Silencing The Ghosts of The Coalition: Why Patriarchy Must Fall…

Here is the context for this needed reply:

Website that originated discussion: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/gospeldrivenchurch/

“Because we have forgotten the biblical concepts of true authority and submission, or more accurately, have rebelled against them, we have created a climate in which caricatures of authority and submission intrude upon our lives with violence.

When we quarrel with the way the world is, we find that the world has ways of getting back at us. In other words, however we try, the sexual act cannot be made into an egalitarian pleasuring party. A man penetrates, conquers, colonizes, plants. A woman receives, surrenders, accepts. This is of course offensive to all egalitarians, and so our culture has rebelled against the concept of authority and submission in marriage. This means that we have sought to suppress the concepts of authority and submission as they relate to the marriage bed.

But we cannot make gravity disappear just because we dislike it, and in the same way we find that our banished authority and submission comes back to us in pathological forms. This is what lies behind sexual “bondage and submission games,” along with very common rape fantasies. Men dream of being rapists, and women find themselves wistfully reading novels in which someone ravishes the “soon to be made willing” heroine. Those who deny they have any need for water at all will soon find themselves lusting after polluted water, but water nonetheless.

True authority and true submission are therefore an erotic necessity. When authority is honored according to the word of God it serves and protects — and gives enormous pleasure. When it is denied, the result is not “no authority,” but an authority which devours.”

Let’s talk about gender for a second. I am what some might call a ‘Butlerian’ (after controversial cultural theorist Judith Butler), her main claim about gender is that it is performative. What does this mean in laymen’s terms? It means gender (and how we understand it) is merely a social construct. The rules are roles that we play, not necessarily who we are. Think of a child’s doll-house; the stereotypical play-date would be a girl (or boy) playing with their toys in certain roles. As the story goes, the woman cooks and cleans and the man goes out to kill the wild animals for food (well, that’s if you had He-Man for an action figure!). As vulgar as these roles are and how limiting they are to our essence, it is even more perverse to defend them as if they exist. As if to not fulfill these roles is somehow a sin. Also, let’s deal with the notion of sin for a second, this also seems a pivotal subject in today’s conversations (and it seems, in my opinion, that organizations like the Gospel Coalition are a bit obsessed with such terminology).

What is sin if not a gap? A gap between what, well, according to orthodoxy, a gap between ‘man’ (used universally and I might add condescendingly) and God. Well, can you allow me the freedom to do something to make my point clearer about the inherent fallacies ladened in the current gesture of ideological violence toward women, homosexuals and ultimately anyone’s marriage bed for that matter? Let’s imagine that we all have an ideal-image of ourselves (which isnt that far-fetched, right?) – and society plays into these (I include the church in this) – including gender roles. The ideal-image of self is not what we should seek, for these apparitions (i.e., i claim they are ghosts because they are not the true us, only fractions of ourselves, is this not what a ghost is, a fraction of a person?). The ideal self is the sinful object we should get rid of not attempt to inhabit, which is what seems to be the case here, the Gospel Coalition is stating via one of their bloggers (Jared Wilson) that we should submit to the social codes behind gender and not to mention they are imposing their ideal-self on the other which is to negate the other in full – but wasnt there something about not being of this world, and didnt the communist church-planter Paul claim that gender did not exist in Colossians?

So, when the Gospel Coalition makes ethical claims about how people should relate to each other, they are merely telling their own ghosts stories and not dealing directly with reality. If anything, there is an exorcism that needs to happen, and its the addiction to patriarchy (but I do not claim it simply an issue with the Gospel Coalition; I claim this is a global issue, even down to how we have come to view history). But what of biology? Have they not over-stated their case in, which some call over-proximity (i.e., they stand too close, so close that they cannot see the person) which is like when you stand too close to an object and it goes all blurry – the point is, you assume things about the object even though you cant see it clearly. Almost like a partial-blindness. Paul says we all (as in humanity) see things through dimmed eyes, like squinting. Somehow Mr Wilson and The Gospel Coalition claim some alterior power to overcome such a condition. They reify themselves as demi-gods. But, this is not about one particular person, for we wrestle not against flesh and blood. Let’s be frank, this is about the systemic violence of organizational theology at work here that injures those it thinks its loving. Patriarchy is the first demon that must be exercised here.

