Heterodox Systems

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Vignettes

17.6.14

– Is there something deeper (than the superficiality I can see) in these people, or is this all there is to them??

How is it possible to be like this?!

– If you are living in the same house as some others, then you better share your life with them!

18.6.14

– Problematize

– MOOCS – Massive Open Online Courses

– Becoming is the bridge between being & doing!

– Book review – one book for the course as a whole; one to relate it with my faith; one for each core subject.

– Self-assignments!

– Should I watch one World Cup match everyday?

20.6.14

– The greatest evils are NOT committed by ‘selfish’ persons, but by those people who have sold their souls for a ‘higher cause’!

– Is it possible that the same Holy Spirit who inspired the Scriptures will say things to us which are contradictory to what He said in the biblical context?

– Philosophical theologians & theological philosophers

Dogmaticians & metaphysicians

– We are all born fundamentalists!

– “Hi, how are you?”

– Even the so-called need for novelty is a familiar fact!

21.6.14

– Movies:

Pervert’s Guide to Ideology

22.6.14

– Apotheosis

Apophatic

– Picaresque

– Albeit

– Maybe

– Self-denial, self-forgetfulness & self-giving

Sacrifice, worship & love

– Belief-pray-praise

Talk-eat-live

Show-share-shape

– Manna, the feeding of the five thousand & preaching

Passover, Crucifixion & Eucharist

23.6.14

– “The Prodigal son was a son first, but later he was willing to become a slave voluntarily and willingly to his father. The elder son was a rightful son but he was a forced slave (by himself) to his father when absolute freedom was available. He was like the pharisees. Then when father wants him to join the celebration he refuses. He refuses to be the son. It is the reverse. It is very sad. Dr. Commins, Baptist pastor US.” – A

“GOD does NOT want slaves (voluntary or involuntary)! Does GOD give us freedom just for us to surrender it back to Him??” – J

24.6.14

– Individualism/Humanism

Vs.

Selfism/Narcissism

– “Hi… Just some thoughts on our discussion about vocation:

I am glad that you are no longer fatalistic about your future, & have found your field of interest.

But isn’t Calling more than just doing what one likes?? What about the kind of structure/system that you are getting into – the corporate sector exists only for one reason – financial profit! And humans are just ‘resources’ used by the corporation/company to attain this goal. The question is does HR really care for the holistic well-being of the persons themselves, or just about ‘optimizing performance’ for the sake of the bottomline & stock value?

Is there any genuine concern for the wider society, & are any greater local/global issues addressed by the organization that you join, & by your work in particular?

Finally, how is your work related to the values of the Kingdom of GOD & the purposes of Christian mission? Is it for, against or neutral to the agenda of GOD’s operation in our world??”

– Mirror image ~ self concept

26.6.14

– Declare war on boredom, complacency & apathy!

Do only one thing at a time with intense focus. Make a gradual & smooth transition from one thing to another. Set apart a little time periodically to review & plan. Make up your mind (about the overall direction of your life) thoughtfully, & then stick to your guns!

– Monday – Friday: Green

Saturday: Orange

Sunday: Red

– Once in 3 months – outing (retreat or house-visit)

– Ignorance-deception-vanity,

Anxiety-apathy-compromise &

Indulgence-conceit-aggression.

27.6.14

– Distinguish:

Pain

&

Suffering

– Theology is the linguistic expression of our mimetic & methectic response to what we hear from GOD (the excess in our experience of ourselves & the world).

– Struggle, rest & celebrate

Vs.

Relax, indulge & frustrate

29.6.14

– Distinguish:

Individualism

&

Selfism

Narcissism

&

Solipsism

– Boredom + entertainment = depression!

– At the end of the Book of Job, why doesn’t GOD ‘explain’ to Job the reason for/meaning of his tragedy in terms of the heavenly court drama with the Devil?

– Life is not like a football match where your team wins or even loses. It is not just plain happiness or grief.

It is more like a match where the better team loses or a refereeing mistake determines the outcome of the game……

It is just frustrating & puzzling!

– Self-reliance without self-sufficiency.

Self-confidence without self-complacency.

