Modest Proposals

"I will teach you differences."
Ludwig Wittgenstein

"Following decades of relentless bloodshed, a spirit of tentative religious tolerance and denominationalism arose by default."
—Natalie Weaver, Christian Thought and Practice, 68.

This is the most inane simplification I could have ever wanted. Besides the fact that nothing arises be “default” in human history, I love how nonchalantly this gross oversimplification mythologizes itself, through its logic of “naturally” (i.e., religious bloodshed, centuries thereof, naturally gives rise to peaceful cooperation).

After reading this, everything makes me angry and nothing at all could make me angry in comparison.

What is philosophy after all? if not a means of reflecting on not so much on what is true or false but on our relation to truth? How, given that relation to truth, should we act?

—Michel Foucault, “The Masked Philosopher,” 321.

A difference between facts and events:
"events happen, facts are constituted by linguistic description."

Why I, at times, prefer lectures over discussion

Today in a Christian theology course, different theological discourses were discussed as to their methodology and reason. 

The course began with a distinction between embedded theology and deliberative theology: the former a pre-critical theology, the latter a critical.

Later the professor states, “Systematic theology tries to show the inherent reasonableness between theological doctrines.” Absurd, I thought, since the reasonable is contingent on a line of reasoning, a forum in which a type of logic makes sense: there is no essence to reason that one may capture.

A question is raised, ten minutes later, which at first I think is ridiculous. A student asks, “Is it possible for theologians in the same discipline [whether that be systematic theology, liberation, etc.] to disagree?”

The professor replies, “Of course. It happens all the time.” I didn’t think anything of this interchange, except for its ridiculousness, until the topic of mystic theology was brought up and everyone in the classroom began to equate mystical theology with embedded theology, a mere articulation of emotion. Now mystical theology represents the opposite of systematic theology. Whereas one captures Reason the other captures Emotion.

So, I decided to show why this sort of misunderstanding arose in the context and how it relates to a ridiculous notion the professor brought up at the beginning of the course. I said, “This point relates back to what he said [I pointed to the student] about whether theologians can disagree. When one begins with a notion of “inherent reasonableness” then it precludes any possibility of disagreement: because there is only one thing to see—the so-called “inherent reasonableness” of the theological doctrine. Mystic theology doesn’t target emotions. It targets that aspect of experience which gives rise to disagreements about what counts as reasonable in the first place.”

The professor replies simply, “See, where you’re wrong is that you assume there is an “inherent reasonableness” to a doctrine. People see things in many different ways.”

I prefer lectures to discussion because lectures, at least, can be forged, in the sense that one’s impotence in observation or thinking can be breached by the mechanistic operation of reading a prepared text.

On a Closure in Theology

I had a course the other day whereby the idea that “all theology is metaphor” was discussed, in which “metaphor” meant taking a word from its appropriate context and using it inappropriately in another.

I have a problem with this. In its explicit goal (if explicit means only to state in public) this theological move wants to reduce prejudice and improve upon a tradition, making openness in thinking about God  valuable. So that, for instance, if all theology is metaphor, then we should be careful as to the metaphors we use (whether “father” actually represents my experience of God and my commitment to feminist thinking, for instance). This movement also encourages the idea that God is ultimately incomprehensible, “We get that from Christian theology right” ( (the rhetorical question my professor posed to a class of nodding heads) I don’t know, you tell me, since you know the bounds of every Christian theology as such)?

My problem is in what it keeps hidden. As a claim that knows no bounds or historical reality (this is necessarily the case since it makes a statement from eternity), it has no responsibility to answer to the Christian tradition (it has, arbitrarily, defined “appropriate” contexts and thereby has in its organization a nihilistic movement, a movement of violence toward the other: you don’t really know God, only we do, for we know what god cannot be!—it says). This nihilism is most apparent in its secret that, apparently, remains at least in the conscious background of the theory: to know that God is incomprehensible is to have already received the full gift of closure from God, to have seen God completely (even this means in God’s incomprehensibility, which in turn becomes comprehensible as such). This witnessing and reception, then, is also an experience of the death of God, and now we are floating on clouds in the dark.

At any rate, although this theology was written by a feminist, it becomes a kiss of death to feminism, because in its closure to metaphor, it excludes most experiences of the world and divine and it institutes a new power structure which is fundamentally politically conservative and historically forgetful.

"When will my reflection show who I am inside?"

All this melodrama about how the virtual world is replacing and replacing the “real world” is really off-putting.

In the first place, the two exist only as detours of each other: and their existence as such consists in this detour. There is no real world inasmuch as there is no virtual world. And they are real at all only in the sense that they constitute one another.

What would happen if one were to displace the other would be akin to what would happen if speech replaced writing, if theology replaced faith, if the conscious replaced the unconscious (i.e., this displacement is all that could ever happen and is also impossible).

Remember Fox News’s story about the Facebook Messenger app?

It turns out their app requires the same acceptance to the same terms as the Facebook Messenger app.

This is the epitome of irony. Why didn’t Fox just run a story on its own app?

Remember Fox News’s story about the Facebook Messenger app?

It turns out their app requires the same acceptance to the same terms as the Facebook Messenger app.

This is the epitome of irony. Why didn’t Fox just run a story on its own app?