Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Here’s a video from Peter Rollins around ideas presented in Chapter 4 of his latest book, Insurrection, “I Don’t Have to Believe; My Pastor Does That For Me”.
I reflected on this chapter in my review of Insurrection for The Other Journal’s “Church and Pomo” blog, “Becoming Church Mice: From Refusing to Lead to Refusing to be Led”.
I wondered whether Pete’s “fans” often let him disbelieve on their behalf, focusing on the next book, the next blog post, the next vimeo video, the next speaking engagement on pyro-theology rather than setting fires themselves.
In his response to my review, Pete recognised the dangers of “I don’t need to doubt; Pete does that for me”.
And this video similarly reflects on the ways in which we disavow doubt, like saying, “I never question God. I only question my understanding of God”.
Thursday, March 1, 2012
The Contemporary Church is a Crack House (link) →
Pete Rollins on the role of the church as poet or singer-songwriter:
we need collectives that are more like the professional mourners who cry for us, the stand-up comedians who talk about the pain of being human or the poets singing about life at local pubs.
This post is another formulation of his thoughts in Chapter 4 of Insurrection: To Believe is Human; To Doubt, Divine (Howard Books, 2011), “I Don’t Have to Believe; My Pastor Does That For Me,” which I commented upon in my Church and Pomo post, “Becoming Church Mice: From Refusing to Lead to Refusing to Be Led.” I wondered whether Pete’s “fans” often let him disbelieve on their behalf, focusing on the next book, the next blog post, the next vimeo video, the next speaking engagement on pyro-theology rather than setting fires themselves - a danger that Pete himself recognizes (see his response to my post, “I Don’t Need to Doubt; Peter Does That For Me”).
Anyway, I’m going to be writing about this understanding of church as poets, singer-songwriters, mourners, and comedians in a paper for a conference on poetry and prayer, entitled “‘My God! My God Why Have You Forsaken Me?’ Poetry, Prayer and Performance in the Absence of God.” See the call for papers (here), my abstract (here), and these reflections, ”The Poet and The Critic: Transformation and Information.”
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
To Join or Not to Join Peter Rollins' Insurrection? (link) →
#community of believers
Peter Bannister’s reflections on Peter Rollins’ Insurrection: To Believe is Human; To Doubt, Divine.
He concludes that, ’without the transformational work of the Spirit in the believing community, Rollins’ laudable social programme based on an embrace of the Cross is [un]realizable.’
I would agree that there is a critically important link between Good Friday, Easter and Pentecost, between Crucifixion, Resurrection and the Holy Spirit (between the events that Zizek tends to run together). I would add that much of what Pete envisions for the Church can be linked to Slavoj Zizek’s pneumatology, a topic that I spoke on at last year’s “Subverting the Norm: The Emerging Church, Postmodernism and the Future of the Church.”
The post-doctoral research project that I’m still trying to find funding for, “Ir/Religion and Society: Derrida, Zizek and Political Theology,” examines in more detail the performance of identity suspension (“suspended space”) that I see as intregal to Pete’s Zizekian-Pauline vision for a/theistic political collectives. Key here is Zizek’s notion of the Holy Spirit as the community of believers that cuts across the conventional distinctions of the existing established Order. This is the insurrectionary community that Resurrection as Insurrection imagines and seeks to embody.
Jason Clark and Pete Rollins on the Resurrection
Over the past few days, I’ve been mulling over Jason Clark’s review of Pete Rollins’ Insurrection: To Believe is Human; To Doubt, Divine.
In his piece for The Church and Postmodernism Book Symposium, Jason writes,
Pete’s real focus strikes me as a philosophical reading of the nature of God, and the experience of faith within that. Whilst Pete signposts his work with theological words, such as God, Cross, Incarnation, Crucifixion, and Resurrection, it is not the historic, confessional and traditional theological content of those terms that are his methodological horizon. And it is not that Pete even wants to contest such horizons. Rather it is that his philosophical method means that belief in those things seems irrelevant to his task. I was left wondering if for Pete those terms have their “true” meaning solely as descriptions of the existential “events” of Christian experience?
For Jason, this means that Pete presents these theological terms (he seems most concerned about God, Cross, Kenosis and/or Incarnation, Crucifixion, and Resurrection) as ‘universal processes and experiences,’ and that he thereby ‘voids and evacuates’ them of ‘any theological content and meaning.’
The Jesus of Christianity as a real transcendent person, who becomes finite to us so that we might adventivally experience him, now seems lost to us as other theological terms are similarly emptied by Pete. The theology of the cross that the Church holds historically, presently[,] and which it confessionally experiences in much of its worship, is shorn of all biblical narratives and paradosis, with crucifixion reduced to psychological process. I felt left with a Jesus who was only an exemplar of self-awareness of an existential experience. If this is the case, then perhaps Pete’s work might be less about a ‘religionless Christianity’, and more about Christianity without an historical, immanent, and risen Jesus.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
The Poet and The Critic: Transformation and Information
#articles by me
Pete Rollins has responded to my reflections on his book Insurrection in a piece for Church and Pomo entitled ”I Don’t Need to Doubt, Peter Does That For Me.”
In “Becoming Church Mice: From Refusing to Lead to Refusing to be Led,” I emphasised Pete’s use of a Kierkegaardian distinction between the Poet and the Critic:
What is a poet? An unhappy man who hides deep anguish in his heart, but whose lips are so formed that when the sigh and cry pass through them, it sounds like lovely music… And the critics come forward and say, “That’s the way, that’s how the rules of aesthetics say it should be done.” Of course a critic resembles a poet to a hair, except he has no anguish in his heart, no music on his lips. (Kierkegaard, Either/Or, 1992, 43; cited in Insurrection, 2011, 73).
I argued that Pete seeks to refuse leadership (pushing us, like the Poet, back into our own participation in the fullness of life, in joy and suffering, in doubt, disbelief and a/theism).
But my concern was with the ways in which Pete’s audience (his “fans”) might flock around him like the Critics who assent cognitively to what he is doing, to the importance of doubt and disbelief, but refuse to participate fully in life, to honestly face up to, work through, and celebrate their own experiences of real life.