/ / / / / /Narnia
‘It’s difficult not to conclude that much of Christianity is the greatest of conspiracies against Christ’ (Laval Subjects)
As usual, someone else will always say it better! The quote above has been resonating with me for days. I couldn’t agree more; it elegantly encapsulates the car-crash that is Christianity, that poisonous, parasitic compound associated with this time of year. Not only a source of much wisdom Christianity is also a litany of hate, which is why I don’t understand the un-reflexive rhetoric of: apologists, zealots and missionaries. Essentially, all those who fail to acknowledge how problematic the tradition is; and in turn, fail to engage with the Christ-machine’s continued perpetuation of violence.
Equally, on a personal level, knowing all this, why do I find it so hard to slough off Christianity’s awkward cloths and rid myself of its tedious presence? After all, I could save myself a ton of angst and wake up with the ‘less deceived’. The thing is I can’t (or won’t) and to some extent aspects of this blog are the product of that anxiety. The failure to fully jettison Christianity has become my ‘idiot’s… …refrain’— a relentless haunted landscape.
Shusaku Endo puts it this way:
‘There were many times when I felt I wanted to get rid of my Catholicism, but I was finally unable to do so. It is not just that I did not throw it off, but that I was unable to throw it off. The reason for this must be that it had become a part of me after all.’
Endo presents a ‘jihad’, the struggle between an idealised self and a cancerous faith. Like a piece of disruptive technology, Christianity constantly interferes with his ability to fully inhabit the space of his homeland. The Elsewhere-Meme has destroyed his ability to imprint and by implication irrevocably altered his identity. He concludes that the alien religion has become coextensive, hardwired into his system. Every part of him has become contaminated; to remove it out now would be fatal. It has become ‘hôte’, both host and guest.
Shusaku Endo presents a problem I can totally relate to, although mine is more comic. I grew up in Narnia— an enchanted kingdom with a medieval worldview. I inherited my parent’s 1970’s charismatic-evangelical faith and to all intent and purpose, believed in magic. To this day, I remain suspicious of wardrobes! The paranoia and nihilism resulting from this brand of faith can prove useful when designing hybrid realities or pursuing critical theory. Yet equally, the destructive apocalyptic imagination it engendered can also prove crippling.
Trying to come to terms with something that I did not choose or no longer wish to own is a problem. The parasite has taken up residence and spun an awkward identity. If removing Christianity root and branch is no longer an option, how does one come to terms with it, make peace with it? How does one re-pattern this faith and reduce its harmful effects?
My current approach is to frame Christianity as Pharmakon, a ‘magic potion’, a blessing and a curse, a poison and a cure— something Derrida does with writing, where the ‘word’ is always seen to be ambiguous.
I find it helpful to render the components of the Christian machine ‘undecidable’. For instance, celebrate doubt as the trace of belief and in the words of Donna Haraway, acknowledge that ‘blasphemy is not apostasy’. There is space for co-habitation and dialogue, a stand off that does not require some sort of scorched-earth disavowal. It opens up the possibility of alternatives grammars and new ways of talking about fatigued subjects; how perhaps more ‘carnivalesque’ and ‘grotesque’ expressions could be fed back into ritual— a kind of postmodern fumie.
Such an approach positions Christianity in a critical light, seeing it for what it is, accepting it to be both, simultaneously corrosive and productive; something that generates assemblages that are ostensibly ‘out of control’ and unpredictable. This is a benign survival strategy that heavily sympathises with Pete Rollins’ devotional acts of potlatch, those that constantly immolate ‘Christianities’ and look to move beyond belief altogether.