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Over at the Church and Pomo blog about a month ago, Carl Raschke put together a very interesting take on Mark Lilla’s new book, The Stillborn God. In this small essay, the good doctor has synthesized a lot of what I have been thinking regarding the renewed interest in political theology as of late. Here’s a tidbit regarding the resurgence of Carl Schmitt in the last decade or so:

Every major and up-to-date “postmodern” thinker these days, in Europe at least, is About Schmitt, if I am permitted a play on the title of a famous and tragicomic movie that starred Jack Nicholson. Why is that? At one level Schmitt raised his own “specter” of a good democratic rationale for suspending democracy, a specter that materialized with the collapse of the Weimar Republic in Germany concurrent with Hitler’s accession to power and has haunted all civil libertarians since that fateful September morn (which happens to be my own birthday) in 2001. But, more significantly, Schmitt in a stroke showed why the religious and the political cannot be separated, which is Lilla’s point. “All significant concepts of the modern theory of the state are secularized theological concepts not only because of their historical development – in which they are transferred from theology to the theory of the state, whereby, for example, the omnipotent God became the omnipotent lawgiver – but also because of their systematic structure… So-called “fundamentalism” of necessity has its politics, as does deconstructive theology. Derrida was pre-occupied with something he called “democracy to come,” a term that annoys Zizek, the romantic Marxian, to no end. But the democracy to come could not be disentangled from Derrida’s uniquely Jewish construct of the “messianic,” which historically has always been avenir, “to come.” Do we decode these “political theologies” in terms of their politics or their theologies, or is that impossible because of their “systematic structure”?

This stuff really gets me going. There’s a lot to systematize here, so I’m glad that my post-structuralist tendencies forbid too much work on that front. Schmitt, the Frankfurt School, later Derrida, globalization, Zizek, Radical Orthodoxy, Rosenzweig, the new Messianism – these are all things that will be at the forefront of theological conversation over the next few decades (at least, I hope so), so its best that we begin to consider them now. For a particularly interesting take on such matters…

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