Slavoj Žižek on the Holy Spirit
|Cambridge Unitarian Church contingent at OccupyLSX 2011|
Anyway, in a very insightful piece on the place of the riot in Radical Theology, Justin Leavitt Pearl noted that there was an overlap with the day of Pentecost and in connection with this thought he cited some words spoken by the philosopher Slavoj Žižek while addressing the Occupy Wall Street protesters at Zuccotti Park in 2011 which I’d like to reproduce here, along with an additional, connected, quote from a 2007 lecture called “A Meditation on Michelangelo’s Christ on the Cross.”
The reason for doing this is threefold.
1) I think that what Žižek talked about eleven years ago in connection with the protest and its relationship with the Holy Spirit, and in his 2007 lecture on Michelangelo’s drawing, remains relevant and it certainly connects with many things I talk about in this blog, not least of all, a Death of God theology.
2) Pentecost Sunday was last Sunday so this current post can stand as a meaningful appendix to my own piece called “The fiery rope across generations and geography—a meditation for Pentecost.”
3) Some of you will recall that back in November 2011 I and four other members and/or attenders of the Cambridge Unitarian Church, visited and spoke to the OccupyLSX (London Stock Exchange) outside St. Pauls (see photo above).
“What is Christianity? It’s the holy spirit. What is the holy spirit? It’s an egalitarian community of believers who are linked by love for each other, and who only have their own freedom and responsibility to do it. In this sense, the holy spirit is here now. And down there on Wall Street, there are pagans who are worshipping blasphemous idols. So all we need is patience. The only thing I’m afraid of is that we will someday just go home and then we will meet once a year, drinking beer, and nostalgically remembering “What a nice time we had here.” Promise yourselves that this will not be the case. We know that people often desire something but do not really want it. Don’t be afraid to really want what you desire. Thank you very much.”And here’s Žižek in his 2007 lecture “A Meditation on Michelangelo’s Christ on the Cross”:
So what does this mean? Even today, the message is very radical. The temptation to be resisted is the temptation of meaning itself.
[. . .]
I claim that Christ died on the cross precisely to reject [. . .] attempts at finding a higher purpose or meaning. Rather the message is: ‘Your standards matter to me. I throw myself into creation, and abandon my place up there.’ The conclusions are radical. The ultimate meaning of Christianity for me is a very precise one. It is not: ‘We should trust God. The big guy’s with me, so nothing really bad can happen.’ That is too easy. The message is not: ‘We trust God.’ The message is rather: ‘God trusts us.’ The gesture of Christ says, ‘I leave it over to you.’ Usually we read religion as the way to guarantee meaning: We are concerned with the small details of everyday life and never know what will come of it all, or how things will turn out; we can only make wagers, and we do this maybe to ensure that God will arrange things in our favor. But the meaning of the death of Christ for me is the opposite: God made the wager on us. It is really a crazy wager, where God is saying: ‘I leave it to you. Holy Ghost, community of believers, you have to do it!’”