Self-discipline without self-denial.

Self-sacrifice without selflessness.

Rantings

19.6.14

Distance education:
M.A. Philosophy – IGNOU
&
M.A. Christian Studies – Madras University

20.6.14

Patient assistance

Useful questions

Clearance reader

21.6.14

Freedom/struggle/truth
Vs.
Enjoyment/well-being/illusion

Ideologies are the secular religions!

Bourgeois
Vs.
Proletariat

What is ideology?

What is the (Lacanian) Real?

WWZS – What Would Zizek Say?

So have I, the adamant individualist, finally succumbed to the pressures of functionalism (both from within & without), and joined the mass of the institutionalised/domesticated (albeit by proxy)?

Uncovering the deeper logic, as opposed to reaching for a higher meaning……

Whatever happened to OWS??!

Movies:
Pervert’s Guide to Ideology

23.6.14

There is a kind of knowledge that is closer to wisdom, and there is a kind of knowledge that is far away from it…

Methics – the ethics of recreational drug use

Methexis – the relationship between actual objects and their corresponding (Platonic) forms/ideals. Participation.

24.6.14

Elitism/idealism
Vs.
Populism/pragmatism

25.6.14

This intractable boredom is a test of my resilience/tenacity! Will I fold easily? Or will I fight in a manner worthy of the Man?

Am I an academic (student/scholar/teacher/researcher)? Am I a medical doctor? Am I a Christian minister?
Or am I none of these things? Is there any other (new!) category into which I can fit? Should there always be a category into which each & every individual can/does fit?

The sage – neither scholar nor saint!
Can one be a good (even great!) thinker without being a trained philosopher?

Should I try to carve out my own unique, original niche, or should I try to fit myself into something that already exists in the world?
After all, isn’t it almost impossible (& hard as hell!), to try to live in this world as an individual without any structural support or classified identity?

26.6.14

Fix your mind on the details of the things at hand always, except during the contemplative periods when you can soar to get the eagle’s eye view of life.

There is no recorded Gospel according to Jesus!

Vanity of life – you have 2 options: Suicide or Spirituality!

There is only one categorical imperative – the 2nd commandment. The first is only the matrix or base for the second.

Self-conscious => self-confident
Self-sufficient => self-stretching
Self-complacency => self-discipline
Self-obsession => self-redemption

Weekdays (6 days a week): Foreground – do what will take you to where you want to reach in the long-term. Background – basic stuff you have to do.
Sabbath (Sundays) & vacation (1 month per year): relax, do whatever you like/want!

The Cross as negative revelation – the idoloclastic icon!

Globalization ~ Westernization ~ Christianization

27.6.14

Every human must have the enabling conditions to give him/her the freedom to choose what he/she will believe-seek & how he/she will live-love.

Cosmo-the-andric vision – If GOD himself is indwelling man & the world, then can they ever be destroyed?
Yes & No!

Primary questions – what, how & why.
Secondary questions – who, where & when.

Pensees

21.6.14
Next meeting – 28.6.14
Last meeting was cancelled because of Dr. Emma’s death (13.6.14)
My sharing about Abelraj
Rowan’s book presentation – “The Crucified God” – Jurgen Moltmann (1976)
“Theology of Hope”
From nominal Christian family
World War II – POW
Bible – Psalms – suffering servant
Mark’s Gospel – cry of dereliction
Auschwitz – Holocaust – hell on earth – GOD-talk in the light of this. Perspective of the victim – the crucified Christ
Influenced by Eli Wiesel, Ernst Blosch
Liberation theology (Latin America) influenced by this book. GOD of the poor.
Poverty – not just economic – powerlessness, marginalised, hopeless, helpless
Atheism in Europe. Why?
The godless GOD of the godless
1Cor. 1:18-25
The godlessness (alienation) within GOD – horror, death, pain, evil
The scandal of the Cross
One who can identify with our pathetic existence
The unapologetic revelation of the Cross
People wearing golden crosses
The Cross as a theory of salvation
The god of the philosophers
Philosophical theism & Christian atheism
The powers that be
Fear & harmony go together!
‘The art of dying’
Religiosity vs. Faith
Markan gospel – messianic secret. He is revealed as the Son of GOD only through his death!
Bizarre/absurd
No resurrection in Mark!
God does not need us, but wants to be with us – love-sacrifice! But we need GOD, and don’t want to be with Him – hate-suicide!
Hanging in between heaven/GOD & earth/man (rejected by both!) – crucifixion
NOT a martyr/hero
Methexis vs. Dialectic
________________________________________________________
1. Material to prepare presentation, reflection & discussion of Crucified God:
Rowan’s handout & my notes
Beyond theism & atheism: Crucifixion scene from Pervert’s Guide to Ideology – 1:49:20 – 1:56:16
2. Meditate on final questions from retreat; follow-up email
Revise SFG commitments & give ultimatum/deadline to members!
________________________________________________________
Notes:
Title & theme; ToC

