"...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.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:
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.
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.