Τετάρτη, 25 Δεκεμβρίου 2013

X.Λάσκου: O 'Hγκλετον για τον Χριστό


Πηγή: Red Note Book

Σκέφτηκα για σήμερα, παραμονή Χριστουγέννων του 2013, αντί επιφυλλίδας να παραθέσω μια σειρά από σκέψεις του γνωστού και μη εξαιρετέου Ιρλανδού μαρξιστή Τέρυ Ήγκλετον. Ο ίδιος τις επεξεργάστηκε στην προσπάθειά του να αντιμετωπίσει έναν ορυμαγδό «αθεϊστικών» γραπτών της πρόσφατης αγγλοαμερικανικής βιβλιοπαραγωγής, μεταξύ των οποίων αυτά του Ρίτσαρντ Ντόκινς, του Κρίστοφερ Χίτσενς και του Ντάνιελ Ντένετ. Τα βιβλία των οποίων, κατά τη γνώμη του, βρήκαν απήχηση αντιστρόφως ανάλογη προς την αξία τους.

Στην πραγματικότητα, αυτό για το οποίο εγκαλεί τους συγκεκριμένους φιλελεύθερους είναι πως πλασάρουν έναν τζάμπα αθεϊσμό, δογματικό όσο και ο ισλαμισμός των ταλιμπάν. Και, ακόμη χειρότερα, πως, αν αυτό στο οποίο επιτίθενται είναι η θρησκεία, τότε δεν μπορούν να την αντιμετωπίσουν αποτελεσματικά, στο μέτρο που ελάχιστα γνωρίζουν γι’ αυτήν. Πράγμα που, μάλλον, εξηγεί καλύτερα από ο,τιδήποτε άλλο και το ύφος χιλίων καρδιναλίων (!), με το οποίο εκτοξεύουν τις επιθέσεις τους.

Αυτό που κάνει ο Ήγκλετον, εν τέλει, είναι να επισημάνει με όλη του την κριτική δύναμη πόσο άνευ κόστους είναι μια επίθεση στον χριστιανισμό, όταν δεν δείχνει πρωταρχικά την «κοιλάδα των δακρύων», στην οποία η θρησκεία δεν αποτελεί παρά τον «αναστεναγμό του καταπιεσμένου πλάσματος». Μιλήστε για τον καπιταλισμό ή σταματήστε να θορυβείτε, είναι η προτροπή που απευθύνει στους φιλελεύθερους –που πολύ εύκολα, όπως έχει δείξει, άλλωστε η πρόσφατη ιστορία, αναβαθμίζονται πρακτικά σε νεοφιλελεύθερους.

***

Δεν θα πρέπει, ωστόσο, να νομιστεί πως ο ίδιος ο Ήγκλετον είναι θρησκόφιλος (!). Κάθε άλλο. Όπως πολύ χαρακτηριστικά επισημαίνει, «[δ]ύσκολα κανείς αποφεύγει την αίσθηση ότι ένας Θεός τόσο λαμπρός, επινοητικός και ευφάνταστος, όπως αυτός που ενδεχομένως θα μπορούσε να υπάρχει, θα ήταν ικανός να κατεβάσει κάποια καλύτερη ιδέα από την θρησκεία για να σώσει τον κόσμο».

Και, επιπλέον, δεν υπάρχει αμφιβολία πως, παρόλο που δεν γίνεται να μην ελεγχθούν με τον αυστηρότερο τρόπο οι φιλελεύθεροι αθεϊστές για ασύγγνωστη προχειρότητα, «[π]ρωταίτιος της διανοητικής ατημελησίας των επικριτών του είναι βεβαιότατα ο ίδιος ο χριστιανισμός. Με εξαίρεση την ιδιάζουσα περίπτωση του σταλινισμού, είναι δύσκολο να σκεφτεί κανείς ιστορικό κίνημα που να έχει προδώσει με ποταπότερο τρόπο τις επαναστατικές του καταβολές. Ο χριστιανισμός έχει προ πολλού αλλάξει στρατόπεδο […] [Έ]χει ως επί το πλείστον μετατραπεί σε θρήσκευμα των ευκατάστατων προαστίων αντί να εκπροσωπεί την συγκλονιστική υπόσχεση που προσφέρθηκε στους ανυπόληπτους της κοινωνίας και στους μυστικούς αντιαποικιοκράτες μαχητές με τους οποίους έκανε παρέα ο Ιησούς. Η διάθεση των ευκατάστατων προαστίων απέναντι στους […] «ανεπρόκοπους» […] είναι βασικά να τους ξεπλύνουν από τους δρόμους σα λεκέδες. Η εν λόγω συνωμοταξία ευσέβειας τρομοκρατείται στη θέα ενός γυναικείου στήθους, αλλά θορυβείται απείρως λιγότερο από τις αισχρές ανισότητες μεταξύ πλουσίων και φτωχών. Θρηνεί τον θάνατο ενός εμβρύου, αλλά δεν φαίνεται να συγκινείται με τα παιδιά που γίνονται παρανάλωμα του πυρός στο Ιράκ και το Αφγανιστάν. Σε γενικές γραμμές, λατρεύει έναν Θεό βλάσφημα πλασμένο κατ’ εικόνα της –έναν καλοξυρισμένο, κοντοκουρεμένο, οπλοφορούντα, σεξουαλικό ψυχαναγκαστικό Θεό, με ιδιαίτερη αδυναμία στο οντολογικά προνομιούχο κομμάτι ακριβώς νοτίως του Καναδά και βορείως του Μεξικού […]».

Κι αυτό παρ’ όλο που ο Ιησούς είναι ό,τι περισσότερο απομακρυσμένο και εχθρικό απέναντι στους νερντς των προαστίων, απέναντι στους ωφελιμιστές και παρανοϊκά ατομικιστές προτεστάντες –και όχι μόνο– των μοντέρνων καιρών. Στο λόγο του είμαστε πλάσματα του Θεού στο μέτρο –και μόνο τότε– που υπάρχουμε καθαρά χάριν ευχαρίστησης. Ούτε για τη δουλειά, ούτε για την περιουσία και την «προκοπή». Μόνο για την ευχαρίστηση.

Με τα λόγια του Ήγκλετον και πάλι, «[τ]ο ερώτημα που έθεσε ο ριζοσπαστικός ρομαντισμός, ο οποίος υπό αυτό το πρίσμα συμπεριλαμβάνει τον Καρλ Μαρξ, είναι το ποιοι πολιτικοί μετασχηματισμοί θα ήταν απαραίτητοι για να γίνει κάτι τέτοιο πραγματικά εφικτό. Ο Ιησούς, σε αντιδιαστολή με την πλειονότητα των υπεύθυνων Αμερικανών πολιτών, εμφανίζεται να μην κάνει καμιά δουλειά, ενώ κατηγορείται ως κοιλιόδουλος και μεθύστακας. Παρουσιάζεται ως άστεγος, χωρίς υπάρχοντα, ταγμένος εργένης, πλανόδιος οδοιπόρος, κοινωνικά περιθωριακός, περιφρονητής των συγγενικών δεσμών, ανεπάγγελτος, φίλος των απόβλητων και των παριών, αποστρεφόμενος τα υλικά αποκτήματα, χωρίς φόβο για την ασφάλειά του, αμελής όσον αφορά τους κανόνες αγνότητας, επικριτής της παραδοσιακής αυθεντίας, αγκάθι στο πλευρό του κατεστημένου και μάστιγα για τους πλούσιους και τους ισχυρούς […] Βρίσκεται μεταξύ χίπη και πολεμιστή. Σέβεται το εβραϊκό Σάββατο όχι επειδή το τελευταίο σημαίνει εκκλησιασμό, αλλά επειδή αντιπροσωπεύει μια προσωρινή απόδραση από το βάρος της εργασίας. Το Σάββατο έχει να κάνει με την ξεκούραση, όχι με την θρησκεία. Ένας από τους καλύτερους λόγους για να είσαι χριστιανός, όπως και σοσιαλιστής, είναι το ό,τι δεν σου αρέσει να δουλεύεις και απορρίπτεις την έμφοβη ειδωλολατρία που κάτι τέτοιο εμπεριέχει –ειδωλολατρία τόσο διαδεδομένη σε χώρες σαν τις Ηνωμένες Πολιτείες. Οι αληθινά πολιτισμένες κοινωνίες δεν οργανώνουν έξτρα-δυναμωτικά πρωινά μέσα στα άγρια χαράματα».

Που πάει να πει πως ο Ιησούς, όπως κι αν το δεις, φέρνει πολύ σε αναρχοκομμουνιστικό φρικιό, μίασμα για κάθε ορθώς σκεπτόμενο άτομο της «εποχής» μας. Σίγουρα, πάντως, «δεν φέρνει ούτε κατά διάνοια σε φιλελεύθερο. Δεν θα γινόταν καλό μέλος επιτροπής. Ούτε θα τα πήγαινε καλά στη Γουόλ Στριτ, όπως δεν τα πήγε καλά με τα γραφεία συναλλάγματος στο ναό της Ιερουσαλήμ». Είναι με τους «ανεπρόκοπους», τους «αποτυχημένους», τα αποβράσματα και τα σκουπίδια της κοινωνίας. Απεχθάνεται τους πλούσιους και δεν συναγελάζεται μαζί τους.

Γι’ αυτό και «[ο]ποιοδήποτε κήρυγμα του Ευαγγελίου αποτυγχάνει να αποτελέσει σκάνδαλο και ύβρι για το καθεστώς είναι [από τη σκοπιά που διαμόρφωσε ο Ιησούς, με το λόγο, αλλά και το βλέμμα του] άχρηστο». Τελική συναγωγή: «Αν δεν αγαπάς είσαι νεκρός, κι αν αγαπάς θα σε σκοτώσουν»

***

Θεώρησα καλό, μέρα που είναι να μεταφέρω τις παραπάνω σκέψεις. Η συνολική οπτική του Ήγκλετον καταγράφεται με εξαιρετικά γλαφυρό τρόπο στο βιβλίο του Λογική, Πίστη και Επανάσταση (μτφ. Πέτρος Γεωργίου, Πατάκη, 2011), από το οποίο πήρα τα παραθέματα προκειμένου να τσιγκλίσω για την ανάγνωση του, μια και το θεωρώ ένα από τα καλύτερα δοκιμιακά έργα εδώ και χρόνια. Κάποιες δικές μου σχετικές σκέψεις περιλαμβάνονται στα άρθρα Τα Χριστούγεννα και η Αριστερά και Η Αριστερά και το Ευαγγέλιο.

