Activism and Scholarship

I have noticed a phenomenon that seems to be particularly intense at CTS, but I’m sure happens elsewhere. This is the phenomenon of being impatient with scholarship and theoretical work that does not appear to have an immediate practical application or to be immediately communicable to “common people.” Today this did not come up in class, since we were talking about a very topical book of Judith Butler’s (Precarious Life), but when discussing the idea of how an identitarian “we” very often ends up excluding some of those that it by all rights should include, this issue came to mind.

It seems to me that various types of activist movements, identitarian or not, and also religious movements tend to marginalize or exclude their more “intellectual” members. Hence when we get the impatient question, “But how does this play to the people on the streets/in the pews?,” it may represent a certain defensiveness among people who are seeking to be intellectuals who are faithful to the movements with which they identify. In rhetorically identifying with the “common person” — which the speaker, who is in this case enrolled in an advanced degree program, simply no longer is, whether they want to admit it or not — the speaker can make a double assertion:

  1. The common people are right to be suspicious of some intellectual work, which really is useless at best or counterproductive at worst.
  2. I, however, do not do that kind of intellectual work and am very suspicious of it myself.

This identification and distancing, then, can be a means of expiating a certain type of guilt for enjoying “useless” intellectual pursuits for their own sake. It is difficult for me to imagine that anyone would enter a PhD program without enjoying intellectual work for its own sake, even if the primary goal is, for instance, to document a neglected aspect of one’s cultural heritage or history, or to develop specific programs to help people, etc., etc. Even if one really is a “movement intellectual” in sincere solidarity with an activist or religious group, one is still an intellectual, which is always going to include at least some minimal slippage between one’s intellectual pursuits and the immediate needs (strategic of propagandistic) of the movement. One may take theological stances that one’s church body takes as disruptive of the training of ministers, or one may ask questions about sexuality that are experienced as attacking the unity of one’s identitarian movement — in any case, one’s identification is not complete. Even if that must necessarily be true for every member of a movement, it is much more of a “public” issue for the intellectual, whose role makes it much less easy to hide misgivings than is the case for a “private individual” in the rank and file.

What often results is a kind of imposed asceticism of the intellectual, who must in some sense deny a part of herself in order to be counted as faithful to the movement. In fact, this phenomenon is precisely why I myself am no longer an active part of a “movement” — after being marginalized in the Nazarene church for all my life due to my intelligence, I eventually came to understand that the apparently much more pro-intellectual Catholic Church to which I’d fled would also demand a certain sacrifice of the intellect.

It is of course not possible to view intellectuals as an oppressed group in the classical sense — and I am by no means making any such claim. Intellectuals, at least those who manage to make a career of it, are generally economically secure and enjoy a certain degree of social prestige. Beyond that, there is an inherent pleasure to intellectual work, at least for those who are particularly drawn to it. The question is how to build a community such that the pleasure of intellectual life is not viewed as a threat.

59 thoughts on “Activism and Scholarship

  1. I think the most noble aspiration for an academic to pursue is teaching, period.

    The tendency to seek topics and/or ideas which are somehow more ‘practical’ or ‘applicable’ to the so-called real world dilute, at best, and pervert, at worst, the potency of any thought. One can talk about important ideas, of course, but one shouldn’t be misled to think that because –on the quantitative/scientific side–one has catalogued/surveyed/categorized mountains of evidence on a single topic, or–on the qualitative/theoretical side–one has explored the most profound abstractions of a fundamental problem of thought, that one is somehow better equipped to “solve” social issues. All academics, philosophers and chemists alike, are paid to be experts, and to pass on a sliver of that expert knowledge to a young citizen as part of a holistic education, and occasionally to the public at large in a more informal capacity as ‘expert opinion’. Politicians are paid to actually process and make these decisions, and everyone else is obligated, or at least well-advised to evaluate them properly.

    On the other hand, over specialization can also have adverse affects in the humanities, and over-generalization can have adverse affects in the sciences, regardless of the object of inquiry.

  2. It seems quite clear that such communities have existed at various points in the past, quite frequently as religious communities; for example, the intellectual network that centered around the writing and correspondence of Erasmus.

