I dream of Žižek

Last night I met Žižek in a dream (fully-clothed, thankfully).

‘Why haven’t you published much lately?’ I asked.

‘I’ve been studying for a degree in theology’, he said.

‘A degree in theology?’ I said. ‘Why?’

‘I’m sick of relying on idiots like Chesterton and Milbank to develop my theological arguments’.

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7 thoughts on “I dream of Žižek

  1. Roland Boer, okay. My first post here. I’m taking your fun post about a dream as a sign from God. Sorta. Since I recently posted about one of my anarchist dreams (long live my beloved Kropotkin’s, “Mutual Aid”) over on a Quaker blog. This isn’t about anarchism. Or Kropotkin. Or political theology. Or Quakers. Regarding all of which, I’m a mess. I’m profoundly thankful to read here at your blog. Except that I made fun of your moustache over at Rod’s house (Political Jesus).

    Here’s the reason I’m bugging you. It concerns recent sociological findings about the new dreams and nightmares of the white ‘working class’ in the U.S. And elsewhere. I know these findings aren’t wholly new. The analyses have been around awhile. Please tolerate this copy and paste from Rod’s — questions too for you. If you’re interested. One note in context: I took property law from a conservative Republican law professor. It’s the only class in my life where I went to the men’s room during a final exam and pounded my head on the hard, cold, tile wall above the urinal – “God, what in the HELL am I doing here”? I hated prop law. I took the next semester from a visiting Marxist law prof (Papke). Was the coolest thing ever happened – I’m not a Marxist, just wandering my way through Kropotkin’s anarchism and really lost (context only, professional bio). Enough of that.

    Now this –

    ________

    Rod (for Roland here too), a postscript. Maybe fits better under your thread on white-contextual theology?

    I’m still reviewing the underlying data-set. I see this sociological study trumpeted around the blogosphere uncritically. I’m not suggesting the study is well grounded science. There are a few questions that the authors didn’t ask. Questions which need factoring-in. At least among the poverty/low income people who I serve. IMHO. But here’s for your enjoyment on the possibility of white contextual theology –

    “Our results suggest that the bourgeois and familistic moral logics that have long been linked to religious institutions are now less powerful in the lives of working class whites than they used to be.” Source, “No Money, No Honey, No Church: The Deinstitutionalization of Religious Life Among the White Working Class,” Wilcox, Cherlin, Uecker, Messel. I’ve got a “pdf” in full if you need one emailed. Others on the web. More fun because these sociologists quote crusty Richard! – Niebuhr, H. Richard. 1929. “The Social Sources of Denominationalism.” Amazing, Richard lives.

    Just to whet your contextual appetite. Use with caution. The findings need replication. And post-pub hammering.

    Possible these displaced whites are doing no theology at all? – that contextual white theology for these whites is no-theology? – that these ‘working class’ whites are wandering in the economic wilderness for 40 years? – or is non-participation in churches a form of, “screw you churches, God doesn’t keep covenant?” – what thousand other questions would you ask about the contextual theology of these displaced whites? – the new non-class of ‘working class whites’? Or, what?

    Rod (and Roland), it’s not an academic question for me. I’m seeing them show up in practice. They don’t look pretty. Scared. Lost. Confused. Alone. Broke. No job. No work. No money. No honey. Some say they felt Obama would save them.

    My praxis focus is too narrow. Narrow to blind. So I’d like to see contextual theologians take this up in a serious way. Based on the data. Not on polemical theology. Maybe you and Roland will get to it? Truly, what’s contextual theology for these particular dying classes of ‘working class’ whites? – even survey-feedback would be a starter, no?
    Beats me.

    How would Richard Niebuhr contextualize these new whites? – if these whites aren’t in a denomination (‘denominaltionalism’) would Richard the great catechize a new whole category of displacement for them?

    Jim

    1. I remember a working-class white male telling me about the first time he went ot church. His friends said, ‘Don’t go there; that’s where the bosses go!’ Or to universities, where they ponder contextual theology. I’d do as Lenin did: give up all your preconceptions and go and listen, long and hard.

      1. Again: the renaissance ideal of reading Lenin. The historical critical method suits you well, Dr Boer!

      2. Roland, thanks. And for your patience too. I’ll pick up the hint on Lenin. I do a little casework on native aboriginal reservations (California, Nevada). Driving down the road today thinking to myself – “why am I worrying about white middle class displaced workers?” ~ Jim

  2. Except that biblical historical critics don’t actually read the text; they dig around behind it looking for the history of the text and the history of ‘Israel’ or the ‘early church’.

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