Modern Believing

Neither Male Nor Female, Christian Nor Non-Christian, Oppressor Nor Oppressed: Pyrotheology’s Pauline Politics of Identity

Modern Believing (2016), 57, (4), 391–404.

Abstract

This article traces the themes of identity suspension and identification with the societal symptom as they emerge in Peter Rollins’s Pyrotheology and, especially, in his concept of Suspended Space. These ideas coalesce in the figure of the converted Saul and in Pauline understandings of Christ’s death on the Cross as both a loss of identity and an identification with the excluded and scapegoated other. I introduce readers to the background to these understandings of identity and identification-with by outlining elements of the ‘turn to Paul’ in Slavoj Žižek’s psychoanalytic political philosophy. I ask whether Rollins uncritically accepts Žižek’s portrayal of and polemic against identity politics, unwittingly repeats standard interpretations of Paul as effacing difference and, ultimately, propounds a politics of the same that struggles to truly listen to the differences haunting Pyrotheology.

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Žižek, Slavoj. (2003) The Puppet and the Dwarf: The Perverse Core of Christianity. Cambridge: MIT Press. The Puppet and the Dwarf: The Perverse Core of Christianity Google Scholar

Žižek, Slavoj. (2006) The Parallax View. Cambridge: MIT Press. The Parallax View Google Scholar

Žižek, Slavoj. (2008a) In Defense of Lost Causes. London: Verso. In Defense of Lost Causes Google Scholar

Žižek, Slavoj. (2008b) Violence. London: Profile Books. Violence Google Scholar

Žižek, Slavoj. (2009a) The Monstrosity of Christ: Paradox or Dialectic?, with John Milbank, ed. Creston Davis. Cambridge: MIT Press. The Monstrosity of Christ: Paradox or Dialectic? Google Scholar

Žižek, Slavoj. (2009b) First as Tragedy, Then as Farce. London: Verso. First as Tragedy, Then as Farce Google Scholar

Ahmed, Sara. (2014a) Wilful Subjects. Durham: Duke University Press. Wilful Subjects Google Scholar

Ahmed, Sara. (2014b) ‘Not In The Mood’, New Formations 82, pp. 13–28. Not In The Mood New Formations 82 13 28 Google Scholar

Badiou, Alain. (2003) Saint Paul: The Foundation of Universalism, trans. Ray Brassier. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Saint Paul: The Foundation of Universalism Google Scholar

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. (1987) Witness to Jesus Christ, ed. John De Grunchy. San Francisco: Collins. Witness to Jesus Christ Google Scholar

Boyarin, Daniel. (1994) A Radical Jew: Paul and the Politics of Identity. Berkeley: University of California Press. A Radical Jew: Paul and the Politics of Identity Google Scholar

Bray, Karen. (2015a) ‘Killing Theological Joy: Queer Questions Posed to the Thrones of Postsecular Sovereignties’. Presentation at Political Theology: The Liberation of the Postsecular?, Liverpool Hope University, 10 July 2015. Killing Theological Joy: Queer Questions Posed to the Thrones of Postsecular Sovereignties Political Theology: The Liberation of the Postsecular? Google Scholar

Bray, Karen. (2015b) ‘The Moodiness of Martha: Histories, Hostilities and Hospitalities’. Presentation at Subverting the Norm III: Political Perspectives on Postmodern Theology and Church Practice, Drury University, 5 November 2015. The Moodiness of Martha: Histories, Hostilities and Hospitalities Subverting the Norm III: Political Perspectives on Postmodern Theology and Church Practice Google Scholar

Ferguson, Ann. (2000) ‘Resisting the Veil of Privilege: Building Bridge Identities as an Ethico-Politics of Global Feminisms’, in Decentering the Center: Philosophy for a Multicultural, Postcolonial, and Feminist World, eds. Uma Narayan and Sandra Harding. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, pp. 189–207. Resisting the Veil of Privilege: Building Bridge Identities as an Ethico-Politics of Global Feminisms Decentering the Center: Philosophy for a Multicultural, Postcolonial, and Feminist World 189 207 Google Scholar

Moody, Katharine Sarah. (2015) Radical Theology and Emerging Christianity: Deconstruction, Materialism and Religious Practices. Farnham: Ashgate. Radical Theology and Emerging Christianity: Deconstruction, Materialism and Religious Practices Google Scholar

Rancière, Jacques. (1999) Dis-agreement: Politics and Philosophy, trans. Julie Rose. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Dis-agreement: Politics and Philosophy Google Scholar

