One Last Post on Slavoj Žižek

Irrelevant or indispensable? You decide.

Longtime reader Joel emailed me. He asked,

I’m so incredibly tired of intellectual hipster Christians discussing obscure theological thinkers like Žižek I could scream. Can you please explain to me, in terms that a regular person can understand, how these arguments have any influence on everyday life?

Joel, tell us how you really feel. :-) But it’s a fair question, I think, even if it has an edge to it. So I put it out to a couple of my friends who are Žižek experts, and David Fitch sent this back. Thanks, David. Here’s his post:

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Two Podcasts, No Waiting

Homebrewed Christianity

I took some time away from the blog this weekend, due in part to a power outage caused by major thunderstorms in Minnesota. I also spent most of Saturday tracking down a swim raft from Craigslist, floating it into the lake, and subsequently vanquishing all comers who attempted to dethrone me as King of the Hill.

But we awake Monday to two Homebrewed Christianity podcasts featuring items of note:

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Whaddya Say We Get Honest about Labels?

This morning on Marketplace Morning Report, Krissy Clark filed a story entitled, “What Does ‘Welfare’ Mean to You?“:

Once upon a time, the word welfare simply meant, faring well. That’s how the framers of the U.S. Constitution used it in the preamble. Right after the part about “forming a more perfect union” and before the part about “securing the blessings of liberty”, there’s a charge to “promote the general welfare.”

And yet, if you go out on to the street and ask people how they feel about the word welfare today, the feelings are, to put it mildly, fairly negative.

“It’s for people who sit on their butt all day and don’t do anything and then say ‘give me your money,’” is how John Frazer, a car service driver from San Diego, put it.

“It’s kind of associated with failure,” added Suncana Laketa, a graduate student from Arizona who said she had received welfare in the past herself.

She goes on to explain how the word has changed — how it has been demonized. The label “gay” has undergone a similar change, as many parents have had to explain during the annual reading of “The Night Before Christmas.” And here’s a telling book title about how labels are used: Talking Right: How Conservatives Turned Liberalism into a Tax-Raising, Latte-Drinking, Sushi-Eating, Volvo-Driving, New York Times-Reading, Body-Piercing, Hollywood-Loving, Left-Wing Freak Show.

You see, calling someone a “liberal” isn’t just a forensic exercise in academic differentiation. It’s a political act. And leaders who claim a theological tradition that’s particularly attuned to the political should stop acting naive about the politics of labels.

This post and the hullaballoo that surrounds it has the potential to be seen as internecine sniping, so I’m going to try to draw some larger lessons.

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Rob Bell Round-Up


In the wake of Rob Bell’s new book being released and his perfectly-timed-to-coincide-with-new-book-release statement affirming gay marriage, the Internet is full of opinions about him. Here’s a little round up.

I blogged about Rob’s affirmation of gay marriage and about why Rob Bell Matters.

Adam Walker Cleaveland agrees that Rob Bell matters:

I believe Rob Bell still matters. Whether you agree with his theology or not, whether you get frustrated that he doesn’t include footnotes for every little reference he makes and writes in a more casual style than you…all of that side, Bell does, in fact, have an impressive platform and he is reaching a generation of folks who aren’t comfortable with more traditional ideas and models of Christianity.

Tim Ghali also stated that Rob Bell still matters to him:

Community is not determined by your current attendance record but by identification and participation. Rob Bell may not be part of your local church community, but it’s safe to say he’s part of the Church. And he still is accountable but there are different levels and forms of accountability.  From what I can see, the chatter out there from the week is at the very least evidence from those who are trying to hold him accountable and Tony is right, in this case, the readers (as well as the publisher/book sales) will hold accountable to a certain degree.

Tripp Fuller mused about various big-name leaders supporting gays:

Bell is the most interesting to me because he took a stand AND continued to embrace his evangelical identity.  At some point the evangelical community is going to have to permit some diversity around this issue and not continue to excommunicate the messenger. Ask former evangelicals stuck in a Mainline situation because of a justice issue like this and many still wish they could go home.

Bo Sanders argues with David Fitch and Geoff Holsclaw (differently than I argued with them):

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