    Soon, I’d like to write something on the imposition of the “break” — that is, the necessity for academics to perform breaks with their own intellectual work and its inevitable flights of abstraction. Sometimes this break involves a re-assertion of practicality, and sympathy for the proletariat. Many other times, it involves a relaxation into pop culture references, or even into whatever cliche of intellectual work is at-hand: absentmindedness, obsessiveness, “eccentricity,” the performance of being stressed, and so on.

  3. The solution is to become a “politically committed” “sociologist” and write about one’s “activism” using the fancy sounding idea of “auto-ethnography.” This solution allows one to theorize the policeman’s baton as it strikes one in the forehead. Pepper-spray philosophy, perhaps.

  4. Kvetch #1 about the divinity school with which my graduate program is associated. It strikes me that, especially with respect to theology, the sense is now nigh-universal that because theology should be “for the church” is should therefore be written at a level that anyone in the pews could understand. Otherwise it’s not in touch with people “on the ground.” (Which phrase, if I hear it one more time, might just make me go postal).

    The most cynical take possible (which is currently mine) is that it often isn’t much more than a way of saying, I don’t understand X (say, Milbank, or Keller, or Juengel) and that’s not fair because big words marginalize me. But I’m really wondering lately (having worked through a good dose of theological pragmatism) whether this is a uniquely American perspective. Which is not to say that it’s just anti-intellectualism (although it certainly is that), but a very particular form of politicking.

    It seems that it’s become perfectly acceptable to have an incoherent argument as long as it “works on the ground.” I suppose it’s possible that there are things that could be worse for theology or philosophy, but I can’t really think of what.

  5. Anthony, In diocesan seminaries, there’s definitely been a push toward a more conservative approach. In other institutions that are not under as direct of control by the hierarchy, there’s much more freedom, but the trend seems to be in the direction of keeping theologians under control. (This information comes from someone who was fleeing from a diocesan seminary.)

  6. There are several aspects to this question, the following of which you do not touch: 1) the intelligentsia and its role in socio-political affairs; this can be seen from the various purges of intellectuals that have occurred thruout modern history, e.g., Nazification of the universities, the massacre of Polish intellectuals after WW2, the Culutral Revolution in China. This tradition has been carried on in Iraq, for example, where thousands of intellectuals have been assassinated.

    In the US, does the intellectual play such a major role? The so-called anti-intellectualism of US democracy tells against that, though this might be more ideology than reality, a veneer that the ruling elite want the hoi polloi to believe so that they (the elites) can work behind the scenes.

    2) The fact that for the common in the street the activities of the intellectual, especially in terms of theory, simply mean nothing unless they can be applied. The great thing about a religious thinker who preaches is that they can (hypothetically) translate theology into action by way of the pulpit. The test of the viability of the theology, of course, comes in how much people in the pulpits are motivated by the sermons. The prime examples of this MLK and Malcolm X. There, a direct translation of theological/theoretical talk occurred. Some this also happened in Liberation Theology.

    If you think of Heidegger’s notion that we are thrown into a world and that “we” are entities already involved in practical/pragmatic concerns, then any philosophy that cannot in some way latch up to that activity that we find of most concern becomes what Kierkegaard calls chatter.

    Indeed, Kierkegaard’s incessant short-circuiting of the vanities and hilarities of the professors and assistant professors who weave systems like palaces but who actually live in the dog-house next door applies here. That is, a philosopher or any other thinker must be judged by whether they or anyone else can live by the words/thoughts that they promulgate.

  7. That is, a philosopher or any other thinker must be judged by whether they or anyone else can live by the words/thoughts that they promulgate.

    How does that work for, say, algebraic topology? How does an algebraic topologist live by his/her words and thoughts?

  8. I just wanted to say this is a great post and a good conversation, as lame as that sounds. I think such hasty thought (as is found here at the Nazarene denominational school I attend, just like CTS) short-circuits depth of ideas.

    Is there not really some type of delay from ‘theory’ to practice (as the norm)?(i.e. ideas take time to infiltrate culture) And is this not a good thing? Don’t ideas need time to digest, and be ‘tested.’

    Other than that, I feel as though at this point I have little to add…

  9. Adam, I recently had a conversation with someone here at NTS about this issue (with similar results as yourself)…so I gotta say: anyone who has been involved in a seminary or div school (like I was at Vanderbilt) who does not at the same time themselves utilize the kind of infinite-deference-to-praxis type of argument you are talking about (and, as a catch-all argument) knows that what you are talking about is dead on. It really is unfortunate. We can’t seem to think while we act and/or act while we think (or we have no conception of how thinking is a kind of praxis)–we have to separate them out. What is even more distressing is that often this division is used as a wedge between “liberal” and “conservative” types of thinking (or, dare we say “worldviews”?).

