I thankfully stumbled Fora.Tv recently. I highly recommend checking it out; it’s brain food on crack.
While searching through their religion section, I found a presentation by Slavoj Zizek. I must confess, I know little about Zizek, but from what I can tell, he’s a hot item right now. He’s a self-described Christian Atheist. From what I can tell, he draws his theology primarily from the Death of God theology that arose in the 1960s (something I intend to learn more about in the near future).
In the following presentation, entitled “God Without the Sacred,” Slavoj Zizek challenges the idea that “if there is no God, then everything is permitted,” (6.43, a quote allegedly attributed to Dostoyevsky) which would lead to unchecked exploitation. In response, he argues that it is the self-appointed agents of God, “the so-called fundamentalists who practice a perverted version of what Kierkergaard called the religious suspension of the ethical. On God’s mission, one is allowed to kill thousands.” (10.0) So, “If God exists, then everything is permitted.” (13.30)
Zizek appears to adhere to an understanding of the sacred as something capable of extraordinary evil, much like how a human may appear in the eyes of a cat. This concept of the sacred leads to active sacrifice to stave off this possible evil. With this understanding, he claims that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam aret first religions without the sacred. Christianity in particular undermines the power of the saced by viewing sacrifice from the perspective othe innocent other. In these three religions, liminal experience remains, but not the need of sacred scapegoating to stave off great evil.
Zizek’s narrow understanding of the sacred is not something of which I’m fond. As a result, I don’t agree with his negative portrayal of the “neo-pagan, post-secular” perspective, which according to him views the sacred (and therefore the sacrificial act) from the communal perspective (of course, in contrast to his Christian perspective that views the sacred and sacrifice from the angle of the innocent other). Nonetheless, there is a lot of good stuff for thought in this video.
A good quote:
Christ’s death on the cross means precisely that one should drop without restraint the notion of God as a transcendent Caretaker who guarentees the happy outcome of our acts. Christ’s death on the cross is the death of precisely this God, the God above…. I think that Christ’s death means to refuse any deeper meaning that obfuscates the brutal real of historical catastrophe. (41.50)
Edited to correct information.