Monday, July 31, 2006

The Story Told Differently

First off, I realize this post might come off as odd. For starters, it is an actual post. Who would've thought it was still possible for me to post twice in one day? More importantly, though, I think it may surprise a few people.

I've long heard, and probably even said once or twice, the maxim that goes something like "if only we told the story differently . . . " E.g., "If only we Democrats could frame the issues better, use positive language, etc. we might win more elections"; or, as I'm sure some of the readers of this blog have wondered or said aloud, "If only Christians weren't such distended assholes, the faith always be treated like bullshit nobody (not even the faithful) really believes." There is, of course, an obvious logic to this kind of thinking. Without it, where would all our marketing gurus be today? But logic only ever goes so far for me. I can't help but wonder: is it possible for an actually existing (versus hypothetical) faith to finally and fully override and overrule either (a) what one would like their faith to be, or (b) what one would like to think this faith used to be?

That is to say, what would it mean for the truest manifestations of the faith (be it religious or political) to be boiled down to the simple formula: "the story told differently"? What if this manifestation of the faith is, for lack of a better word, a singularity; or, to be more "prophetic," miraculous? Is it still possible, in this apparently post-liberal age, to use the same language and forms of a faith (e.g., the Bible, the sacraments, the liturgy, etc.), but for this use of language & form to be recontextualized? What I'm talking about is not a return to liberalism -- for instance, the transformation of the traditional gospel of orthodoxy to the social gospel of Enlightenment values, and thus of traditional concepts of redemption and judgment to the terms of social justice (although I'm not opposed in principle to this transformation). Rather, what I'm wondering about is the relationship of speaking and living the faith & truth: is it still possible to speak of the faith in such a way that the opposition between "story told well" and the "story told badly" makes no sense? Why? Because the story told truthfully is in-built with an intensity that makes it impossible to "frame" (and thus to circumscribe) but also impossible to silence -- i.e., that speaks itself in truth simultaneously in spite of & because of its particular context/language/form.

Which is to say, in short, what if there are no "better" stories, or "better" versions (and thus more compelling versions) of the truth? Only stories/versions that perpetually call forth the truth that is worth listening to and speaking -- the story told differently, that truth which effectively destroys it form, perhaps on a Cross, and thus all one expects and knows of it, perhaps like a god, in order that it might be reimagined into something neither qualitatively "better" or "worse," as this assumes some standard by which we judge it; but rather & simply something worth being listened to and spoken yet again, a listening & speaking in faith that is, finally, the only true act: that of creation.

Full Time

I just realized something that is a little astonishing: this week I'm working forty (paid, non-research) hours for the first since 1997!!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

A Month Later ....

A Month Later . . .

It really does not feel like a month (over a month, even!) since I last posted here at my poor, neglected blog, Silentio. The very thing that kept me going through many a day and evening back in Glasgow, the sole connection I had with so many of you back in the States, becomes the one thing I ignore the most upon my return. I'd like to think this is because I personally see and/or talk to my readers. While this is true of a few of you, I imagine it is not of most. Alas.

A weird couple of days. A banal embodiment of coincidentia oppositorum, for those of you inclined toward either the philosophical or the Latin. On the very day that I received in the mail my doctoral diploma, I also received official correspondence from the British Academy indicating that I was not awarded one of their postdoctoral grants -- which would've sent me back to Britain for another three years of research and writing (this time, w/ a salary!). Before I continue w/ extra bits of this and that, I should also point out that my grant application was awarded an "A," which means, so they say, that if money was available I should receive it. Whatever, we know what it really means: my application (but not me, because I refuse to take it personally) was a Grade A Reject. So be it.

Moving on. So, the day that hearkens back to those great years spent abroad but that also cuts any imminent return, K. is told that she is getting a pretty substantial promotion that will require her (and, thus, us) to move in about six months. The thing is, we know not where. And will not know for a few more months. An imminent move refused ... an imminent move granted. A move that would send us forward by moving us back to a place we know (& I love) ... a move that would send us forward by moving us to, in all likelihood, parts unknown. Still not entirely sure what to think of this.

But, nevertheless, congratulations to K. She deserves it.