  10. What the Cynic Librarian said. I don’t think this form of critique can simply be dismissed as being a product of those who don’t understand the theory. There are those who both understand the theory and who have been sympathetic to those forms of theory that come to feel this way. In the realm of secular political theory, high theory can be seen as enabling certain forms of oppression by encouraging theorists of high theory to engage in arcane debates without getting into the thick of things. In the case of theology the issue, I think, is even more egregious. The high theory theologian enables very negative actual religious practices, becoming an apologist for these practices on the grounds that the critic simply doesn’t understand the nuances of the theology (which the average believer doesn’t either). The high theory theologian portrays himself as correcting a misapprehension of religion, without giving any clear picture of how these proposals will be enacted or communicated to followers. Consequently, while the critic might be very sympathetic to the views of the theologian, he nonetheless discerns that said theologian simply allows current practices to continue as they do by 1) pretending said practices don’t exist, and 2) getting caught up in debates about how many angels can fit on the head of a needle. The lack of a concrete practice thus makes the theologian suspect as an apologist, even if that theologian doesn’t endorse these views. Political theory works this way as well. The lack of a communicable and concrete practice can make the radical leftist political theorist an enabler of the very excesses of capital she decries because she believes it’s the academic debates that are important rather than engaging in a viable practice that might actually effect change in the social sphere. It might as well be noise.

  11. I really don’t want to take the time to explain to you why you are wrong, but I know you won’t simply accept you are wrong. This is a conundrum further confounded by the fact that you never see yourself as wrong, so even if I were to take time away from my own work (work that, according to you, is simply apologetics for keeping homosexuals in chains or from working in a factory or something) you wouldn’t exactly ‘grow’ or ‘change’ from it. It is kind of sad watching a Dawkins grow right in front of you, knowing that they are wilfully choosing to take a myopic view on things for the sake of polemic. Sure does not lend itself to anything like friendship.

  12. larvalsubjects (and cynic librarian by proxy),

    I tend to not trust comments that begin with: “What he said…”; especially when “he” (in this case cynic librarian) said more than one thing (or so it would seem)! But, you go on to explain from there what you mean, so I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.

    I imagine that you take the following comment to be right in what the cynic says: “The fact that for the common in the street the activities of the intellectual, especially in terms of theory, simply mean nothing unless they can be applied.” What is so ironic here is that cynic later points to Heidegger’s notion of thrownness and that we are always already “involved in practical/pragmatic concerns”–to use cynic’s terms–and yet fails to see that this “practical” aspect in Heidegger cannot at all be divested from what he means by thinking…thinking already signifies, it does “mean” something. I think your attestation of the cynic’s truth also reveals your own naivete with regard to this issue. It really appears that yours and cynic’s responses are simply more sophisticated ways of making the exact kinds of arguments that Adam is describing in his post.

    As somewhat of a side note (and yes, I think this is simply tangential) I don’t want to get into debates as to whether or not the “high theory theologian” is actually involved in “practical matters” (what exactly do you mean, by the way–how would you like them to be involved? Vote more, become activists, protest, shave their heads?), or whether these kinds of theologians (by the way, examples?) care about these matters (which seems to be your bigger beef), but this simply is not true. If you are personally intimate with some of these said theologians and can account for their practical activities (or lack thereof), then perhaps it would be best to take into account the time you spend in observation that you could be “applying” to praxis.

