My mother-in-law was out for a visit recently (no not a set-up for a bad joke) and visiting Chapters she said I should pick out a book. After much soul-searching and gnashing of teeth and I was trying to decide between Taylor's A Secular Age and Zizek's In Defense of Lost Causes. I thought I would wait for the paperback of Taylor's tome (it also seemed a little referency for me) and decided on Zizek. Some of his work is joyfully accessible, namely chapter two's abundant movie critiques. However, all too much of it is still a little over my poorly formed political and psychoanalytical head. I was caught by a section on his critique of democracy, or his critique of the critique of democracy. Zizek views Wendy Brown's work on Nietzsche as all too un-Nietzchean as she reducing him to one who simply nudges us from slumber with no real attempt at changing us towards "a positive liveable project 'beyond democracy.'" He goes on characterize her application of Nietzsche and here I immediately read the word pastors in place of theorists. Fair . . . unfair?
Brown thus accomplishes a domestication of Nietzsche, the transformation of his theory into an exercise in 'inherent transgression': provocations which are not really 'meant seriously,' but aim, through their 'provocative' character, to awaken us from out democratic-dogmatic slumber and thus contribute to the revitalization of democracy itself . . . This is how the establishment likes its 'subversive' theorists: harmless gadflies who sting us and thus awaken us to the inconsistencies and imperfection of our democratic enterprise - God forbid that they might take the project seriously and try to live it . . .
The only change I might make is that in the church we also don't like to get stung. This is all the more acute for me as this Sunday I will be preaching on the relationship between Europeans and Canadian aboriginals . . . throw in the fact that tomorrow our prime minister will be offering some formal apology for our residential school system that sought to 'assimilate' natives into the European construction of Canada.