Sunday, January 18, 2009

it's that time again...

Yep, that's right, time for submissions to the Pacific Northwest division of the American Academy of Religion. I hope I get to present a paper again this year! Here's the abstract for my paper topic:

Soren Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling is well-known for its examination into the perplexing story of Abraham’s decision to obey God’s command and sacrifice his son Isaac. Kierkegaard suggests that Abraham’s decision involved a “teleological suspension of the ethical” which cannot be explained by Abraham to anyone: it is an act of faith.

Slavoj Zizek, in several of his forays into Christian theology, attempts to appropriate Kierkegaard’s insights for his own project of dialectical materialism, even suggesting that Lenin’s Communist revolution might be viewed in similar terms. Is Zizek right? What are the implications of his thesis? In this paper, I will examine the relationship between Kierkegaard’s ethical suspension and Zizek’s interpretation of that suspension, and consider the theological implications of both – and how that may affect our ideas of a truly Christian ethic.

5 comments:

WTM said...

Do you have a thesis?

Geoff said...

I'm developing it (which is why I didn't get too specific - that may be a mistake), but essentially my thesis is that Zizek's reading of SK is correct with regard to the utterly subjective nature of the faith event. This would mean that the "suspension of the ethical" can be claimed by literally anyone, including Lenin. Then, the rest of humanity (for many reasons outside the scope of the essay) judges the veracity of the claim. In other words, the ethical veracity of any claim, religious or otherwise, is given to us by others. As a result, the truth of Christianity, according to its ethic, is determined pragmatically (which is clearly not adequate for the Christian faith). But, there is a positive side-effect: this forces every religion to examine its core, and I would argue that examining the core of Christianity could bring about a greater attentiveness to the kind of faith that transcends ethical boundaries...

that's where I'm headed, at least...

Geoff said...

I don't think that was very clear... sorry!

WTM said...

No, that makes sense and is - furthermore - interesting. Still, it is always best to have a thesis in your paper proposal.

Phil said...

Geoff, your hypothesis looks extremely interesting. It'll be very intriguing to listen to your presentation.