The Pew Research Center recently released data on the differences between religious and non-religious people when it comes to everyday life activities. One of the findings I find very interesting is the answer to the question “In the past week, did you donate money, time or goods to help the poor.” 65% of highly religious people, 41% not highly religious people, 34% of the “nothing in particular” group and 28 percent of Atheists answered yes. It seems to be that the more religious one is the more likely one is to spend time, money or goods helping the poor.
This is the final post of a 3 part series on the Theology of Zizek. If you haven’t read Part 1 or Part 2 of this series I strongly recommend you go through both. If you don’t this post won’t really make much sense.
Zizek in his book “The Monstrocity of Christ” attempts to explain how community is gained from the death of God. I’ll start in (Kindle) Location 1232:
It is not enough to say that people (individuals) organize themselves in the Holy Spirit (Party, community of believers): in humanity, a transsubjective “it” organizes itself. The finitude of humanity, of the human subject (collective or individual), is maintained here: Christ is the excess which prohibits simple recognition of the collective Subject in Substance, the reduction of Spirit to objective / virtual entity (presup)posed by humanity.
These precise distinctions also enable us to account for the passage of what Hegel called “objectvice spirit” to “absolute spirit”: it is through Christ’s mediation that OS changes into AS. There is no Holy Spirit without the squashed body of a bird (Christ’s mutilated corpse): the two poles, the Universal (the virtual infinity/immortality of the Holy Spirit (OS)) and the Particular (the actual finite/mortal community of believers (SS)) can be mediated only through Christ’s monstrous singularity.
In the previous post, I presented a quick overview of Zizek’s materialist theology, and began a critique of it. Before you read this post you should read the first one, since without the context of the first post of this series you won’t really understand what it is I am arguing against.
Zizek often quotes Melville Bartleby who takes the stance “I would prefer not to” as a philosophical stance against (psudo?) ethical individualistic demands put on us by ideology. I agree with Zizek here, but in the face of the Death of God, this mantra must be taken to the end and included. A clear example of Zizek’s naivety when it comes to not taking the “I would prefer not to” to the end is found in his book “Living in the end times” where he talks about growing tensions in the Netherlands between the Gay community and the Muslim immigrant community who are more and more homophobic. Zizek says in Location 3182 (kindle version) in “Living in the End Times”:
I’m a huge fan of Slavoj Zizek, both as a philosopher and as an ideological critic. I think his pointing out of assumptions that modern society holds without realizing they hold them is important for our age, an age where it’s common to believe that we are purely rational, we have transcended religion, and we are more enlightened and free thinking than ever, as Zizek often points out, things are more complicated. When it comes to theology, I think Zizek’s insights are interesting, I’ve written on them before, however they are problematic. Zizek, in his theology, tries to build up a Materialist Theology, not along the lines of the ultra-liberals like John Shelby Spong, but rather along Lacanian lines mixed with his brand of Hegelianism. In order to understand his theology we have to understand how he defines God. In his book “the Monstrocity of Christ” he gives the definition of what God means to him in his materialist theology (Location 3966 on the Kindle):
Slajoz Zizek, the famous Slovenian Hegelian/Lacanian/Marxian philosopher, champion of the left, and materialist theologian, is someone who I both love and hate, love for his insights into how ideology permeates so much in modern society, for his breaking down of so many of the idols of Capitalism and Liberalism, and hate for his inability to write in a way that doesn’t give me an aneurism trying to understand what his point is. It’s the same with John Milbank, I love his attack on the false distinction between sacred and secular, but I just wish he wrote a little bit more user friendly.
A few years ago, they wrote a book together “The Monstrosity of Christ, Paradox of Dialectic?” where they go back and forth over various theological problems, from theodicy, to the incarnation, to atonement theology, to kenosis, to political theology and so on and so forth.
Here is an excerpt from the book (I’m reading from a kindle so I’m sorry I don’t have the page numbers), that I found extremely interesting, it starts with a quote from Milbank (responding to Zizek’s idea that God redeems himself).