The man is not the center of the universe, this is not a ‘man’s world’, this is a human’s world (I am even reticent to use such a term, because it has ‘man’ in it). To claim that is to already marginalize and subjectify (and even objectify, which has already happened many times over) women and any other species or bio-engineered creation. Patriarchy, unfortunately has had a negative history throughout the centuries, and due to this violence we must restore equality. There is nothing divine in ideological non-equality. There is a European fresco referred to as Rublev’s Trinity that shows the Trinity in equal relationship to one other. There is not one role greater than the other. Is this not the image by which the Church historically references itself?

At one point there was this religious leader by the name of Nicodemus who has this clandestine conversation with Jesus about the Kingdom of God (the first point to rememeber here is that this was a religious leader, not the orthodox assumption that sinners must be born again but rather it is the religious that do). In it Jesus says something along the lines of being ‘born again’. That word for born in Hebrew is something when modernised akin to a family tree – lineage. Jesus was turning patriarchy into a taboo here. Something that literally defined that society and one’s identity in the ancient world was thing called patriarchy. And the word again simply means ‘too’ or well, ‘again’. And its perpetual. Jesus is telling a religious guy who thinks he knows it all to give up on patriarchy, identity, power-relations and even hierarchy. He is telling this to a religious person. Actress Ashley Judd was recently in the news for gaining weight, and the media assumed she simply was ‘letting it all hang out’, this infuriated Judd who replied something similar to what I think Jesus is telling good old Nic here: “F*** the Patriarchy. Not once, but again and again. And then let go of the idea that God is a Jew. Let go of what you think you think you know about God. Be born again, and again, and again…(It seem the Coalition needs this message and possibly Jared Wilson too)…

The behaviour demonstrated here is not very far from the relationship between George Bush and Osama Bin Laden, who in psychoanalytic theory, share the same ‘pervert’ structure. This is the person who does not know how to say ‘no’ to their respective Big Other (in this case, God). The point is not whether saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ is the trangression, but they cannot say ‘no’ because they don’t want to displease their Big Other. It is not about the relationship between the person and their God, but rather the pleasure that derives from saying an eternal ‘yes’. If we are met anything in the Scriptures, it is a God who does not want automatons. In a cognitive sense, what we are met with here is what is called cognitive inessentialism. The main claim being that one can be conscious but without being in control of their consciousness (i.e., being aware of reality, relationships, truth claims, love and etc.) – you know what the example is for such a defense: Zombies. People who are only consumed (enjoy) by the consumption of the other (in this case, the other is sexuality, genitals and the mythology behind the ‘marriage bed’). So what of grace in this situation? Via the Hebrew, grace is defined as uncontingent favor (favor for someone without having a reason to favor them). However, the author Paul seems to think that there is a limit to such favor, he challenges one of his communities by querying: Shall we continue sinning so that grace might abound? Remember, we redefined sin as being consumed or inscribed by the ideal self imposed upon society. This is not the true self. Paul seems to think that the limit implies we must challenge our ideal selves and most assuredly when we impose our own versions of ourselves upon others as if they will somehow help fulfill this ideal self. For Paul, this seems to be the true violence and negation of grace, the person who commits themselves to the ideal whole self to the point that they attempt to try to co-opt others into their narrative removing any distinction of that which makes the other ‘other’.