Καλά Χριστούγεννα.

Παρασκευή, 15 Νοεμβρίου 2013

Maoist Christology




Πηγή: Stalins moustache

Is it possible to construct a Maoist Christology? Earlier, I noted some reflections from the young Mao on Jesus, only to come across yet more. He begins by noting Confucius’s famous observation: ‘The superior man wishes to be slow in speech and earnest in conduct’. But then he goes against the sage:
If one person who has obtained a pearl and another who owns half a jade disk do not engage in mutual questioning and interaction, how can they broaden their knowledge and achieve erudition? Perhaps this is what is known as inviting offense with speech. But even so, speech cannot be discarded because it can cause transgression, just as food cannot be discarded simply because it can cause one to choke. Furthermore, he who speaks does not necessarily transgress, and even if he does transgress, this is but a small matter to a wise man. Jesus was dismembered for speaking out, Long and Bi were executed for speaking out. (The Writings of Mao Zedong, vol. 1, pp. 72-73).
Crucifixion does not seem to have been an ancient Chinese practice, although dismemberment and disembowelment were (the latter being the fate of Guan Longxian and Bi Gan, who opposed the brutal Zhou Xiu in the twelfth century). Apart from the angle on Jesus, I am intrigued by the way he already draws on eastern and western dimensions in his thought, which was a feature of his later practice.

Κυριακή, 15 Σεπτεμβρίου 2013

Β.Ψύλλης:Θέσεις Πολιτικής Θεολογίας


 
 
 

 
 
 
Η έκφραση πολιτική θεολογία είναι ταυτολογία. Η θεολογία είναι πολιτική από την φύση της, είναι πολιτική κατά την ενέργεια της. Η ταυτολογία αυτή είναι ο τρόπος μου να δηλώσω αυτήν ακριβώς την απώλεια του πολιτικού χαρακτήρα της: την υποταγή της στο πνεύμα ενός κόσμου που σβήνει [1Κορ.7:31]. Ό,τι η Αυτοκρατορία απέτυχε να ολοκληρώση (την υποταγή της θεολογίας στο πνεύμα των εξουσιαστικών σχέσεων διαχείρησης του κόσμου), το επέτυχε ο Πορθητής με την παραχώρηση εξουσίας στον κλήρο. Αυτή η ανωμαλία, η παρα-(την εκκλησιαστική)-φύση μετάλλαξη (του 'έθνος άγιον' [1Πετ.2:9 ~ Γαλ.3:28] σε καθαγιασμένο έθνος-κράτος), σε συνδυασμό με τις υπόλοιπες ιστορικές-πολιτιστικές συνθήκες, ήταν ο τάφος της θεολογίας και η αρχή της βαβυλώνιας σκλαβιάς της Εκκλησίας στον εθνισμό και στο αστικό κράτος. Σκλαβιάς, που την έχει φέρει στην τραγική θέση να παρακολουθή αδύναμη την μεταμοντέρνα διάλυση της κτίσης του Θεού, αυτή η μόνη που θα μπορούσε να αντισταθή στην επερχόμενη, και νάτην εδώ, ανείπωτη βία.

 

 

1

Η θεολογία είναι από την φύση της πολιτική: μια χειρονομία που δηλώνει δυνατότητα. Η θεολογία, όπως και η φιλοσοφία, δεν είναι ούτε έργο ούτε λόγος, όπως αυτά κατανοούνται στα πλαίσια της καθημερινής διαπροσωπικής επικοινωνίας. Όμως, με την θεολογία μπορούμε να βάλουμε ανάμεσα μας την δυνατότητα της δυνατότητας που αυτή δηλώνει. Αυτό το ανάμεσα είναι που την κάνει φύσει ηθική-πολιτική με έναν ιδιαίτερο τρόπο. Και η ιδιαιτερότητα αυτή βρίσκεται στον αποφατικό χαρακτήρα αυτού του ανάμεσα.

Ο αποφατικός χαρακτήρας της θεολογίας είναι τόσο εξαρτημένος από την υπερβατικότητα της ανθρώπινης γλώσσας—του λόγου σαν δυναμικό της ανθρώπινης φύσης—όσο εξαρτημένος είναι από την υπερβατικότητα της εμπειρίας που αυτή (θέλει να) δηλώνει. Αυτή η διπλή εξάρτηση κάνει την θεολογία όχι απλά πηγή ηθικής αλλά ηθική καθεαυτήν: ηθική σαν γεγονός διαμεσολάβησης, χειρονομία. Με αυτήν την έννοια η θεολογία είναι βουβή, όπως η φιλοσοφία είναι το τέλος του λόγου (σαν διαλόγου), είναι ονοματοδοσία. Η διαφορά εδώ είναι ότι, ενώ η φιλοσοφία είναι μόνον τέλος, η θεολογία είναι συνάμα τέλος και εισαγωγή (ή προτύπωση) μιας νέας διαλεκτικής. Βρίσκεται στο διάμεσον-πέρασμα από την χρονικότητα-ιστορία στην αιωνιότητα-έσχατα. Αυτός είναι ο μεσσιανικός της χαρακτήρας: η σιγή πριν την είσοδο στα άγια των αγίων της αιώνιας ύπαρξης. Μια σιγή που ψελλίζοντας ονόματα του κόσμου που παρέρχεται (προσ-)καλεί ό,τι εν εσόπτρω γνωρίζει σαν τέλος-σκοπό του.

 

§   Μια θεολογία υπερβολικά προσκολλημένη σε αυτά τα ονόματα μπορεί να είναι μόνο ιδεολογία, φιλοσοφία, τέλος τελειωτικό. Μια θεολογία υπερβολικά προσκολλημένη στην κατοπτρική εικόνα είναι μηδενιστικός μυστικισμός—άρνηση της δημιουργικής και συνεκτικής δύναμης του Λόγου. Η θεολογία δεν είναι ούτε κόσμος ούτε έσχατα, είναι όριο. Και αυτό το όριο δεν έχει καμμία τοπικότητα, γιατί κόσμος και έσχατα δεν αντιδιαστέλονται σαν αυτόνομες διακεκριμένες πραγματικότητες, είναι μόνο τρόποι που συναντώνται στο ίδιο σώμα, το σώμα του σαρκωμένου Λόγου. Μόνος τόπος θεολογίας είναι αυτό το σώμα και μόνη συνάντηση είναι η 'υποταγή' [2Κορ.9:13] του θελήματος της κτίσης στο θέλημα του Κτίστη. Κάθε φορά που αυτή η συνάντηση λαμβάνει χώρα έχουμε θεολογία: νέα ονόματα γεννιούνται σαν παιδιά της γονιμοποίησης του ανθρώπινου λόγου από τον θείο Λόγο. Κάθε τέτοιο νέο όνομα είναι ένα νέο όριο: τροπικό τέλος της ιστορίας και νέα αρχή της, όχι σαν επανάληψη (repetition) ούτε σαν εξέλιξη (evolution), αλλά σαν διαρκής αναδημιουργία του χρόνου μέχρι το 'πλήρωμα' του [Εφ.1:10].

 

2

Η θεολογία είναι τότε θεολογία —συμμορφώνεται στο έργο-λογικότητα του Θεού— όταν θέλει την σωτηρία του κόσμου. Αυτό σημαίνει, πρώτον, ότι αποδέχεται τον κόσμο και τον αποδέχεται κριτικά: τον κόσμο στη φύση του, σαν ενέργεια-φανέρωση της αγάπης του Θεού, και όχι στην παραφύση κατάσταση του, σαν πλέγμα σχέσεων βίας. Δεύτερον, ότι η θεολογία είναι σε θέση να ερμηνεύη την ανθρώπινη γνώση σε κάθε της στάδιο. Όταν είτε την προσπερνά, ανίκανη να διαλεχθή μαζί της, είτε υποτάσεται σε αυτήν, τότε προδίδει τον σκοπό της.

Η θεολογία δεν είναι ούτε εκ του κόσμου τούτου, ούτε εκτός του κόσμου τούτου. Η θεολογία είναι η κριτική συνείδηση του κόσμου, η πολιτική οικονομία αυτού του οίκου που ονομάζουμε κόσμο. Μια πολιτική οικονομία που δεν αποσκοπεί στην διαχείρηση του κόσμου, αλλά στην μεταμόρφωση του —την φυσική του σκοπιμότητα— σε εκκλησία: σε μεσσιανική κοινότητα κλήσης σε πληρότητα ζωής.

 

§   Η ερμηνεία της ανθρώπινης γνώσης σε κάθε της στάδιο είναι κατεξοχήν ηθική-πολιτική πράξη και συνάμα προϋπόθεση ηθικής. Η ερμηνεία αυτή είναι η αυτεπίγνωση της ανθρώπινης συνείδησης σαν πηγή γνώσης (όπου γνώση: η αναπαράσταση-ερμηνεία των πραγμάτων και των σχέσεων τους από την ανθρώπινη συνείδηση) και, επομένως, σαν πηγή κάθε σχέσης του υποκειμένου, είτε αυτή είναι σχέση βίας είτε σχέση ελευθερίας και αγάπης. Με άλλα λόγια, η συνείδηση σαν εργαστήριο γνώσης είναι η ρίζα κάθε πολιτικής πραγματικότητας και η ερμηνεία της γνώσης είναι το θεμέλιο κάθε πολιτικής στάσης.

