Category Archives: Names and Naming

Considering Marion’s Gift: Prefatory Remarks

For the past year and a half or so, few books have held me as captive as Jean-Luc Marion’s God Without Being. The volume of posts on this blog working with this text is probably an indication of this. Some of my captivation lies in the fact that I am interested in the ways the church can and should claim, name, and confess its central loyalty to Jesus. This is a tricky task. It is not easy to avoid claiming instead the various idols that close us off from Jesus speaking in unexpected places and hold our attention on the voices of false gods. Into such thinking, Marion’s rigorous and evocative efforts to allow for the worship of a God that comes to us as the gift of cruciform love, outside of the logics of Being, speaks with a great deal of potentiality. In this series of posts I want to consider the ways that Marion may be helpful for thinking about the church’s confession of faith and the political formations that might happen with confession of faith. My next post will consider themes of receptivity, dependence, enjoyment, and use vs possession, after which I will consider some of the paternalistic and conservative undertones and implications in these themes. First I will conclude this post with some remarks about Marion’s critique of idolatry and the stakes that I believe are present in his presentation. Continue reading Considering Marion’s Gift: Prefatory Remarks

Advertisements

Proust and Merleau-Ponty on memory, naming, and perception

Memory, naming, and perception: three daily aspects of human life. One cannot collapse them to each other, but they are closely linked. Our memories – who we are, what we know, how we have experienced things previously – shape our perception, give us the ability to name old things, and anticipate our future expression. Naming draws things, people, and categories out of an undefined generality and thereby gives birth to and sustains much of our perception and memory; the moment of naming often coincides with the moment of seeing or of memory. At the same time, we seek for our naming to coincide with what we perceive, and a good memory must bear a close relationship to what we have perceived in the past. Memory, naming, and perception are inseparable and persistently separate.

How we remember, name, and perceive matters quite a bit. It is often rightly observed that how we see the world bears a close relationship to our ability to act well in the world. Only if we can see and name violence, goodness, where God is working in the world, the potential for human flourishing, and so on, can we act ethically. And because the world is made up of stories, our ability for such sight and naming will come largely from the stories we receive and encounter, and whether we receive them with the grace to remember them well. Continue reading Proust and Merleau-Ponty on memory, naming, and perception

The Power of Names

How we name things fundamentally shapes the way we interact with the world. There are a few good examples that I often fall back on in order to demonstrate this point. But this might be the best example I have encountered in a very long time. The article is easy to read and pretty much speaks for itself.

http://www.peopleforbikes.org/blog/entry/how-smart-language-helped-end-seattles-paralyzing-bikelash

On the discourse of privilege

[Addendum, Jan 11: Based on the nature of the critiques against me on the post I cite below, there seems to be some confusion on the relationship between this post and my comments there. To clarify, this post is not an expansion on the arguments in my comments. On the contrary, it is something I decided not to address in my comments (with the exception of a brief question, as a separate paragraph, in the first comment), both because they were long enough already and because (rightly or wrongly) I saw this point on privilege discourse as relatively tangential to the main thrust of the post.]

The discourse of white privilege is one topic that a recent discussion over at Ortus Memoria has touched on. A fellow commenter has well-articulated one of the general claims about privilege discourse: “that leftist white people [having] the capacity to call themselves out on their privilege does not do enough to fundamentally dismantle the structures of white supremacy from which they benefit.”

I agree with this argument. People recognizing themselves as privileged, on its own, does not accomplish anything. However, I disagree with a supposedly consequent claim (made directly by the original poster, but not by the commenter): that this means that the discourse of privilege has failed. This is because I understand privilege discourse as an effective tool for introducing people to problematic power dynamics. At the same time, I do not think it is useful on its own for effecting a transformation of society; this is not what it is made for or how it is supposed to be used. Continue reading On the discourse of privilege

“But woe to you…”: Towards a Judgmental Church

This is a re-post.

I frequently hear the refrain that “church” ought to be less judgemental; that, in fact, the church should get out of the business of judging altogether. The church is called to love and this precludes an exercise of evaluative judgement, especially towards other people; or so the argument goes.

In this post I want to put down in writing the discomfort I feel regarding this rhetoric of anti-judgement. Besides seemingly being ignorant of Scripture and Jesus’s own proclivity towards very judgemental words and actions, there are two broad problems I have with “non-judgemental church”. Continue reading “But woe to you…”: Towards a Judgmental Church