So I submitted my abstract for the Towards a Philosophy of Life conference today: "Making Good on the "Good" of Life: Emerging Logics and Poetics of the Kingdom." The gist of it is basically the argument of my last three chapters (having now rearranged the order of my chapters - "Justice," "Generosity" and "Weakness" - which I'll blog more about tomorrow). Hopefully it'll get accepted, but even if it doesn't the words will go straight into my thesis so no real harm done... but it would be great to present this stuff to Jack Caputo and John Milbank as it directly relates to the rebate between elements of their work (see particularly my posts on James K.A. Smith's Radically Orthodox 'Postmodern Catholicism' here, here, here and here). Here's the abstract then:
This paper begins by illustrating how the deconstructive theology of John D. Caputo is embodied in the life of the UK emerging church milieu. Caputo’s theological project, articulated more recently as a Weak Theology, proposes both an ‘historical association’ with the determinate religious traditions’ visions of and hopes for life, and a ‘messianic disassociation,’ in order to refuse such traditions’ exclusionary, violent and unjust closure towards the other. Using interview and ethnographic data, I suggest ways in which this difficult tension between particularity and alterity might be lived out. I show why Caputo’s notion of the kingdom of God as a repetition or recreation of God’s generative proclamation that life is “good” is helpful as participants seek to live their lives as a form of “making good” on this original “good.”
In the process of exploring his notions of creation and kingdom, I defend Caputo’s theology against recent criticism by James K.A. Smith. In contrasting his Radically Orthodox ‘Postmodern Catholicism’ with Caputo’s work, Smith distinguishes between his own logic of incarnation and Caputo’s logic of determination. According to Smith, the consequences of the Derridean/Caputian logic include the translation of Derrida’s impossible, undeconstructible, un-present-able justice into an indeterminate, not specifically Christian, kingdom that is similarly structurally always to-come. However, I believe this is to overlook Caputo’s differentiation between representational logics and transformational poetics. I use this distinction to argue that an interpretation of the kingdom of God as a concept that corresponds to a reality that will either arrive (Smith) or never arrive (Smith’s reading of Caputo) mischaracterizes it as representational rather than transformational. These divergent notions of the kingdom are also present within contemporary Christian belief and practice. This paper therefore further unpacks the differences between these two understandings of the kingdom, as I see them emerge both in the work of Smith and Caputo, and in the UK emerging church milieu.