Στη ρίζα αυτού του συστήματος είναι πάντα η ανθρώπινη γλώσσα: η μήτρα της ανθρώπινης συνείδησης και ο ιστός που πάνω της χτίζεται και αναπτύσεται. Για αυτό η πολιτική πράξη είναι πάντα διά-λογος και η θεολογία κριτική της προϋπόθεση. Γιατί μόνο η θεολογία μπορεί να κρίνη την γλώσσα (την αρχή κάθε κρίσης) από τα έξω —να την ζυγίζη διαρκώς με τον λόγο του σαρκωμένου Λόγου [Εβρ.4:12 & Εφ.4:14], του οποίου πεσμένη εικόνα αποτελεί.

 

3

Ο αποφατικός χαρακτήρας της θεολογίας έγκειται στην λογική της μη-βία: στην άρνηση της να διατυπώση τελεσίδικες αποφάνσεις για την πραγματικότητα, ενώ ταυτόχρονα δεν παύη να ερμηνεύη αυτήν την πραγματικότητα με τρόπο που να κρατά ανοιχτή την προοπτική μιας τελικής φανέρωσης της αλήθειας της. (Αυτή η φανέρωση δεν μπορεί παρά να είναι έξω από τα όρια της χρονικότητας —όθεν και ο αποφατικός χαρακτήρας της θεολογικής ερμηνείας— και αυτό συνεπάγεται την χωρίς τέλος ανάπτυξη αυτού του τέλους.)

Μια τέτοια αποφατική ερμηνεία του κόσμου και των σχέσεων που τον συγκροτούν είναι η μόνη δυνατή ερμηνεία που αποκλείει την λογική βία των ερμηνειών του αυτονομημένου-αυτοπροσδιοριζόμενου νού και την πραγματική βία που αυτές παράγουν.

 

§   Η θεολογία σαν αποφατικός λόγος —λόγος που αναφέρεται λογικά στον δημιουργικό λόγο του δημιουργού Λόγου του Θεού— είναι η λογική άρνηση κάθε ουτοπίας, είτε φυσικής είτε ηθικής. Γιατί κάθε ουτοπία είναι προσπάθεια του αυτονομημένου φαντασιακού να υποκαταστήση την δημιουργική και συνεκτική παρουσία του Πνεύματος στον κόσμο-κτίση του Λόγου με ένα νόημα που δεν υπάρχει παρά μόνο σαν επιβολή-βία του θελήματος του αυτονομημένου φαντασιακού για κυριαρχία πάνω στην πραγματικότητα μέσω μιας αυθαίρετης (αυτοπροσδιοριζόμενης) ερμηνείας του κόσμου σαν δομή, όπου οι κάθε λογής σχέσεις παράγουν τον λόγο και το νόημα που αυτό το φαντασιακό χρειάζεται για να υπάρχη σαν κριτής κάθε 'καλού' ή 'κακού' [Γεν.3:5]. Κάθε πολιτικό πρόταγμα, κάθε νόμος, πατά πάνω σε αυτό το πλαστό θεμέλιο και υπάρχει μόνο σαν βία πάνω στα πράγματα —η βία που σκορπά γύρω του ένα θηρίο στην προσπάθεια του να σταθή στη ζωή που χάνεται από μέσα του. Κάθε ουτοπία είναι καρπός του 'δέντρου της γνώσης'. Το οποίο δέντρο της γνώσης είναι το “έμβλημα της κρίσης του κατηγόρου”, κι “αυτή η τεράστια ειρωνία σηματοδοτεί την μυθική αρχή του νόμου” (Walter Benjamin). Η λογική άρνηση της ουτοπίας είναι η πρώτη και η σημαντικότερη συμβολή της θεολογίας στην άρνηση της βίας που κατασπαράσει τον κόσμο-κτίση του κτίστη Λόγου. Και για αυτό η θεολογία, όταν είναι θεολογία, είναι πάντα πολιτική κατεξοχήν.

 

4

Η πολιτική θεολογία, αντίθετα με την ουτοπία, είναι η θεολογία που δείχνει την φυσική σχέση του κτίστη Λόγου με την κτίση, που φανερώνει τον τρόπο της φιλότητας, της θείας λογικότητας.

Ο Λόγος με το δώρο της θείας εικόνας, τον λόγο, δωρίζει στον άνθρωπο  τη δυνατότητα σχέσης με τον Πλάστη του. Η φυσικότητα αυτής της σχέσης είναι η λογικότητα της: ότι ο λόγος, όσο παραμένει φυσικός λόγος (εικόνα του δημιουργικού λόγου του Λόγου), γεννά σχέση —κοινωνεί το είναι του δίνοντας ονόματα στα πράγματα [Γεν.2:19], που ήδη υπάρχουν επειδή τα κάλεσε στην ύπαρξη ο Λόγος, και κοινωνόντας το είναι του (την “εν-τατική καθολικότητα του λόγου”) σχετίζεται λογικά με τα πράγματα που ονοματίζει και συναντά τα άλλα πρόσωπα που έχουν αυτήν την δωρεά να δίνουν ονόματα και να κοινωνούν το είναι τους (“εκ-τατική καθολικότητα του λόγου”). Το όνομα είναι η σχέση. Και αυτή η σχέση είναι ανάμεσα στα λογικά όντα (πρόσωπα) σαν φανέρωση της κοινής τους λογικής φύσης, σαν ενέργεια της πολιτικής τους ουσίας.

 

§   Στην κατάσταση της ανταρσίας-αυτονόμησης του ανθρώπινου λόγου, που ακολούθησε την πτώση από την φυσική λογικότητα, ο λόγος αναζητώντας έρεισμα διαστρέφει την φυσική τάξη και αναγνωρίζει σαν πηγή του τις σχέσεις, σαν αυτόνομες υπαρκτικά πραγματικότητες (είτε αέναα τυχαίες είτε αέναα αιτιατές). Το αποτέλεσμα αυτής της φυσικής-λογικής αυθαιρεσίας είναι η αφαίρεση της αναγωγικότητας. Και η αναγωγική συνείδηση, είτε θεωρεί την πραγματικότητα ένα συστημικό ρίζωμα είτε ένα πλέγμα αφηρημένης και αδήριτης αναγκαιότητας, για να υπάρχη σαν τέτοια πρέπει διαρκώς να διασπά την ενότητα της εμπειρίας σε όλο και περισσότερα κομμάτια ετερόνομων μονάδων, που η μόνη τους πραγματικότητα είναι ένα υπερπαραγωγικό, άψυχων τέκνων, φαντασιακό [Ιω.8:44].

Ευθύνη της θεολογίας είναι να καταγγείλη ενώπιον της ανθρώπινης συνείδησης την βία της αναγωγικής πλάνης πάνω στα πράγματα και τα πρόσωπα [Κολ.2:4 & 8]. Και ένα πρώτο βήμα για αυτό είναι η αναγνώριση της ενότητας της ανθρώπινης φύσης και η άρνηση του διχασμού του προσώπου σε σώμα και πνεύμα. (Ο άνθρωπος του Αυγουστίνου [De Mor. Eccl. I,27,52]: ένας νους που χρησιμοποιεί ένα σώμα [βλ. Πλωτίνου, Ενν. 6,7,5].) Διχασμού που πάνω του στηρίζεται όλη η πλάνη και η βία της αστικής κοινωνίας, του βασιλείου του καίσαρα.

 

5

Όταν ο Χριστός αντιδιαστέλλει την βασιλεία του Θεού με το βασίλειο του καίσαρα [Μθ.22:21], τα αντιδιαστέλλει με απόλυτο τρόπο [Μθ.6:24], και μάλιστα στη βάση της μονεταριστικής διάστασης του Ρωμαϊκού dominium, που είναι και η καρδιά και το θεμέλιο του Ρωμαϊκού νόμου. (Είναι χαρακτηριστικό ότι η τελική αντίδραση του κόσμου στο πρόσωπο του Χριστού γίνεται σε αυτή την νομική βάση [Ιω.19:12] και με αυτό το όχημα [Μθ.26:15 & 28:12].)

Το βασίλειο του καίσαρα είναι το βασίλειο του Ρωμαϊκού νόμου, δηλαδή το βασίλειο του αφηρημένου-αναγωγικού πνεύματος: ο θρίαμβος της κυριαρχίας του αυτονομημένου φαντασιακού πάνω στη φύση. Εδώ όλα είναι κτήση και βία —persona είναι μόνο ο ιδιοκτήτης, και κάθε τι άλλο res. 'Ομως αυτό το πρόσωπο (νομικό κατά την σύσταση του, ηθικό-πολιτικό κατά την ενέργεια του), μην έχοντας άλλο σταθερό περιεχόμενο από την ιδιοκτησία (νομή), και μάλιστα στην πιο αφηρημένη εκδοχή της (νόμισμα: αυθαίρετη αξία πραγμάτων και ενεργειών), είναι ένα άτομο, μια κλειστή μονάδα, που ταλαντώνεται συνεχώς ανάμεσα στην νομική υπόσταση του 'προσώπου' και του 'πράγματος' αναζητώντας την ενότητα του στην αφηρημένη ενότητα του εμπορεύματος (με άλλα λόγια, στην κατακερματισμένη φύση), που ιδεατοποιείται σαν κεφάλαιο. Η υπόσταση του κρίνεται στις τράπεζες των κολλυβιστών [Μθ.21:12].

Σε αυτό το βασίλειο, όπου αποξενωμένα, διαρκώς διαμαχόμενα, ηθικά υποκείμενα (subjects=πεταμένα κάτω, από την παθ. μετοχή του λατ. ρ. jacere=πετώ) μπορούν να σχετίζονται μόνο εξωτερικά, η μόνη σταθερή persona είναι το κεφάλαιο, γιατί μόνο αυτό σταθερά δρα σαν 'πρόσωπο' και όχι σαν 'πράγμα', αποτελώντας την μόνη κοινά αποδεκτή, σταθερή ουσία, που αναπαράγει διαρκώς εαυτήν (σαν τόκο) σε μία χωρίς όρια επέκταση-κυριαρχία πάνω στην κτίση. Αυτό το βασίλειο είναι η αποθέωση του αναγωγικού πνέυματος, η απόλυτη άρνηση της δημιουργικής και συνεκτικής ενέργειας του Λόγου, ό,τι ονομάζουμε αστική κοινωνία.

