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Reexamining Deconstruction and Determinate Religion

Toward a Religion <i>with</i> Religion

edited by J. Aaron Simmons and Stephen Minister

Publication Year: 2012

Reexamining Deconstruction and Determinate Religion addresses the conventional conflicts between those who desire a more objective, determinate, and quasi-evidentialist perspective on faith and religious truth and those who adopt a more poetic, indeterminate, relativistic, and radical one. Drawing on both continental and analytic philosophy, this unique volume offers a sustained challenge to the prominent paradigm of a “religion without religion,” proposed in a deconstructive philosophy of religion. Articulated by Jacques Derrida and advanced by John D. Caputo, “religion without religion” challenges the epistemic certainty, political exclusivism, and theological absolutism with which specific religious traditions have tended to operate and recommends rejecting or maintaining an ironic distance from the determinate truth-claims and practices of particular religious communities. Without simplistically rejecting deconstruction, Simmons and Minister maintain that a specifically deconstructive approach to religion does not necessarily dictate the complete indeterminancy of a “religion without religion.” Rather, “religion with religion” is offered as a particular way of practicing determinate religions that rejects binary options between undecidability and safety, or between skepticism and dogmatism. Thus, the truths of determinate religions are not assumed, but their possibility is embraced, which invites vigorous and charitable dialogue. Within this framework, the contributors assert that postmodern religious identity is necessary for contemporary ethical and political existence. Organized in what might be called a “polylogue,” chapters 1–5 function dialogically, including two response essays to each of the primary essays. In these chapters, the authors explore topics including politics, faith, and biblical interpretation, but ultimately focus on the philosophical basis for a “religion with religion” and the practice or application of it. Finally, the book ends with two important new essays by Merold Westphal and John D. Caputo, respectively, that consider the conversation of the book as a whole and the very idea of “religion with religion.” Westphal’s essay offers a rigorous analysis and productive response to the essays by the other contributing authors, while Caputo’s lengthy chapter offers a clear and accessible introduction to his philosophical theology. While especially relevant to anyone interested in an overview of and constructive dialogue with deconstructive philosophy of religion, Reexamining Deconstruction and Determinate Religion will be of interest to scholars and students interested in all areas of continental philosophy of religion and its potential benefit to determinate faith practices.

Published by: Duquesne University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

This book began as a conversation between J. Aaron Simmons and Stephen Minister at lunch in Dallas, Texas, during an American Academy of Religion meeting. That this book is now a reality is due to the generous time, energy...

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Introduction: On Necessary Interruptions

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pp. 1-20

A funny thing happened while writing this introduction. I was sitting in a coffee shop with a stack of books on postmodern theology and philosophy of religion on my table, when a gentleman at the next table leaned over and said, “I hate to bother you, but can you tell me what you are working on?” Figuring that his interest was motivated more by the sheer...

Part One: The Philosophical Basis for Religion with Religion

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pp. 21-22

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Ch. 1. Apologetics after Objectivity

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pp. 23-60

The question of this chapter is whether or not a “rational defense” can be given for the determinate truth-claims of Christianity within the context of continental philosophy of religion (CPR).1 Simply put, is a postmodern (specifically Christian) apologetics possible? Let me unambiguously...

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Chapter 1, Reply 1 “As Radical as One Needs to Be” — A Response to J. Aaron Simmons

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pp. 61-68

In “Apologetics after Objectivity,” J. Aaron Simmons remarks that Merold Westphal (rather than John D. Caputo) is “as radical as one needs to be.” This way of putting it really does seem to get at the heart of the matter....

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Chapter 1, Reply 2 Apologetics after Identity? — A Response to J. Aaron Simmons

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pp. 69-74

In his “Apologetics after Objectivity,” J. Aaron Simmons makes a compelling case for the legitimacy and necessity of a rational defense of Christianity in continental philosophy of religion and, more broadly, in the lives...

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Ch. 2. Faith Seeking Understanding

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pp. 75-112

Construct a theology, and you will have a theology. Deconstruct a theology, and you will also have a theology. Whether you construct a theology or deconstruct a theology, you will have a theology either way...

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Reply 1. Thinking More Positively...and Indeed Why Not? — A Response to Stephen Minister

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pp. 113-118

Stephen Minister’s incisive engagement exposes with devastating force the weaknesses of John Caputo’s weak theology and ethics. My response to his critique will largely echo the fundamentals of his concerns while offering complementary considerations...

