File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0109, message 113

Subject: Re: Mystify me!
Date: Sat, 22 Sep 2001 11:40:56 -0500

I like this post a lot.  And I didn't feel you changed your opinion but your
"position" or "tone" towards religion.  I'm not so arrogant as to think I
taught you something.  Maybe my argument just provided a counterbalance to
sdv's.  I think your point here, that many people think that God or Reason
loves Americans more than other people is correct and disturbing.
----- Original Message -----
From: Mary Murphy&Salstrand <>
To: <>
Sent: Friday, September 21, 2001 7:15 PM
Subject: Re: Mystify me!

> Julie, Matthew, All:
> I admit to being disturbed by the recent thread I've had with Matthew
> and my own emotional reactions to it. It brought home to me Lyotard's
> concept of the differend with a vengence.  How difficult it is to
> negotiate a difference of opinion through discussion, logic or the
> "facts of the matter" when the root assumptions that apply can never
> come into language.  This is merely a distant echo of the much more
> powerful differend the world faces at this moment where people I knew
> personally are now dead as a result of this terrible tragedy.
> Matthew thought that during the course of our discussion, I changed my
> mind concerning religion.  The truth, is, however, I have always been
> ambiguous about religion, and have certainly never condemned it outright
> as any would-be archeologist who glanced through these archives would
> soon discover.
> Christianity, in particular, has always been particularly close to me
> because it is the religion I was born into and because I have always
> been moved by the figure of Jesus, the person whom the theologian
> Dietrich Bonhoffer once described as the "man who is for others."
> I previously said that religion constituted a kind of poetics of being
> and Christianity in this positive sense may be called a religion of
> love, where love is defined in the mature, ethical sense of agape.  One
> way to tell the story is like this. When love is encountered, in that
> transforming moment of grace, my personality becomes reconstituted.  My
> ego is displaced, my self is forever dis-centered.
> Henceforth, I must begin to take responsibility for my own previous
> actions, my own capacity for evil, my own failure to love because I have
> experienced love as a free gift.  Thus, I am moved to share this love
> with others. My former foundations have been shattered.  I discover
> instead that only in the disclosure of myself can I ever hope to find a
> lasting freedom. I must give to each in the same measure that I myself
> have been given.  This is the basis for the convivial community, Kant's
> kingdom of ends and Augustine's pilgrim city composed of strangers,
> nomads and outcasts.
> What disturbs me most about the current events is the persistent
> insistence upon our own innocence.  As long as we continue to simply
> project evil unto others we will never begin to understand the capacity
> for evil within ourselves. As long as we continue to loudly proclaim our
> own innocence and generosity, we will never listen to what the rest of
> the world is saying to us.
> Julie, you have spoken to us about mothers and their children.  Consider
> this.  Suppose you were a young mother living in Iraq and you couldn't
> obtain food and medicine for your sick, hungry child because of the U.S.
> sanctions.  How would you feel about America then?
> George W. Bush has said: "Whether we bring our enemies to justice, or
> bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done."  But what kind of
> justice he is talking about?  If it just retaliation based on
> maintaining our global hegemony and merely continuing to protect U.S,
> strategic interests, then I fear it will only initiate a new cycle of
> retribution.
> The opportunity exists today for another kind of justice.  America,
> instead of merely defending the status quo, could begin instead to take
> responsibility for its own previous actions and take on a leadership
> role to eradicate world hunger, restore the quality of people's health
> and the environment, and overcome the fear and terror millions currently
> experience on an everyday basis.  Instead of merely dictating to others,
> we would listen to other's voices and act upon their needs.  Then, a
> true Pax Americana could be established, based upon the foundations of a
> more just and less divided world.
> For this to take place, however, perhaps a different concept of God is
> necessary.  Not the transcendent God who blesses only America, the
> strong and the powerful, but an immanent God who springs forth from our
> own activity and blesses the world, the poor and the multitudes.  In the
> end, as always, you have to ask yourself:  "What would Jesus do?"
> Julie's mention of Sisyphus immediately calls to mind for me the writer
> Albert Camus who wrote the novel entitled "The Plague" after writing his
> famous essay on "The Myth of Sisyphus."  In it, he depicts a doctor and
> others who continue to act and do good even after they realize their
> situation is hopeless and the plague they are fighting will never come
> to an end.   They are not heroic in any conventional sense.  Instead,
> they fulfill Kierkegaard's definition of a saint.  They do ordinary
> things extraordinarily well.
> One critic, reviewing Camus, once described his philosophy as follows.
> "This world is absurd.  Therefore, we must love one another."
> Perhaps this best describes the kind of justice and religion I am
> seeking.  To answer Julie's question about what good philosophy can do,
> my short answer would be this. The only thing that can impossibly redeem
> this world in all its absurdity is our love and our resistance.
> Between the Great Refusal and an ecstatic love that embraces all, the
> journey of the nomad pilgrim must be made, on a road that has not yet
> been built, to create a world that has not yet been made.
> eric


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