 

§   Η μοίρα των χρημάτων της προδοσίας μετά την αυτοκτονία του Ιούδα [Μθ.27:7] βεβαιώνει ότι το πλαίσιο της σύγκρουσης του κόσμου με τον Χριστό, τουλάχιστον στην τελική της φάση, είναι η κυριαρχία του Ρωμαϊκού νόμου πάνω στα πράγματα σαν αποκλειστικού νομέα και ερμηνευτή τους: τα χρήματα της πώλησης του διδασκάλου μετά τον θάνατο του πωλητή-κατόχου τους πραγματώνονται σε res nullius [βλ. Ιουστινιανού, Institutiones, Lib.II Tit.I 7-10], και μάλιστα, ειρωνικά, σε αυτό το πιο ειρωνικό περιστατικό της Γραφής, σε res religius (αφιερωμένου στους θεούς του Κάτω Κόσμου). Παραλλάσοντας, λοιπόν, την παρατήρηση του Benjamin [βλ. §3], θα λέγαμε: αυτή η τεράστια ειρωνία σηματοδοτεί την αρχή του μεσσιανικού τέλους του νόμου.

 

6

Άν υπάρχει ένας Αντίχριστος, αυτός είναι η αστική κοινωνία. Γιατί, όπως ο Χριστός είναι ο σαρκωμένος Λόγος, η αστική κοινωνία είναι το σαρκωμένο αφηρημένο νόημα. Αυτή η σάρκωση όμως, όπως και το νόημα που σαρκώνει, δεν είναι πραγματική, είναι ένα είδωλο. Ένα είδωλο που υπάρχει μόνο και μόνο γιατί ο άνθρωπος θέλει να υπάρχη, γιατί μόνο σε αυτό το είδωλο η πλαστή συνείδηση του αυτονομημένου υποκειμένου βρίσκει την εικόνα της, την επιβεβαίωση της. Αυτή η επιβεβαίωση όμως είναι συνάμα και η ακύρωση του αυτονομημένου υποκειμένου, η επιλογή του θανάτου χωρίς τέλος, η άρνηση του φυσικού προσώπου και η μετατροπή του σε εμπόρευμα: ο ολοκληρωτισμός της γραφειοκρατικής κοινωνίας, το τέλος της αγάπης, το τέλος της ιστορίας.

 

§   Στο φαντασιακό πλαίσιο της αστικής κοινωνίας, και μάλιστα στην πλέον απόλυτη εκδοχή της, αυτήν της γραφειοκρατικής-μονεταριστικής κοινωνίας, της 'αρχής του κανενός', η προσωπική εμπειρία (διαχρονία) απαλλοτριώνεται στην δίνη της φαντασιακής δομής (ψευδής συγχρονία). Αυτό είναι το τέλος της ιστορίας, η άρνηση της πολιτικής (λογικά ηθικής) φύσης του ανθρώπου, η αποθέωση της βίας. Αντίθετα, η θεολογία, σαν λόγος που λέγει-επικοινωνεί την κατεξοχήν προσωπική εμπειρία [Γαλ.2:20], είναι η κατεξοχήν γλωσσική προϋπόθεση ηθικής-πολιτικής. Η θεολογία είναι η φωνή της εμπειρίας και σαν τέτοια η μόνη που μπορεί να σταθή φραγμός στην βία ενός κόσμου που αντλεί την νομιμότητα του από το φαντασιακό, τον 'μαγικό μηδενισμό' του ειδώλου. Η θεολογία είναι (μπορεί να είναι) πολιτική σαν λογικός (λεκτικός) χώρος ηθικής —πεδίο όπου κάθε στιγμή η ηθική μορφή αναδύεται σαν ζωή και, την ίδια στιγμή, καταρρέει σαν είδωλο—, χώρος επιδίωξης πολιτικής (δια-λογικής) ελευθερίας. Όπου ελευθερία η χωρίς τέλος δράση, το χωρίς όριο ωραίο, το διάμεσο. Και αυτό το διάμεσο, του οποίου η εμπειρία, και όχι η ιδέα, είναι η ηθική της θεολογίας, είναι ένα σώμα: τό σώμα του ζώντος Χριστού. Γιατί πηγή της θεολογίας (και της ηθικής της) δεν είναι ο λόγος του Χριστού, αλλά αυτός ο Χριστός [Ιω.14:6], το δια-λογικό του σώμα. Για τούτο και αυτή η θεολογία, αυτή η ηθική, δεν αποκρυσταλλώνεται σαν νόμος, αλλά υπάρχει σαν διαρκής δια-λεκτική δράση μεσσιανικής ελευθερίας [1Κορ.7:29-31], ή σαν ειρωνία αποδόμησης του αστικού φαντασιακού [Μθ.17:27].

 

7

Η βασιλεία του Πατρός (αιωνιότητα) δεν είναι το τελειωτικό τέλος της ιστορίας (ανθρώπινος χρόνος), αλλά το τέλος της σαν αντίθεση μεταξύ διαχρονίας (εκ-τατικής καθολικότητας της ύπαρξης) και συγχρονίας (εν-τατικής καθολικότητας της ύπαρξης), με τον συντονισμό τους με το θέλημα του Πατρός [1Κορ.15:28]. Ο χρόνος που ξεκίνησε με την σάρκωση του Λόγου και που οδηγεί σε αυτό το τέλος είναι ο μεσσιανικός χρόνος [1Κορ.15:20-27]. Κι αυτός ο χρόνος γίνεται εμπειρικά γνωστός στον άνθρωπο στην Ευχαριστία [Ιω.6:51].

Δευτέρα, 2 Σεπτεμβρίου 2013

Religion as Brands








Jean-Claude Usunier, and Jörg Stolz (Eds). Religions as Brands. New Perspectives on the Marketization of Religion and Spirituality. Ashgate Publishing, forthcoming 2013.
Jean-Claude Usunier ((University of Lausanne, Switzerland)
Just consider the following quotes at almost 80 years distance:
“The church cannot engage in marketing. The church cannot put itself on a pedestal, create itself, praise itself… One cannot serve God while at the same time covering oneself by serving the devil and the world.” Barth (1930).
“We shouldn’t be surprised then that religion – whether in the form of a film or a church – is being marketed in the current commercialized culture. In order to be heard above the noise of the rest of society, religion, too, must participate in order to survive.” Einstein (2008).


There can be no doubt: marketing and branding have started to transform religions. Despite ferocious critiques, we have seen the emergence of televangelists (e.g. Oral Roberts, Jim Bakker), celebrity pastors (e.g. Rick Warren), stars of compassion (e.g. Mother Teresa), church commercials, religious “product lines”, mega-churches, branded religious sites (e.g. Lourdes), religious best-sellers (e.g. the Left Behind series), and blockbusters (e.g. The Passion of the Christ). Marketing and branding have not spared non-Christian religions. Think of the success of the Kabbalah centres, veiled Barbie dolls, Mecca cola, the Buddha as a decorative item, or the marketing of the Dalai Lama. At the same time, observers have noted that shopping and consuming may take on religious traits. After all, branding makes products into something “out of the ordinary”, “mythical”, and sometimes even “sacred”. Brand communities have formed around such products as Jeep, Star Trek, or Harley Davidson. And Apple fans have not only venerated their Macs, they have also deeply believed in the transformative power of the savior of their brand: Steve Jobs. Are then religions becoming brands while brands are becoming religions?

When religious organizations try to market and brand their products, they, however, meet the limitations of religious marketing and branding. The first limitation is the vulnerability of transcendent claims. Religious and spiritual products are linked to some sort of transcendent claim. Explicitly or implicitly, they promise some sort of “salvation good”. Problems may arise when religious organizations try to be too specific in their claims, opening themselves up to criticism. Thus, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been criticized for their erroneous predictions of the end of the world, Scientology and various spiritual techniques have been under attack concerning the effectiveness of their therapies, and young world creationists are ridiculed for their beliefs. These problems occur when the claims of religious organizations concerning salvation goods are too specific and thus falsifiable; it does not occur when the claims are general and non-falsifiable. In the latter case, religious organizations find themselves in the company of secular organizations that also market and brand their products with all kinds of rather far-fetched unverifiable promises and claims.
Since religious organizations are mostly non-profit organizations or voluntary associations, it is often very difficult to control the stability and quality of the “product”. The way a religious service in the reformed church is performed in one village may differ greatly from the way it is performed in another. Denominational names may be stable, but the “product” underneath may differ drastically.

Another obstacle is related to limited acceptance by the general public due to a number of converging reasons. First, religious organizations are considered non-profit organizations relying chiefly on donations; the public may therefore adopt a critical view if the donated funds are used to promote the “public image” of the organization. Second, religious goods, especially salvation goods, are perceived as non-sellable; promoting them can therefore be seen as a form of desacralisation, of breaking a taboo. Third, the public is increasingly critical when organizations are seen to be trying to “manipulate” people. A related limitation is the acceptability by the group members themselves. A great many religious organizations also face internal opposition to marketing and branding. Members and staff of churches may see marketing as the exact opposite of their beliefs and religious practice. Marketing may be thought to go against the central religious message, or to soften or alter it.
Finally, a further limit to religious marketing and branding lies in the fact that religious organizations may lack the necessary skills to do marketing. Marketing is normally not taught in theological seminaries or in other religious group schools and universities.

Contributions in the Religions as Brands volume show that modernization processes, the transformation of forms of religious groups, and generalized competition between religious and secular goods have led to a situation that makes both religious consuming and religious marketing increasingly probable. They analyze the changing expectations of individuals towards religious organizations and the increase in choosing and combining different forms of religion and spirituality. They also discuss recent claims that shopping and consuming might be modern forms of religion and spirituality and look at both general and specific forms of religious branding and marketing and also discuss the influence of societal and cultural context.

A first group of papers in this volume looks at the demand-side of religious and spiritual consuming or the influence of religiosity on demand.

