G|od, After the Or(g)y

there is so much meaning that meaning itself  has ceased to exist. somehow, due to the overuse of ideology, concepts, ‘truth’ and other colloquialisms there is no more reality to experience.the cliche has become too cliche. it is not that reality does not exist. but it is that reality has been hidden behind that which we assume has been reality all along. and then when we peel the curtains back, due to the pregnancy of over-meaning, reality is yet again hidden behind itself. let me explain. if someone were to spend years speaking on one topic (let’s say: the weather) and their whole existence was defined by what the weather did and did not do, and how the climate changed and etc. then the whole of their being
would be consumed by nothing more than the weather.

reality itself would be reduced to the self-canonization of wind, sun, precipation and so on. now what happens then is that thelife becomes nothing more than consumption(being consumed by something), but no longer is it the object of desire (in this case: God) but rather the consumption and production of the same language (i.e., theology), similar people (traditional definition of: church), similar concepts (i.e., mission to missional – which is just a mere over-signification of the same idea) and so on. when we allow these things to occur,meaning dies. cultural theorist jean baudrillard calls this over-signification, the orgy. A time when no true meaning existed, but the appearance of meaning had taking over the role of the object of our desire.

terrorism is that which is an attentive over-saturation of a subject or idea. it is not the commitment to an idea. Take for an example, a suicide bomber who erupts onto the scene with a block of C4 strapped to their chest. they don’t want to die, but because of their over-saturation to an idea they must die. this is very different from the traditional concept in the word commitment. commitment tends to be driven by desire. a desire either for some type of change or for some type of progress to occur. television is a form of terrorism. because it assumes its place is to provide its audience with an over-attentive over-saturation of mediated facts. it does nothing to enforce justice,relieve poverty, or preserve life. it is the highest form of terrorism because it commits itself to nothing. it promises only unmediated events yet is mediated by the very television itself, by the act of tele-prompting.  by some big other.

most terrorism is filtered through some sort of perverse other. take for instance, in the life of one of jesus’ disciples, his name was peter. rome was a natural terrorist, they attempted to control the world – reality as everyone knew it. their terrorism was visceral. any person, object or moment that attempt to destroy another person for their own self-gain is a natural terrorist. one who is led by nothing more/less than simple blood lust. in a moment of sheer self-committed weakness peter becomes over-saturated by his own self-preservation and fear. his attentiveness to it is what drives his acts and words from that point forward. although his intent might be pure, his actions dictate the ‘other’ that he serves in that moment. for all intense purposes he is one of the terrorists who sent jesus to the cross.

Now, this isn’t to demonise peters’ denial of christ, but the reality is that peter is a microcosm of what has happened to the world today. The cliche we have become accustomed to hearing is that bad things happen when good men do nothing. but i think there is a fatal flaw in this thinking. Because it assumes that the bad thing wouldn’t have occurred if the good man did something. even when good men do something, bad things still happen. Like in the movie Gran Torino, the curmudgeonly protagonist played by Clint Eastwood ends up dying for the neighbours he loves to hate to imprison a set of gang members who antagonised their own family members who he became friends with. But throughout the movie he encounters other gang members. What the movie does not deal with is the reality that his death was ultimately in vain because it did not deal with all of the gangs. the system in place. however altruistic/salvific (he dies with he arms outstretched, like Christ) his death did not deal with the systemic issue of gang violence. it simply was a form of vengeance in reverse. true violence occurs when we allow those systems that oppress, marginalize, kill, devalue and destroy any human.

when we repress our innate responsibility not to just act but to dismantle those systems in place that dissolve the human spirit, we do nothing less, in that moment then join in the terrorism that ends the very life we ourselves stand for. in its most simplest form, terrorism is when we allow systems to overrun how we interpret one another, our value, ethics & desire. Baudrillard thought that images were evil. that over time the image would become so over-saturated (overused) that it would lose its meaning. and that the image itself would take the place of the object along with the meaning. so, even the meaning of the object would be replaced by whatever took its place. and that over the course of the process the ‘real’ thing would cease to exist in this thing we call reality. and we would worship the image over the pure (untouched object). this has also happened with god. god has been removed from churches, theology and everything in between. the object we are meant to relate to has become the very idol we ourselves choose to interpret and understand. this is why there has been a retroactive fetish with past theology and the ‘church fathers’, we are attempting to keep the image alive over the real thing.

we fear the real thing, because if we meet it, we might have to make some real changes and maybe even have to critically engage with it, ourselves and others. television and the media have also played the part of the image that takes the place of our reality. it has become the object that believes and informs us to the point of inaction. we watch it, we allow it to interpret what we should and should not desire. we then are informed of the world atrocities as if they are cartoons, the image itself centers on certain aspects of an event, and by doing so, ultimately decontextualizes reality and our interaction with it. let’s take for example : giving to charities. what most of them don’t tell is that when you give them money around 70% of your ‘gift’ is wasted on adminstrative costs. although some organizations have attempted to rectify this, the truth is they are still mediating for each of us. terrorism is the allowance of feelings, beliefs, ideas and so on to mediate for us to the point of inaction. Love is a form of action, expecially that which positively effects the other. Because it is a death to self for the whole benefit of the other. But it is not some symbolic death where we remain as we were before with fractions of ourself intact, this kind of love is that which consumes us whole. I have yet to see this kind of love.

