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Queer Diaspora

The Jewish people have been in diaspora since the destruction of the Temple. This is why blood sacrifices do not happen modern Judaism. But Paul writes: “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” I quote this not to say “See the Jewish people are foolish! They need to be more Christian!!”‘ In fact, I deeply sympathize with the experience of diaspora, albeit in a different manner. Insofar as Christians have destroyed queer and trans bodies, they have destroyed the temples of God and forced us into a state of diaspora.

In this case, also, returning to God’s promised land–indeed, we are only promised ourselves–involves rebuilding the temples, or reclaiming them. But this will also inform how we do theology. The Christians who are in diaspora do Christian theology much differently than those Christians who are not in diaspora. The working class/poor are alienated from their labor and from themselves, African-American bodies were stolen (so their labor could be exploited), and so many more examples could be draw. These are modes of diaspora.

Might we, then, be able to learn much more from the Jewish people (not to be conflated with the modern state of Israel) than Christians have thought since the Reformation? In a word, I find a deep, yet overlooked, value in the polydoxy of Jewish tradition. Diasporic Christians have likely already taken hold of this revelation of plurality, but perhaps those who have a temple could make a blood sacrifice of their orthodoxy upon their own altars.

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Judith Butler and the Gender Politics of France

How do you upset the French? Gender theory

Recent protests in France mark the structural role of normative heterosexuality and cis-gender as tools for maintaining the socio-political status quo, and their use by conservative/reactionary voices as tools against the dual specters of  modernism and leftism. As Zaretsky writes:

In a way, gender theory for many in France is just another name for chaos. And some anxiety about chaos is, right now, understandable. With a floundering economy and faltering industrial base, rising unemployment and declining productivity, their borders besieged by globalization and their national institutions superseded by the European Union, the French have rarely been so divided over the identity of their nation and so demoralized over its prospects. (In a recent poll, scarcely 30 percent of respondents described themselves as optimistic over the nation’s future.) For Butler, France’s structural woes ratchet up the anxiety over sexuality and gender: Unable to stabilize the nation’s economy, protesters instead condense “those issues into the need to stabilize heterosexuality.”

Derrida on Gender & Sexuality

“The debate about homosexuality comes down to a debate about an over-organized, over-regulated, narrowly oppositional space in which there are only two hierarchically ordered places, a “binarity” of male and female, of male over female.  For Derrida, the way to break this up is to open up all the other places that this binary scheme closes off… That is why “feminism,” while constituting a strategically necessary moment of “reversal,” a salutary overturning that purges the system of its present masculinist hegemony, must give way to “displacement,” which is a more radical “gender bender” in which the whole masculine/feminine schema is skewed.”

-John D. Caputo, Deconstruction in a Nutshell

Merleau-Ponty on Sexuality

“Existence permeates sexuality and vice versa, so that it is impossible to determine, in a given decision or action, the proportion of sexual to other motivations, impossible to label a decision or act ‘sexual’ or ‘non-sexual’ . There is no outstripping of sexuality any more than there is sexuality enclosed within itself. No one is saved and no one is totally lost.”

-Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception