Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Ref and RadOx Redux - Plus Marion!

Regarding this, I know I'm just a big baby. Just cause something takes a little more effort than normal to comprehend, doesn't make it worthless. In fact, in a way, it makes it more worthwhile. (As there is much to be gained from having to work to learn.)

I spent the brunt of yesterday pleasantly working through a very large chunk of the book and I'm pleased to say it's given me a lot to think about, and yet - and yet it was not even the highlight of my day. No, the reading that really touched me, that really struck a chord, was the gift of one Jean-Luc Marion. For a couple years now, Jean-Luc's little essay, God Without Being, has been quietly resting in my Amazon Wishlist, and there it still waits for some kind soul to send it my way at their own expense. But in the glories of providence, I happened to be at the library of my alma mater and, to my joy, came across it while perusing the BT section. And now I have it for at least the next two weeks. Taking a break from the polemics of the Radical Orthodox and the Dooyeweerdians, I took a peek at the Marion text, and by the first paragraph I can already tell I'm going to love it. The text is simply lovely - for so many reasons, and I'll share none here, but instead let the reader judge for himself. From the "envoi":
gwbOne must admit that theology, of all writing, certainly causes the greatest pleasure of the text, but the pleasure - unless it have to do with a joy - of transgressing it: from words to the Word, from the Word to words, incessantly and in theology alone, since there alone the Word finds in the words nothing less than a body. The body of the text does not belong to the text, but to the One who is embodied in it. Thus, theological writing always transgresses itself, just as theological speech feeds on the silence in which, at last, it speaks correctly. In other words, to try one's hand at theology requires no other justification than the extreme pleasure of writing. The only limit to this pleasure, in fact, is in the condition of its exercise; for the play from words to the Word implies that theological writing is played in distance, which unites as well as separates the man writing and the Word at hand - the Christ. Theology always writes starting from an other than itself. It diverts the author from himself (thus one can indeed speak of a diversion from philosophy with all good theology); it causes him to write outside of himself, even against himself, since he must write not of what he is, on what he knows, in view of what he wants, but in, for, and by that which he receives and in no case masters. Theology renders its author hypocritical in at least two ways. Hypocritical, in the common sense: in pretending to speak of holy things - "holy things to the holy" - he cannot but find himself, to the point of vertigo, unworthy, impure - in a word, vile. This experience, however, is so necessary that its beneficiary knows better than anyone both his own unworthiness and the meaning of that weakness (the light that unveils it); he deceives himself less than anyone; in fact, here there is no hypocrisy at all: the author knows more than any accuser. He remains hypocritical in another, more paradoxical sense: if authenticity (remembered with horror) consists in speaking of oneself, and in saying only that for which one can answer, no one in a theological discourse, can, or should, pretend to it. For theology consists precisely in saying that for which only another - the Other above all, the Christ who himself does not speak in his own name, but in the name of his Father. Indeed, theological discourse offers its strange jubilation only to the strict extent that it permits and, dangerously, demands of its workman that he speak beyond his means, precisely because he does not speak of himself. Hence the danger of a speech that, in a sense, speaks against the one who lends himself to it. One must obtain forgiveness for every essay in theology. In all senses. [source]

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