Jean-Claude Usunier explores how the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS, 1995, one of the 18 trade agreements in the World Trade Organization) promotes the global commoditization of religions. GATS legally opens the way for free trade in religious services worldwide. Usunier further questions in detail whether marketing concepts and practices apply to religion and gives a positive, though nuanced, answer.

Jochen Hirschle argues that consumption competes on both the level of imaginations and the level of social action with religious institutions. In the empirical part of his paper, he tests this hypothesis by analyzing the development of income, consumption-related leisure activities and church attendance using a sample of young German Catholics. It is precisely in these confines, on the borderline between economic/secular and non-economic/sacred realities, that late-modern spiritual consumers try to reconfigure meaning.

Haytham Siala investigates the impact that religious factors have on a Muslim consumer’s perception of brand loyalty. Specifically, the study focuses on the attitudinal and affective form of brand loyalty and how the concept of Takaful can become a ‘catalyst’ to inducing religious brand loyalty in devout religious customers. An empirical investigation conducted on a sample of Muslim consumers tests whether the extent of religious commitment can instill attitudinal brand loyalty towards a car insurer selling religiously-conforming insurance services. There is a positive relationship between the exogenous religious constructs and the endogenous attitudinal brand loyalty, price tolerance and word-of-mouth constructs.

Elizabeth Stickel-Minton examines how religious affiliation grouping influences consumer behavior. She assesses the predictive ability of three different religious grouping systems supported in the literature: simple (Catholic, Protestant, Jew, none), fundamental (liberal, moderate, fundamentalist), and denominational. Her findings suggest that the segmentation of religious affiliation may have blurred results in previous studies.

Roger Finke and Christopher P. Scheitle show that the pluralism of religious suppliers is a product of the pluralism of religious preferences and the number of potential adherents within an environment. This pluralism of suppliers, in turn, produces a pluralism of religious consumers. They then distinguish between expected pluralism and observed pluralism, and argue that a relationship between pluralism and participation will be expected only when a meaningful gap between these two variables exists.

A second group of papers investigates the supply side, i.e. the applicability of marketing/branding concepts and practices to religious organizations.

Olivier Favre studies the ICF (International Christian Fellowship), a Swiss evangelical movement established as a Church since 1996, as an important example of religious marketing consistent with a modern urban environment. From its start, the organization has aimed to attract young adults by developing appropriate marketing tools, sustained by a radical growth strategy. Favre shows that the insistence on marketing by ICF leads to interesting “blurring” phenomena.

Thomas Wagner analyses the musical worship experiences of congregation members of the Australian and London branches of Hillsong Church, an Australia based inter- and trans-national Pentecostal church that brands itself through its distinctive musical offerings. Through interviews with the musicians and technicians as well as “lay” members of the church, Wagner seeks to comprehend the complex interplay of pragmatic production decisions, the understandings of locality among the musicians and members of Hillsong, and how these understandings inform the experience of the Hillsong brand.

Hanifa Touag investigates traditional Muslim healing rites—roqya—by Salafists in France and Belgium. Drawing on ethnographic research and interviews with both practitioners and patients, Touag describes, how the roqya rite has been able to impose itself on a “market of healing”. The adoption of the rite is shown to combine secular and spiritual attributes and functions.

Markus Hero shows that the concept of entrepreneurship applies extremely well to the field of alternative spirituality. Drawing in an original way on neo institutionalist theory, Hero focuses on spiritual small businesses that tailor their health services by propagating religious connections to human identity, the body and its health as a discursive way of generating trust.


Philippe Simonnot, in his contribution on the Temple of Jerusalem discusses the “business model” of Jewish monotheism as a Unique Selling Proposition, a classical advertising copy strategy. Simonnot shows that, despite a shared tendency of all religions to want to be sole and exclusive suppliers, monotheism is better placed than polytheism because, as a matter of principle, it gives to a single God.

The contribution by Jason Dean on “non-fortuitous limits to the brand metaphor in the popularizing of ‘justly balanced Islam’” also looks at social, political, symbolic, and legal rivalries in the competition among churches. Dean shows that a Bourdieusian, sociological model of rivalry is more appropriate for describing religious competition than a Beckerian, economic model.
Finally, Steve Bruce presents a critique of the market-of-religions paradigm and explains why he rejects the rational choice theory of religion, before outlining in an original way the circumstances in which such an economic approach to religion would be viable. As we read Bruce, his view on secularization is in no way incompatible with the religious marketing and branding that is presented in other papers in this book.

All papers in the book show new perspectives on the marketization of religion and spirituality. We hope that they will—in their combination—help to encourage future research and thinking in our overlapping disciplinary fields.

Barth, K. (1930). Quousque tandem. Zwischen den Zeiten, 8, 1-6.
Einstein, M. (2008). Brands of Faith. Marketing religion in a commercial age. London: Routledge.

Πέμπτη, 22 Αυγούστου 2013

Political Theology and Islamic Studies Symposium: Legitimacy, Revolution and State Formation in Sunnī Poltical Theology

Mohammad H. Fadel is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto, which he joined in January 2006. Professor Fadel wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on legal process in medieval Islamic law while at the University of Chicago. Professor Fadel has published numerous articles in Islamic legal history and Islam and liberalism, including “Back to the Future: The paradoxical Revival of Aspirations for an Islamic State,” 14(1) Review of Constitutional Studies (2009)” and “Islamic Politics and Secular Politics: Can They Co-Exist?”, 25(1) Journal of Law & Religion (2009). For a full list of articles see: http://www.law.utoronto.ca/faculty-staff/full-time-faculty/mohammad-fadel.

Can a people, after having duly consented to the formation of its government, remove that government using procedures not authorized by law? To put the question differently: can the formal legitimacy that a people provides a government preclude that people from exercising its sovereign power to strip those holding formal legitimacy of power, even though those in power have not violated the express terms of their compact with the people? These are the paradoxical questions that are at the heart of the political crisis in Egypt where duly elected president, exercising powers pursuant to a duly enacted constitution, was overthrown by the “people” who acted outside the formal rules “the people” had enacted for removing or otherwise disciplining its president.
Tahrir Square
This paradox is ultimately rooted in the problem of constitutent power: what does it mean to say the people constitute the polity when the polity itself defines the people? Martin Loughlin, in a provocative essay on constituent power, argues against two common modes of understanding constituent power and its relationship to constitutional law. The first is “normativism,” which, he argues, reduces constituent power to “the autonomy of legal ordering,” and thus renders constituent power redundant. The second, decisionism, reduces the constitutional order to the sovereign’s will, and erroneously renders legal normativity redundant. Loughlin posits instead what he calls “relationalism”: constituent power is a synthesis of will and legal normativism. In his words, “For relationalists, the concept [of constituent power] expresses a relationship of right: it is the manifestation of political right (droit politique or jus politicum), expressing the open, provisional, and dynamic dimensions to constitutional ordering.” Constitutional ordering is always “open, provisional and dynamic” because the sovereign is not embodied in the person of a divinely-appointed monarch, for example, but is an idea, i.e., “the people.” Accordingly, the sovereign can only be manifested by persons who claim to act on its behalf. Implicit in the relational understanding of constituent power is that legitimacy can only be fully achieved, if ever, at some indeterminate time in the future. The legitimacy of the sovereign’s representative, moreover, is always subject to contestation. Constitutional ordering therefore always contains within it the potential for revolutionary action: whenever it can be claimed that the people’s formal representatives have betrayed their imagined principal, the “people” can act to overthrow that representative and establish a new constitutional order.
 
Loughlin’s relational conception of constituent power sheds important light on the political writings of Sunnī jurists and theologians, assisting us to understand the seemingly paradoxical categories of the legitimate ruler (the caliph or more generically, al-ḥākim al-sharʿī) and the “legitimate” usurper (al-mutaghallib). Sunnī political thought can be easily mapped onto his categories of “normativism” and “decisionism.” Sunnī theories seem to posit the existence of either a legitimate caliph, to whom obedience is owed precisely because his rule is in accordance, both procedurally and substantively, with the normative requirements of the law, or a victorious usurper (mutaghallib) who, despite his formal illegitimacy, nevertheless must be obeyed by virtue of his effective power in order to minimize civil strife (fitna). Western authors have generally been critical of Sunnī political thought, accusing it, in the first instance, of affirming a utopian conception of politics which, by virtue of its impracticability,[1] devolved into little more than “might equals right.”[2] To put it in Loughlin’s terms, Islamic political thought began with a commitment to “normativism” and ended up in pure “decisionism.”

