Monthly Archives: September 2013
Update regarding the Adjunct crisis at Duquesne:
A campaign has emerged out of the philosophy department to push the school toward rectifying their unjust employment practices. Please consider signing this petition and forwarding to anyone who might offer support. As a Duquesne student, I greatly appreciate any support that you might offer.
Previous posts regarding adjunct crisis:
Dear Duquesne University,
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Op-ed peice, “Death of an Adjunct,” has gone viral. As a current Duquesne graduate student, I feel it is necessary to offer a somewhat formal response.
For me, the key to this story can be found in the rebuttal to Duquesne’s defense. There, Mr. Kovalik rightly notes that “Duquesne did not dispute what the woman was paid or that she lacked benefits.”
While recognizing that the first article likely omitted the unofficial offers for help and housing, it must be recognized that this is not simply a personal issue, it is not just a question of one person, it is a structural failure of the American educational system, and more specifically, a failure of Duquesne. While it may certainly be true that help or a place to stay was offered, it remains tragic nonetheless that this was even a necessity in the first place. It is a shame and an embarrassment to attend a school that treats its employees like this, reducing them to handouts rather than offering a living wage, disgracefully fighting their attempts to unionize for healthcare and a living wage on completely disingenuous grounds.
I hope that this media frenzy is as embarrassing for the administration, as it is for the students. More importantly, I hope that this story leads them to reflect on the treatment of their adjuncts.
As we are a Catholic school, perhaps I should quote from Pope Leo XIII’s “Rerum Novarum”:
“wealthy owners and all masters of labor should be mindful of this – that to exercise pressure upon the indigent and the destitute for the sake of gain, and to gather one’s profit out of the need of another, is condemned by all laws, human and divine. […] the rich must religiously refrain from cutting down the workmen’s earnings, whether by force, by fraud, or by usurious dealing; and with all the greater reason because the laboring man is, as a rule, weak and unprotected, and because his slender means should in proportion to their scantiness be accounted sacred. […]” (Rerum Novarum, 20)
And of course, it adds:
“But the Church, with Jesus Christ as her Master and Guide, aims higher still…” (Rerum Novarum, 21)
Here, I feel this is clearly not the case.
An embarrassed Grad Student
If you are part of the tiny minority of Joss Whedon fans who are also phenomenology fans, I have a book chapter that just got published in Joss Whedon and Religion: Essays on an Angry Atheist’s Explorations of the Sacred, that offers a radical phenomenology reading of “Dollhouse.”
My chapter is entitled, “Actives, Affectivity, and the Soul: Reading Dollhouse through the Phenomenology of Michel Henry.”
Guest Post – The Opening of Arms Toward the Other: A Cruciform Phenomenology of The Humanity and Divinity of Christ
Today I am happy to offer yet another wonderful guest contribution from a friend over at Theopoetry, Michael Dise!
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“Open arms are a gesture of the body reaching for the other. They are a sign of discontent with my own self-enclosed identity and a code of desire for the other. I do not want to be myself only; I want the other to be part of who I am and I want to be part of the other.” –Miroslav Volf
For two thousand years Christians have debated over how to intelligibly conceptualize and reconcile two descriptive categories of Jesus in the canonical Gospel traditions on philosophical grounds. One category meets us in ordinary immanence: the humanity of Jesus from birth in a feeding trough to bloody death on a wooden cross, with heaps of sorrow and grief in between. The other category meets us in mythical transcendence: the divinity of Christ that arrives to us in the power and influence of Jesus, exploding through resurrection and transforming the consciousness of an expanding community called the “body of Christ.”
Several councils met throughout the first five centuries to accomplish this reconciliation. There was the Antiochene School consisting of those who sublated the divine aspect through totalized humanity, arguing that Jesus was created and specially empowered to reveal God’s wisdom and intentions through the indwelling Spirit. Then there was the Alexandrian School where advocates argued that the divine Creator took on fleshly form to accomplish our salvation. The ongoing tension terminated with the acceptance of an unresolvable paradox: Jesus was both fully human and fully divine.
What if the paradox only exists in an outdated metaphysics? In both the Platonic and Aristotelian paradigms of that age, incarnation was a problem. The divine essence was seen as totally transcendent of this world by necessity. But we know now, via quantum physics, that all matter is constituted by relationships of energy. The old problem of incarnation is how two essences can occupy the same space. But from the quantum perspective, incarnation is ubiquitous if God is understood as “light” (a mythic archetype for divinity), which in physics amounts to pure energy: the very basis of matter. God then must be incarnate in all being as its very ground and future. The new question then is not how God’s incarnation in Jesus is possible, but how it is unique.
The incarnation of Jesus would have to be different by degree, not kind. What is this degree? It is Jesus’ full unity with the divine that makes him fully human, and it is his full humanity that makes him fully divine. This stands over and against the multifarious forms of alienation in the general anxiety of the human life. Jesus is more human by degree, but not other than human.
How does he accomplish this union? Unlike the Antiochene Jesus who becomes superhuman by making a special claim on the being of God that you and I cannot, and unlike the Alexandrian Jesus who is the God-in-flesh making a special claim on human being that we cannot, Jesus spreads open his arms toward both poles of being as a meeting space. With one arm reached toward divinity and one toward humanity, he simply makes himself a space of near-nonbeing—an open convergence between the divine and the human. He becomes not a demigod but a space between being itself.
The symbol of Jesus spreading out his arms is found on the cross itself. In Golgotha, a cursed “outside” where tribal identities no longer persist, Jesus becomes subject to nonbeing and otherness. In this place of self-emptying, he opens his arms toward the other, welcoming the other into a cruciform way of life where identities are crucified and transformed so that each person may embrace the other.
Through the embrace of the other, self-alienation is dissolved into holistic completion. It is here that one may become “fully human.” And it is only as one becomes fully human that she may become “fully divine,” for the divine is the space where being leaves itself to join with the other toward the creation of fuller Being. It is the sacred space of emerging wholeness wherein alienation is traded for loving embrace, and it is the sacred, differentiated unity of beings in love.
Christ hangs at the intersection of two lines: one is vertical (divine), and the other is horizontal (human). As such, the cross is the place of intersection, staked into the very ground of nonbeing and nonidentity. The cross “crosses out” tribal identity insofar as it honors the human as human, allowing us to flourish as more fully human and thus become more fully divine.