Fidelity: For God and the Party!

Been a long time gone. My old laptop had developed so many physical problems over the past couple years that I’m surprised the whole thing didn’t crumble into dust. Hopefully with a new machine and the aid of library cards and some slow nights I can kick this up again.

Currently nothing grand on my mind or before me. I have been reading Alain Badiou and Karl Barth (plus some McLuhan here and there.) Badiou and Barth are both on relatively opposite poles when it comes to their field of interest, but there’s at least one parallel between them that I’ve noticed.

Badiou’s political beliefs are unique and interesting in how he posits the idea of “communism” not as a historical era, an economic plan, Marx, a set of symbols… but as a sort of spirit of emancipation. In his Communist Hypothesis he lays out his own hypothesis of how certain events/ideas emerge as a sort of Pandora’s Box–once opened the contents cannot be put back in–the cat is out of the bag so to speak.

In his article “Is the Word ‘Communism’ Forever Doomed?” Badiou responds with a sort of ambivalent, “meh, maybe.” For him, the word (and all it’s baggage) is a particularity with no real great importance. For him there is more of what could be general process of resistance that ought to be considered salvageable or not, and if so, then it is one that must find itself repeated again and again.

It is that emphasis that Badiou places on repetition or “fidelity to the event” that makes him a strange sort of bedfellow to Karl Barth, notable Reform theologian. For Barth, a kind of repetition is also key. Barth is certainly no stodgy conservative of Christianity. His ideas and works did more to keep Christianity modern and dynamic in the 21st than maybe anyone. Still, at the core of his belief is an emphasis that the Church can only exist as one that continues to constantly renew and again the revelation of Jesus Christ. For him, the only way forward is to look back. In a quasi-paradoxical way, as with Badiou, it is only fidelity to the founding Event wherein the immediate present can be opened up, so to speak, for any kind of creative response.

I think the concept of “fidelity” is a hard one for Americans to take. All talk these days is how Twitter and Bill Gates are the “seeds of a new revolution” (though the only real results of these revolutions is generating headlines of their revolutionary-ness.) Religion is all about innovation. The “spiritual but not religion” ethos is all about personal creativity in belief, supreme religious tolerance gained once the number of world religion equals the world’s population. Conservatives, supposedly the bastion of anachronism, are just as interested, if not more so, in radical new experiments in social engineering with a little nod toward “American values” in a desperate dig for credibility.

Breaking out of the bad dilemma of “Innovate Now!” or “Go Back to the Original!” would be a great way of expanding the way society/church/movements construct and orient themselves. Not blindly forward or regression, but a sort of constant renewal.


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