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Introduction: Theology of the Event \ 9 cence (overseeing and insuring the presence of order), who presides over the order of being and manifestation. In a strong theology, the name of God has historical determinacy and specificicy—it is Christian or Jewish or Is- lamic, for example—whereas a weak theology, weakened by the flux of un- decidability and translatabiliy, is more open-ended. A theology of the event is in part a second-order act that maintains a certain ironic distance from strong theologies, which in a certain sense are the only theologies that “exist,” that are found in concrete historical communities. I love the strong, theologies that I know the way I love great novels, but I maintain an ironic discance from them occasioned not only by the fact that they are invariably in league with power but also by my conviction that the event that is astir in the name of God cannot be contained by the historical contingency of the names I have inherited in my tradition. There are many traditions, many forms of life, and on Pauline grounds I hold that God is not partial, On this point, I dare to expand the teachings of Johannes Climacus on the question of the historical point of departure for eternal happiness: not only is it pos- sible, but there may be several such points, In astrong theology, God is the overarching governor of the universe, but in what follows [will endeavor to show that the weak force of God set- tles down below in the hidden interstices of being, insinuated into the ob- scure crevices of being, like an ordo non ordinans, the disordering order of what disturbs being from within, like an anarchic interruption that refuses to allow being to settle firmly in place. ‘The name of God is the name of an event transpiring in being’ restless heart, creating confusion in the house of being, forcing being into motion, mutation, transformation, reversal. The of God is the event that being both dreads and longs for, sighing and groaning until something new is brought forth from down below. The name of God is the name of what can happen to being, of what being would become, of what rising up from below being pushes being beyond itself, outside itself, as being’s hope, being's desire. The name of God is being’s aspiration, its inspiration, its aeration, for God is not being or a being but a ghostly quasi-being, a very holy spirit. A HYPER-REALISM OF THE EVENT. “The abstention that constitutes the diminished state of my theology—God is neither a supreme being nor being itself, neither ontic nor ontological, neither the cause of beings nor the ground of being—represents not a loss but a gain. Blessed are the weak! By untying the name of God from the order of being, it releases the event, sets free the provocation 0 me, Which disseminates in every direction, setting it free as 4 10 | THE WEAKNESS OF GoD an evocative, provocative event, rather than confining its force to the stric- tures of naming a present entity. I approach God neither as a supreme en- tity whose existence could be proven or disproved or even said to hang in doubt, nor as the horizon of being itself or its ground, either of which would lodge God more deeply still in the onto-theological circuic that cit- cles becween being and beings. Being loves to hide, and being loves to cling to itself, but what is going on within the name of God turns the well- rounded sphere of being inside out, prying it open and exposing it, throw- ing the house of being into holy confusion, into a sacred anarchic disorder. By pulling the plug on the name of God in the ontological order, I dis- connect the energy source that supplies power to the debate about whether there is or is not an entity called God somewhere, up above or here below, inside or outside, here and now or up ahead. Hearing this talk of “discon- necting” (aasschalten) Husserlians will—rightly—suspect that there is an epoche afoot in a theology of the event. About God as an entitative issue, I offer no final opinion. I leave you on your own, twisting slowly and all Malone in the winds of that ontico-ontological conundrum. Translating ot transferring the affirmation of the event that takes place in the name of God, which is the heart of a theology of the event, into the order of an ex- istential affirmation of a deverminate and identifiable someone or some- thing who somewhere answers to the name of God, inside or outside, with or without what is called “religion” in Latin or Greek, Hebrew, or Arabic, may or may not be the best way to give this affirmation life and breath, It is certainly one way; and I have not come to try to puta stop to it. God forbid! Icis vital for some, but not for those for whom God is otherwise than an en- tity, or for those who rightly pass for atheists, not to mention those for whom this all remains a matter of some confusion. An affirmation such as that is something to be decided by each one for oneself in the existing, in ‘actu exercitu. | have not been authorized from on high to settle that venera- ble debate. I am more interested in answering to the provocation of the event of this name than in adjudicating whether there is an entity some- where who answers to that name. Answering to the name of God is our business, not God's. The name of God is rather more something that calls upon us than an identifiable entity called up or named by us. Tam praying for this theology of the event to come true the way I pray for peace. Imagine the nightmare if there were a definitive proper name for the event, one that would be accompanied by the strong force to enforce it. With whom could we trust this name? Would nor a war break out among, those who claimed to be ies authentic representatives, between the spokes- men ot vicars of the one true Sacred Name and the infidels? Would we not awitness a veritable firestorm of orthodoxies, neo-orthodoxies, radical