  13. I want to second APSs point on this one.

    After hanging around with some of the most significant theologians right now for four years (three years of undergraduate, one year of post- when I am became far greater friends of them). With regards to John Milbank, for example, who is probably one of the most abstract and speculative theologians around, he is always talking about how these ideas might be enacted in the community (for example, churches setting up co-operatives and banks etc etc). His wife is a pastor (and a theologian) and uses these ideas every sunday to form her services. My priest at home quoted fricking Nietzsche in a Christmas sermon, explicating and explicating very well The Death of God. Check out almost everything that comes out of (theologian first) Rowan Williams mouth – always communicating these ideas to the public as is his place and role. Because theologians, at least orthodox ones, always have a people, then there thoughts are in some sense to do with concrete social practices – Milbanks engagement with economics and politics is large scale. For example, some theologians, regarding highly abstract debates concerning the trinity, instantly put this to use inthe community – for example, the statement “the trinity is our politics”, where the inter-relationality in love of the trinity is the attempt to understand how humans might relate. Marion, hugely speculative, was taken in about two seconds by Milbank to begin to understand how Christian love, that renders contract inferior to gift, should inform social practices based on this understand – eg rhizomatic communities based on this very concept. From an ancedotal perspective these theologians I know are absolutely committed to concrete social change. The idea that lots of Christians don’t understand the debates is probably to an extent correct, by my goodness, the ones I know do engage in debate all the time – I was talking to my evangelical Christian friend about universality in Pauline Christianity a la Badiou. He didn’t understand everything, but he was interested and ready to learn and discuss with me – he even called me on not giving a particularly good reading of the trinity. In the church, everyone is a theologian, everyone has part to play in the debate and everyone has an opinion. You thinking that the people in the pews can’t understand this stuff is a kind of snobbery. In short, they live it, they live the debate in their lives – the average believer really does understand more than you think. Returning on a train from Lourdes surrounded by young Catholic (14-21) of all classes who were enacting the Church’s responsibility toward the sick and poor, we spent three or four hours discussing the complexities of theology: sexuality, politics, Aquinas – everything. They weren’t theologians and of course they didn’t know everything, but they were discussing it with eloquence and skill – one girl facing up to a priest regarding the issue of sex before marriage. The debate was never angry and always convivial, but really, really passionate.

    In truth, your ignorance really is showing on this one. I will watch this debate, but I too have piles of work to do.

  14. Oh one last thing, I should point out that current Christian theology is rarely in an apoligist mode, apart from fundamentalists. They are in a constructive mode. Check out William T. Cavanaugh – the most interesting political theologian in years. http://www.catholicanarchy.org/cavanaugh/

    Note: from google also the amount of interviews this guy does with mainstream Catholic magazine that the people on the pews read. What do you think the meditation in every church newspaper are, apart from theology – eg mediations on what Mary might mean or what this festival might mean etc.

    Further ancedote: When I was at my aforementioned evangelical friends house he had a whole book shelf dedicated to practical theology, including politics. His and his families academic theology = 0%. His families theology = active.

  15. Larval Subjects has an axe to grind with us because every fucking Christian in the fucking world is nothing but a rank fundamentalist, and we try to cover up that self-evident fact. What fucking bullshit.

    He admittedly appears to live in Texas, but that doesn’t change the fact that he is profoundly ignorant of (or willfully blind to) the varieties of Christian practice and therefore isn’t worth talking to on such matters.

  16. And what’s really infuriating is that he’s structured his argument so as to inoculate himself from all of our responses. He thinks all theologians are “objectively” apologists for Pat Robertson, so any counter-example we offer can be dismissed since we’re all theologians and therefore blind to the appalling reality of what we’re doing. All religion is fundamentalism, and so any attempt to improve religion is only prolonging fundamentalism — the only solution is to get rid of religion altogether. And if we point out something like, say, the fact that Stalin and Mao tried to get rid of religion and the results were hugely destructive, then we’ll learn that he can make nuanced fine distinctions about atheism (they didn’t kill people because they were atheists!), or else that Stalinism and Maoism were actually a lot like religion and that was precisely the problem!

  17. Oh man that Dawkins rhetoric to swiss out of any atheist doing anything wrong in their pristine white as snow history annoy me so much. Did Mao and Stalin claim to be atheists? Yes, they were emphatic about it. Then, as you say Adam, we have the shift Larval and other atheists hate in religious believers – ah but that wasn’t true atheism it was infected by Stalins catholic upbringing etc etc. Or alternatively “it was a religion – all religions are totalitarian and ideological and do not permit anything approaching free thought”. Then we get the whole atheist just means you don’t believe in God and has no positive content etc – then by this Mao and Stalin were most certainly atheists and you really can’t duck stuff said about them.

    I short, simply because you don’t like something doesn’t mean you can just blush it. This is the mistake of Dawkins and his ilk, and the reason why their rhetoric will never be effective – they don’t understand religious people, don’t care to and can hence never, ever “convert them”. this is danger for all academics (me included) but it one to be avoided.

