Sunday, May 10, 2009

Provocative quotations of the Day

The first is from Slavoj Žižek, The Parallax View, London: MIT Press, 2006, p. 256, italics his:

'[T]oday's Zionism itself, as embodied in the State of Israel's predominant politics, is already "anti-Semitic", that is to say, it relies on anti-Semitic ideological mapping. Remember the typical newspaper caricature of Yassir Arafat: the rounded face with its big nose and thick lips, on a small rounded clumsy body ... looks familiar? No wonder: it is the old cliché drawing of the corrupt Jew from the 1930s! Another confirmation of the fact that Zionism is a species of anti-Semitism'.

I wonder if he perhaps oversimplifies matters, but this jarring (at least for me) statement certainly deserves pondering.

The second cheery number comes from a bland A2 poster on the window of a (very) conservative Christian bookshop not far from where I live:

'Be sure your sin will find you out!'

And that's all that is said! No, 'and believe in Jesus' or something that could be called Christian. Just an A2 sized wagging finger. They also had, for good measure, a 'Repent ye' poster – note the important and anointed King James English 'ye'. We will leave the fact that this statement, from Numbers 32:23, was made in the context of an explicit communal covenant with God, one that, Ephesians Paul would say, Gentiles 'without God and without hope in the world' do not share.

Maybe it is me, but I feel such a statement suggests a final word, one that seems to capture the tone of its proposal: 'Be sure your sin will find you out, bitches!' I wonder what they think they are achieving with such messages? Perhaps (a few) people really do respond well to that kind of talk? More likely, perhaps more people did once upon a time hear themselves addressed by such language, but it is reused in today's world more as a matter of pious religious duty. Yet sadly it probably relies more on 19th century 'ideological mapping' and older clichés, which simply make the A2 message predominantly a species of rudeness. The actual message of the poster is more than the sum of its words. Likewise, the Arafat pictures are more than just caricature; they potentially echo something far more sinister.


At 5/11/2009 12:43 AM, Anonymous Jonathan Robinson said...

Indeedy, I have the same problem with Ray Comfort and his ilk. That kind of "evangelism" is just not cultuarlly appropriate. yes people are sinners in need of a savior, but there is more to the gospel than that and that is just not a point of connection in todays western culture... but then what is a good point of connection in today's culture? how should you confront the average passerby with the message?

At 5/11/2009 2:18 PM, Anonymous Nick said...

We came across something similar to this rather useless (indeed some - me for example - might say harmful) method evangelism after the SPTC day on Saturday!

A group of us were waiting at the bus stop when a chap with a big red beard came wondering down the street carrying a cardboard box above his head with "Jesus died for your sins, repent" written in drywipe pen! He just walked in total silence glaring at people and pointing at his box!

Now as he walked past I decided I wanted to say something encouraging (for his boldness) yet challenging (for his method), and instead managed to think about one of Michael Ramsden's jokes and started laughing to myself which resulted in him giving our group the evil eye, hardly a great advert for the Christian faith I think!

At 5/11/2009 5:18 PM, Anonymous Daniel Clark said...

Wouldn't most people interpret the shirt as a promise rather than a threat?

At 5/11/2009 10:26 PM, Anonymous Drew Tatusko said...

islamic terrorists use similar ideological mapping using nazi propaganda to indoctrinate their youth. See this piece for examples...

At 5/12/2009 11:28 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Hi Johnahan, I must admit that I don't think I have heard of Ray Comfort before - though his name somehow rings a bell.

"but then what is a good point of connection in today's culture? how should you confront the average passerby with the message?"

Now that is surely the right question!

Nick, shame on you!!

Thanks for the link Drew,

Hi Daniel,

"Wouldn't most people interpret the shirt as a promise rather than a threat?"

I don't think so!

At 5/20/2009 11:11 PM, Anonymous goulablogger said...

Belatedly, I reply, that if God ensured our sins really found us out, we'd all be much worse off than we are.

There are different kinds of grace, and one kind plainly protects all of us from the consequences of being ourselves.

Chuck Grantham


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