We are in danger of losing everything: the threat is that we will be reduced to abstract subjects devoid of all substantial content, dispossessed of our symbolic substance, our genetic base heavily manipulated, vegetating in an unlivable environment. – Zizek
Atheist philosopher and cultural theorist Slavoj Zizek is talking of the inherent problems with capitalism and how it will eventually create a barren desert. I would broaden his argument to not be simply about capitalism, but the idea that lies beyond capitalism, those that help make capitalism what it is. It has helped shaped the way we see the Bible. What I also want to do is take this quote and take it a step further and say that our idealogies that we convert to Christianity are the very threats that will reduce us to abstract subjects. But I think that this is a good thing, not if we stop there, but if we see what lies beyond it. What lies beyond is: The mirage that is the Real (the Unsaid; Lacan).
Since we do not have words for it, the only way we can begin our journey towards such an unknown is beyond our trite cliches, theologies, and beliefs.
*Spoiler Alert*: Shutter Island
In the movie Shutter Island (with Leonardo Dicaprio) the main protagonist is brought into a story of his own making to deal with the trauma of his past decisions. Its his trauma that now dictates who he is. In his new life he is no longer the murderer, he is the hero. In his re-rendered narrative, the old has gone and the new has come. But the new is the old. The old is nothing new. It is this break with reality that I think we must deal with to discover that all of our beliefs can easily construct a world where the new is really the old under the guise of new. Much like the character in the movie, we can find ways to rename old habits.
Old beliefs. Old truths.
We’ve been taught for centuries that truths, absolutes and beliefs shouldn’t change or be questioned, but the initial fault in this way of thinking is that it can’t stand for long in an empirical worldview. The weather changes. Its erratic. Undetermined. And leaves us powerless to its inherent change. Its a good representation of absolutes. Because most people believe in weather. The nature of weather doesn’t assume its allegiances to any pattern. Its promise is to no one.
Ask a sailor who has experienced a storm.
Or a woodsmen who’s been struck by lightening and survived.
They have been changed.
By things out of their control.
Just because we ‘believe’ doesn’t mean we
-lieve! We must move to a place beyond belief. A Night of The World (Hegel), where our full deconstitution into nothingness is actually our something-ness realized. Where sin is salvation. Where the lies we were told not to believe are true. Where as Zizek says of Jesus’ words (Hate your mother, father, mother, and etc.) Hate is the new Love. This doesnt mean that nothing is real, it means everything we think we know is beyond what we truly think we know.
The thing is when we try to control the ever-changing nature of absolutes, what we don’t realize is that they are no longer absolutes. They becomes ways for us to sustain the psychotic break with reality. If we like where we are, than why would need a change, right? And so these kind of absolutes, the ones that never change exist only in our mind. When I hear the verse in the Christian scriptures where God gets quoted as saying “”For I am the LORD, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.” I hear Jewish sarcasm. Why? Because of what God is quoted as saying afterwards.
This Jewish God then says “Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD Almighty. “But you ask, ‘How are we to return?” If we take these verses at face value, than God is nothing more than hypocrite if we measure Him against the rest of scripture. If God is ‘consistent’ as most assume Her to be by this verse than why does God seem to change Her mind all over scripture? With Moses. With Creation in Genesis. There are many other examples. But these shown here demonstrate a God who learns.
Grows. Progresses. Evolves.
If our understanding of God evolves, than should other absolutes do the same? Just because we rename absolutes and use hipper rhetoric doesn’t mean they’ve changed, we’ve just found new ways to control them. This is why we need less language that distances us from the object of our desire (Kristeva), we need less ways of trying to control absolutes and more space to discover them. Otherwise we run the risk of worshipping a God (and the absolutes that follow after) that is much more a hypocrite than we are willing to admit.
Absolutes evolve as we evolve. Truth evolves as we evolve.
Here’s the thing, these are processes we can’t control. There isn’t a rubric, we can’t find one, make one up or justify a definition. It is simply a beautiful scandalous journey we get to be a part of. The verses above show us a people who were learning about God in new ways for their time. Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and many other religions are simply humanities attempts at trying to discover this one Deity. But to truly understand this Deity, we have to strip back all the things we’ve made Her/Him/It out to be. This is the process of deconstitution.
This deconstruction of God, without even trying, naturally annihilates our assumptions of this Being beyond our understanding. It’s not a comfortable place to unknow what we think we know. Because it means we have to mourn the very things we have made ourselves believe. I think a good place to start is to accept our own Castration (Lacan).
It’s the realization that our powerlessness isn’t our enemy, but that our weakness of not being in control of the evolving absolutes creates a much deeper space for self-discovery and God-discovery. If we continue down the road of never-changing absolutes than we might have to accept that we have had a big hand in the castration of God. The more we cling to our religious beliefs under the guise of belief the more we fall into the state of the old looking new. In the great reversal of finding God in the midst of the mess of what theology has become, the new has to become old.
And as we know, the old eventually dies.
This is so much deeper than kenosis, this is beyond the emptying of self, it is the rigormortis and death of ideas that have been set in us like stone. Rather than sustaining the ideological foundation from where these ideas came, its looking way beyond them to something that lies beyond our historical consciousness. This is completely distancing ourselves from the thing we think we know and being led into a deeper darkness that is light. This is why ideological absolutes keep us from discovering the Great Being that lies beyond them. We must be willing to give up our absolutes to find them.