  18. Of course the idea that atheism contains no positive content is absurd – its like saying I have a fundamental belief about reality and no other opinion I have flows from this. Consider atheists reaction to just about everything, this could not be further from the truth.

  19. Yes, yes, atheim is a fundamentalism, and setting up larval subjects as a “young dawkins” is a unnecessarily low blow. There seems like there’s a history of antagonism here, but let’s not obscure the real, although well covered, ivory tower problem with anecdotal arguments. Surely we have all undergone the existential crisis regarding whether to enter the foray of politics to fight for what we believe, or to enter the necessarily unending dialogue of what is worth believing in. We cannot afford to be insecure about that decision now. I think that a commitment to “coming up for air” (as described by Alex) among academics is an extremely healthy practice, much as occasionally attempting to come to grips with the various academic discourses is healthy for those “on the ground”. At the same time, not every minute spent at intellectual work is going to be a cobblestone throne at some tank of oppression. Likewise not every political canvasser or activist is going to be able to spend every minute in accordance with their own most mature ideas of truth. And that’s ok. So it goes.

  20. There are a lot of ad hominems in this thread subsequent to my comment, which are par for the course in these discussions. Adam posed a question and I suggested a possible answer. I simply haven’t seen that the sort of theology Adam is talking about has had any impact on the very oppressive and conservative way religion is functioning in American politics. I think Alex’s remarks are a case in point. Alex speaks about the rhizomatic nature of the Catholic church. But how is the Catholic church functioning rhizomatically in the United States? For years now Catholics have been motivated to vote en mass for republicans due to the abortion issue. As a result, they end up supporting all sorts of other things by proxy that go against their mission of social justice and compassion. We get lots of nuanced theology that tells us how this is not the real church. Yet the living church, the people, objectively help to enable these very things. So tell me what the argument is. Are you working from within religion and the church to change these political constellations? Is this the idea?

    Here in the states 59% of Protestants voted for Bush, 52% of Catholics voted Bush, and 78% of Evangelicals/Born-Agains voted for Bush. 64% of people that attended church more than once a week voted Bush, as did 58% of those that attend church weekly.

    http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2004/pages/results/states/US/P/00/epolls.0.html

    These are numbers that can’t simply be brushed aside or ignored, and I think they underline why Adam’s allusion to this variety of religious believers is a disingenious argument to make. The numbers for Catholics and Protestants are heartening as they’re almost split down the middle. Consequently, for me the interesting question would be one of how to push those numbers in the other direction. Is high theology going to do this? I don’t see how any of you, however, can reasonably deny that as it stands now there’s a strong coalition between conservatives and religion in the United States.

  21. I do think, however, that your response is a prime example of participating in objective enabling with regard to these movements. I point out that we have data to support my thesis about the role of the church, and rather than engaging a discussion as to strategies to change this trend, you instead attack me and change the subject, pretending it doesn’t exist and insinuating that I’m just some sort of bigot that doesn’t understand true religion. In the meantime, Rome continues to burn. I’ve been pretty upfront in the past in pointing out that it’s not the metaphysics that bothers me. If people wish to believe that’s fine. If we can have good progressive movements with a religious ground that’s fine. I don’t happen to share these beliefs, but I’m not going to begrudge anyone who does so long as they’re good neighbors. But as it stands, we have neither in the United States right now. Instead we have highly reactionary, very well funded, very powerful movements. How can that be changed?

  22. Ahem, I didn’t say anything about the rhizomatic nature of the Catholic Church at all, at least not the church in any existing state – I was simply refering to certain concept that Milbank recomends for the future. So in answer to your question: it isn’t.

    So onwards. With regard to the US Catholics voting with the republicans. A) yes this is the real church and B) they are wrong and should be argued against theologically. They are part of the church as Catholics as long as they are not declared heretics and chucked out. This doesn’t take much nuancing to understand – they are wrong, theologically politically etc, but I don’t think I have ever said they aren’t part of the church.

    Though your number cannot be brushed aside, if should be noted that of course large proportions of the American public of all stripes voted Bush, because Bush was after all elected. And i don’t think anyone denies a strong coalition between conservatives and religion.

