The Faith of the Faithless: Experiments In Political Theology
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The return to religion has arguably become the dominant theme of contemporary culture. Somehow, the secular age seems to have been replaced by a new era where political action flows directly from theological, indeed cosmic, conflict. The Faith of the Faithless lays out the philosophical and political framework of this idea and seeks to find a way beyond it. Should we defend a version of secularism or quietly accept the slide into theism? Or is there another way?
inwardness becomes externalized and the strenuous rigor of faith evaporates. What sort of certainty, then, is the experience of faith? Kierkegaard writes, and again the second person singular direction of address should be noted: “It is eternally certain that it will be done for you as you believe, but the certainty of faith, or the certainty that you, you in particular, believe, you must win at every moment with God’s help, consequently not in some external way.”10 Kierkegaard insists—and one
jurisprudential analogue to the concept of the miracle in theology.6 The triumph of liberalism as the triumph of deism is the hegemony of a religious view of the world that tries to banish the miracle, as that which would break with the legal-constitutional situation—the order of what Badiou calls the event, and which he sometimes compares with a miracle. Liberal constitutionalists, like Locke, Kant, and Neo-Kantians such as Hans Kelsen and John Rawls, seek to eliminate the state of exception and
the heresy “was a passionate desire of certain human beings to surpass the condition of humanity and to become God.”73 What Porete is describing is a painful and passionate process of decreation: boring a hole in oneself so that love might enter. It is closer to Teresa of Avila’s piercing of the heart that takes place when she is on fire with the love of God, “The pain was so great, it made me moan.”74 This desire for annihilation unleashes the most extreme violence against the self. For example,
sought to build up communities that, in his words, would be a “remnant, chosen by grace” (Rom. 10:5). As Taubes shows, Paul constructs a negative political theology based on the single commandment of love that is against both the Jews and the Romans. Paul writes to an illicit, secret, subterranean community, “a little Jewish, a little Gentile,”18 a bunch of rejects and refuseniks, the very filth of the world: “We have become, and are now as the refuse of the world (perikatharmata tou kosmou), the
concerns that seek to respond to the above-mentioned triangulation of politics, religion, and violence, each of them is relatively self-contained. I see the chapters as a series of essays in the sense of an “assay” or experiment. Indeed, if the form of this book resembles anything I’ve written before, then it is probably closest to Very Little … Almost Nothing, which also had an experimental structure and adumbrated the themes of mortality and literature from a number of different perspectives