HISTORICAL CONTEXT
‘Jewish theology after Auschwitz’. Elie Wiesel. the question about God for me has been identical with the cry of the victims for justice and the hunger of the perpetrators for a way back from the path of death.
The identity and relevance of Christian faith and action in the context of the 1960s when many were deserting the church.
Optimism of the early 1900s shattered! The sinking of the Titanic, World Wars, brutal totalitarian regimes, etc.
Death reigns through oppression, ignorance & apathy. The tragedy & horror of innocent suffering…
GOD so rarely seems to accomplish his will in the world. So often, GOD’s purpose, if it can be discerned, seems to be defeated. His redemptive presence is manifested, not as sovereign over history, but the one who picks up the pieces after the disasters of our time…
“Who is Jesus Christ, really, for us today?”
Only the scandal & mystery of the crucified GOD can resolve the problem of human suffering.
The more the church asserts it’s traditional dogmas & moral notions, the more irrelevant & unbelievable they become!

THEOLOGICAL CONTEXT
Crucifixion => resurrection
&
Theology of hope => Crucified God!
The temptation to sublate the Cross-passion in Resurrection-vindication.
– I began to see things with the eyes of the Christ dying
on the cross. whatever can stand before the face of the crucified Christ is true Christian theology. What cannot stand there must disappear. This is especially true of what we say about God. This cry of abandonment is either the end of every
theology and every religion, or it is the beginning of a truly
Christian theology—and that means a liberating theology. The
criticism that emanates from Christ’s cross exposes us theologians for what we are, like Job’s friends.
– But then I turned the question around, and instead of asking just what God means for us human beings in the cross of Christ, I asked too what this human cross of Christ means for God. What is manifested in the cross is God’s suffering of a passionate love for his lost creatures, a suffering prepared for sacrifice.
Resurrection as triumphalism (overcoming or eliminating suffering/evil)
Vs.
Resurrection as vindication of the Crucified One (solidarity with the oppressed => innocent sufferer/unjust persecution) as Son of GOD
There is an inner criterion of all theology, and of every church which claims to be Christian, and this criterion goes far beyond all political, ideological and psychological criticism from outside. It is the crucified Christ himself.
Appealing to the one who judges them most severely and liberates them most radically from lies and vanity, from the struggle for power and from fear. The churches, believers and theologians must be taken at their word. And this word is ‘the word of the cross’. It is the criterion of their truth, and therefore the criticism of their untruth.
The Christian church and Christian theology become relevant to the problems of the modern world only when they reveal the ‘hard core’ of their identity in the crucified Christ and through it are called into question, together with the society in which they live.
Either Jesus who was abandoned by God is the end of all theology or he is the beginning of a specifically Christian, and therefore critical and liberating, theology and life. The more the ‘cross of reality’ is taken seriously, the more the crucified Christ becomes the general criterion of theology.
Rather than sterile arguments about whether Jesus was “truly God” or “truly man,” which set the wrong framework, Christians should enter into dialogues with Jews about the meaning of “Messiah.” In that terrible hour, the very deity of God was at stake, and believers were forced toward a new and more nuanced concept of the divine.
I suffer, therefore I am.
Protest atheism (the freedom & dignity of man threatened by an omnipotent, impassible GOD) – Critical theory – under its aegis, criticism of the status quo became the substitute for faith in a heavenly judge.

