Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Theology of FAIL

So I finally finished my paper. It was an interesting journey. I started out wanting to investigate the use of the idea of "power" in Barth's thought but ended up doing a Barth/Hegel comparison that took me to see the idea of "failure" in Barth's thought instead. Weird thing that research does to you.

The bottom line for my thought is failure can be sobering. Everyone should experience it from time to time. I think Barth becomes so Christocentric (more like Luther than Calvin) because he is more aware of human fallibility. Now this is often interpreted that he has no place for the church, sacraments or ethics, but that interpretation is just rubbish. My contention is that he emphasized action after the event of the revelation of Christ the Word, but it is action aware of both the triumphs and failures found in everything human. However, Barth makes the claim that is why grace comes first then command because God chooses to act through fallible, imperfect beings.

Where does Hegel fit in? Well, Hegel is all about emphasizing the inconsistency of human thought and action. However, this needs to be experienced by the human agent so he or she can learn through process and struggle. It is to learn in the "broken middle", as Gillian Rose has said, because there is a social aspect to knowledge and a trail of failures.

Where do I go from here? Well, part of the idea of failure is to perhaps link it to the idea of comedy or humor (like Judith Butler does with the Hegelian Spirit); it is a theme I started working on right off the bat of my doctoral program specifically looking at Zizek and Deleuze. It is a mode that is primed to deal with the contradictions and the inconsistencies that life throws at you, struggling through them, without resorting to either cynicism, which avoids conflict at an ironical distance (Zizek's pet peeve), or fascism, which tries to cover over the differences with a totalizing system; both cynicism and fascism cannot deal with failure or humor. In short, emphasizing the gap of human knowledge, about ourselves and other things, tries to prevent the systems of hubris that claim any type of absolute knowledge.

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