” 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
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.