November 19, 2010

Kill faith A significant flaw in my character is my affective response to religious fundamentalists. I tend to feel a strong repulsion or aversion to fundamentalist Christians and orthodox Jews. I don't really feel it toward Muslims, but that's probably because they were outside my repulsion radar for so long. My still limited experiences with Muslims have come as an adult, rather than as a child. Catholics are generally exempt--perhaps because their external religious paraphenalia has been so commercialized, so fetishized; perhaps because Catholic tends to be preceded by "lapsed." As I've tried to reflect and work on my aversion, I've noticed that one excuse, even justification, I tend to offer myself concerns US militarism, US support for Israel, the plight of the Palestinians. These are clearly valid political points for critiques of state policy, but excuses for visceral reactions against people. To invoke them in such a way exemplifies "truth in the mode of a lie." So what then persists and infuses my visercal reactions? Considering the question with respect to enjoyment might help. As Zizek has explained, hatred of the other is often hatred of the other's enjoyment. What, then, do religious fundamentalists enjoy that I do not? What do I envy? I think the answer is some kind of religious faith, commitment, and certainty. The fundamentalist and orthodox, at least in the fantasy that infuses my aversion, experience a truth of the world that I do not--which sometimes lead me to worry that I am one of Calvin's damned....

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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