Francis Schaefer). Because Neo-Orthodoxy by then had become so, well, uh, booorrring, anyone studying theology was looking for something more insightful and more engaging. Along came the death of God movement, and it drew a lot of attention, but it was perceived academically as more show than substance. Altizer actually became a serious thinker (and I would say a great Christian thinker) after this early days of fame. His later writings are much more interesting than what he wrote in the Sixties. In the age of the late 1960s and early 70s social ferment, cultural revolution, and radicalism, Marx and Hegel were all the rage. If you read an old chestnut like Juergen Moltmann's THEOLOGY OF HOPE (which interestingly is much like Derrida's SPECTERS OF MARX without speaking Derridese), you can get a sense of all this. Then because the philosophical establishment was so boring because it was so densely and decadently analytical(how many books can you write about the relation/difference between "denotation" and "connotation"?), the new generation slowly turned to Continental philosophy, which was driven by the late Heidegger. Then Derrida came on the scene, and the rest is history. Of course I would point out until Jack Caputo published PRAYERS AND TEARS in the late 1990s, most theologians of all kinds (even "radical ones") wouldn't touch Derrida. Taylor's writings during this period, which feature Derrida, are really far less about Derrida and more about Taylor's own sort of "neo-Hegelian" vision, which naturally has to consider the importance of everything. When I offered my first Derrida seminar in 1998 I could only scrape up two students, and they were in English and political theory. No theologians. Freakout. Now everybody wants to study Derrida. I thank Jack for that. And of course we have people talking about "deconstructive theology," though I'm not sure how Derridean it really is what they are talking about. BTW's 75 percent of the American philosophical academy (which is non-Continental) STILL doesn't consider Derrida a "real philosopher." Real philosophers argue, debate, demonstrate, and refute. "Real philosophers" don't deconstruct, which is what, according to this canard as expressed by one of my own philosophical associates, only "literary types" do. Yes, good people, from my humble point of view, I would say Žižek IS a theologian in the same way that Duchamp and Andy Warhol are artists. But he may not be a "real theologian." Thirty years ago we referred to theologians who did all the Christian confessional stuff as "confessional theologians" and people like Tillich or Taylor as "philosophical theologians." So maybe we can reach consensus on the latter point. Of course it still raises the unresolved question - still fiercely debated - whether you can Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic, or neo-pagan "theologians," which in a lot of non-evangelical seminary faculty many claim to actually do. I think the only way to settle the issue is what I would call the "smell a theologian" criterion. If you get a whiff that there's a theologian in the room, or in a book, you've got to go with your sense. But it's probably not worth debating. A more polite version of this principle could be called the theological "Gamaliel test." If it endures, it is of God, or it is of theology. Otherwise, it's just a question of taste, and de gustibus non est disputandum.