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

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An Empty Apology: Liturgies of Repentance & Risking Identity

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about apologies and repentance. On an inter-personal level, I recently received an apology from someone who said some very hurtful things to me. Collectively and institutionally speaking, I have lost count of how many articles, tweets, facebook posts, and blogs I have read by Christians calling for repentance in the face of Syria, Gaza, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown…and so many many more. I thought of the liturgies of repentance and lament that I’ve read and spoken in progressive white churches at times like this, times of great violence, grief, and fear. Indeed, having grown up in a church that gathered to worship God each Sunday without hardly a word said about what was going on in the world that this God created, I’ve been very grateful for these liturgies. I thought, at least there were white Christians who were gathering and naming the violence, the grief, the fear, the injustice, and their complicity in them. It was like a breath of air in the suffocating insulated apolitical worship scene of white Christianity.

What is an apology? From the Greek apologia the classical definition is “a speech in defense.” From there springs an entire genre called apologetics, essentially self-justifying speech. But what if we were to take a different etymological route with regards to the word apologia? What if we were to think of it as apo-logos where apo signifies a negation of logos, a dominant discourse?  What if an apology then were not a self-defensive speech used for the maintenance of something but a self-offensive or negating speech that effectively decomposes the logos in question? Such an apology would certainly be risky. Continue reading

Blood, blood, everywhere…

…and not a drop to spare.  (my riff on Coleridge’s “water water everywhere and not a drop to drink”)

For those following the book event on Gil Anidjar’s recent Blood: A Critique of Christianity over at the AUFS blog might also want to check out this poignant piece by Rhyd Wildermuth over at The While Hung blog entitled “Blood Cries Out from the Soil”.

2014 Summer Reading

The last book on my summer reading list came in this morning and I’m no longer taking recommendations (though I could add them to a fall reading list).  Even this list is already starting to look daunting when I look at my calendar. I need to write reviews or responses on several of these so for the most part they’re in the order in which I’ll read them.  What are you reading this summer, dear readers? Any ambitious goals? Or maybe you’re taking a break and reading only graphic novels and fiction?  Continue reading

Upper Midwest AAR Presentation

If you’re in St. Paul, MN this weekend you can check out the Upper Midwest AAR conference. Today is the last day to register. I’ll be presenting a paper on Saturday at 10:15 in Session 6: Philosophy of Religion/Systematic Theology #3. For your interest, here’s an abstract of my paper.

“Eating from the Sacred Tree: Decolonzing Western Interpretations of Original Sin in Genesis 3” Continue reading

Original(izing) Sin and the Conquest of Native Bodies

In the conclusion of his book on sin, Derek Nelson proposes the following summary statements.  First, “How does sin relate to the human as soil?  The human can succumb to being less than one is called to be.  Karl Barth called this the sin of sloth.  Reinhold Niebuhr called it the sin of sensuality.”[1]  Second he asks, “How does sin relate to the human as spirit?  The human can claim to be more than one is called to be.  Barth, Niebuhr, and a whole host of others call this the sin of pride.”[2]

I recently saw an internet meme depicting an Inuit man with the following text overlay:
Eskimo: If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?
Priest: No, not if you did not know.
Eskimo: Then why did you tell me?[3]
This joke captures the sort of humour common among Native peoples exchanged around an often traumatic history of Christian colonization and conversion.[4]

Many authors have noted that Native peoples did not have a word for sin in their language, let alone original sin, akin to that of amer-european Christianity.[5]  The perceptions of the Native peoples that the missionaries had were, however, as sinners, pagans, heathens, and some even went so far as to refer to Native peoples “as Amelkites and Canaanites—in other words, people who, if they would not be converted, were worthy of annihilation.”[6]  The Canaanite identification was key in articulating the notion of sin, and particularly original sin, to both amer-european and Native peoples.  As Andrea Smith has astutely observed, “[i]n the colonial imagination, Native bodies are […] immanently polluted with sexual sin. […] What makes Canaanites supposedly worthy of destruction in the biblical narrative and Indian peoples supposedly worthy of destruction in the eyes of their colonizers is that they both personify sin.”[7] Continue reading