METHOD
Luther’s ‘theologia crucis’ & ‘theologia gloria’ – ‘deus revelatus’ & ‘deus absconditus’ come together at the Cross! Contradiction & dialectic
To take up the theology of the cross today is to go beyond the limits of the doctrine of personal salvation and to inquire into the revolution needed in the concept of God. Who is God in the godforsaken cross of Christ? Inquire about the liberation of man and his new relationship to the reality of the demonic crisis in his society… To criticize and reform, and to develop it beyond a criticism of the church into a criticism of society.
Simple theism has proved inadequate. Together the cross and Resurrection drive us beyond even the monotheism revered in Christian heritage.
Revelation is not dogma or proposition but an event happening in contradiction; God is able to make use of whatever appears furthest from the divine. Dialectic Vs. Analogy.
A radical reformulation of God as beyond both theism and atheism.
Perhaps the word ‘hope’ brings with it a different set of associations for different people. Advertises some sort of lack in the present. Indeed, one might even speak of ‘contradiction’ here, for the future is a hope of glory, whereas the present state of the world appears as its diametrical opposite. Interplay of two opposite things.
Passibility/mutability/temporality vs. Impassibility/immutability/eternality of GOD

TRINITARIAN
Moreover, seeing the Trinity through the lens of the Cross not only clarifies the inner life of God but also marks a paradigm for the unfolding of earthly history toward its goal. Moltmann has adopted the term “panentheism” to navigate between the extremes of austere theism and shapeless pantheism.
The Father suffers the loss of the Son as the Son suffers death, but the Father himself does not die. Further, in their separation they are united, and out of the event of the cross comes the Spirit. Hence we have to do with a third person. He finds evidence of trinitarian activity in the cross (all 3 members of the Godhead participate in it!) – the way the Trinity opens itself out in time to embrace the extremities of God-forsakenness.

INCARNATIONAL
Moltmann has changed the central thrust of his theology without sacrificing its most vital element – passionate concern to alleviate the world’s suffering. The theme is nothing other than the explosive presence of the sighing, fighting & liberating Spirit in the midst of this life. A timely reminder to disillusioned visionaries! Takes the dark side of the human condition seriously and relates it to redemptive hope through the agony of GOD in the crucified Christ.
How can such identification take place within the God-forsakenness experienced by Jesus? The answer gives us the clue to God’s relation to the world. In that very God-forsakenness God comes to be present.
The problem of theodicy. The Cross is not only a revelation of what GOD has done for us, but who GOD really is (trinitarian, incarnational & eschatological being) and the depth of His involvement with the (suffering of our) world…
“Our cries in His cry” – theopaschitism

ESCHATOLOGICAL
The theological foundation for Christian hope is the raising of the crucified Christ . Anyone who develops a ‘theology of hope’ from this centre will be inescapably reminded of the other side of that foundation: the cross of the risen Christ. Hope without remembrance leads to illusion, just as, conversely, remembrance without hope can result in resignation.
Theology of Hope, that theology was itself worked out as an eschatologia crucis. Theology of Hope began with the resurrection of the crucified Christ, and I am now turning to look at the cross of the risen Christ. Unless it apprehends the pain of the negative, Christian hope cannot be realistic and liberating. it is intended to make the theology of hope more concrete, and to add the necessary power of resistance to its visions, & inspire to action.
‘Dangerous remembrance’ of the suffering and death of Christ.
Christology (the true/full revelation of Jesus’ identity) is completed only by eschatology – the messianic future of the New Creation. History is incomplete and hope (flowing out of the wellspring, that is the Cross) is the new/open future of endless possibilities that is dawning upon us…
The history and eschatology of Jesus the Jew who was crucified as a political rebel and a condemned blasphemer, and was raised by God.
Christian eschatology is an eschatology of the cross. the suffering of God in the Passion Story of the world. Connects the suffering of the cross with the suffering of the world.

PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS FOR THE CHURCH/WORLD
Wherever Christian hope makes people active and leads them into the ‘creative discipleship’ of Christ, the contradictions and confutations of the world are painfully experienced. ‘When freedom is near the chains begin to chafe’. In a civilization that glorifies success and happiness and is blind to the sufferings of others, people’s eyes can be opened to the truth if they remember that at the centre of the Christian faith stands an unsuccessful, tormented Christ, dying in forsakenness. The recollection that God raised this crucified Christ and made him the hope of the world must lead the churches to break their alliances with the powerful and to enter into the solidarity of the humiliated.
Crucifixion is followed by resurrection for Christ, but for us who follow Him from the other side, faith/hope in resurrection leads to the praxis of crucifixion!
These martyrs are the seed of the resurrection of a new world. My own ‘dark night of the soul’. I came into contact with orders vowed to poverty and the mysticism of the cross… The community of the sufferers and the seek­ers is an open, inviting community!
The cross is not and cannot be loved. Yet only the crucified Christ can bring the freedom which changes the world because it is no longer afraid of death… Yet only when men are reminded of him, how­ever untimely this may be, can they be set free from the power of the facts of the present time, and from the laws and compulsions of history, and be offered a future which will never grow dark again.
It is not the experiences which are important, but the one who has been experienced in them.
The centre of my hope and resistance once again became that which, after all, is the driving force of all attempts to open up new horizons in society and the church: the cross of Christ.
Whether or not Christianity, in an alienated, divided and oppressive society, itself becomes alienated, divided and an accomplice of oppression…
Critical solidarity with our contemporaries.
Theistic religion has been the most susceptible to unholy alliances with autocratic regimes or mystical privatism.
Christian-Jewish relations.
Christian faith as political and as liberating.
Against long traditions which have domesticated the cross and disguised its violent and murderous character. Jesus as the witness who announces the reign of GOD in the midst of competing powers (state, religion, market, media, caste, race, class, etc.).
This is the most fundamental question of power. It points to an appreciation of human society as a community of those who differ; this leads to liberation from a death‑denying (a-pathetic) society into one which contradicts those powers which inflict death, and are opened to the future transforming not merely human society but also the cosmos.
The conference was not conceived as merely ‘retrieval’ but attempted to prompt an engagement with the theological challenge which is this book’s legacy.
“The knowledge of the cross brings a conflict of interest between God who has become man and man who wishes to become God…. God became man that dehumanized men might become true men. We become true men in the community of the triune (diverse, loving) & incarnate-crucified-resurrected (suffering and loving) God.”
Divine nature as saving righteousness & creative love. Destroy the conflicted border between oppressor & oppressed by uniting the divine judge with the hapless victim…
Trinity & eschatology are explored and explicated in order to teach us to bear the cross of the present in our discipleship and seek therein the liberation of humankind, which is the goal of God.
According to my conviction, scholarly theology has for its target the sermon. Alliance between theological reflection and call to action, and the attempt to discern and delineate the stark contours of biblical (as opposed to a purely natural) theology.
The prisoner experienced an inner conversion when he gave up hope of getting home soon, and in his yearning he rediscovered that deeper ‘hope against hope’.
The point of a theology of the cross, like a theology of hope, is to energize us in our witness. Luther had spoken of a theologia crucis, but for our day it must take the form of a social-political criticism.
Identification with the crucified Christ lies less in mystical, passive suffering, ingredient though that is in Christianity, than in active, imitative suffering.
“Political consciousness in every treatise of Christian theology … The church must develop a critical and self-conscious political theology.”
This is no crude despiritualizing politicization of Christian religion. On the contrary it expresses authentic Christian spirituality -the spirituality of the crucified Christ… stand against the gods of power and self-glorification which are idolatrously formative of our cultures? And do not the biblical texts themselves unfold their meaning to those who read them as a clarion call to suffer in the world for the cause of God? ‘Political hermeneutics’ of the gospel – missionary orientation.
Solidarity with, & promise of blessing/salvation to, the mendicant, the outcast & the lawless/irreligious/immoral!
Psychological liberation – the Cross leads man into ‘the history of God’ and this frees him for an acceptance & embrace of this human life which makes him capable of suffering well, and capable of loving the world.
This has immediate ramifications for the pastoral ministry of the Church.

