Monday, April 20, 2015

The Appearance of (Theological) Systems

Recently, on Facebook, I came across the following from David Fitch:

Zizek writes in Absolute Recoil - "In the final pages of his history of World War II, Winston Churchill ponders the enigma of military decision making: after the specialists (the economic and military analysts, psychologists, meterologists …) have offered their multiple, elaborated and refined analyses, someone has to assume the simple and for that very reason most difficult act of reducing this complex multiplicity of views, where for every reason there are two reasons against, into a resolute ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ … in this sense, a decision to act always involves the unlearning of the complexity of a situation." I think this is worth thinking more about. For Zizek, there is always a (Hegelian) negation in the process of a resolution, a canceling out of what is finally not constitutive of the situation. And this usually happens as an interpretive event within a social constellation by a skilled interpretive leader. Decisions aren't made through an all embracing synthesis, but a disruption of the frame, by which some things no longer become relevant to a situation. And they happen within a social constellation, not imposed upon a socielity coercively by a singular leader. This means a leader has to wait, patiently in the process. Does this help clarify the role of an interpretative leader?

The following was (pretty much) my commentary on Fitch's use of Zizek to help make sense of interpretation. I post it here, because I have studied it quite a bit in the past and may pursue this line of thinking more in the future....

Well, interpretation originally meant bringing order out of chaos, right? In other words, it was poetic or "creative." Something was being formed or made. As with anything else, then, there is sacrifice, right? For something to appear, something disappears. The temptation to think that interpretation is about "an all embracing synthesis" confuses interpretation as making (something appearing) and analysis (after the entire globe has been conquered). I am partially talking to myself here, I think.

As a continuation of that thought, I was just reading Yoder last night. He mentioned, in passing, that interpretation in a Christian community doesn't always happen through the systematizers. The term for system comes from a Greek word that means "all." But that is also the meaning of "Pan," who is the god of shepherds and flocks (keeps wild and choatic things together), also the god of fertility (making things appear), but whose voice teorrizes Titans and lonely folks of the wild. Interestingly, Chesterton ascribes the appearance of theology to the death of Pan. For something to appear, something has to disappear. Usually, what appears is related to what disappeared (like the relation between a wood table and a cherry tree). Anyway, I refer to Pan also because of the temptation for "an all embracing synthesis."

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