So James KA Smith has often been a proponent of Radical Orthodox Christian political theology being “beyond left and right”, you know like Benedict XVI was. In recent days on his twitter feed he has come out against gay marriage. That is not surprising, though he’s of course couching it as a question of who gets to define marriage and doing so in an utterly idealist manner (so the state doesn’t get to in his view, but no discussion of how the state supports marriage and how that plays out in terms of equality). But he has also come out in support of the state of emergency provisions imposed by Michigan Governor Synder (R, of course) upon the City of Detroit. Suspending its democratically elected city government and installing an unelected “business manager” (we all know what this means…). He will bristle and sneer at this being called fascist, but this is exactly fascism. The state and capitalism coming together under a state of emergency. And the Christian witness to that fascism is a sneer at critical voices and an expression that the installed, unaccountable leader be a “catalyst for indigenous change”.
So, once again we see that beyond left and right always means right-wing policies plus a few token remarks about community and poverty. Or, like I said with Benedict, Bonoism but no gays.
8 thoughts on “James KA Smith On Being Beyond Left and Right”
Anthony, I assume that you know where I’m coming from when I say this. It is unclear to me why the government is involved in marriage in the first place. In the U.S., it has a racist history in which the state was concerned with regulating (i.e., denying) racially mixed marriages. Today it seems to be that, from the state’s perspective, the state should concern itself with contracts (not marriage and ceremonies, etc.) between consenting adults and nothing more.
Yeah, I’d be willing to have that conversation. Hell, a conversation about what are romantic relationships are even about seems really needed in our culture and queer folk have been trying to start that conversation for a long time. I think what we see here though is the perfect double bluff of “beyond left and right” discourses. Supporting the state when it fits and using arguments arising from radical leftists against the state when the state doesn’t fit.
This is symptomatic, as usual, of a foreclosure of the topos of a “theological imagination.” RO has prided itself on theologizing the imagination, but what really needs to be done is the re-envisioning of theology, as such. It, like marriage, needs to be queered.
Anthony. I liked your posting in response to the simplistic twaddle that Tracey Rowland featured on the ABC Religion and Ethics website. A website which has been turned into a franchise for the right-wing “catholic” propaganda machine by its convenor and editor, who very much pretends that the ideology he promotes is beyond the usual left versus right dichotomies.
One of his regular contributors is the benighted George Weigel – I rest my case.
I think something deeper may be emerging here: is there a correlation between fascist tendencies and having two middle names?
I have a friend who is a clear counter example, but he is also deeply ashamed of his middle names.
As you know, Pennsylvania has a similar situation to Michigan, namely, that Harrisburg has been “taken over” by the state.
The world is so poorly made and the custodians of it are making it worse.
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