Reflections:
Those who suffer are comforted, because their misery is redeemed in union with His Cross, and those who are happy are inspired to be compassionate (solidarity, sacrifice & service) toward the crucified.
Those who are unjustly persecuted can easily fall into a sense of self-superiority (& complacency, even euphoria!), because of their (relative) innocence!
3 responses to the crucifix:
Glorifying the gore as our glorious (penal substitutionary) atonement.
Turning away in disgust, and focusing instead on the empty cross of the risen one.
Deeply entering into the life-giving death of GOD, and thereby feeding on the heavenly Bread!
My depression and the desperate attempt to taste fulfilment/satisfaction through intentional living & vocational design. Moving from passive to active to vicarious suffering! Coward (self-protection, preservation & pleasing) => soldier (passion) => martyr (compassion)
Rich now + laughing now + content now – that’s NOT me! Woe to those who are ALL 3. Blessed are those who are poor, mournful AND hungering (for righteousness). Material, psychological & social prosperity TOGETHER are spiritually deadly! Prosperity (material)-comfort (physical)-complacency (psychological)-acceptance (social). But what about those who are in between?? In the area in which you are ‘rich’, you are to redeem it by giving to others (GOD in the ‘least of these’), & in the area in which you are ‘poor’, you are redeemed by receiving from GOD (the community of the faithful). Salvation = sharing all of life with GOD & others.
The scars on the resurrected Christ show that the Cross always remains real & relevant! Resurrection is not the cancellation or transcending of crucifixion, but the eternal affirmation & continuation of the divine passion!
Faith in the crucified GOD => freedom from fear of suffering-death => love of the poor => compassion/solidarity/service => sacrifice!
“The refusal to cease suffering” (to struggle faithfully – confront & resist throughout life, until death) is Christian victory! Conquering evil BY becoming its righteous victim…
Phil.3:10-11 – power/resurrection as a faith/hope becomes real/actual only in the fellowship of His suffering!
Philosophy vs. Ideology => theology!
The individual as a political entity! Authentic self-actualisation (realization + expression) is not possible without a right attitude & interaction with the powers that be in one’s context. Therefore, whether you are within the dominant systems or outside of them, they are nevertheless integral to you!
What about the wickedness of the world, as opposed to its suffering? Is there not a crying need for judgment as there is for compassion? Forgiveness, reconciliation & transformation of the wicked, in the passion of the Holy One!
Individual uniqueness does not define the what (end) of life, but only the how (means)!
Does the theology of the Cross produce a masochistic spirituality?

Christian Studies Curriculum

Supplementary Readings

Buy Indian Christian Theology by Robin Boyd – BOOK REVIEW
Four Views on Christian Spirituality – BOOK REVIEW
Psychology of Religion
Sociology of Religion
Christian theology of religions
Fundamental theology/philosophical theology
Christian theology in Asia
Comparative Religions
Christian Education
Transforming Religion (BOOK REVIEW)

Philosophy Miscellaneous

– Critical theory – Application of knowledge from the social sciences & humanities to critique society/culture. neo-Marxist Frankfurt school – using theories of Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, etc. Sociology & literary criticism. Liberate human beings from the circumstances (ideologies) that enslave them. A gadfly of other systems!

– Literary theory – the nature of literature & the methods of analyzing it. Influenced by intellectual history, moral philosophy, social prophecy, etc.
Literary criticism – interpreting & evaluating works of literature.

– Theoretical thought ~ speculative reason. Theoria, as opposed to praxis/techne

– Deconstruction – Jacques Derrida’s Grammatology (1967). Theoretical enterprise in philosophy, literature, etc. Metaphysics of presence, pure presence, essential/intrinsic meaning, absolute truth, unmediated access to reality, conceptual hierarchy, logocentrism rejected! Language as a system of signs deriving meaning only from contrast-effects with other words. ‘Differánce’.
Each concept is constituted by the reciprocal determination of its opposite. To deconstruct the way these oppositions work to produce meaning & value – neologisms/undecidables – to mark the intervals of this eternal interplay!