Friday, January 25, 2008

Truth in Weak Theology - part four - A/theism

Fourth installment about Jack Caputo's The Weakness of God, following on from parts one (Names and Events), two (Aporia), and three (kingdom without kingdom).

The undecidability of ontology forces translation not from realism to anti-realism, for aporia prevents final, transcendent answers, but from event to deed, from experience of the impossible, a promise to come, to the act of hospitality, actualising the promise (284). And this under not only the name of God and theism, but of atheism, ‘for Derrida could say whatever he has to say without the benefit of this name [God]’ (93).

The uncontainability of the event and the endless translatability of the name means that ‘[a]n event cuts across the distinctions among the various confessions, and even across the distinction between the confessional faiths and secular unbelief, in order to touch upon a more elemental, if ambiguous, quality of our lives, however this quality is given words or formulated, with or without what is conventionally called religion or theology’ (4).

‘To act in the name of God is to act in response to the event contained in the name of God, under whatever name the event addresses us, whether or not it is to the name of God itself that one responds’ (266), so that Derrida can both ‘rightly pass for an atheist’ (cited 25) and be theological, which means ‘to make the mind’s ascent to God, which means toward whatever event is astir in the name of God’ (6).

For Caputo, ‘the line dividing the kingdom and the world is not the line dividing theist and atheist; it is a matter of the event, not of nomination and denomination’ (268). It is the me voici, the “here I am,” that concerns Caputo, whether or not that is followed by au nom de Dieu or tout courtsans Dieu; the translation of the event, not semantically into theism or atheism, but pragmatically. So, ‘by the mad para-logic of the impossible, rightly passing for an atheist is no obstacle’ (266).

There is a resultant undecidability between theism and atheism, and each contains an element of their opposite, an a/theism where the contingency of the names constitutes their openness to the event. Under whatever name, in response to the event, there is the structure of the ‘messianic’ - prayers and tears for the to-come - without the ‘messianism’ of a particular Messiah. Under whatever name, in response to the event, there is the structure of a ‘religion without religion.’

Tomorrow, the final installment of Truth in Weak Theology - part five - adequatio, circumfession, facere veritatem - which (finally) addresses Caputo's notion(s) of truth in TWOG.

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