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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What Happened on the Blog this Weekend

On Saturday, I published a guest post here. That’s not particularly uncommon. I have, of late, invited posts from guest authors. In fact, when someone emails me to express an opinion that is contrary to something I’ve written, my usual response is, “Why don’t you write a guest post on that, and I’ll publish it.”

A couple things come to mind about this stance. For one thing, I am only a person who writes books and a compensated blog because, starting in 1999, kind people shared their platforms with me. Sure, I suppose they thought I had something to say, but they also chose to give a 30-year-old youth pastor a chance to write books and speak at conferences. A decade-and-a-half later, I’m happy to do the same for other, new voices that I think you might appreciate.

Secondly, I strongly believe that writing is a meritocracy. If you have something interesting to say, and you’re relatively articulate, people will read your writing. So I feel like there’s not much to lose, and a lot to gain when I publish a post by a new voice.

What happened this weekend follows both those rules.

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Slavoj Žižek and the Illusion of Religion

Brilliant philosopher or crazy homeless man? You decide.

I’m getting audited, which I can tell you completely sucks. And I’m getting audited for three years of tax returns, which means triple the pain — it’s like getting an enema with thumb tacks. I’ll write about it more sometime.

But because of that, I need a couple more days to chew on and answer this week’s Question That Haunts — it’s a good one. In the meantime, here’s a fantastic guest post by Zane Schertz, following up on last week’s post about Slavoj Žižek. About himself, he says, “I am a death of God theologian. I am currently studying dialectical materialism, and Jacques Lacan’s stade du miroir. My main theological influences are Thomas Altizer, Slavoj Žižek, Soren Kierkegaard, George Hegel, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Drew Sumrall. You can find me on my blog and on Twitter.” Here’s Zane:

In the theological realm there has been much discussion over Slovenian philosopher and cultural theorist Slavoj Zizek. What makes this a bit of anomaly is that Zizek is a self described atheist. So the next logical question is, what can an atheist teach us about theology and the Christian walk? Well, first we must understand there are many varying forms of atheism. Just as there are many varying forms of Christianity, Judaism and so on. So before we dive in, understand that to lump Zizek in with the likes of Dawkins, Hitchens and so on, is to lump Tony in with Mark Driscoll. It’s irresponsible and we will ultimately miss what Zizek is saying.

Slavoj Zizek is a senior researcher at the Institute for Sociology and Philosophy, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, international director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities and a professor of philosophy and psychoanalysis at the European Graduate School. Now Zizek is a character to say the least. His style is manic, ugly, and all over the map. Have you ever had so many thoughts going on in your brain that your mouth can’t keep up? I assume Zizek spends all of his waking moments in this state. He just talks and talks and talks and talks and talks [you get the point] and within that time he jumps from topic to topic to topic to topic. So needless to say, more times than not it’s difficult to keep up with his thoughts and antics. However, when he gets dialed in, there is no one person more brilliant, exciting, and passionate than Zizek.

I asked Tony if I could guest post here to discuss how this atheist madman can and should be implemented into modern theology and Christianity. My goal is to be as coherent as possible, but when discussing Zizek this sometimes becomes a bit difficult. So I am currently thinking maybe I bit of more than I can chew. Anyway, here is my best effort to explain Christian [atheism] as Zizek sees it:

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Who the Heck is Slavoj Žižek?

Brilliant philosopher or crazy homeless man? You decide.

Who is Slavoj Žižek, I ask?

  • Peter Rollins’s father?
  • A homeless man?
  • The most brilliant Continental philosopher of our day?

I don’t know the answer. I’ve not read more than a essay here and there by Žižek, and watched some videos of him. Surprisingly, watching him lecture and answer questions is even more confusing than reading his writing.

Thankfully, Christian Thorne has written three short essays about Žižek. Here are money quote excerpts:

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