Loughlin’s relational conception of constituent power, however, helps us to transcend the binary of legitimate versus usurper that has limited our ability to read Sunnī political thought more productively. A more careful reading of Sunnī writings discloses that it is neither purely normativist nor decisionist, but rather it creates a dialectic between the normative demands of law and the will of the sovereign – the Muslim community as manifested through the actions of its agents (rulers). The dialectic between law and will is a product of the bedrock political principle of Sunnī political theology: that the political order is a manifestation of the deliberate choice (ikhtiyār) of the community, rather than the manifestation of divine fiat (naṣṣ) as posited by Shīʿa Islam.
While Sunnī theorists and jurists analogized the process of state formation to a contract, and conceived of public officials, including the caliph himself, as the agent of the Muslim community, the contract of the caliphate (ʿaqd al-khilāfa), unlike other contracts known to the law, was mandatory (wājib): the community had no choice but to organize itself into a political community. While formation of the state is a matter of choice, Muslims are not free to refuse politics. The 11th century Shāfiʿī jurist, al-Māwardī, tells us that upon conclusion of this contract, among other things, individuals are divested of any power to pursue public claims, and are under an obligation to defend the legitimate ruler should he be challenged. A person who did not recognize the contract became a rebel (bāghī) who could be justly compelled through force of arms to obey the authority of the political community. [3] Indeed, one can say that this was precisely the understanding of the state that motivated the first caliph, Abū Bakr, to wage war against those Arabian tribes who remained Muslim following the Prophet Muḥammad’s death, but refused to submit to his political authority.[4] One might conclude, contrary to the claim that Islamic political thought was hopelessly utopian, that it was quite focused on generating normative grounds which would justify political violence.[5]
Two features of the contract of the caliphate as outlined in Sunnī political thought deserve highlighting. The first is that a successful candidate is supposed to embody a combination of antecedent qualities that can be objectively ascertained at the time he is elected, e.g., descent, maleness, integrity, and learning, and manifest other, functional qualifications, e.g., political sagacity, effective administration, and military prowess, that can only be demonstrated by performance of the powers given to the candidate after he is recognized as the legitimate ruler. This functional aspect of the contract of the caliphate is a logical entailment of the representational aspect of the caliphate: the caliph represents the Muslim community, and as their representative, acts for their rational good. It also creates a paradox: the contract is said to create a duty of obedience to the ruler and the regime that he establishes, but in an important sense, his claim to legitimacy is not complete until he can fulfill, in the future, the functional demands of state.
The second crucial feature is the inherent indeterminacy by which even the best-qualified candidate becomes a successful candidate. The Ashʿarī-Shāfiʿī tradition offered numerous answers to this question, without providing a principled resolution to the problem. The 12th century theologian Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghazālī (d. 1111) came down strongly in favor of a purely functional approach: a candidate becomes the caliph when, by virtue of the support of some or all electors, he enjoys enough effective social and moral power to discharge the tasks of the government.[6] His answer to this problem itself is indicative of a relational understanding of constituent power: while the consent of the community is crucial, it is not the consent of anyone who counts – what is required is the consent of what amounts to a social coalition with enough effective power to discharge the functions of government. The difficulty of assembling an effective governing coalition means that state formation is always a dangerous activity, one fraught with risk, the potential for violence and the possibility that things might go terribly awry.

This possibility is front and center of the analysis provided by the traditionalist Ḥanbalī theologian and jurist, Abū Yaʿlā al-Farrāʾ. Al-Farrāʾ, a contemporary of al-Māwardī, propounds an elective procedure for the caliphate that is ultimately just as unrealistic as that of the Ashʿarī-Shāfiīʿīs, but in the opposite direction. For him, the caliphate can be legitimately established by free election, but only if a candidate enjoyed the support of the great mass (jumhūr) of the electors. In the absence of a candidate with universal (or nearly universal) support, the only means available to establish the state is through force (qahr).

Al-Farrāʾ, however, agrees with the Ashʿarī-Shāfʿī tradition insofar as both understand the caliph and, by extension, secondary public officials appointed by the caliph, as ideal public agents. The commitment of the Sunnī tradition to this representative ideal, when combined with the legitimate violence which the contract of the caliphate authorizes against the recalcitrant, provides another avenue to understand the position of the usurper (al-mutaghallib) in Sunnī constitutional thought.
Al-Māwardī, although he did not recognize force as a means to establish the caliphate, recognized the possibility that a rebel could seize power over a province and assert de facto control over it. De facto rule, which he called “governorship by conquest (wilāyat al-istīlāʾ),” had the potential to become a legal jurisdiction if the usurper recognized the authority of the caliph through an act of post hoc validation (taṣḥīḥ). By formally recognizing the authority of the caliph, the rebel/usurper becomes transformed, by operation of law, into a legitimate governor. The justification al-Māwardī gives for this seemingly magical transformation itself rests on the notion of representation: because public offices exist to further the well-being of the community, the fact that the usurper has agreed to recognize the legitimacy of the public order and to insure that the standards of legality are upheld, it would contravene the public good to continue to treat him as a rebel.
For Gibb, al-Māwardī’s willingness to validate post hoc the rule of the usurper, represented a dangerous deviation from the norm of legality and a dangerous step toward a position of “might equals right.” Using language that bordered on the hysterical, he accused Sunnī jurists of abandoning “the Law in favor of a secular absolutism.”[7] His interpretation of these developments, however, only makes sense if Islamic political thought is either normativist or decisionist. The relational conception of constituent power, however, offers a more plausible interpretation of the Sunnī figure of the usurper: for al-Māwardī and the Sunnī jurists who come after him, the usurper does not obtain legitimacy by virtue of conquest; rather, he obtains legitimacy by living up to the norm of the ideal public agent. For that reason, Sunnī jurists, even though they were prepared to recognize, post hoc, the legitimacy of the usurper’s jurisdiction, continued to insist on judging the legitimacy of his subsequent acts in light of the objective norms of the law, a position implicit in al-Māwardī’s insistence that the usurper, in order to obtain a legally valid office, must recognize the legitimacy of the existing public order, including its legal norms.

The qualified recognition of the usurper in Islamic political thought is not, therefore, or need not be, an unqualified endorsement of decisionism. It is better understood as a recognition of the incompleteness of formal legitimacy, and that legitimacy is a product of both fidelity to pre-existing legal norms and exercise of power in a fashion that is capable of achieving the political community’s rational good.

This analysis of Islamic political though casts some light on the problems of the Arab spring and the debates about whether the events of June 30, 2013 were a legitimate expression of the public will or a military coup: elections can produce a kind of prima facie claim to legitimacy – akin to the idea of the election of the caliphate – but if the electoral coalition is not sufficiently strong to create an effective public order, there is always the risk of a new revolution. From this perspective, June 30 was clearly a revolution. But constituent power is not only about the right to engage in revolution. It also requires establishing a new juridical and political order that can produce formal legitimacy. Two and a half years after Tunisia and Egypt both overthrew their dictators, it continues to be a matter of doubt whether the outlines of a new conception of political right have come any closer to realization, and thus the shores of a new formal regime of constitutional legitimacy still seem to lie beyond the horizon. In such circumstances Islamic political thought also teaches that continuous revolutions, while legitimate insofar as the people can never be divested of its constituent power, may not be wise, insofar as they are unlikely to lead to the formation of an effective governing coalition that can produce a new conception of political rightcapable achieving social justice, freedom and dignity, the ostensible goals of the Arab revolutions of 2011.



[1] Noel J. Coulson, “Doctrine and Practice in Islamic Law,” 18(2) Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies (1956), p. 223.
[2] See, for example, Gibb, H.A.R. Gibb, “Constitutional Organization,” in Law in the Middle East, ed.M. Khadduri and H. Liebesny, p. 19, 23 (1955); and, Malcolm Kerr, Islamic Reform: The Political and Legal Theories of Muḥammad ʻAbduh and Rashīd Riḍā (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1966) p. 51. The late 19th century and early 20th century Muslim reformer, Rashīd Riḍā preceded western critics of Sunnī political thought, accusing traditionalist jurists of facilitating despotism in Islamic lands through their doctrines tolerating the usurper. Muḥammad Rashīd Riḍā, al-Khilāfa (Cairo: al-Zahrāʼ li-l-Iʻlām al-ʻArabī, 1988), pp. 51-55.
[3] Significantly, rebels could also use limited violence against government forces without being subjected to ordinary tort remedies. For a general introduction to the rules governing rebellions in Islamic law, see Khaled Abou el Fadl, Rebellion and Violence in Islamic Law (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001).
[4] These early wars are known as “the apostasy wars (ḥurūb al-ridda).” Most tribes, however, were rebellious and had not in fact rejected Islam in any kind of theological sense (with the important exception of the Banū Ḥanīfa, who recognized a self-declared prophet from their tribe that Muslim tradition came to call Musaylima al-Kadhdhāb, Musaylima the Liar). Later Muslim jurists came to distinguish between those tribes who simply refused to recognize the political authority of Abū Bakr and those who renounced Islamic religious teachings in favor of the teachings of other prophets.
[5] Likewise, the caliph, once he appointed a successor, could not dismiss him without cause and appoint another.
[6] Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghazālī, Faḍāʾiḥ al-Bāṭiniyya (Cairo: al-Dār al-Qawmiyya li-l’ṭibāʿa wa’l-nashr, 1964).
[7] Gibb, p. 23.

