Open thread: Subverting the Norm II reactions

I just got home from Subverting the Norm II in Springfield, MO.  I had to leave a little early to be back in time to preach on Sunday morning, so I missed the later sessions.  Jeff Robbins said this morning, and I agree, that the big shift that we have seen between the first Subverting the Norm conference and this one is that there seems to be a whole lot more people talking about radical theology, folks are more comfortable with the vocabulary, and there didn’t seem to be as big of a rift between the academics and the pastors present.  To the last point, I think there were fewer pastors in the audience, but more clergy involved in presentations and breakout sessions.  I really enjoyed the Homebrewed Christianity event with Tripp Fuller and others; the Caputo and Cobb beers were very good.  The whole conference was a lot to take in, compressed in a very short time and it seemed like there were really interesting things going on against each other all day–I heard that the schedule got modified a bit at the end to accomodate this.

I finished reading Brewin’s Mutiny on the flight to the conference, and then heard him speak about this and his new book, After Magic.  AUFS commenter Robert Saler asked an excellent question regarding the violence of piracy which exposes Brewin’s Mutiny book a little bit Continue reading “Open thread: Subverting the Norm II reactions”

CFP: Subverting the Norm II

Phil Snider is hosting a second Subverting the Norm conference at Drury University.  Confirmed speakers so far include Peter Rollins, John Caputo, Namsoon Kang, Katharine Moody, Christena Cleveland, Barry Taylor, Kester Brewin, Micki Pulleyking, Clayton Crockett, Jeffrey Robbins, Phil, and myself.

And you, too, if you respond to the following call for papers… Deadline is the end of the month… Continue reading “CFP: Subverting the Norm II”

Caputo to speak at Northwestern

T h e P a u l o f T a r s u s W o r k i n g G r o u p presents:

JOHN D. CAPUTO, Professor of Religion at Syracuse University,
will discuss two chapters from his forthcoming book,
The Insistence of God: A Theology of “Perhaps” (Indiana University Press, 2013).
These two chapters take Jacques Derrida as its point of departure (khora, croyance, re-ligio-).
But the breadth of their discussion engages theologians, (Augustine, Angelius Silesius, & Meister Eckhart) philosophers, (Spinoza, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Hegel, Nietzsche, Lacan,
Levinas, and Žižek) and Biblical texts (Exodus 3:14, Matt 10:16, Matt 10:34, & Luke 19:41).

Thursday, November 15th
4-6 PM
Parkes Hall, Room 222
1870 Sheridan Rd.
Evanston, IL 60208

Email if you would like a copy of the two chapters.
Please keep in mind they are ‘in-press’ with IUP and not for distribution.

This event is co-sponsored by The Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities, The Department of Philosophy at DePaul University, The After-Life of Phenomenology Workshop, and the Departments of Philosophy, Religious Studies, French & Italian, Political Science, English, German, and Comparative Literary Studies at Northwestern University.

Deconstructing Derrida: Reflections on Michael Naas’s Miracle and Machine

Michael Naas’s Miracle and Machine is a book worthy of Derrida, combining rigor and playfulness, near-obsessive scholarliness with bold experimentation. It is a literary reading of the most literary of the philosophers, and is itself a beautifully written book, exhibiting Naas’s resolutely “American” style—and connecting it to the American context via the unexpected comparison with Don DeLillo’s Underworld. One hopes that it marks a new direction in Derrida studies, with its focus on working through one text (“Faith and Knowledge”) and learning from that text how to read Derrida.

In this post, I’d like to limit myself to some observations on the way the book intervenes indirectly in three fields: the debate over Derrida’s relationship to religion, contemporary continental philosophy of religion, and the reading of Derrida as such. These remarks are not meant to be authoritative or exhaustive, but to open up some avenues of conversation.

Continue reading “Deconstructing Derrida: Reflections on Michael Naas’s Miracle and Machine

On the undecidable Caputo-Hägglund debate

I am vastly late to the party, but I have finally gotten around to reading Caputo’s response to Hägglund’s Radical Atheism: Derrida and the Time of Life. A blog post is probably not the place to adjudicate detailed scholarly questions, but it does seem to me that Caputo has made a convincing case that Hägglund’s reading of Derrida leaves a good deal out. I have said before that we should view Hägglund’s book as a systematization of Derrida rather than a “reading,” and Caputo makes clear that it is a systematization with the goal of making Derrida newly useable to the kind of person who goes in for contemporary materialisms of various forms, which includes having a serious allergy to anything “religious.” That is to say, if I can be forgiven for putting it in a crass and over-simplifying way, Hägglund seems to be concerned with getting all that gross religion off of Derrida’s text.

What I’d like to suggest here is that Caputo’s argument is a kind of mirror image of Hägglund’s. Where Hägglund wants to use Derrida to get us completely free of religion, Caputo seems to want to use it to set up a completely blameless religion that would be free of the historical baggage of “religious violence.” This particularly comes out in the end of Caputo’s long piece, where he argues that deconstruction does not have access to a field in which the existence of a God beyond our experience could be “disproven” — hence, again, “religion” remains “safe and sound” (as Hägglund will recall in his response to Caputo). Thus, either we’re kept “safe and sound” from religion or religion is kept “safe and sound” from our tendency to screw everything up.

I would maintain that both readings of religion are actually present in Derrida’s sprawling oeuvre. Continue reading “On the undecidable Caputo-Hägglund debate”