Saturday, November 08, 2008

Creston Davis: universality of Christian politics

One of the other highlights about AAR was the chance to talk with Creston Davis over pints. It was actually a rather random meeting. While talking with Ry Siggelkow, Creston came over to our table. We started talking and pretty soon we were deeply engaged in discussing liberalism, Barthianism, Milbank, liturgical theology, and Christian politics. I really enjoyed the meeting, and I look forward to reading his future works.

Davis has edited the forthcoming volume by Slavoj Žižek and John Milbank, The Monstrosity of Christ. (According to my discussion with him that night, a volume will come out next year by Brazos, with essays by Žižek, Milbank, Davis himself, and a special guest chapter by Antonio Negri.) Davis will also be coming out with his dissertation at some point here, which connects issues of liturgy and politics.

In an article with The Other Journal, Davis writes about “the politics of Christian nihilism.” He narrates his own personal journey from Republican politics to Christian theopolitics. He then discusses his vision of a universal Christian materialist politics. In addition to talking about Nietzsche and Hegel, he provides a robust vision of an ecclesial theopolitics rooted in the cross of Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It is a cruciform and pentecostal theopolitics. He writes:
Christian politics must be universal: it announces the bright light of liberation for the poor and the oppressed. Creation order is not removed from this universal Christian liberation wrought in the Incarnation and the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit; to the contrary, as St. Paul tells us, ALL creation moans for its full restoration. We are living out this universal politics of liberation for the entire world and all material history. Yet, because the fullness of time has yet to arrive, this universal cannot be employed as a totality or an epistemological foundationalism, rather, as we shall see the Christian universal is always eschatologically constituted—always here, but not yet.

If Christian politics is universal, then politics, as God’s act of liberating the earth from sin through the Church is grounded in the very foundations of creation itself: Politics is infinitely more than the delimiting power of legislating, executing and maintaining law and order in a human-made polity. Yet because politics is universal it is inescapably intertwined to the particular, and so it has something to say on all levels of existence, not only in the “invented” politics of the United States of America, but also on the level of a cultural and economic logic of the world. ...

A Christian materialist politics is the persistent faithfulness of the Church in the sanctification of the Spirit bearing witness to the depths of the love of God all the way down to the deepest depths of the cosmos, Hell, to the point where nothing can be out of reach of God’s outstretched arms on the cross. . . . The poor become the real witnesses of Christ suffering in the world that the Church (as the community of the Spirit) must side with in order to be in tune with eschatological time. Christian politics must therefore be a universal politics of absolute love requiring us to reside on the threshold of nothingness as the mending work of the Spirit. We must infinitely reside between the Crucified Christ and the Holy Spirit.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi, David! Thanks for the blog entry --which was really gracious. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting with you and Ry. The conversation was fast and witty and I just love those moments--which make the AAR brilliant. I need to clarify one aspect of your entry tho, viz. that the book that Zizek, Milbank and I are doing is by no means a sequel to the MIT book, rather we posit a radical thesis on the meaning of the liturgy and the cross in the wake of St. Paul. It will be published by Brazos Press (Grand Rapids) next Fall. In addition to chapters by Zizek and Milbank==A special chapter will feature guest Antonio Negri, on St. Paul (a chapter he wrote in prison).

Would you mind making this correction for me? We should talk soon. Barth is dead!!! Heeeee Heeee.

David W. Congdon said...

Thanks, Creston, for the clarification! I very much look forward to the book.

Yes, we'll definitely have to talk at some point, specifically about how Barth has been resurrected! :)

Anonymous said...

David, would you mind correcting this in the main body of the entry. I would be indebted to you. Barth has no ontology (how's that for starters?).

David W. Congdon said...

Already corrected. Did you not notice?

And Barth absolutely DOES have an ontology. Read Eberhard Jüngel.