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Archive for March, 2009

I’m not sure whether there are any readers of this blog who have had any exposure to the German theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher, but I wanted to throw this post out into the blogosphere in case anyone who comes across this blog does have such information. (As a side note, it’s a little frustrating that wordpress is telling me that blogosphere is a word, but both Friedrich and Scheiermacher are not).

Anyways, I’m wondering two things: What is a good general introduction to his thought (in the line of an Oxford Very Short Introduction series)? And what is the best primary text to start with?

I’ve been interested in Schleiermacher for a few months now, ever since some conversations with a friend in Oxford. I would like to particularly explore his relationship to Barth, but also to Kierkegaard, which prompted this post.

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Thought this was an interesting quote to meditate on. Also, it’s quite interesting reading Schmemann alongside of Nietzsche (in particular The Anti-christ or as others translate it The Antichrist(ian)). It’s actually a little strange to read that particular work of Nietzsche during Lent, and I’m unsure of how to really articulate why I am reading Nietzsche during Lent.

Anyways, this Schmemann quote is quite good. I’m reading For the Life of the World right now, and am only through the first chapter, but I’m really looking forward to this. As far as I know, it’s a basic worldview book articulated from within the Eastern Orthodox liturgical tradition. Here Schmemann comments on Christ in the history of religion.

Christianity, however, is in a profound sense the end of all religion. In the Gospel story of the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus made this clear. ‘Sir,’  the woman said to him, ‘I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshiped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.’ Jesus saith unto her, ‘Woman, believeth me, the hour cometh, when ye shall, neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. . . . But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such a worship to Him.’ (Jn 4:19-21, 23). She asked him a question about cult, and in reply Jesus changed the whole perspective of the matter. Nowhere in the New Testament, in fact, is Christianity presented as a cult or as a religion. Religion is needed where there is a wall of separation between God and man. But Christ who is both God and man has broken down the wall between God and man. He has inaugurated a new life, not a new religion.

I may have more to come in a few days as I reflect on this, particularly in relation to Nietzsche, among others. I’m thinking out loud here, but I’m working towards trying to incorporate Nietzsche and possibly Alain Badiou and Slavoj Žižek into a paper that I will be doing for a class on Paul. Both Badiou and Žižek have particular readings of Paul which they put forward, but I’m not well-versed in either, so I’m a little bit tentative, especially because it will be extremely difficult and labor-some to get necessary resources through inter-library loan. I was just lamenting this fact earlier today to my friend who is still in Oxford. When in Oxford, I could pretty much dabble in whatever I wanted, because you could always call it up from the horizonless (to make a probably bad Badiou-pun) “stacks” below. They literally had everything you could want, and if you called it up, it would be there within a few hours or by the next morning in most cases.

Anyways, if somebody out there has some understanding of Paul and Badiou/Žižek (or Nietzsche), I’d appreciate even just a basic explanation of what I might be looking at for a topic. I’m thinking of considering it maybe in the context of Paul’s anti-empire polemic, but also this bit which Schmemann talks about with Christ as the One who inaugurates a new way of life and not religion interests me. As is probably well know, Nietzsche was highly critical of Paul because he thought Paul was guilty of interpreting the events of Jesus in a certain way and starting a “theology” so to speak. (This may sound strange if you haven’t read Nietzsche on this, but I hope I darkly allude to it enough so that those who have catch my drift). I think Žižek talks about Paul in a similar context, with a “perverse” logic in regards to the law, but I’m not entirely sure. 

The paper idea is in a kind of exciting embryonic stage right now, but I don’t want to  end up with stuff that isn’t tied down to a certain direction (ie can be a substantial and flowing essay) or just get in over my head. I’m much more comfortable dealing with just Nietzsche, but the contemporaries intrigue me, so if anyone out there can set me straight on a topic feasible for a roughly 2000 word essay, I’d be indebted to you. Bonus points if you can sneak a certain Danish philosopher into the backdoor, which I am bound to end up trying no matter which direction my paper takes.

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