Murmurs and Antagonisms

Orthodoxy via Heresy

Category: Thought Experiments

Criticism as Immanence

Criticism, deconstruction, breaking down are never in their own right truly right. There’s always a need (a demand) for a rebuilding. It’s well and good to complain or critique but what positive change is the dissident effecting? There exists a demand to fix, to rebuild. Even the French Revolution centered on fixing problems by instituting a new social order (being). Same goes for the Reformation, the American Revolution, etc. It’s always deconstruction to an end. This impulse/desire for the new, for the better, for the alternative to what is seems problematic to me. It’s fundamentally a negation of what is by raising high a brand new transcendent narrative. This is why the Reformation wasn’t really a shift, at least not beyond the surface level of existence. All it was was a replacement of one form of transcendence with another. It’s the “common installation of a transcendent plane” instead of an “immanent affirmation of the world” (Barber, On Diaspora).

Fundamentally, then, the criticism of criticism centers on the lack, the lack of a positive alternative, a plan of action. The criticism leveled at criticism is one of transcendence and the always already present desire for a new plane of transcendence. What the critique fails to appreciate is that deconstruction/criticism/whatever one calls the action of breaking down is the purest affirmation of experience, of living now. Criticism centers on the fact that whatever transcendent claim is being advanced fails to meet the needs now of persons, of the world. So, to replace it with a positive better way of being would be to counteract the purpose of criticism.

God: The Bastard

The following post is a jumping off point from a post I’ve previously linked to (so if you haven’t read it you should since my meditation on this passage finds it origin in his thoughts, I’m derivative I know) at Matt McCracken’s blog in which he points out the curious phrase in the book of Job where it states that Job’s friends and family “…came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and they ate bread with him in his house; they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him; and each of them gave him a piece of money and a gold ring [Emphasis McCraken’s].”

The passage does what too many evangelicals are afraid to do with the book of Job: foist responsibility of all the evil done (and it was evil) upon God. Too often when Job is being dealt with we say God allowed this evil to happen. But really? As if that absolves God of any responsibility for what occurred. The text, it seems, makes things less simple. More bluntly: the text itself clearly states that God had an active role in bringing evil upon Job.

(Note: this is not some singular cherry picking because the context is within a larger framework of a book, a story which clearly affirms the statement in this passage.)

What is this passage even about? Simple answer: God does evil things. End of story. Of course every Calvinist agrees with this statement (or should if they have any desire for intellectual consistency) but most people don’t like the idea. For good reason, even. But let’s take a moment and consider that earlier in Job the main character gives to God the attribute of being the one “gives and takes away” and then in Lamentations we see the poet decrying God’s apparent injustices. This type of mourning and anger permeates the Psalms and can even be found in the cry of Jesus upon the cross. What are we to do with this? In all honesty I’m not sure. I want to say God is not evil but God obviously then goes on to commit the greatest atrocity by planning and enacting via human agency the murder of his own son. So, maybe the odd beauty, the disturbing nature of the cross is that it forever separates us from God all the while bringing us near?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Failure

There’s an obsession in the world today with making an impact. As if that’s the end goal of our being. Which, frankly, it’s not. At all. Nor is it the rather common refrain of living for the glory of God. More clearly, the goal of humanity is to realize the rather odd irony of Jesus. This irony is one which states, quite bluntly, that failure is the way to impact the world. Sure, Christians would say Jesus achieved something for us on the cross and by the Resurrection, and, while not opposed to this idea, I want to suggest that Jesus failed on the cross. Precisely: Jesus failed at being God and human.

Unless you were not aware the historical person known as Jesus died. He was brutally murdered. But throughout it all he never once protested in an attempt to retain some sort of absurd dignity. Humans want their pride, their dignity, and Jesus essentially says that those pursuits are meaningless and trivial. In fact, the want for dignity seems counterproductive to what he wants to achieve, the acceptance of the rejected and ostracized. His failure to be, well, human, a man, as we understand it is the acceptance of everyone.

But his failure as God seems much more absurd. God(s) aren’t supposed to die. (Anyone who says God didn’t die on the cross is playing the game of semantic masturbation, pleasing themselves for comfort sake). God died on the cross. No question. And somehow the point almost seems to be that Jesus wants us to see that God is really, truly, malleable within our hands. God is subject to man in the most important moment.