Deleuze, Guattari, Fanon, Bannon, and the Synod of Whitby

Reading time: Several days. Read a little bit of it. Think about it. Maybe write something of your own. Come back to this later, wash, rinse, repeat.

Recently, I’ve been stumbling across a lot of random thoughts that seem to relate, in one way or another to other thoughts. Perhaps a good way of thinking about how they all fit together is with the concept of Rhizome from Deleuze and Guattari. The article "THE RHIZOME" - AN AMERICAN TRANSLATION provides a nice starting point. How do our thoughts link together, other than in the five paragraph essay? This post may meander a little bit, and live out a little of exploring my personal rhizome.

As an aside, the article talks about Wikipedia with an interesting comment,

Hell, there’s a whole game built around getting from one Wikipedia page to another using only hyperlinks. If Wikipedia isn’t a rhizome, we quit philosophy.

As a person who has always enjoyed reading encyclopedias, especially following links from one article to the next, even before the days of Wikipedia, this particularly resonated with me. I think I should find out more about the game or create my own version to play with friends, especially those who like Deleuze.

One of the things I want to write soon is my thoughts about which classes to take at divinity school when I start in the fall. One of the courses makes reference to systematic theology. More and more, I’m thinking of an asystematic theology, a rhizomatic wandering, perhaps closer to Celtic Christianity’s Peregrinatio than more specific pilgrimages where there is a clear path and clear destination.

But I digress.

I remember once hearing that the most common phrase in the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer is “Or this.” Perhaps the most common phrase for me, in this post, and perhaps beyond will be “but I digress”.

I’ve thought about this asystematic theology, perhaps as an epic poem, as “The Divine Rhizome”. We’ll see if my wanderings take me there.

Back to recent online posts and my thoughts about divinity school courses: A year or so ago, I got into a discussion with my eldest daughter about postcolonialism. I spent a little time looking at the writings of Franz Fanon. I was interested to see a post the other day that referenced Fanon. Excommunicate Me from the Church of Social Justice.

Postcolonialist black Caribbean philosopher Frantz Fanon in his 1961 book Wretched of the Earth writes about the volatile relationship between the colonizer and the colonized, and the conditions of decolonization. In it, he sharply warns the colonized against reproducing and maintaining the oppressive systems of colonization by replacing those at top by those previously at the bottom after a successful revolution.

This idea should come as no surprise to anyone who has read Animal Farm.

If we take this further, I suspect that I’ll end up reading Lisa Duggan and her writings on Homonormativity and Homonationalism. This is another writer that my eldest daughter has recommended to me.

Meanwhile, back to my thoughts about divinity school. I had a great discussion with one of the professors about Agamben’s work on Homo Sacer. Particularly we talked about his book, Cain, Abel, and the Politics of God: An Agambenian reading of Genesis 4:1-16 (Routledge Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Biblical Criticism). The idea is intriguing and so I started reading up on Agamben.

I found a great video outlining Agamben’s ideas, AGAMBEN HOMO SACER ANIMATIC. It seems like new colonialists designating those who disagree with them as homo sacer ties back nicely to Fanon and postcolonialism.

I’ve been wondering how all of this relates to one’s thoughts about religious institutions. Recently, I read Scott Cairns’ Short Trip to the Edge: A Pilgrimage to Prayer. It is a really wonderful book about his journey. While Cairns writes about going to Mt. Athos, there is a rhizomatic aspect to the journey that is really appealing. It paints a very attractive image of Eastern Orthodoxy, with a few blemishes to keep things real.

Likewise, I’ve recently read JP Newell’s Listening for the Heartbeat of God: A Celtic Spirituality. This too, is a wonderful book, painting a very attractive image of another Christian tradition. There is a lot of criticism of the imperial church, the church of the Roman Empire and I wonder how this fits together with thoughts about Christianity in the west today, as people stop going to church because it is the socially acceptable thing to do; about the post-establishment church.

For the past forty years, I’ve been an Episcopalian. I’ve worshiped at some pretty established social register churches. One of the books that had been recommended to me early on during the current phase of my spiritual journey, and came on the reading list for divinity school is Dwight Zscheile’s People of the Way: Renewing Episcopal Identity.

I know a lot of people recommend it and it does have some good stuff in it, but so far, I’m about a third of the way into it, it feels more like a book about trying to figure out what Episcopal Identity in the twenty first century should be, which is a strong contrast to Cairn’s or Newell’s books which are much more about, look at the neat stuff of our traditions.

What I like about the Anglican tradition is the reconnecting of the spiritual to the vernacular. It seems as if the vernacular is changing more rapidly, right now, than the Episcopal Church has been able to. I touched on this a bit in a previous blog post and I’ll probably frequently return to this idea.

Last night I came across this line in Zscheile’s book:

Many people in today’s world are looking for an authentic lived faith

It made me think of a post I saw on Facebook the other day,

“I've grown suspicious of anyone who says, "Love is the answer." Maybe 1 in 100 walk the talk.” Friend on Facebook.

This post has gotten long enough, so I think I’ll pause here for the time being. But before I go, I’ll add this one link:

Inside The 'Shakespearean Irony' Of Trump And Bannon's Relationship.

How does the political and the religious inter-relate, especially in a postcolonial world, looked at through a lens of Deleuze, Guattari, and Agamben? How do faith and social justice interact with the ‘establishment’, whether we are thinking about establishment from the view of Fanon, Bannon, or those with Celtic tonsures after the Synod of Whitby?

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