Between Surplus and Lack

Constructing a Žižekian Political Theology of Forgiveness

in International Journal of Public Theology
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Political theology finds itself at an impasse between those which trumpet traditional views of divine surplus and transcendence, and atheologies which deconstruct faith and the divine to a barely coherent (let alone recognizable) point. This article aims to map out the contours of a reworked political theology, one with forgiveness and divine suffering at its centre (juxtaposing the transcendent in the immanent) yet one which is neither held confined by the need for dogmatic assent nor rendered unintelligible by a rejection of the conceptual.

Between Surplus and Lack

Constructing a Žižekian Political Theology of Forgiveness

in International Journal of Public Theology

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References

1

Michael KirwanPolitical Theology (Minneapolis: Fortress Press2009) pp. 180–87.

2

Luke BrethertonChristianity & Contemporary Politics: The Conditions and Possibilities of Faithful Witness (West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell2010) pp. 1–2.

4

MilbankPaul Against Biopolitics p. 32.

5

WardChrist & Culture p. 338.

6

Christopher C. Brittain‘Political Theology at a Standstill: Adorno and Agamben on the Messianic’Thesis Eleven102 (2010) 44.

7

Slavoj ŽižekViolence: Six Sideways Reflections (New York: Picador2008) pp. 1–3.

8

Graham WardThe Politics of Discipleship: Becoming Postmaterial Citizens (Michigan: Baker Academic2009) p. 165.

9

Ibid. p. 166.

10

Ibid. p. 81.

11

Ibid. pp. 245–60.

13

MilbankPaul Against Biopolitics p. 28.

16

Steven Shakespeare‘The New Romantics: A Critique of Radical Orthodoxy’Theology103 (2000) 163–77at 163.

17

Ibid.164.

20

Ibid. pp. 42–3.

21

Ibid. pp. 43–5.

22

Davis and RichesMetanoia p. 23 (my italics).

23

Ibid. p. 23.

24

Ibid. p. 24 (original italics).

25

Ibid. p. 26–7.

26

Ibid. p. 28.

27

Ibid. p. 36.

29

Ibid. pp. 212–13.

30

Ibid. p. 222.

31

Ibid. pp. 223–4.

32

Kenneth SurinFreedom Not Yet: Liberation and the Next World Order (Durham: Duke University Press2009) p. 213.

33

Oliver O’DonovanDesire of the Nations: Recovering the Roots of Political Theology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press1996) pp. 245–6.

34

Ibid. p. 246.

35

Clayton CrockettRadical Political Theology: Religion and Politics After Liberalism (New York: Columbia University Press2011) p. 11.

36

MilbankPaul Against Bio-Politics p. 73.

37

John D. CaputoThe Insistence of God: A Theology of Perhaps (Indiana: Indiana University Press2013) p. 143.

38

Chantal MouffeThe Democratic Paradox (London: Verso2000) p. 101.

39

Simon CritchleyFaith of the Faithless (London: Verso2012) p. 163.

40

John CaputoThe Weakness of God: A Theology of the Event (Indiana: Indiana University Press2006) p. 96; John D. Caputo ‘The Absolute The Perverse Core of Hegel and Radical Theology’ in Slavoj Žižek Clayton Crockett and Creston Davis eds Hegel and the Infinite: Religion Politics & Dialectic (New York: Columbia University Press 2011) pp. 47–66 at pp. 52–3.

41

CaputoThe Weakness of God p. 38.

42

CritchleyFaith of the Faithless pp. 185–6.

43

CaputoThe Weakness of God p. 39.

44

CritchleyFaith of the Faithless p. 187.

45

CritchleyFaith of the Faithless p. 194 (original italics).

47

CaputoThe Insistence of God p. 5.

48

Ibid. p. 6.

49

Mark Lewis TaylorThe Theological and the Political: One the Weight of the World (Minneapolis: Fortress Press2011) pp. 117–34.

50

Ibid. p. 131.

51

Ibid. pp. 134–58. Art is of course not the exclusive tool of emancipator politics. Terry Eagleton has noted how tragic art has been used to sustain political power since the time of Aristotle for instance tragedy has been deployed as a kind of ‘public therapy for a citizenry in danger of emotional flabbiness’ (Terry Eagleton ‘Tragedy & Revolution’ in Creston Davis John Milbank and Slavoj Žižek eds Theology & the Political: The New Debate (Durham: Duke University Press 2005) pp. 7–21 at pp. 15–16).

52

Clayton CrockettRadical Political Theology: Religion and Politics After Liberalism (New York: Columbia University Press2011) pp. 123–4.

53

Ibid. pp. 126–59.

54

Diana CooleNegativity & Politics (Oxon: Routledge2000) p. 6.

55

CrockettRadical Political Theology pp. 164–5.

56

Ibid. p. 158.

57

CaputoThe Weakness of God p. 292.

59

Terry EagletonTrouble With Stranges: A Study of Ethics (Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell2009) pp. 247–52.

60

SurinFreedom Not Yet pp. 173–7.

62

Slavoj ŽižekLess Than Nothing: Hegel in the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism (London: Verso2012) pp. 107–8. To be fair Žižek states that radical acts of God merely have to appear as ‘evil’ in order to destabilize the pre-existing system the dialectical trajectory being that true Good only emerges in the space cleared away by evil (Ibid. p. 107).

64

Alan LewisBetween Cross and Resurrection: A Theology of Holy Saturday (Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company2001) p. 194.

68

LewisBetween Cross and Resurrection pp. 360–61.

69

Slavoj ŽižekThe Fragile Absolute: Or Why Is the Christian Legacy Worth Fighting For? (London: Verso2000) p. 119.

70

Ibid. p. 119.

71

Ibid. pp. 137–8.

73

Ibid. pp. 264–5.

76

LewisBetween Cross and Resurrection p. 362.

77

Ibid. p. 362. It is worth comparing Alan Lewis’ views with that of Clayton Crockett who despite rejecting traditional theology nevertheless assert—much in line with a theology of holy Saturday for which ‘exposure to opposition exclusion (and) termination belongs to God’s identity’ for instance death is at the heart of the divine redeemer (Ibid p. 188)—that ‘Living is being-towards-death but death is not simply the terminus or telos of life; it is that which makes living possible that from which life proceeds’ (Crockett Radical Political Theology p. 134 my italics).

79

Ari Kohen‘The Personal & the Political: Forgiveness and Reconciliation in Restorative Justice’Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy12 (2009) 399–423 at 403.

80

Ibid. p. 403.

81

ŽižekLess Than Nothing p. 214.

83

ŽižekParallax View pp. 380–81.

85

Philip L. Barnes‘Talking Politics, Talking Forgiveness’Scottish Journal of Theology64 (2010) 64–79at 69–70. Barnes’ perspective of political forgiveness is overly pessimistic which is hardly surprising given his inclination to first draw an inextricable link between the efficacy of forgiveness and the wiliness of offenders to repent and secondly relate forgiveness to a particular theological doctrine of atonement Ibid. pp. 72–9. He discusses a handful of Biblical passages stating the need for repentance from the wrong-doer but in our view doesn’t give sufficient emphasis of verses which declare the power of God to work wonders through our faith (Mt. 19:26) and how forgiveness ‘against the odds’ is even divinely commanded (Mt. 5:43–48).

86

Kelly OliverColonisation and Psychic Space (Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press2004) pp. 186–90.

87

Ibid. pp. 187–8.

89

Ibid. pp. 40–41.

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