For me, that last sentence is the failure of Western Political Christianity, namely that the we assume our role is to somehow convert the ‘other’ into us. That we take it upon ourselves to castigate that which is different. This does not demonstrate anything other than fear and the non-desire to want to know someone. But is this not what the gospel is about? And when I speak of the gospel I speak of it in Aramaic terms, which is sevartha, which means hope: If they are not presenting hope but rather creating hopelessness is this not the anthithesis to the gospel? Daniel refers to this very person as an Anti-Christ. Someone against the spirit of Christ itself. Some might thinking I am over-stating my case, but simply look into the theology of the Gospel Coalition and see if I am wrong. Dont get me wrong, as a postmodern, I dont want to get hung up on theological differences – I think we need them. But what happens when they surpass theology into destructive power-hording mechanisms that are nothing short of ideological war? Well, I think then its time to work together and defend the right of the oppressed, was this not the narrative arc of Scripture? To defend, fight for a platform for those who have no voice, the time is now!

the (ont)ology of a shoe

Child Labour in Nepal

a shoe is if anything an object of mobility. we use it to get places. at least this is to implicate the object itself. it promises to get us from point a to point b. but, what of the other implications?

take for instance the rubber (that most shoes are made of) that was melted down to form this shoe. most likely in another country where wages aren’t near as equal (this is debatable here even in the West) as in the west; which is itself already a judgment made simply by speaking about an object such as a shoe. in the first few seconds of this post, we are already met with the ethics of an object. that to simply stake the claim that ‘a shoe is just a shoe’ is to provoke all kinds of injustices. namely, the factory that this object (most likely) emerged from, which includes perverse ethical conditions. and so when we purchase a shoe, we buy into such oppression. we advocate it.

what of the store and our purchase. remember, a purchase is the commitment to buy the product (as-is) and use it as specified (not always as-specified, which implies plurality of value) – this object then carries with it a specified value or, at best, a promise of value-to-come (i.e., buying ice-cream so i can later enjoy its taste). the value then is not inherent to the object. the value is a promise of value-to-come. hence, why we cannot speak of commodity as something with inherent potential, but only as something to arrive. and so when we participate in such a trading system, we then participate in creating value or imposing value upon an object that might otherwise have no-value-at-all. we are value-makers. but what is value if not a form of meaning, a desire for meaning then resides within us and drives us to desire more meaning.

hence why, after we purchase the item, we want some use of it – to make meaning out of this new commoditized object. to find enjoyment in such an object. we need it to not only carry monetary value, but also utilitarian (use) value. the store itself plays both political voice, ethical voice and capitalist psyche which all promote the well-being of the state over the purchaser (although marketing would have you believe otherwise) for it is in the object purchase that commerce is infinitely recycled. and so the state finds its very purpose/enjoyment in the loss of an object into the hands of one of its subordinated subjects (i.e., we must use money; ‘money makes the world go round’ and etc.). it is the enjoyment of the object that draws us back to the object – chemical junkies. we then continue the practice through every facet of our experience, for we think enjoyment is at the center of what makes us human – and in doing so – create joy into machinery that over time begins controlling us (rather than the other way around). as you have already discovered: a shoe is never simply a shoe.

seven thirty bourke street

but do we not see the issue here, the object alone does not have value – we either give/impose/desire-to-come the object value so we can then feel as if we have a purpose behind such a purchase. and so it is the shoe that gives meaning to our mobility, or our desire for mobility.

and this relationship begins with a purchase – and this is important, the moment we make the purchase, we then are made subject to the object – for we have enforced meaning into the object, and in a sense the object becomes in a simple form – a big other – an object that informs my interpretations and translations of reality (i.e., without the shoe i might be not be socialized and possibly looked down upon, without the name-brand people might think i am poor, without the shoe i might be injured and so it keeps me safe from harm and etc.)

the purchase itself is represented in the form of a transaction. the relationship between the purchaser-the object(i.e., the shoe)-and the vendor becomes solely about the exchange of value. the commodity. but it stops being about the shoe once the transation begins and becomes more about transacting the relationship, for the relationship might not exist otherwise without the object mediating-for it. in our humanity, it seems we have become inundated with the paradigmatic prison of meaning. which means that we have learned to believe the lie that the only we can have/maintain social relationships is via some other object that mediates-for the relationship – even if that object is belief.