More Sacred Abomination, Please.
When I speak of the sacred i use a different idea than the traditional definition. Sacred for me is something that ruptures the ordinary, it would be too trivial to assume that extraordinary somehow captures this elusive term. An example would be the following: imagine you are in a church service (one that relies on a script of some sort) and someone “accidentally” veers of script in a comical manner and the the audience responds through laughter, for me this is the sacred. the holy. that which assumes what is common to all is not common at all. this idea of the sacred must be first experienced as profane (in the example above, it is that the audience laughed when the script was not held to). To those who might seek to uphold the script, those that defy the script might be reduced to nothing more than profane and heretical.this is the sacred. that which offends the exclusive. this new paradigm has all kinds of implications, namely, that those who would adhere to the script would be the most profane of all. those that would seek to crystallise tradition and the common are the most exclusive and the most treacherous.

To repair the damage of our addiction to meaning we must first recognize that what we have isn’t what we think we have. And to be reminded of this fact is to embrace something entirely unlike its current self. It’s to embrace a sort of sacred abomination of non-meaning, let me explain. Sex has been used for many different things. in our society, it currently has been exploited to the point that sex no longer means anything in the real world because there is enough simulation for us to experience the real thing without ever having sex.

As I have stated above the same has happened with god. there has been so much of the virtual (i.e., going to church, mission trips, theology, and etc.) that these things now mediate for God, to the point that God no longer exists in the realm of our current signifiers. So, in this light the abomination is that holy object that begins removing all of those things that we think somehow promise us meaning.

It begins not pulling the curtain back to find out what lies behind it, but rather burns the curtain along with the whole theater. some might be wondering then ‘how do we know what to keep and what not to keep?’ I think this question is predicated on the notion that somehow there was some secret canon of information listed in the vault of some other alternate reality that is untouchable. The incarnation defies that whole paradigm way of thinking. It intrigues me that Jesus never gave the 12 disciples a handbook on how to get it right or the list of correct ways to interpret the Torah, but rather just released them into the wild, wild world. We need more sacred abomination which is that object or thing that enters into our churches and hides in the corner of theological structures to emerge as play.

Abomination is that which prevents and denies any access to meaningless repetition. It is a reminder that we are not kings or gods. Something that reminds us that there is more to the journey then how much we’re getting right and who might be wrong. This isn’t some simple idea of play, but rather something that itself cannot be defined, and something that leads us beyond words and explanations. We must allow for this sacred abomination to be taken seriously as a form of invited play. into sermons. Into bible studies. Into broken alleyways. Into poverty. Into reality. And ultimately, into God.

About George Elerick

George Elerick is a widely sought-after speaker, activist and cultural theorist. He lives in England with his wife and two children. He and his wife run Cross Culture Consultancy (http://www.crosscultureconsultancy.com): A webinar & in-person speaking-based platform to discuss, apply & innovate new methods to respond to some of the world's biggest issues.

George majors on cultural engagement, pop-culture, postmodernism, theology & others. Deborah majors on human rights, gender equality,domestic violence, social justice issues and more. They are available for booking! He has a book out entitled 'Jesus Bootlegged' and has another on the way: Jesus and the Death of Church.

  • Lyle Taffs

    Hey George
    You have given us some awsome ideas. You seem to be ‘channeling’ Peter Rollins. Not a bad thing to do! It will be difficult to reeducate us all – especially when you go to a christian gatekeeper and say you want to introduce some ‘profanity’ or some ‘abominations’.
    Cheers from down under
    Lyle

  • http://www.facebook.com/tcochran87 Tony Cochran

    I particularly like the idea of sacred abomination, but will offer a word of nuance. For me, although ‘the journey’ may not be about who is ‘right’ or ‘wrong,’ I think that this type of relativism is incredibly important in certain-specific situations. As I analyze this idea, the focus of ‘wrongness’ while it can – and is – employed as a means to normalize and evoke reified patterns in people and culture, I also think it can show its opposite, by pathologizing the normalization itself. In the West this work was really started by Freud, and continued with by Foucault, Audre Lorde, Malcolm X, Dr. King, Dr. Cornell West, Noam Chomsky, Adorno, Marcuse, Deleuze, RD Laing Zizek and others. For me, this ‘judgement’ plays into sacred abomination too? Honestly, I ask, and this is a contoured question: Is this too a Superego situation whereby I look to ‘critique’ as the big Other?

    Also on the notion of image-image, copy of copy meaninglessness, I also like the work of performativity done by Judith Butler and citationality. ‘Gender Trouble’ and the entirety of Queer Theory here may be able to couple with this new profane – disgusting – Christianity of terrifying connection? I would hope so. I am wondering how many possibilities will be generated by this break into the Unconscious? Guy Debord here also offers some insight.

  • http://theloverevolution.org.uk george elerick

    Lyle! – Thanks bro – Unfortunately, I have not had a chance to read any of Peter’s work, ironically,we might be working on a Documentary together!! – It does seem we read in the same circles though, lol – appreciate the kindness bro! –

    Tony! :

    Great questions/thoughts: Thanks so much Tony! – I think you bring up some great points here! – I would probably agree and say that we are (all of us) haunted by what i refer to as the superego partial-object, in that even when we attempt to hermeneutically step outside of it, it still rears its ugly head. – But, I also think youre right in that there is a portion of narcississm (Lacan) that is needed for us to enact our beliefs of idealism (i.e., chomsky, zizek, dr king and etc.) – but healthy narcississm. but, what are your thoughts on it? :)

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