"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"It is impossible for me to say in my book one word about all that music has meant in my life. How then can I hope to be understood?--Ludwig Wittgenstein

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

"...being Christian is itself a posture of offense toward the world"

rustypickup sends me here:

To be a scholar of religion is to participate in a hermeneutics of the incomprehensible. That isn’t exactly right: what scholars of religion do is account for why groups of people consistently agree to things that other people think are incomprehensible, irrational, even senseless. Images illegible relative to contemporary notions of geometry or perspective; abstractions so abstract they twist the brain; doctrines so specific they seem impracticable; myths so fantastic they seem extraterrestrial. Through documentary engagement, linguistic specificity, historical and sociological and economic analysis—scholars of religion make those things legible as human products of human need.

It is therefore unsurprising that I, a scholar of religion, am invested in an account of Trump that renders his absurdity less so. It is, perhaps, my sole specific obligation: to figure out the reason in his seeming madness. To ask, too: Why does he seem mad to some, and not at all to others? The history of religions has long suggested the one does not exist without the other, that to be inside something requires someone else being outside. And, too, that making the strange familiar inevitably ought to make the familiar strange. But here I get ahead of myself.
I quote that though it makes the article look pedantic and perhaps even dull.  It is anything but.  I post that to advertise.   And to agree:  understanding is dangerous.  Like this, for example:

Kierkegaard asks us to understand offense not as a sign that something wrong has happened, but as an indication the truth is beginning to be identified. In our effort to avoid the hurt that offense produces, we may also avoid the foundational claims exposed in its production. “The point is simple but astonishing,” Khawja writes. “Being a Christian means not to reject the world but to employ the world—indeed, actually to need the world—as that toward which one’s conduct may be understood as offensive.” Kierkegaard says that being Christian is itself a posture of offense toward the world. Although the word “Christian” is especially important to Kierkegaard in that sentence, Khawaja’s demonstrates the extent to which secularism represents another idiom of the same form.
I quote from this article to entice you.  Especially in the days after this election, this article is the most important thing I've found on the internet.  Not that I'm a scholar of the internet; I'm just lucky in my audience.

Scholars of religion often try to combat prejudice by showing how universal are the principles shared among the religions of the world. But this act of flattening comparison does nothing to assess or address the fact that belonging to a religion—belonging to a collectivity—is a radical act of distinction. Religions sanction conspiracy. If we are to use religion not only as a subject for diagnosis, but also as a tool of relation, we need to imagine a concept of encounter that is less phobic of offense. Less certain of the safety of difference. More interested in the tough work, the impossible wrestling with alien concepts until we make them legibly human, again.

Because the arguments in days to come are going to focus on how to fight back, to gain power, to trade blow for blow, to make Trump and his supporters wear the mantle of "other" so "we" can affirm "us."  It's probably what will end up happening no matter what; but it's also exactly how we got to this place, where a cartoon villain will now be President of the United States for at least the next four years.

Read the article; I think you'll see what I mean.


Blogger The Thought Criminal said...

I started a list yesterday of groups and people I just wish would go away and decided not to publish it, but here is as far as I got.

The Green Party
Jill Stein,
Susan Sarandon
Michael Moore
In These Times magazine
Cenk Uygur
Bill Clinton

The impulse on the lefty left, to keep doing the same things that haven't worked seems to be irresistible. I used to attribute it to romanticism about the legends of the old left, then I thought it was a product of being duped by the old lefties who never got anywhere, I'm beginning to think it's essentially because the lefty left is stupider than the righty right, the righty right has gotten power, the lefty left has gotten defeated.

5:30 AM  
Blogger Rmj said...

I just read that voter turnout in south Texas, reliably Democratic and overwhelmingly Hispanic, didn't go up a jot this time. Experts expected higher turnout because of Trump's offensive and racist comments; turns out, I suspect, people in south Texas are used to that talk, and they need a reason to turn out and vote.

Hillary didn't give it to them. Seems it wasn't enough the other guy was a joke (the standard Democratic line, according to reports now), they needed a reason to vote.

They didn't get it.

Ever hear Michael Moore or Cenk Uygur or Bill Clinton or Susan Sarandon say anything that would motivate those voters? Neither have i. They are reliably Democratic.

They are regularly ignored. Something I learned in seminary is coming back to me. The struggle of brown and black (and now Muslim) in this country is old and still invisible to most whites (is Micheal Moore talking about that? Susan Sarandon? Bill Clinton?). Now the lefty left is talking about how hurt they are. Maybe they should think about how this is the regular experience of brown and black in this nation, and how they could learn to deal with it, or even unify to take it on.

But they'll continue to say we shoulda nominated Bernie, who had even less connection to minorities than Hillary did.

6:43 AM  

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