This should be an “interesting” read:

Posted: May 10, 2007 in All and Sundry, Stumbled Upon

The Puppet and the Dwarf: The Perverse Core of Christianity by Slavoj Zizek 

(for slavoj zizek fans and fans of intellectually provocative non-fiction material, that is.)

from wit of the staircase:

“The book is not so much about Christianity as it is about what Zizek claims to be the very core of it, where there is another dimension. And in discussing the core as such, the book takes off as a reading of the symbolic structure (Lacanian) that made it possible for the transition from Judaic Law to Christian Love; and St. Paul’s role in it. Jesus’ “Father why hast thou forsaken me?” is one of the loci of Zizek’s defense of the “ex-timate” kernel of Christianity: ‘Imitatio Christi’ as sharing Jesus’ own doubt — not of God’s existence but rather of His Impotence. And after taking some very general swipes at Buddhism for (supposedly) aiming for that state (Nirvana) in which all differences are leveled, Zizek presents the genius of Christianity as the religion of Difference in which the very separation between God and Man is God-as-Man. Zizek argues against the idea that the Fall and Redemption are polarities but that the Fall IS Redemption, the Opening of the very space of Redemption. The crux of Zizek’s “argument” boils down to what he says in the last page: “

…It is possible today to redeem this core of Christianity only in the gesture of abandoning the shell of its institutional organization (and even more so, of its specific religious experience). The gap here is irreducible: either one drops the religious form, or one maintains the form but lose the essence. This is the ultimate heroic gesture that awaits Christianity: in order to save its treasure, it has to sacrifice itself — like Christ, who had to die so that Christianity could emerge.” The basic attitude of the book is fueled by contempt for opportunistic liberals, academics, and intellectuals, in short, the Last Man, who drinks decaf and jogs to stay fit, and make a habit of demanding the highest ethical ideals from society KNOWING full well society cannot possibly deliver. Zizek’s venom is aimed at the fact that this very impossibility allows intellectuals without any real moral commitment to wallow smug their safe, cushy university jobs and still feel good about themselves for having demonstrated a nobler social conscience: A life devoted to speaking dangerously with all the possibility of danger (and caffeine) removed. Zizek’s enlistment of G.K.Chesterton — who was, himself, perverse enough to speak (and very convincingly too!) of the “Thrilling Romance of Orthodoxy” — to kick off his argument is a brilliant move and that alone makes this book worth reading. Read this book like it was a clearance sale where everything is 90% off: the only thing is, some very fine finds come attached to a lot of junk you don’t need. So, keep the baby and throw out the bath water — even if you know Zizek can convince you that it’s really the bath water you should keep. –T. Han (****)”

  1. ted says:

    Unfortunately, Zizek commits the same sins as the arm-chair academic sophisticates he critizises. Parsing Christianity’s “symbolic structure” to redeem its core idea which turns out to be that “fall is redemption”? This is hogwash.

    Kierkegaard levelled the same criticism to Hegelians who, in trying to “redeem” the essence of Christianity by incorporating it in their totalizing metaphysical system, instead completely eviscerates it of its very essence. “Fall is redemption”? That is absolutely not Christian but gnostic!

    What is the essence of Christianity? Ask any practicing Christian. Praxis is the key word. Christianity escapes the categories of pure knowledge. It works on the level of will, of personal choices and how we identify with those choices. This is how it becomes real to people, or how orthodoxy becomes personal reality.

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