    Now onto your point. There is no such thing as “high” theology – theology does exist in academia, sure, but theology as such is broader than this. As I stated earlier. If theology is orthodox and faithful, then it is applicable to the church. I will actually go and ask one of the leading theologians in the world if you like tomorrow and enquire this of him. I am pretty sure he will agree.

    The question is, if high theology isn’t going to change it, and low theology aint either – what is your suggestion? What better resources do we have? What resources do we have that so well speaks in their language games? Not Marxsant critique or Zizekian Lacan/Hegelianism I can assure you. Or the utopian dreams of a world divested of religion.

    And as such, almost everything I write and do is to work “from within religion and the church to change these political constellations? ” So there!

  23. As am I. If you want me to deploy my boilerplate denunciation of the American religious right, I shall do so with alacrity and zeal.

    A note on your stats: Your alarmism about the Catholic Church’s “support” of Bush is really not supported by the data. 52% of Catholics voted for Bush. Great — about 52% of people in general voted for Bush in 2004. It seems plausible to assume that these people’s voting patterns were not directly dictated by their religion. I don’t know if you’ve been reading the papers for the past few years, but it’s not as though the Catholic hierarchy has a lot of credibility among the laity these days — remember that thing about child molestation, covering it up, etc.? I’m willing to bet that the majority of Catholics don’t wake up on election day and call their bishop to see how to vote. If the reactionary figures in the hierarchy tried to get Catholics to vote for Bush “en masse,” they really really obviously failed to do so.

    For every Catholic group mimicking the religious right, there are Catholic Worker houses, peace activists, etc., etc., etc. It’s not as though Catholicism is this absolutely unified phenomenon.

    And more broadly, I don’t see how you can possibly even think about comparing religious people and atheists on the level of practice. The people who are actually in Iraq or Palestine putting their lives on the line for peace? Mainly Christians and Unitarians. The people working at the soup kitchens? Christians. I could go on and on and on and on with examples, while you keep up your self-righteous preening about how terrible the religious right is (which it is! I totally agree!), as though our political activism began and ended with Election Day. Nothing is more disconnected from practice than the kind of doctrinaire atheism people like you and Dawkins promote.

    Show me an atheist Mother Theresa and we’ll talk. Show me that doctrinaire atheism promotes anything other than stupid pride and other than that just totally going along with the capitalist system, and we’ll talk. Until then, just fucking shut the fuck up.

  24. Too true re: Dawkin-esque atheism and capital. I am actually think on writing on his politics, which are so thin, but so accomadationist they are laughable. They love capitalism, coz after all, its just common sense – this is the best things can be. This is not to mention to liberalist metaphysics that underpins the largest and most pointless in scope pronouncements of evo psychology.

  25. Adam, you might note that I said the numbers for Catholics and Protestants are heartening in my original post, so I essentially agree with you. Hopefully these trends will continue further left in the future.

    I don’t find your argument about the religious being the ones primarily helping convincing. The reason for this is that atheists seldom announce their atheism as there’s no reason to. Atheists simply don’t identify themselves as a group in the way that the religious do, so there’s no way to determine whether there are large numbers of atheists engaging in the activities you describe or not. Put another way, an atheist doesn’t mobilize in the name of atheism, but in the name of whatever set of issues that motivate him (social justice, a flourishing community, etc).

    Your final paragraph is very telling.

  26. LS, I was talking about doctrinaire atheists, such as you and Dawkins. There are secular people doing good things. There are also religious people who totally go with the flow as regards capitalism, etc. But the doctrinaire atheists — those who loudly identify themselves as atheists, who think that getting rid of religion would solve the world’s problems, and who have very little in the way of a political program aside from being good Democrats — are just fundamentalists in the other direction, fundamentalists who achieve absolutely nothing aside from being self-satisfied at their superior intelligence.

    You need to work on understanding the use of adjectives when they precede words. Believing there is no God or simply not giving much thought to the question is not the issue. The issue is your idiotic and ill-informed polemic against religion in general.

  27. Thanks for that, though I feel like I have just been marked. I don’t think my previous argument was that week. In the absense of empirical data the ancedotal evidence regarding every single theologian I have ever met in my career and talk to will have to do. And I mean every, even my methodist film and theology lecturer wrote a book on politics and political engagement and he was strongly against radical orthodoxy (in a really bad way mind you – he didn’t like Graham Ward’s stuff and he is even critiqued internally by John Milbank himself).

