this is unfinished and largely unedited.
the most significant things that happened during my year of doing theology were nothing to do with the content of the course i was studying.
one of the significant things was the end of my relationship of twelve years and writing my masters thesis as the pieces were falling around my ears and the ground underneath me was trembling and crumbling.
another was meeting the theologian john d.caputo, i am sure he wouldn’t mind if i called him a derridean. i think the only reason they accepted my paper was because almost everyone else was terrified by the idea of writing a paper responding to caputo’s work and having it read by caputo himself and him being in the room when you were reading it. but i love that shit. i am not afraid.
when i’d finished and he had said ‘exquisite’ and compared me to johannes climacus, he looked at me over the top of his spectacles and said : i don’t believe that you don’t believe in god.
and that was the moment i realised i am a post-atheist.
i believe almost everything caputo says but i believe we should stop referring to god. why are we still picking over the corpse of god?
caputo is as much a kierkegaardian as he is a derridean and he has a much more interesting idea than
god and that is the impossible.
i am now going to commit an intellectual crime and say that what these three (kierkegaard, derrida, caputo) have in common is they are all asking us, as humans, to believe in the impossible, to have a relationship with the impossible, to be in relation to it.
this is not the same as believing that everything is possible, which would be to deny the impossible, it would be to believe that the impossible does not exist.
the other significant event that occurred during the year i was doing theology is the realisation is that, like art, theology is nothing to be afraid of. it can be done by anyone, even if the one doing it doesn’t realise it’s theology. it doesn’t matter. whether it is or isn’t theology is a matter of hermeneutics :p
take as a more or less random example this from the review by a.o.scott of a film (‘the master’ by paul john anderson) in the new york times : “a movie that defies understanding even as it compels reverent, astonished belief.”
that is theology right there. life (and death) itself, being-in-the-world-and-in-and-of-the-universe, the ten to the power of five hundred universes and the eleven dimensions, defy understanding, even as it compels reverent, astonished belief.
and then my question would be :
what is it that prevents you being compelled to reverence, to astonished belief, by being-in-the-world-and-in-and-of-the-universe? it is the compulsion to endlessly and fruitlessly consider oneʼs so-called self and its many inadequacies, especially when compared to the others that it can be compared to, that can be the obstacle.
and when we address the obstacle we move out of theology into something else.. call it therapy or psychoanalysis or philosophy but what we are working with when we consider the obstacle is the ‘stuff’.
so let’s go.
let’s keep reinventing spirituality — in the sense that susan sontag reveals it. and maybe we don’t need to call it spirituality but something else.