November 20, 2018

The devil is known by many names. The most common one, Satan, is often used, but only as a name. Like calling the one laying claim to soul “Alfie”. It is also used as a pejorative, a slightly sharper version of calling your own adversary “poopyhead”. With the frequency of this type of use, few remember the Hebrew roots of the name, which translates Satan to “The Accuser”. In a number of respects, as James Alison puts it in Raising… Read more

November 12, 2018

A diagnosis that is common to the thought of Nietzsche and Marx concerns the pacifying strength of fantasies. At the risk of oversimplification, we can say that for Marx, the fantasy concerns the artificial worth injected into things by capitalist modes of production, which for him religion played a part by redirecting the vision of the have-nots to a realm beyond things. For Nietzsche, meanwhile, the fantasy is one of an artificial morality imposed by the weak on the strong…. Read more

November 2, 2018

More than 20 years ago, the Icelandic singer Björk released the single “All is Full of Love” from her album Homogenic. The video for that single depicted two humanoid robots being manufactured by a series of robotic arms in a space age factory. As assembly by these arms begins, the first robot sings the first line of the song which goes You’ll be given love. You’ll be taken care of. You’ll be given love. You’ll have to trust it. When… Read more

October 20, 2018

Social media reminded me that, a year ago today, I wrote a post concerning the tragically poetic turn away from immortality to the glorious heft of earthly life (and promptly forgot I even wrote it). With allusions to Tolkien and the Goo Goo Dolls, I wrote there that “embodied existence, for all the awkwardness, breakage and loss, gives us a foretaste of eternity”. Fast forward a year, and I finally had the chance to crack open my recently acquired second… Read more

September 14, 2018

Wherein I get to talk about sloths! Oh… Readers in Sydney might be interested to know that the Parish of St Peter’s in Surry Hills have kindly invited me to give a short presentation on the vice of acedia, on 23 Sept at noon. I will be drawing on RJ Snell’s Acedia and its Discontents (which I discuss further here) and will go through a passage of the Praktikos by Evagrius of Pontus, and will discuss it through the lens… Read more

September 13, 2018

About a decade ago, Herve Juvin published The Coming of the Body, a magnificently frightening analysis on the arrival and implications of a technologically enhanced body. This new body not only lived longer, but was also detached from the obligations of community and disentangled from the machinations of the will. This new body was one completely beholden to the individual will, and no biological, physical or sexual limit the body exerted could ever encumber it. Among other diagnoses, I found Juvin’s… Read more

August 30, 2018

I had the chance to see Crazy Rich Asians in the movies. It features a set of mainly Singaporean-born American Chinese millenials attending a wedding in Singapore (there is more than this, of course). As a migrant from Singapore, I could not resist. For a summary of my reactions, please see fellow Asian Catholic blogger Justin Tse’s post on the movie here. To elaborate, the most interesting thing about the movie was that it avoided the most typical asian stereotypes,… Read more

August 24, 2018

In my paper “Christ in Hyperreality”, I reiterated the point put forward earlier by William Cavanaugh that we do not live in godless societies strictly speaking. Instead, we live in societies where, in Cavanaugh’s words, the holy has migrated from one place to another. Whilst one facet of this migration is framed in terms of a shift in devotion to particular artifacts (sports, politics etc), another facet is the incorporation of symbols of the holy into those artifacts. More accurately,… Read more

July 24, 2018

A couple of weeks ago, the Perth-based Dawson Society for Philosophy and Culture held their first conference on the legacy of 1968.  I gladly accepted their invitation to present a paper on the thought of Guy Debord and Jean Baudrillard, entitled “Christ in Hyperreality: Cultural Marxism, Kulturkritik and Fake News”. I argued in the paper that Debord and Baudrillard continue to have relevance not only in diagnosing the mobilising power of images that soak our cultural fabric. I also argued… Read more

July 12, 2018

One of the joys of being a theologian is getting to know gifted theologians from non-Catholic traditions, whether Orthodox or Protestant. One of those I know lectures at Hillsong College, a pentecostal college which runs theology courses for undergraduate and postgraduate students. At the invitation of this friend, I gave a guest lecture for a political theology course and led a class on Catholic conceptions of justice, framing the lecture around Aquinas’ conception of justice as one of the four… Read more

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