The Rhizome of Christ

The other day, a friend posted to a Facebook group about Rhizomes

Hi folks. I've tried for years to talk about rhizomes in a way that people can understand outside of the theory. I sort of believe it fitting... given the weaknesses of D&G's understanding of botany and physics... and the fact that they were still willing to talk about it. For me it's always been about a messy synthesis of theory, practice, experience and hope. In doing so I've irritated a great number of people - teachers, scientists, D&G theorists and probably my cat.

I’ve worried that my posts have been getting too religious and too esoteric for many of my readers, but if Dave can irritate a great number of people, I can at least irritate those who get drawn in by the title.

First, let me comment on The Rhizome. As I understand it is a philosophical concept from the writings of Deleuze and Guattari which Wikipedia describes as ”theory and research that allows for multiple, non-hierarchical entry and exit points in data representation and interpretation”. The concept was developed in “Capitalism and Schizophrenia”.

I suspect that many of my more conservative friends, if they were to delve into the work of Deleuze and Guattari would dismiss them as godless communists. I also suspect that many of my friends who are interested in the work of D&G probably aren’t all that interested in Church matters, perhaps identifying themselves as atheists or post theists.

This leads me to a second post on Facebook that came up around the same time, and resulted in a long discussion. In a group of Episcopalians on Facebook, one person asked, “Anyone here who identifies with the Post-Theistic movement?” This lead to a lengthy discussion.

I added several comments to the discussion, starting off with

I'm more of a post structuralist mystic. I believe that atheism, nontheism, theism, and post theism, are all imperfect signifiers of God, and our relationship to God. I believe that what matters most is our experience of God's love and our sharing of that love with our neighbors.

From this perspective, I like the idea of rejecting dualistic or binary approaches to understanding God, but I also have significant issues with the idea that "humanity has taken possession of the powers of agency and creativity that had formerly been projected upon God"

Later, I added,

As a follow up: After posting this, I turned to the Lectionary for today and read Exodus 32:7–14 which starts:

"The LORD said to Moses, "Go down at once! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have acted perversely; they have been quick to turn aside from the way that I commanded them; they have cast for themselves an image of a calf, and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, `These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!'""

It seems that many, theists, and post theists alike, create images saying, "These are your gods" and forget the God that has created us, redeemed us, and sustains us, the God in whom we live and move and have our being.

In another part of the discussion I wrote

I think this is a great discussion, and I think this comment of yours is really important. I have two other thoughts I'd like to share on this.

First, is Mark 9:38-40

“Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”

“Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us.

I take this somewhat broadly. Anyone who is showing God's love is for us, even if they can't bring themselves to name the source of that love.

Second thought: I'm no scholar on the work of Judith Butler, but I've been talking with friends a bit about her work recently. I've been wondering how we think about religious identity performativity along the lines of her work on gender performativity. I know many people who feel uncomfortable calling them Christian because of baggage around that construct in twenty first century America, but still feel called to show God's love.

Is there room in the church, in the Body of Christ, in the Rhizome of Christ, for post theists? What is core to our beliefs? What is essential? I think about this more as various African Anglican bishops announce that they are separating themselves from the greater Anglican Communion, from the goal of ‘Walking Together’ in their decisions to boycott the Anglican Consultative Council in Lusaka because there will be members of an Anglican group, The Episcopal Church in the United States, that allows for the blessing of same sex marriages.

Some may have issues with churches that bless same sex marriages. Some may have issues with churches that exclude a set of people they consider sinners, in spite of the fact that orthodox Christianity maintains we are all sinners. Some may have issues with churches that tolerates or embraces post theism, or with churches that don’t tolerate or embrace post theism.

In all of this, I go back to an odd mix of the Gospel of Mark and D&G. Rhizomes are resilient. They adapt to their environment, while continuing to spread. In all of this I come back to Mark and the spreading of the Gospel. Those who spread God’s love, whether they be post theists, homophobes, or anything else, will be drawn closer and closer to God’s love. While they might not all consider themselves part of the same Body of Christ. Perhaps, at least, they are part of the Rhizome of Christ.

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