Rollins, Peter. (2006) How (Not) to Speak of God. London: SPCK. How (Not) to Speak of God Google Scholar

Rollins, Peter. (2008) The Fidelity of Betrayal: Towards a Church Beyond Belief. Brewster: Paraclete Press. The Fidelity of Betrayal: Towards a Church Beyond Belief Google Scholar

Rollins, Peter. (2011a) Insurrection: To Believe is Human; To Doubt, Divine. New York: Howard Books. Insurrection: To Believe is Human; To Doubt, Divine Google Scholar

Rollins, Peter. (2011b) ‘The Worldly Theology of Emerging Christianity’, in Kevin Corcoran, ed. Church in the Present Tense: A Candid Look at What’s Emerging. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, pp. 23–36. The Worldly Theology of Emerging Christianity Church in the Present Tense: A Candid Look at What’s Emerging 23 36 Google Scholar

Rollins, Peter. (2012) The Idolatry of God: Breaking the Addiction to Certainty and Satisfaction. London: Hodder & Stoughton. The Idolatry of God: Breaking the Addiction to Certainty and Satisfaction Google Scholar

Rollins, Peter. (2014) ‘Evangelism, but not as we know it’. Available from: www.pcnbritain.org.uk/blog/post/evangelism_but_not_as_we_know_it (accessed 14 June 2016). Google Scholar

Rollins, Peter. (2015) The Divine Magician: The Disappearance of Religion and the Discovery of Faith. New York: Howard Books. The Divine Magician: The Disappearance of Religion and the Discovery of Faith Google Scholar

Rollins, Peter. (2016a) ‘Even the Winners Lose: Some Thoughts on Revolution and Joy’ [online] Available from: peterrollins.net/2016/01/even-the-winners-lose-somethoughts-on-revolution-and-joy/ (accessed 8 June 2016). Google Scholar

Rollins, Peter. (2016b) ‘What Religion Should we Convert to? Leaving Christiantiy in the name of Christianity’. [online] Available from: peterrollins.net/2016/03/what-religion-should-we-convert-to-leaving-christianity-in-the-name-ofchristianity/ (accessed 8 June 2016). Google Scholar

Rollins, Peter. (2016c) ‘Weaponizing Discontent: Christianity and Change’. Presentation at Wake Festival, Belfast, 27 April 2016. Weaponizing Discontent: Christianity and Change Wake Festival Google Scholar

Weir, Allison. (2013) Identities and Freedom: Feminist Theory Between Power and Connection. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Identities and Freedom: Feminist Theory Between Power and Connection Google Scholar

Žižek, Slavoj. (2008[1999]) The Ticklish Subject: The Absent Centre of Political Ontology. London: Verso. The Ticklish Subject: The Absent Centre of Political Ontology Google Scholar

Žižek, Slavoj. (2001[2000a]) The Fragile Absolute: Or, why is the Christian legacy worth fighting for? London: Verso. The Fragile Absolute: Or, why is the Christian legacy worth fighting for? Google Scholar

Žižek, Slavoj. (2000b) ‘Class Struggle or Postmodernism?: Yes, Please!’ in Contingency, Hegemony, Universality: Contemporary Dialogues on the Left, Judith Butler, Ernesto Laclau and Slavoj Žižek. London: Verso, pp. 90–135. Class Struggle or Postmodernism?: Yes, Please! Contingency, Hegemony, Universality: Contemporary Dialogues on the Left 90 135 Google Scholar

Žižek, Slavoj. (2002) Welcome to the Desert of the Real. London: Verso. Welcome to the Desert of the Real Google Scholar

Žižek, Slavoj. (2003) The Puppet and the Dwarf: The Perverse Core of Christianity. Cambridge: MIT Press. The Puppet and the Dwarf: The Perverse Core of Christianity Google Scholar

Žižek, Slavoj. (2006) The Parallax View. Cambridge: MIT Press. The Parallax View Google Scholar

Žižek, Slavoj. (2008a) In Defense of Lost Causes. London: Verso. In Defense of Lost Causes Google Scholar

Žižek, Slavoj. (2008b) Violence. London: Profile Books. Violence Google Scholar

Žižek, Slavoj. (2009a) The Monstrosity of Christ: Paradox or Dialectic?, with John Milbank, ed. Creston Davis. Cambridge: MIT Press. The Monstrosity of Christ: Paradox or Dialectic? Google Scholar

Žižek, Slavoj. (2009b) First as Tragedy, Then as Farce. London: Verso. First as Tragedy, Then as Farce Google Scholar

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Moody, Katharine Sarah

Moody, Katharine Sarah