The Predicament of Belief: Science, Philosophy and Faith by Philip Clayton and Steven Knapp

The somewhat young, not entirely mild mannered, and yet wildly attractive lads over at Homebrewed Christianity were gracious enough to invite me to participate in their blog-tour for Philip Clayton’s new book The Predicament of Belief. This is my post for the blog tour and if you’d like to hear the conversation that insued at Clayton’s house afterwards look no further than right here.

If your unfamiliar with Clayton’s work his introduction to emergent evolution and spirituality found here is worth a watch, or you can just read the review of his and Knapp’s book below. It is my hope that it inspires you to read the book in its entirety.

Paul Ricoeur famously said that his Christianity was a, “contingency transformed into destiny through continued choice.” The fact that he was born into a social location that bequeathed to him his Christianity was a contingent event of history. He could have just as easily been born in India and thus have been a Hindu. However, he made a choice, a decision to live into and live out of his tradition and in doing so it became a part of him and he a part of it. For Ricoeur we lack a criterion by which we can definitively ascertain whether our contingent religious choices are correct or not. This doesn’t mean that there is no investigation into the plausibility of them, but rather that any investigation will necessarily start from and in important ways remain within the throwness of our particular, contingent existence. Ultimately, for Ricoeur, the religious decision comes down to a wager, even if an informed one. I agree with Ricoeur, but I am always curious as to how informed this wager can be.

If you’ve ever found yourself curious in a similar fashion then Philip Clayton and Steven Knapp’s wonderful, accessible, and insightful book The Predicament of Belief: Science, Philosophy and Faith is a great place to start. Continue reading

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Zizek, Pentecostalism and the Inverted Fetishism of the Global North and South

We begin with Slavoj Zizek’s recent comments on a particular form of inverted fetishism,

“Populism is always sustained by the frustrated exasperation of ordinary people, by the cry ‘I don’t know what is going on, but I’ve just had enough of it! It cannot go on! It must stop!’ Such impatient outbursts betray a refusal to understand or engage with the complexity of the situation, and give rise to the conviction that there must be somebody responsible for the mess—which is why some agent lurking behind the scenes is invariably required. Therein, in this refusal to know, lies the properly fetishistic dimension of populism.”[1] Continue reading

Hegel and Original Sin:Consciousness qua human self-consciousness is the Fall itself.

Below is a very short essay considering Hegel’s re-working of the doctrine of original sin. If you are unfamiliar with Hegel the first paragraph may be a bit confusing, but the rest of it should be intelligible. While I don’t entirely agree with Hegel’s reworking, I think it offers some important insights into human subjectivity. Enjoy!

Self-consciousness is the moment of the tautology “I am I.” It distinguishes itself from itself and moves beyond this distinction back to itself.[1]  It is a relation with itself consisting of an existential anxiety regarding its self-certainty. Continue reading

Cavanaugh’s critique of Boff and Sobrino meets Zizek

This is taken from a conversation I am having in the comment section of my post on Zizek, Hauerwas and Chocolate Laxatives. I wanted to move it here because I thought it might stir some interesting conversation on its own. If you want to see the entire context check out the other post.

Cavanaugh has an interesting section in Torture and Eucharist where he makes use of and then critiques Boff’s and Sobrino’s accounts of martyrdom. He likes that they want to expand the definition of martyrdom, but dislikes the fact that (1.) they base their definition on “abstract principles” of love and justice, (2.) seem to valorize the intentions of the individual martyr’s, and (3.) include those who die while participating in violence. In contrast, Cavanaugh thinks that martyrdom should be based on whether or not the community of which the martyrs were a part is able to recognize the body of Christ in the martyrs death. (TandE, 60-64).

I do think it is problematic to base notions of martyrdom on the individual’s intentions if that is really what Boff and Sobrino do. I don’t, however, agree with the other critiques. Continue reading

Zizek, Job, Hegel and the Real

I read Job recently, which, other than Ecclesiastes and James, is probably my favorite book of the Christian Scriptures. One of the side fruits of this endeavor was being struck by how Zizek’s reading of the text opens up his reading of Hegel. (At least I think.) So here is what I am thinking.

For Zizek the Real is a fundamental gap or lack. That is, if for a orthodox, even if banal, Hegelian notion of thesis, antithesis and synthesis the idea is that the synthesis is the incorporation of both the thesis and antithesis into a higher/broader reality, than the for Zizek the synthesis is the realization that the antithesis is (already) this higher reality. This is seen in his reading of Job. Continue reading

Hauerwas, Zizek, Patagonia and Rob Bell: Capitalism’s Chocolate Laxatives and the Church

A while back a friend of mine asked me a question(s) in a dialogue we were having concerning Capitalism, justice, and Christianity. It is an honest question and in these times of Gap and Apple’s Red Campaign, Bono, Toms shoes, ad infinitum, I think it maybe an important one for anyone actually interested in disseminating the philosophical or theological problems with the current market system—I am tempted to say all encompassing reality, or at least the state of the situation—today. Continue reading