Online Reading Group – Daniel Barber’s Deleuze and the Naming of God

Cross-posted at AUFS

Hello friends!

A very brief history
Since taking a year off school, and not having any classes to attend and no one to hold me accountable to my perpetual reading list, I came to the realization that reading with others is a lot more fun (and productive) than reading on my own. So, I started an online reading group that has met twice (once last summer and once last fall). This is the first time it is being advertised on this blog and I’m hoping it will reach a wider audience this way.

What you need to know
On February 1 Daniel Colucciello Barber’s most recent book Deleuze and the Naming of God: Post-Secularism and the Future of Immanence will be released on paperback (making it more affordable – thank you EUP!).  The reading group will meet starting the week of the 9th or the 16th (depending on our schedules – that should give everyone enough time to order the book).  Those who are interested in participating can send me a note at mtkampenATgmailDOTcom. I will then send out a doodle with a few potential meeting times and will try to coordinate schedules as best I can (most likely a weekday evening CST).  Then we will read through the book together, meeting once a week on Google hangouts for about an hour to discuss one chapter of the book (so it’s about a 7 week commitment).

What former participants have to say!
“The reading group allowed me to engage a text in an environment that was safe with like minded persons. But also was a relaxed way to step away from my normal school work and enjoy the company of people smarter than me and learn.” - Jonas, Michigan

“The diverse interests of the group members tend to bring out unexpected facets of the material. Also, I’m looking forward to discussing the extent to which Dan’s hair resembles Jim Reid of Jesus and Mary Chain c. 1985.” -Sean, California

When She Reclines Her Head Is Lifted

” I don’t need your help. I just need you to recognize that this shit is killing you, too, however much more softly, you stupid motherfucker, you know?” – Fred Moten

If phenomenology is going to be ‘put to use,’ as Sara Ahmed would have us do, how are we to go about understanding the force of suffering? Phenomenology, situated as a post-Kantian enterprise, has wanted in its various guises to return to ‘the things themselves.” In Husserl at least, it has wanted to describe universal aspects of a transcendental consciousness in a scientific and universal matter, or the essences of the structure of consciousness. Here is where I think phenomenology actually offers a way out of essentializing experiences when trying to understand experience, especially of suffering. Continue reading

The Impossible possibility of Belief: Advent and the question of (dis)belief outside the limits of whiteness alone

I believe you when you say that you’ve lost all faith/but you must believe in Something.

In a matter of hours Advent will come to an end and Christmastide will begin. Advent is supposed to be a season of waiting , anticipation and hope. At this point in time , I’m lacking in all three areas; after a year like 2014 I feel as though there is little to hope for and nothing good to anticipate.  Continue reading

Let it Go down : Grand Imaginations and breaking with the present

Oh, we said our dreams will carry us
And if they don’t fly we will run – Santigold

For those of us called to be theologians, sinking deep roots into “the terrain of
spirituality and practice” is indispensable. We do theology because we want to
collaborate fundamentally in bringing about a different kind of world in the here and-
now.
– M.Shawn Copeland

Our thoughts take a particular form in the world , and once they take form , they settle into our lives and become part of our imagination. Some people have thin imaginations and others have thick imaginations. I would like to focus on thick imaginations , or what one could call a grand imagination. The term ‘grand imagination’ is more relevant to theology , especially at this time. So much of what is thrown around in the academy has to do with recovering the grand imagination of the christian tradition , committing oneself to its preservation , translating the works of the great architects of this imagination. After all , theology is the queen of the sciences right?!?! The Queen must sit upon the finest of thrones! Nothing less than the Summa Theologiae can sustain the weight of her gold & silver. She can only be served by the most “serious” of thinkers (preferably men with no desire for other men…and a lack of Melanin would be nice too).

What I am interested in , is how a ‘grand imagination’ might shape our present world and determine our place in it. Or to put things more clearly , how this grand imagination seeks to explain the conditions that made its existence possible. It does this by not naming these conditions. The grand imagination was brought into existence by the transcendent. It has no points of contact in the world. None of the common marks of humanity (race , disability ,gender , class & sexuality) play any role in its existence. The grand imagination is able to admit that there is an order to things that precedes it , and that it has played a role in creating and sustaining the current order and is even capable of admitting that the current order of things is troubling. The solution? More of itself. It has classical texts , art , music , architecture , morality , Goodness , Truth and Beauty to offer us. The present order has got to go! As long as it is making room for the grand imagination to take over. Continue reading

The Schizophrenia of Our Piety: Demonology and Whiteness

Put contrary to the all merely theoretical demythologizing, the war with the demons for the earth has begun. We participate in it on one side or the other.

-Ernst Käsemann, On Being a Disciple of the Crucified Nazarene

Käsemann’s critique of pietism is always also a critique of whiteness, and always put in the context of a curious demonology – curious, at first blush, because Käsemann is a student of the dutifully demythologizing Bultmann. Pietism, here, isn’t just the 17th century German-Lutheran movement of the church which emphasized personal behavior and immediate experience over mediate doctrine, but the church that is homogenized through Western middle class notions of whiteness. For Käsemann, pietism precisely is the solidifying movement of normativity that seeks to theologically ground middle class norms and morality, or the kind of church (i.e. white, western churches) that don’t see violence committed against the indigenous, GLBTQ*, or black bodies, etc. as explicit demonology:

in midst of the inferno of creation terrorized by ideologies and despots, demonically disfigured by hunger, exploitation, torture, and murder, there exists the reality of a lordship of Christ that looks toward the resurrection of the dead and that thus resists demonic violence, concretely and bodily.

Continue reading