Rigged with a perpetual built in obsolescence theology must eat itself. Theology always eats itself. The abstract — impossible to prove, easier to disprove — always preceding the concrete and the concrete, always, on bended knees, hands clasped, desperate wrinkled frown, beads of sweat and blood, seeking permission ‘to be’ from abstract ideas. Repeat to fade.
Rather our age needs a thought that strips away the intricate simulacra of clarity that infests modern philosophy and religious reflection. The clarion call is this: “wake up from your enlightenment coma; realise that the demon was Descartes all along.” For to think the thought pregnant with revolution is to stumble; not upwards; not in transcendent figments of wild other-worldly imagination — fairy tales; Unicorns and gods. To think like this is to stumble onto the surface, to fall over, and with dirt in our hands remember — we are always someone, saying something, about something, from somewhere. There is no thinking a thought outside of thinking itself. We are here, and here matters.
Thinking must matter now or it doesn't matter at all. It is an immanent endeavour, its direction not towards a detached transcendent realm, constructed in the imaginations of those who lay claim to special insight or revelation; those content on partying like its 1399 under the disguise of divine revelation.’ The subject matter of this kind of thinking is now — It is everything. Nothing can slip through the net of this enquiry. There is no gap between a sacred and secular realm. There are realms intricately folded into each other — a weaving together of possibility, promise, disappointment, hope — and dust. We think in the presence of an absence.
To think in the presence of an absence is to realise that “the surface of the ordinary world looks different in the context of unrestricted questioning.” The hands of those who enquire like this are dirty. A thinking that “exploits the strategic deracination of ordinariness”, its beginning is and must always be in the middle of experience. “In the middle of experience, we will be buffeted about by forces of incorrigibility that act upon us. To think in the absence is to be where we all always-already are: in the middle. This task does not begin and it does not end — it is and it insists.
It is a thinking that thinks down, not up; thinks deep, not high. A way of thinking and being in the world that knows “resurrection happens now or it doesn't happen at all”, not “an event that might happen in some remote future,” but an event that is “the power ... to create life out of death, here and now, today and tomorrow.”
Who dares think the thought that his thought, his tradition, tells him he should not think? yet finding the courage to be, to think ‘in spite of’ is to avoid objectifying statements about the depths of existence and to realise that all creeds must be self negating. For every yes a no. This is a recognition that everything else, beyond the possibility for the affirmation of life in the here and now “even religion or non- religion, even Christianity or non-christianity, matters very little—and ultimately nothing.”
In his book Atheism in Christianity Ernst Bloch describes life in dust as a search for a handhold. He writes:
This is to think the “dark intelligible abyss”. All of our creeds, systems, structures, orders, titles, imaginative figurations of a transcendent other-world; our liturgies, offices, doctrines, statements, in the end amount to very little, ultimately nothing. This is the “shadow haunted outside” of thinking in the presence of an absence: the horror of life is not death but life in the face of death. It can be nothing else. This is hope.