Publication Year: 2001
In 15 insightful essays, Jacques Derrida and an international group of scholars of religion explore postmodern thinking about God and consider the nature of forgiveness in relation to the paradoxes of the gift. Among the themes addressed by contributors are the possibilities of imagining God as unthinkable, imagining God as non-patriarchal, imagining a return to Augustine, and imagining an age in which praise is far more important than narrative. Questioning God moves readers beyond the parameters of metaphysical reason and modernist rationality as it attempts to think the questions of God and forgiveness in a postmodernist context.
Contributors include John D. Caputo, Jacques Derrida, Mark Dooley, Francis Schüssler Fiorenza, Robert Gibbs, Jean Greisch, Kevin Hart, Richard Kearney, Cleo McNelly Kearns, John Milbank, Regina M. Schwartz, Michael J. Scanlon, and Graham Ward.
Indiana Series in the Philosophy of Religion -- Merold Westphal, general editor
Published by: Indiana University Press
The editors wish to acknowledge the support of Villanova University in making possible the conference ‘‘Religion and Postmodernism 2: Questioning God’’ on October 14–16, 1999, upon which this volume is based. We thank in particular Rev. Edmond Dobbin, O.S.A., President of the University, for his ...
Introduction: God Forgive
In an entry in the log that he was keeping for La Contre-Allée at the time of the first ‘‘Religion and Postmodernism’’ conference in 1997, Derrida made a comment that we very much treasure. Here I am, he said, at Villanova University, a Catholic university conducted by the Augustinian friars, at a conference ...
PART I. FORGIVING
One: To Forgive: The Unforgivable and the Imprescriptible
Pardon, yes, pardon. I have just said ‘‘pardon,’’ in English. You don’t understand anything by this for the moment, no doubt. ‘‘Pardon.’’ It is a word, ‘‘pardon’’; this word is a noun: one says ‘‘un pardon,’’ ‘‘le pardon.’’ In the French language it is a noun. One finds its homonymic ...
Two: On Forgiveness: A Roundtable Discussion with Jacques Derrida
Richard Kearney I am going to ask each speaker to pose a question to Jacques Derrida on the theme of forgiveness and, in so doing, to try to keep the discussion as informal and conversational as possible. Kevin Hart: Jacques, I wonder if I might get things going by reminding you ...
Three: Returning/Forgiving: Ethics and Theology
‘‘Return, Israel, to the Lord, your God.’’ My first word, ‘‘Return,’’ is a citation of a biblical command, and it is a citation of the first word in the first word-pair of my title: returning/forgiving. I cite the command, the exhortation in Hosea (14:2) addressed to the community, to re-cite and so to alert us to the ...
Four: Forgiveness and Incarnation
1. Forgiveness as Negative or Positive If we are to be saved, in the Christian West, then we must partake of the waters of forgiveness which flow down the slopes of Mount Purgatory. However, right from the top, these waters divide: down the near slope pour the ...
Five: The Catastrophe of Memory:Derrida, Milbank, and the (Im)possibility of Forgiveness
The movement known as radical orthodoxy, the most notable exponents of which include John Milbank, Graham Ward, and Catherine Pickstock, has, since its inception, crusaded against what it sees as the plagues and nuisances of secularism and postmodernism. Its fundamental aspiration, we are told, is to ...
PART II. GOD
Six: The God Who May Be
In Exodus 3:14, Moses meets his maker. Leading his flock to the desert mountain of Horeb, he is summoned by a voice from the midst of a flaming bush. From this strange fire which burns without being consumed, the voice calls and Moses answers ‘‘Here I am.’’ The voice bids him stand back and take
Seven: ‘‘Absolute Interruption’’: On Faith
I would like to begin by listening to Jacques Derrida telling us about ‘‘the experience of faith.’’1 To be sure, one does not expect such a tale from someone who assures us that he can ‘‘quite rightly pass for an atheist,’’ but his readers have long since come to expect the unexpected from him.2 With that in mind, ...
Eight: Questioning Narratives of God: The Immeasurable in Measures
One evening the son of a minister, seated at his family dinner table, turned to his father and asked ‘‘Daddy, is god really everywhere?’’ His father patiently replied ‘‘Yes, son, he is.’’ His son pressed the issue further: ‘‘Well, does that mean he is here, in this dining room?’’ His bemused father replied, ‘‘Yes.’’ ...
Nine: "Idipsum": Divine Selfhood and the Postmodern Subject
On the 11th of August this summer, I watched the last complete solar eclipse of the present millennium in a small village in Normandy. Of course, I was not the only witness of this event. All around, the cliffs were crowded with people, young and old, lifting their black glasses up to the sky. At the most ...
Ten: The Humiliated Self as the Rhetorical Self
Many would concur with Jean Greisch’s judgment that the ‘‘condition of postmodernity’’ has made the question of selfhood more urgent than ever. This question is especially urgent for theologians and philosophers with theological concerns. From the time of St. Augustine, Western theology has been ...
Eleven: Questioning God
‘‘Why then do you hide your face and regard me as your enemy?’’ Job asks, bowed beneath the devastation that has come upon him. ‘‘What then do I love when I love my God? Who is he who is higher than the highest element in my soul?’’ So Augustine voices two of the many thousands of questions which ...
Twelve: What Do I Love When I Love My God? Deconstruction and Radical Orthodoxy
In ‘‘Circumfession,’’ Derrida cites the Tenth Book of the Confessions, in which Augustine asks, ‘‘What do I love when I love my God (quid ergo amo cum deum [meum] amo)’’? (X, 7), upon which Derrida comments ‘‘Can I do anything other than translate this sentence by SA [St. Augustine] into my ...
Thirteen: The Scandals of the Sign: The Virgin Mary as Supplement in the Religions of the Book
In Derrida’s early critique of the metaphysics of presence, he notes that the persistent construct he there identifies as logocentrism is inextricably tied to the revealed monotheism of the three ‘‘religions of the book,’’ Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. As a consequence, he implies that efforts simply to ...
Fourteen: Being, Subjectivity, Otherness: The Idols of God
Theology should talk about God. Yet, whenever it does, it confesses the inadequacy of its very language about God. Theology lives off this tension between the need to speak of God and the inadequacy of its language about God. This tension is the motor driving theology to search for adequate language ...