Toward a radical materialism

Not since the heyday of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has the word “radical” enjoyed such prominence. One cannot read a theology blog, much less listen to a theological podcast or take a theology course from the Uber of graduate seminars, without being barraged by the word “radical.” It’s often unclear what this term is supposed to mean, but if we approach the problem inductively, it seems to be a plea to Take White Guys Seriously Again. We’ve all had our fun with identity politics, but now it’s time to get to the heart of the matter, the real issue: the radical. Once that happens, we’ll really be cooking with gas — or the electro-magnetic field of the earth, one supposes.

Even more striking is the upsurge of “materialism” in contemporary continental philosophy. Everyone is in urgent competition to prove that their philosophy is not only materialist, but the true materialism. We are shocked to learn, for instance, that Hegel is a materialist — indeed, a radical one. (The internal motor of the dialectic is now presumably Hegel’s self-sublation as he rolls over in his grave.)

And so I’d like to make an announcement: this post, itself, is the most radical materialism possible. Keep these words that I am blogging to you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

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