  28. Hey guys! Go read LS’s post! Apparently we’re like Nazis. See, the religious right is like Nazism, and we’re just like Martin Heidegger, except for the part where he actively affiliated with Nazism and we all oppose and reject the religious right and fundamentalism. And my using curse words shows “my true nature.”

    LS, you are blocked and removed from the blogroll. Consider yourself unwelcome at The Weblog from now on as well.

  29. Contrary to the position adopted by LS, by reading The Weblog and, now, An und fur sich, I’ve developed a greater appreciation for the variety found in Christianity. His position seems to be but a version of, “Well, Nazis had a politics and, well, so do socialists, anarchists, and liberals. Clearly, politics is bad because of its associations, so let’s get rid of politics.” Or, again, “There are serious political problems in the United States. We should get rid of politics because it is dangerous.” Not an especially convincing position, to say the least.

  30. Craig, I thought of the very same parallel with politics.

    As I told Sinthome at his site, it is up to Anthony whether he wants him to be blocked, but as for me, I will delete any of his posts from my comment threads.

  31. Adam, primarily as a Christian I hold you in reproach for banning dr. Sinthome. No single Christian discussion should proceed by intolerance. This has nothing to do with ”libertarian discourse”, but with your short fuse. Dr. Sinthome didn’t ban me when I critisized his views of religion in a manner far less polite than any of your conversations with him.

  32. Nevertheless Anthony if you don’t learn to control your attention span as well as temper, disentangle it from the MTV speed and frequency of functioning, I am going to report this to your university’s funds and ask them to disable your allowance for this week!

  33. here, Anthony, Adam, observe how the left Christian fundamentalist dr. Zizek interprets a fascist film, in which the Spartan nationalist fascists are portrayed as superkewl Enlightenment warriors, through a negation of negation, as a positive and good democratic movie:

    http://www.lacan.com/zizhollywood.htm

    This, Anthony and Adam, is because Sparta is actually Slovenia, being attacked by the evil Yugoslav federation.

  34. parodycenter,

    (I ask this mostly because I’m awful at reading electronic sarcasm)…Isn’t it a bit ironic that you are excluding Adam from your blogroll for his failure to include? And isn’t this simply a result of a “liberal” Weltanschaung (after all, the earlier contrariety of your position to “libertarian discourse” turned into a defense of free speech)?

    The word “Weltanschaung” is only used because I know how much Adam hates worldviews.

  35. No, Dave, my position on free speech is not based in loathsome libertarian discourse (sorry and excuse me), but simply on the Christian notion of tolerance, even though I appreciate the brilliant way you have brought this closer to my preferred genre – bitchy sopphism.

  36. I was assuming that “parodycenter” and Dejan were the same person, and so (if I’m right) I’ve been confused as to why you’re getting so mad on LS’s behalf, when I summarily banned you from The Weblog.

  37. First of all I don’t bear a grudge that long, especially not over being denied the pleasure of discussing your daily doodles at the Weblog, …this site appears to have far more interesting content…and second of all, I did not agree with your banning techniques then, as I don’t agree with them now.

  38. I’m going to suggest we shut down comments on this thread if this bickering continues. An und fur sich was started with the hope of getting back to the good old days of academic blogging sans meta-blogging and stupid feuds. In so far as Sinthome was participating in a feud, rather than an intellectual and scholarly discussion, I see no real reason why Adam is wrong here to ban him from commenting on Adam’s posts. He is not banned from my posts or Brad’s. The fact that he can call us Nazi’s (effectively) and still think that he is being ‘civil’ or intellectually honest is very upsetting. In large part because Larval Subjects was, until he became a faux-sociologist and badly informed religious scholar, one of the few sites I was glad to have come across in 2006. I had hoped he and I would be academic friends. That is not the case though.

    Dejan, I am frankly annoyed by your constant baiting. Yes, we know you hate Zizek and you have your reasons, I too was annoyed by his shitty article on 300. I’ve told you before I don’t share many of his political views. I do appreciate much of what he has to say on popular culture, in that it can be a fun read on the toilet, and German Idealism, in that it helps me to understand Hegel and Schelling. If you want to participate here, that’s fine, I hope you do, but not in the current mode of Jiminy Cricket. I’d also appreciate it if you’d stop ‘parodying’ me at your site. It would be good if you could get me right, but until you do, please stop.

    Now, please, can we move on?

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