Τρίτη, 30 Ιουλίου 2013

R.Boer:Why I am a Christian communist

Often I am asked, in all manner of situations, what is your position? What is your belief? Christian communist, is my answer. I may be speaking with a group of Chinese students and specialists on Marxism, or a gathering of young anti-capitalist activists, or a room of trade-unionists, or a congress of hard-core Marxists, or indeed a group of religious believers. Inevitably, my answer produces a rain of questions. Christian and communist – are not the two poles apart? Are not communists and communist countries against religion, since it is the ‘opium of the people’? Are not Christians thoroughly opposed to ‘atheistic’ communism? More often than not the questions turn to the intricacies of theological matters, precisely where you would least expect it.
So I would like to indicate what the conjunction of these apparently incompatible terms means. To begin with, Christian communism has a long and colourful history, one that was clearly identified by Marxists such as Engels (1894-95 [1990]), Rosa Luxemburg (1970 [1905]) and Karl Kautsky (2007 [1908], 1976 [1895-97]-a, 1976 [1895-97]-b; 1977 [1922]), and then elaborated and enhanced by a range of critics since. It is a history of more than two millennia, one that obviously predates modern socialism. Its founding mythological statements are found in the New Testament book of Acts, in chapters 2 and 4, where the early Christian community had “all things in common”. Or more fully: “And all who believed were together and had all things in common; and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need” (Acts 2:44-45).
This might sound simple enough, a commune of the type that appears repeatedly even today, and has done so many a century before now. Yet at times, such a humble effort has had revolutionary import. For instance, Thomas Müntzer, a leader of the Peasant Revolution in the German states in the early sixteenth century, made omnia sunt communia – all things in common – the slogan of the movement. Indeed, his full statement of the message of Christianity was: “It is an article of our creed, and one which we wish to realise, that all things are in common [omnia sunt communia], and should be distributed as occasion requires, according to the several necessities of all”. (Kautsky 1897, 130). I know of Christian communities today that live according to this biblical mandate, who see themselves as part of the long tradition of Christian communism.
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However, let us go back to Thomas Müntzer’s statement, for there is a further section: “Any prince, count, or baron who, after being earnestly reminded of this truth, shall be unwilling to accept it, is to be beheaded or hanged” (Kautsky 1897, 130). I read this as a rather graphic call for revolution, which may take many forms but requires putting the ruling class out of its collective job. It is one thing to urge us to live communally, to have communal property, and to explore what a collective really means. But that is only one dimension; revolution is its other. If we focus only on the search for forms of communal life, then the danger is that we may end up becoming too comfortable within the current context. We may become either a cell that has adapted to the wider situation we began by opposing, or we may try to remove ourselves as much as possible from that situation. In either case, we give up on the revolutionary agenda, the desire and need to change the whole system itself.
Instead we become reformists, tinkering with little bits of the system in order to make it more liveable for the time being. I do not wish to suggest we give up on reform, but that it should always be understood in light of the larger revolutionary agenda. Only then do reforms make sense, for they constantly remind us of the need for revolution and ideally work towards that revolution.
So revolution is the other major component of the Christian communist tradition. Is this not what one would expect when the Christian message calls for metanoia, a complete change of direction at a social, economic and personal level? Too often has this call been read in recent years as a call for personal ‘repentance’, thereby neglecting the rich social dimensions of such a turn-around. Throughout the long two millennia of Christian history, one revolutionary movement after another has been inspired by this call, and by the Bible itself. Waldensians, the Apostolic Brothers around Gerardo Segarelli, Lollards, Taborites, the peasants with Thomas Müntzer, the Anabaptists in the northern Netherlands and at Münster, God-builders and God-seekers in the Russian Revolution, Christian materialists in the Chinese revolution, radical Christian socialists of the early twentieth century, guerrilla priests in Latin America in the 1970s and 1980s … the list is long indeed. In fact, such a list brings me to another reason for being a Christian communist: it is not that the perfect revolution is still to come, but that there is a long history of such revolutions. That many of them made mistakes is obvious; that they also had many successes should also be obvious. In both cases we have much to learn from these earlier examples.
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I would like to discuss briefly three other dimensions of Christian communism. To begin with, there is the tension between old and new with which that tradition struggles. I mean the tension between a radical break with the past that is entailed by the ideas of revolution (metanoia) and the reality that the past continues after the revolution in so many ways. Having won a revolution, do you destroy everything that has gone before and begin again? Many have taken this approach, thinking that all that has been overthrown is corrupt and tainted, that it has to be swept away for the sake of what is new. Or do you use the leftovers and rubble of the old in order to construct something very different? Do you attempt a dialectical transformation in which the best of what has gone before is taken up and thereby unleash a new level of human imagination and creativity? May I suggest that both elements should be kept together in a tension, in which the radical break and a sense of continuity are held in creative interaction with one another. For example, after the Russian Revolution some wished to destroy all that was left of the old order, while others wanted to keep the best of the past in order to construct socialism. This question also faces us with the tradition of Christian communist movements: each revolution believes that it is brand new, yet the very existence of a tradition of such revolutions means that there is something of the past that continues into the new present.
A further question concerns the obvious conservatism of many religions, including Christianity. They are all too ready to support and justify whatever tyrant happens to be in power, especially if that tyrant favours the religion in question. How does this relate to Christian communism, which is quite the opposite? Some argue that Christian communism is the core, the real truth of Christianity, and that the ones who develop a dirty little relationship with the powers that be are really compromising and betraying the truth of that religion. I would suggest that it is more complex than that. A religion like Christianity is actually caught between its revolutionary and reactionary sides, which has much to do with the tensions of its origins during the Roman Empire. As a result, throughout its history it has oscillated between those two options, with many variations in between. The catch is that either approach may be justified from the sacred texts and from the history. That is, they are both perfectly ‘legitimate’ in that sense. The outcome is that one must ultimately take sides in the struggle. It should be clear by now which side I prefer.
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Finally, I suggest that one of the reasons why the Christian communist tradition continues to appeal to many people is because it offers what I call a process of translation between religion and politics. By translation I mean an interaction between two codes or languages, in which neither has superiority or is absolute. As anyone who has engaged in translation knows, no term is completely translatable. The fit is always partial, leaving something hanging over, outside the overlap of words. This means that the intersection of the two terms may well enhance each term in the process, enriching the meaning. Radical politics and religion seem to be quite translatable into one another: think of words like revolution and miracle (and metanoia), justice and obedience to the law of God, land reform and the land as God’s, the abolition of private property and money as the root of all evil, and so on. In fact, many of the key Christian communist terms have an inescapably radical political implication, one that may be expressed in political terms as well as religious terms. It is not for nothing that Marxists and other radicals have continually found themselves engaging with religion.
I have perhaps been a little too theoretical, but I wanted to indicate how Christian communism raises crucial issues in its appeal to me. Occasionally some have asked me whether I am not a pessimist, given the ‘failures’ of one communist movement after another? I respond by questioning what ‘failure’ means, for it seems to me that any revolution that is able to get past the period of inevitable counter-revolution has succeeded. Yet even the shorter-lived moments of left-wing radicalism indicate that the hope for something better persists. Above all, I am an optimist, for I keep meeting young people in different parts of the world who have no time for capitalism and all that it does, who are not interested in careers or making money, who constantly seek out new ways of living communally, and who do so with the greater, revolutionary agenda always in mind. Such young people give me great optimism for the future of Christian communism, which is part of the greater communist movement.
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References:
Engels, Friedrich. 1894-95 [1990]. “On the History of Early Christianity.” In Marx and Engels Collected Works, Vol. 27, 445-69. Moscow: Progress Publishers.
Kautsky, Karl. 1897. Communism in Central Europe in the Time of the Reformation. Translated by J. L. Mulliken and E. G. Mulliken. London: T. Fisher Unwin. Original edition, London: Fisher and Unwin, 1897.
———. 1976 [1895-97]-a. Vorläufer des neueren Sozialismus I: Kommunistische Bewegungen im Mittelalter. Berlin: Dietz.
———. 1976 [1895-97]-b. Vorläufer des neueren Sozialismus II: Der Kommunismus in der deutschen Reformation. Berlin: Dietz.
———. 2007 [1908]. Foundations of Christianity. Translated by H. F. Mins. London: Socialist Resistance.
Kautsky, Karl, and Paul Lafargue. 1977 [1922]. Vorläufer des neueren Sozialismus III: Die beiden ersten grossen Utopisten. Stuttgart: Dietz.
Luxemburg, Rosa. 1970 [1905]. “Socialism and the Churches.” In Rosa Luxemburg Speaks, edited by Mary-Alice Waters, 131-52. New York: Pathfinder Press.
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[Thank you indeed Roland for this contribution]
The writer is a left-winger from Australia, based in the industrial city of Newcastle. His main interest concerns the intersections of Marxism and religion, having written a five-volume series called The Criticism of Heaven and Earth (Haymarket, 2009-13). He has recently completed a long study on Lenin and religion. He frequently visits Asia and will take up a position as professor at Renmin University of China (Beijing) in 2014.
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Πέμπτη, 11 Ιουλίου 2013

Performing Profanation: Giorgio Agamben’s Non-Non-Christianity

Πηγή: .politicaltheology.

[This paper was presented on November 18, 2012 at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, in a joint session sponsored by the Theology and Continental Philosophy and Theology and Religious Reflection groups.]

The recent interest shown in religion and, specifically, Christianity, by otherwise non-religious thinkers has been something of a boon for theologians and the like-minded. Even when such non-Christian appropriations of theology offer a presentation of Christianity radically different from received orthodoxy, the very fact that the effort has been made is often taken as a signal of the continuing preeminence of a largely traditional Christian thought and practice. As Paul J. Griffiths has suggested, such thinkers, left without any other viable critical options, are “yearning for [the] Christian intellectual gold” that the church has always held in reserve. Because of this, their services can easily be enlisted for theology, since, as John Milbank has often suggested, it is theology alone that offers any real alternative.

Such readings of this so-called post-secular “turn to religion,” however, tend to move too quickly to theology, and this is especially the case with Agamben. Although some may wonder if Agamben’s putative appreciation of theology means that he is in fact a Christian, his various forays into theology—notably, The Time that Remains and, more recently, The Kingdom and the Glory—present, I suggest, a much different picture. Specifically, among other things Agamben’s reading of the theological tradition represents a concerted effort to profane that tradition, to render it inoperative for a new use, a use that I characterize as non-non-theological or non-non-Christian.
So to begin: towards the end of the Preface to The Kingdom and the Glory, Agamben tells us that the “empty throne, the symbol of Glory, is what we need to profane in order to make room, beyond it, for something that, for now, we can only evoke with the name zoe aionios, eternal life.”
To understand what glory does and why it needs to be profaned, we can start by noting that the functioning of the governmental machine depends ultimately on the fracture between being and praxis and the various attempts to suture this fracture in different yet interrelated domains. It is this fracture between being and praxis that we see reflected in the discursive distinction between theology and oikonomia. This distinction, as Agamben shows throughout The Kingdom and the Glory, marks Christian thought as dipolar, suspended between a series of divisions that employ different, though complimentary, rationalities: for instance, the division between the being of God and God’s government of the world, transcendent order and immanent order, Kingdom and Government, and general providence and special providence. Glory is, according to Agamben, essentially the place where an attempt is made to suture these divisions, so as to assure the continued functioning of the theo-governmental machine.

Agamben examines these sutures in detail throughout The Kingdom and the Glory, but we can focus specifically on Agamben’s discussion of the relationship between immanent trinity, which refers to God as God is in Godself, and economic trinity, which refers to God for us in the praxis of salvation. The distinction between immanent trinity and economic trinity, as should be clear, repeats the divisions we have just mentioned and, in this sense, recapitulates the fundamental fracture between being and praxis that the theo-governmental machine attempts to suture. The distinction between immanent trinity and economic trinity does not mean, of course, that we are dealing with two different trinities, as if the inner life of the Godhead is somehow substantively distinct from God’s economic activity in salvation history and the government of the world. Nevertheless, despite this apparent identity, there is a real distinction to be had between immanent trinity and economic trinity, meaning that we should avoid either confusing the two or collapsing one into the other. What is at issue, rather, is the reciprocity between the two, the relationship between the immanent and the economic. If Agamben is correct, the relationship between them is not so much thought as expressed doxologically, in the liturgical formalization of thanks, praise, and adoration. Otherwise put, it is in glory that immanent and economic trinity meet and disjunctively interpenetrate each other. “The economy glorifies being, and being glorifies the economy,” Agamben writes. “And only in the mirror of glory do the two trinities appear to reflect each other; only in its splendor do being and economy, Kingdom and government appear to coincide for an instant.”

