Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Today I had a chance to sit and talk through a bit about my idea of what Love is like, as well as about what postmodernism is and why it isn't all bad like a lot of evangelicals have heard/think. Right now in the class "Christianity and Postmodernism" we're reading God without Being by Jean-Luc Marion, a French philosopher teaching at the University of Paris who studied under Jacques Derrida, one of the biggest names in postmodernism. Interestingly, his book (and his philosophy in general) has a lot to do with Love, too; or, as he likes to call it, agape (in Greek, from 1 John 4:8). Also, Marion is a Catholic.

Although that a Christian is also a prominent postmodern philosopher is probably surprising to most people, it's actually what has been called the "theological turn" in postmodernism and phenomenology--what some see as the beginning of a trend in this aspect of continental philosophy. Philosophers of note include Emmanuel Levinas, a practicing Jew who wrote extensively on the Torah, Jean-Luc Marion, who we've already mentioned, Jean-Louis Chretien, another French Christian (although I don't think much of his stuff has been translated to English yet, I understand that he's important in France), and even Jacques Derrida, whose later writings were much more open to ideas of religion and spirituality than his earlier ones. I'd also like to point out that two important figures for the beginnings of postmodernism and existentialism in general are Soren Kierkegaard and Frederich Nietzsche, the former a practicing Christian in Denmark who advocated the "leap of faith" and the latter a man staunchly opposed to Christianity (esp. as manifested in the Germany of his time) who proclaimed the famous "death of God."

In class, we've read works (or will read) from all these philosophers I've listed, as well as others (including Slavoj Zizek's book entitled The Puppet and the Dwarf: the Perverse Core of Christianity). I feel like this class, as well as the class on Phenomenology that I took last year, have really changed the way I look at the world. I'd encourage anybody who's interested to take a look at some of these figures and their texts.

Oh, did I mention that Jean-Luc Marion is coming to speak at my school in one week??? Awesome!!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

i wrote this in response to someone's featured xanga post here

here it is:

whew... too many posts to read even half of them, but the "i am the first black guy to post, right?" guy made me laugh when he was talking about asians freaking out over black people... just go to japan and you'll see it, hahaha. black people are even more rare than white people there, and they stand out quite a bit (as does anybody not asian-looking). at least this is how it was when i was in tokyo a few weeks ago.

anyway, i'll try to be quick and just say what's important. I'm white so I know exactly how you feel, and i've felt it too. i also have a lot of asian friends, korean-american, chinese-american, and friends raised in china, korea, of course japan, and other places, and i've been involved with a lot of the student- or administration-led racial issue kind of stuff on my campus (wheaton college) so lets just say i've been around a little bit and heard stories from (many) sides. basically i think you're right about how a lot of this junk happens to white people too, and the unfair feeling you get when you hear (as one commenter said) "I don't wanna spend with no white people" is legit. at the same time, as some people have pointed out, white privilege is something that has to be recognized and dealt with, and as a white person you really can make a difference. Even to have a white person say "I recognize that there's a race problem in America, and that I am a beneficiary of white privilege, and i am willing to work to make changes for the better" or something like that can mean a lot for somebody who has felt discrimination because of their skin or ethnicity, and whether it's been subtle or not (today it's often subtle) isn't really the issue. Once you know and understand that race is still a problem and about white privilege, etc, i think you have a responsibility to do something (even something seemingly insignificant, like saying that quote I wrote above to somebody) no matter what race you are. And with all that said, I still get sick of the white guilt that some people carry around. You don't have to have white guilt to realize that there's a problem and to want to work towards a solution, and I don't like people assuming those kinds of things about me because I'm white, either.