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Chapter 2, Reply 1 Thinking More Positively . . . and Indeed Why Not? — A Response to Stephen Minister

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pp. 119-128

Stephen Minister’s incisive engagement exposes with devastating force the weaknesses of John Caputo’s weak theology and ethics. My response to his critique will largely echo the fundamentals of his concerns while offering complementary considerations...

Part Two: Religion with Religion in Practice

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pp. 129-130

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Ch. 3. The Phenomenon of the Good: Reconstructing Religion in the Wake of Deconstruction

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pp. 131-154

In his essay “Literature in Secret: An Impossible Filiation,” Derrida continues his remarks on the silence of Abraham, the silence in which is born Abraham’s faith and the faith of his many descendants. Echoing his argument in the previous...

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Reply 1. My Lies Are Always Wishes: Reflections on the Fictional Structure of the Statement of Faith — A Response to Jeffrey Hanson

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pp. 155-160

It is difficult to know how to respond to Jeff Hanson’s thoughtful exploration of the curious interplay between silence and speech, secret and revelation, presented in the act of faith as probed by Kierkegaard...

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Reply 2. Silence, Faith, and (the Call to) Goodness — A Response to Jeffrey Hanson

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pp. 161-166

Jeffrey Hanson’s “The Phenomenon of the Good” offers an insightful reading of the depiction of faith in Fear and Trembling by investigating the theme of silence as it appears in the oft-neglected Problema...

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Ch. 4. The Greatest of These: Toward a Phenomenology of Agapic Love

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pp. 167-198

In the course of forging what might be called a postdeconstructive faith, it is essential that we return to that formative content which serves as the bedrock of religion. But this return should neither be merely a kind of fundamentalist...

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Reply 1. A Tale of Two Logics: Some Further Questions about Agape — A Response to Drew M. Dalton

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pp. 199-204

Drew Dalton’s engagement with the issue of agapic love limns what I take to be absolutely key issues that are provoked by this doubtless crucial theme. I would like to offer some questions in the spirit of continuing our shared conversation; they are not meant as criticisms but calls...

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Reply 2. True Religion — A Response to Drew M. Dalton

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pp. 205-210

I was more than a bit dismayed when a Google search for “true religion” came up with this number one item: “jeans.” Perhaps in our capitalist culture in which everything becomes a commodity I should not have expected any more...

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Ch. 5. “You Are Not Far from the Kingdom”: Christianity as Self-Disruptive Messianism

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pp. 211-228

There is something quite remarkable about this passage, though it is an aspect that is generally overlooked by many readers of the text. On the face of it, Jesus seems to give the scribe a great compliment. But, read more closely, Jesus’ reply was probably not exactly what the scribe...

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Reply 1. The Liturgy of Hermeneutics: Midrash as Open Religion with Religion — A Response to Bruce Ellis Benson

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pp. 229-234

In his extended mediation on the enigmatic “not far” of Mark 12:28–34, Bruce Benson invites the reader to think of the truth of the kingdom of God not as some propositional content but as emergent within the strife and tension such difficult statements as the “not yet” evokes. The Gospel message, he assures us, is therefore not one that closes off discussion or debate...

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Reply 2. Perhaps Still a Bit Farther Off Than We Think — Engaging Bruce Ellis Benson

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pp. 235-244

Privilege is a funny thing in that it is most problematic when it is most invisible. Much of continental philosophy has been a sustained attempt to unmask the unacknowledged privilege that operates (often invisibly) in philosophical discourse, political theory, and historical social praxis...

Part Three: Responses to Religion with Religion

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Ch. 6. Conversations on Religion with or without Religion

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pp. 247-270

With one exception, all the contributors to this volume are either friends of mine or former students (and friends too). Among these the longest and deepest friendship is with Jack Caputo. We have deep agreements and deep disagreements on the matters...

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Ch. 7. On Not Settling for an Abridged Edition of Postmodernism: Radical Hermeneutics as Radical Theology

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pp. 271-354

I am grateful for the invitation to address the questions posed by the other contributors to Reexamining Deconstruction and Determinate Religion: Toward a Religion with Religion and for the compliment they pay my...

Notes

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pp. 355-400

About the Contributors

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pp. 401-402

Index

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pp. 403-409

Back Cover

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p. 410-410


E-ISBN-13: 9780820705880
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820704579

Page Count: 424
Publication Year: 2012