Yet only for an instant. Although the thanks, praise, and adoration due to God presuppose the economy of salvation, an economy that, in turn, reflects glory, the relationship between immanent trinity and economic trinity remains essentially asymmetrical. The economy, God’s government of the world, is essentially finite, and will come to its completion or end in the eschaton, when it will be reabsorbed into the immanent trinity, into God’s glory. Although glory, then, serves as the means to express the reciprocity between immanent trinity and economic trinity, it also, in the end, signifies the latter’s dissolution. However, the re-absorption of the economic into the immanent, of act into being, also exposes the essential vacuity of glory.
If, as we have said, the economic comes to an end in its reabsorption into the immanent at the eschaton, then “glory coincides with the cessation of all activity and all works.” Glory is, as Agamben writes, “what remains after the machine of divine oikonomia has reached its completion.” This “postjudicial inoperativity,” as Agamben refers to it, in which all human and divine works come to an end, is, then, an eternal Sabbath, for both God and humans. But if the goal of all things is to become inoperative, to cease activity, then this also means that glory itself is really nothing more than inoperativity. Behind glory is really nothing, which is another way of saying that the center of glory is empty. Glory substitutes itself for this emptiness, filling the latter in with “the splendor of its insignia.”

Glory is thus essential to power to the extent that it seeks the “capture and inscription in a separate sphere of the inoperativity that is central to human life.” Human life in its essence, if we can even use that word, is for Agamben inoperative, without a predetermined purpose, whether we understand this purpose metaphysically or materially. The human being is, Agamben says, “the Sabbatical animal par excellence.” Yet it is exactly this inoperativity defining the human that enables operativity, human production and labor. In order for the governmental machine to function, then, it has to seize this inoperativity and transpose it into glory, a transposition that simultaneously attempts to conceal the emptiness at its center. It is in this way that “inoperativity is the political substance of the Occident, the glorious nutrient of power.”
The symbol of the empty throne crystalizes the relationship between inoperativity and glory. Although we find the image of the empty throne in various contexts, Agamben notes that its meaning culminates in Christianity, with the hetoimasia tou thronou. In the Christian context, the empty throne does not refer primarily to regality, as may be the case in other contexts, but to glory: it sits prepared, awaiting the glory of God. The throne’s emptiness, however, should not only be understood in its correlation to the fullness of glory; it is, rather, constitutive, part and parcel of the inoperativity that lies at the heart of glory and that glory must seize to operate. For this reason, “The void is the sovereign figure of glory.”
Now, the problem, here, is not inoperativity as such but its capture in the apparatus of glory, which for Agamben means that we must think inoperativity outside the apparatus of glory, so as to restore human beings to the inoperativity that defines their essence. In other words, we must profane the empty throne, the symbol of glory, in order to make room for what Agamben tentatively calls eternal life.
To understand what it means to profane, we can turn to Agamben’s essay “In Praise of Profanation.” Here, Agamben argues that religion does not primarily refer to the binding-together of the divine and the human. Rather, it refers to their separation into the sacred and the profane and the attention given towards this separation. That is, religion refers in the first instance to “that which removes things, places, animals, or people from common use and transfers them to a separate sphere.” The religious or, perhaps more broadly, the sacred, establishes itself and the domain proper to it through separation, through the consecration of various objects, broadly construed. The consecration of these objects removes them from the realm of normal, ordinary use, isolating them in a zone of inaccessibility that rests on the manufactured division between the sacred and the profane. The paradigm for the passage from the profane to the sacred is, in the religious context, sacrifice, the act of which removes the victim from the profane sphere, giving the victim over to the realm of the divine. Indeed, for Agamben sacrifice represents separation in its pure form, and in this sense it can be understood as the apparatus that founds and maintains the division between the sacred and the profane.
So understood the division between the sacred and the profane is far from absolute: it does not refer to any supposed metaphysical or natural qualities that inhere to certain objects but constitutes itself through the act of separation as such, meaning that virtually any object can become sacred, so long as set apart from the realm of normal use. Being sacred or, conversely, profane, is only the result of passing an object from one sphere to the other. If, however, the division between the sacred and the profane relies on the act of separation as such, then it is always possible to return an object that has been made sacred to the realm of the profane.
We should not, however, confuse profanation, the return of an object to common use, with secularization. Whereas secularization merely transfers power from one sphere to another without altering its form, profanation “neutralizes what it profanes,” in the sense that it “deactivates the apparatuses of power and returns to common use the spaces that power had seized.” Otherwise put, profanation renders objects inoperative, making them available for a new use that ignores any proper or sacred sense that the object may have once had.
Agamben gives numerous examples of profanation throughout his works, but we can focus more specifically on Agamben’s reading of Pauline klesis. Agamben’s discussion of Pauline klesis, of course, constitutes a significant portion of The Time that Remains. It reappears, however, in The Kingdom and the Glory at a turning point in the “archaeology of glory,” where Agamben shifts his attention to zoe aionios, eternal life, as the means to begin to think inoperativity outside the apparatus of glory. In Judaism and the New Testament, zoe aionios does not merely refer temporally to the future eon but also to “a special quality of life and, more precisely, the transformation that human life undergoes in the life of the world to come.” The notion is found in Paul, but Paul also takes it as characteristic of life in messianic time, the time of the now. Such is the sense of Paul’s use of hos me or “as not,” which Agamben takes as a technical term in the Pauline lexicon, used to indicate the meaning of messianic life as klesis, that is, calling or vocation. For Agamben klesis is not the messianic repetition of factical conditions or a calling to something more authentic or higher. Klesis, under the pressure of the hos me, is rather the “revocation of every vocation,” in the sense that “it revokes the factical condition and undermines it from within without altering its form.”
Such is the sense of Paul’s “weeping as not weeping,” “rejoicing as not rejoicing,” “buying as not possessing,” “using the world as not using it up” (I Cor. 7:29-31). So understood the messianic hos me coincides with profanation. Like the act of profanation with respect to the sacred, messianic klesis does not destroy factical conditions but reworks them from within through their neglect, which renders them inoperative. In Agamben’s reading of Paul, the hos me indicates the “generic potentiality” that klesis pries open and it itself is, a potentiality that, again like profanation with respect to the sacred, allows factical conditions to be put to a new use, a use subtracted from proper ends. Messianic life is profaned life, a life constituted in and through profanation. It is this profane life that gets transposed into glory, since the theo-governmental machine cannot function without it.
How, then, should we position Agamben’s analysis of glory with respect to theology? It should be clear, I think, that Agamben’s genealogy is simultaneously critique: to explain how the theo-governmental machine functions is to indicate the points at which it might be put to a halt. We should not confuse Agamben’s appeal to theology in this register, then, with theology itself, as if it were a covert endorsement of theology. It is also the case, however, that when searching for alternatives, Agamben seemingly makes a theological appeal in his insistence on the importance of the messianic dimensions of Paul’s thought and in the notion of eternal life. Nevertheless, we should not confuse this appeal with theology either, at least in the strict sense of the term. Agamben certainly finds an essential inoperativity at work in the “as not” of Pauline klesis and eternal life, and in this sense these coincide with his own specific concerns. But Agamben attempts to read these and similar notions by isolating them from the ways in which they have functioned in the theo-governmental apparatus, putting them to a new use. Otherwise put, Agamben’s use of theology, in both its negative and positive senses, is an act of profanation. If Agamben claims to find an essential inoperativity at work in theology, it is because this inoperativity itself has been rendered inoperative through the act of profanation, the profanation of the empty throne. Agamben’s use of theology, then, should not be confused with theology proper, but it also should not be confused with a secularization of theology, since this would merely reproduce theology in a different register. Neither theology or an anti-theology, it is, rather, what I could call a non-non-theology or, if you will, a non-non-Christianity.
To label it so puts to a different use Agamben’s discussion in The Time that Remains of the remnant that results from the messianic division of the law for understanding his own position with respect to theology. The messianic announcement comes out against the ways in which the law divides Jew from non-Jew, but it does not do so through the establishment of a new, universal identity. The messianic announcement, rather, “divides the divisions of the law themselves and renders them inoperative, without ever reaching any final ground.” The messianic announcement divides each term of the opposition Jew/non-Jew from within, leaving a remnant on both sides that does not coincide with either: some Jews are not Jews and some non-Jews are not non-Jews. The messianic remnant, then, is non-non-Jew, and, in this sense, it corresponds to the “as not” of messianic klesis. The messianic announcement, then, is neither the dissolution of identity nor the establishment of a new identity; it is, rather, a specific type of ignorance with respect to factical conditions, an ignorance that deactivates factical conditions and returns them to inoperativity.
Similar to the way in which the messianic announcement neutralizes factical conditions through the as not, Agamben uses theology as not using it but also as not-not-using it. It is in this sense that we should understand Agamben’s foray into theology as a non-non-theology and his identification with the theological tradition as non-non-Christian.

By way of conclusion, if we are to appropriate Agamben’s work for theology, then, we must do so as not-not-for theology. A non-non-theology certainly cannot take the form of glory, either theoretically or doxologically in thanks, praise, and adoration. Rather, a non-non-theology or, put differently, a profane theology must render its objects inoperative. If theology has traditionally constituted itself through glory, in the attention it gives to divine being and economy, perhaps a profane theology would constitute itself through ignorance and neglect. Such a theology would no longer revel in thanks, praise, and adoration, but treat God and God’s economy as a “disused object,” as essentially inoperative.

Hollis Phelps is Assistant Professor of Religion at Mount Olive College, Mount Olive, NC. He is the author of Alain Badiou: Between Theology and Anti-Theology, forthcoming from Acumen Publishing in January 2013.