Rollins, Zizek, Durruti, Tillich: Religion Deconstructed, Wisdom Demolished By Love

“History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce.”  I had occasion to be reminded of that recently.  It comes from Marx and Engels, and Slavoj Zizek uses it as the title of a recent treatise.

In his affirmation of pyro-theology, Peter Rollins takes up Buenaventura Durruti’s claim that “the only church that illuminates is a burning church.”   Cross-search Durruti’s quote with Zizek and you get this, which basically encapsulates, beautifully, Rollins’ own project.  Hear Zizek:

For this reason, Christianity is anti-wisdom: wisdom tells us that our efforts are in vain, that everything ends in chaos, while Christianity madly insists on the impossible. Love, especially a Christian one, is definitely not wise. This is why Paul said: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise” (“Sapientiam sapientum perdam,” as his saying is usually known in Latin). We should take the term “wisdom” literally here: it is wisdom (in the sense of “realistic” acceptance of the way things are) that Paul is challenging, not knowledge as such.

With regard to social order, this means that the authentic Christian tradition rejects the wisdom that the hierarchic order is our fate, that all attempts to mess with it and create another egalitarian order have to end up in destructive horror. Agape as political love means that unconditional, egalitarian love for one’s neighbour can serve as the foundation for a new order.

That Rollins takes Zizek (and Tillich) as major influences is clear, and I love the accessibility of Zizek’s piece in The New Statesman.  Rollins’ new book, The Idolatry of God, builds from ideas like these if this fantastic lecture is any indication.

This, plus mysticism is the Christian future.  I don’t see very many other ways forward, at least not very many that make sense, as Baptists say, to “us and the Holy Spirit.”

If Jonathan Fitzgerald is right that the New Sincerity is making a new, earnest morality possible, it’s also the case a that a New and Faithful Pluralism is helping more and more Christians explore themes like these, saved anew by the radical implications of a God bound by love over retributive justice.   Yes, please.

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