or- thodoxies, heresies, and schisms? Would nor the dissidents from the Sacred Introduction: A Theology of the Event \ 11 Name be persecuted mercilessly, even if all they did was to offer a different interpretation or gloss on the Name or point out its historical provenance? In whose language would the Name be housed? Heidegger would insise on Greek (buchis fallback position would be German), the Catholics on Latin; and there would be fervent advocates aplenty for Hebrew, Arabic, and San- skit, while the negative theologians would presenta long, verbose, and par- ticularly perplexing discourse on behalf of silence. Where would its sacred city be located? If, in an effort to stop all the fighting, we called for a round of negotiations, how would we agree on the shape of the table? The Chris- tians would demand something triangular, while others would want to form a circle, and still others would insist that we all sit on a rug, But make no mistake about the existential intensity of weak theology. Do not confuse the modesty of this proposal with a lack of passion or en- gagemenc in existence. The weakness of this theology of the event has to do with the undecidability of the name and with our notion of God as a weak force, but do not underestimate its passion. Indeed, as an event, the name of God overtakes us and overturns us, uprooting and unhinging us, and leaves us hanging on by a prayer: The more undecidable it is, the more our passion is intensified, just as that sage Johannes Climacus said that che pas- sion of faith is directly proportionate to its objective uncertainty. We toss about in the grips of something we desire and something that desires us, something we know nor what. That is why, despite the fact that I have un- plugged or disconnected the ontical and ontological connections of the name of God, this name does not undergo a diminution for me but an in- tensification, an enhancement, even a magnification, which even provides, ‘irabile dictu, all the makings of an odd sort of postmodern Magnificat, a postmodern way to magnify the name of the Lord. I am just following the Beatitudes in virtue of which weakness is consttued as a blessing, For by allowing this name to fluctuate in all its undecidability and provocativeness, by releasing it from its servitude to being in order to free it asa promise, we free it from its service as the name of a 7e5, even the most real of all real beings, but we do not deny thereby that it has any reference to reality ac ll, Rather, we enlist it in the service of a certain “hyper-reality,” of a reality promised beyond what is presently taken to be real, the hyper- reality of the beyond, the reality of the hyper ot itber. Accordingly, weak theology cakes the form neither of theological realism nor of anti-realism, but of a magnifying yper-realism of the event, one whose passion and exis- tential intensity are correspondingly magnified by this very undecidabil- ity: By this hyper-realism I mean the excess of the promise, of the call, of the endless provocation of an event that calls us beyond ourselves, down unplotted paths and into unexplored lands, calling us to go where we can- not go, extending us beyond our reach. Hyper-reality reaches beyond the 12. | THE WEAKNESS oF GoD real to the not-yet-real, what eye has not yet seen nor ear yet heard, in the open-endedness of an uncontainable, unconstrictable, undeconstructible event." Be ote T. PAUL n AND ST. JACQUES “About God I confess to two heterodox hypotheses, First, the name of God is the name of an event rather than of an entity, of a call rather than of a cause, of a provocation ot a promise rather than of a presence. Secondly, and this follows from the first, we will do better to think of God in terms of ‘weakness rather than of outright strength. So in sum, I shift from che regis- ter of strength to that of weakness, from a robust theology of divine power {all rouged and powdered!) and omniporence to a thin theology of the weakness of God, from the noise of being to the silence of an uncondi- tional call. For advancing the celestial cause of this weak theology I am sure that there will beat least some hell to pay. So if the police of orthodoxy descend upon me, [will assume no responsibility— was just following orders!— + and I will blame the waywardness of this theology on St. Paul (a revered saint much admired by Zizek, whom I may thus have found a way to sat- isfy) and Jacques Derrida (who is in certain circles known as Saint Jacques, albeit a monkey of a saint!” As to which of these two saindly figures has a higher place in the hier(an)archy of this book, gets to have more say, and has the more hallowed halo, I will wait for the reviews to come out, But my idea is to produce a “short circuit”—that would make Zizek happy and qualify me for a place in his book series!"—in which I read St. Paul through Derrida, thus short-circuiting a strong voice through a weak one, that is, a classic text through a “minor” voice. OF course, I treat Derrida as a major figure with a “minor” voice, where minor (like a minor chord in music) does not mean of little quality but is used in a Deleuzian sense, that a dash of devilish derring-do from Derrida contributes a subversive or disseminat- ing effect vis-a-vis the mainstream or strong theological tradition chat stands guard over St. Paul. Tam doing my best to read both texts at once, both the sacred one and the devilish one, to write with both my left hand and my right, composing both an edifying discourse with my right and a comic-ironic pseudonymic satire with my left. [am all along exploring the paradoxical consequences of St. Paul's proclamation about the “weakness of God” (1 Cor. 1:29) at the same time that I pursue what Derrida calls the “weak force” of the uncondi- tional that lacks sovereignty.” Paul is distinguishing the power and the wis- dom of the world from the power of God's powerlessness, which is foolish-