For you readers not familiar with my blog, I want to tell you that I do write about subjects that may seem unrelated to homelessness. But really, there are many issues that effect homeless people. There is something about human homelessness that strikes people at their very core. It raises many questions about the nature and purpose of human beings. The "why" questions about homelessness become large and innumerable. And that is why I post on such subjects as the one below.
Philosophy is a search for wisdom concerning the true nature of man. And one such philosopher, Jacques Derrida, came up with the idea of "deconstruction" as a method of discovering truth, as truth is often hidden, or at least not obvious. His "deconstruction" is not a negative type of destruction, but has as it's goal something redemptive. It is important to discover truth, because as Jesus said, "the truth will set you free."
John Caputo was a student of Derrida's, and wrote a few books on the subject. The book he wrote, that I am digesting now, is called, What Would Jesus Deconstruct. If you do decide to pick up the book to read, I highly recommend skipping the introductions, as they are over-the-top, academically.
Here is a bite from this book - the whole thing is quotable, but I'll save you from that. I really dig this:
Suppose we alter the intonation of this question, [What Would Jesus Do] and ask, “What would Jesus deconstruct?” What is the uniquely Jesus-inspired thing to do? I do not mean some universal-rational thing (as if there were one!) that we might get from Socrates or Kant, but the specific genius, the divine madness that characterizes Jesus in particular. What is the characteristic mark of this “poetics” or “theo-poetics” of the kingdom that we find in the New Testament of which Jesus is the centerpiece? Then, if we can get a sense of that, let us ask how we get from any such theo-poetics to a praxis of the kingdom. How do we go from poetics to ethics and politics?
While other cases of “divine men” are to be found in ancient literature, Jesus is unique precisely because Jesus is not a typical superhero or mythological power who slays things and crushes his enemies with his might. What is most riveting about Jesus is that he is defeated, executed, and abandoned, that he is a man whose symbol is an instrument of public execution, like a gallows, and whose message is radical peace and nonviolence.
When he is arrested he tells the disciple who wields a sword in his defense to sheathe it, for that is not how things are done in the kingdom of God (Matt. 26:52). After this the disciples desert him. As he hangs on the cross he asks forgiveness for those who are executing him. To feel the sharp edge of this scene, let us impress on ourselves that he is nailed to the cross, unable to move, unable to escape, and forget the magical images of him – that all he had to do was blink and those Roman soldiers would have been sent hurling through the air and smashed against a rock. Forget the opinion of Thomas Aquinas that Jesus was intimately conjoined with the beatific vision at that moment, which would have offered him infinite relief from suffering. I regard all that as so much docetism.
If we forget all that and think of a Jesus who really is crucified and who really feels abandoned, then the icon of God we find in Jesus on the cross is not an icon of power but of powerlessness, or at most a power of powerlessness. Saint Paul called this the “weakness of God” (Cor. 1:25), which is perhaps the ultimate madness of the kingdom of God. In Jesus there is kenosis (Phil. 2:5-8): the divinity lies in the emptying of divinity. There is an ancient Christian tradition of being fools for God, like Simeon Stylites atop his pillar – men and women whose lives make no sense from the viewpoint of what the world calls wisdom, people sent as lambs among wolves – that goes back to Jesus. What is specific to Jesus is what Paul called the logic of the cross (logos staurou), which is more precisely the foolishness (moria) of the cross.
What rises up in majesty from the cross is not a show of might but rather forgiveness, not power but a protest against the unjust execution of a just man, a great prophetic “no” to injustice and persecution, a prophetic death rather than a sacrificial exchange that buys a celestial reward. Something unconditional lays claim to us in that weakness – something unconditional but without an exercise of force. He is tried, convicted, tortured, and paraded through the streets in shame on the way to a particularly gruesome public execution, although a common enough display of imperial power in the Roman world. My God, my God, why have you deserted me? The apostles scatter; a few women keep watch. This is the original ending of Mark's Gospel, at 16:8. To catch the sense of the life and death of Jesus, my advice is to linger in that moment – on Holy Saturday – and not rush too quickly to Easter Sunday triumphalism.
But the weakness of God has nothing to do with a timid and fearful man and everything to do with the courage of prophetic impatience. The God of forgiveness, mercy, and compassion shines like a white light on the hypocrisy of those who, under the cover of God, oppress the most defenseless people in society.