This is always an issue in bushfire season – more than 100 fires are burning in NSW alone at the moment. So what would you take with you if you had to evacuate in the path of a fire? My mother, for instance, needs a truck, which could be loaded speedily, up and down the 60 stairs, as the embers fly in. As for me, I’m a frugal type. Basically what’s in my shorts: a memory stick, wallet, keys and, most importantly, my pocket watch.

I hear this one in myriad variations:

‘Badiou’s use of Paul is merely as an example of his preconceived system’.

‘Does Negri need Job? No’.

‘Those Americans are not really exegetes’. (They are probably not many things, but exegetes?)

‘Is that really what Calvin is saying or is that you?’

And perhaps the best of all: ‘Do you need Ezekiel?’

On the surface they may sound innocent enough: we need to read carefully and attentively, exegeting the text for its true meaning. But beneath that are deeply held theological and autocratic assumptions. Earlier I had a dig at the theological side of things, but let’s look at the autocratic assumptions. The text and ultimately the author is the autocrat with the supreme authority; the task of scholars is to discern the autocrat’s meaning and will; in doing so, leave all of your petty preconceptions at the palace door. Here too theology is not far away, for autocracy traditionally argues: one God in heaven, one ruler as his representative on earth. Of course, the problem is which autocrat do we mean? During the period of absolute monarchies, myriad rulers – Russian, Prussian, Danish, papal … – claimed to be God’s sole representative. The implications for texts should be obvious.



(ht er’s father)

Not a few people will have noticed the wordplays running through the UK’s student protests last week (I arrived in London just after these events). To begin with, students targetted Tory headquarters in Millbank:

Give or take an ‘l’, we all know that Milbank is a pseudonym for Alasdair MacLagan. However, the students seem to have taken a dislike to Alasdair, offering a more vigorous form of argumentation:

It was not that long ago that Maclagan and his protégée, Phillip Blond, were touting the virtues of ‘red toryism’. Other terms come to mind these days, like Tory Pigs:

Or Dickhead Tories:

The only things red about them, as AA suggests, seem to be the flames of burning effigies:

All the same, it is great to see the return to community values, the ‘big society’, the moral economy and popular custom, touted by Blond, Maclagan et al.

Of course the timing of this has nothing to do with Easter, but the Turin Shroud Center in Colorado has conned someone into giving them a shitload of money in order to recreate the face of Jesus from that 13th century forgery:

I don’t know about you, but he looks remarkably like those traditional pictures of some dude with a beard. But hey, why not use the Turin Banana:

Or perhaps the iron:

Or the KitKat found next to the shroud:

Or the Turin Dog’s Arse:

But the real question is: what would Jesus do in response to all of this speculation?

Or maybe …

Update: with thanks to Sean Burt.

I have just read an insightful piece by Madeleine Bunting in The Guardian concerning the rolling crisis over paedophilia in the Roman Catholic Church. She traces the way each denial and defence has collapsed: it is a few bad apples; it is an Anglo-Irish problem; it is no worse than in society in general. Instead, it is systemic in the church and far worse than in society outside the church. In the end she argues that the priesthood, bolstered, defended and centralised in Rome, is a fundamental problem, and that for two reasons: a) it is assumed that a man changes ‘through the grace of God’ when he becomes a priest and can resist his usual sexual urges; b) he becomes a figure of enormous authority and trust for the faithful and even the not-so-faithful. In other words, what has bred and fostered a culture of paedophilia is a system of unchecked authority and deference. I would add a third: the need for the show to stay on the road. Those of a Reformed background call this ‘churchiolotry’, embodied in the RC doctrine of ‘no salvation outside the church’ (and indeed in Radox’s argument that ‘true’ theology comes only from the church). But I have found it in any and every church. Talk to someone whose identity is determined by the church, who has committed his or her life to the church, and you will find that the church is the prime object of faith and devotion. Once that happens you begin to hide its mistakes and injustices and enhance its status in the world. That is precisely what seems to have happened on the matter of paedophilia. If a church, any church, can achieve global dominance then it is worth any cost.

This is fucking crazy (forgive my Bulgarian) and just slightly idolatrous:

[The church] is the continued event of the ingestion of the body of Christ

And yes, it’s the desperately frenetic Alasdair Maclagan (who knows deep down that Theology and Social Theory was his only good book)  slagging off against Adam Kotsko of An und für sich. Actually, the worst of it is the sign of someone well past his prime dismissing any new work as worthless and unable to recognise, graciously, something far smarter than his own limited capacities.

Update: The Dunedin School has taken this to its reductio ad absurdum to argue: a) this means that the church is Christ’s poo; b) that theology, since it can arise only from the church, is therefore the poo that comes from the poo of the church. However, at this point, the DSs get it wrong, arguing that Christ is the final step of this scatotheology. No, Christ is the source, the original nourishment that produces excrement in the first place (the church), of which theology is thereby the secondary product.

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