I forgot to mention this presentation which I’ll be making at the annual International Deleuze Studies Conference in New Orleans this June. Here’s the successful abstract…
‘The Evolution of Theologies, or Opening the Histories of Hermeneutics’
The history of Christian theology is filled with changes, adaptations, and improvisations. To speak of theology as a singular notion imparts a level of orthodoxy which is impossible to maintain as a simple unity within an increasingly fragmentary religious traditions. The question of orthodoxy, then, presupposes a question of authority and answers it in a circular-but-arboreal manner: the orthodoxy — as defined by the authority — defines the authority. By changing even the slightest bit of scriptures, tradition, or institution, the entirety of orthodoxy splits into two parallel structures. Theology — and any kind of thought which establishes an analogue to ‘orthodoxy’ — is a process of mitosis. Unity, such as the appeal to a universal ‘body of Christ’ within Christian ecumenism, is most acutely realized through the very process of separation which creates multiple orthodoxies that are unable to be resolved. In other words, the desire for orthodoxy as an arboreal structure creates within theology a rhizomatic structure that resists the centralization of orthodoxy.
In this paper, I wish to present an argument for heterodoxy as a contingency of authority within theology. Heterodoxy in this case should not be seen as the opposite of orthodoxy but rather as the condition which makes ‘orthodoxy’ possible as an instance of a universal and singular authority. I shall argue that the assertion of orthodoxy is only possible when there is more than one valid claim. My argument will follow a largely Deleuzian approach as one way of interpreting authority through the play of sense. The Reformation era will serve the historical point at which the issue of authority was brought to the forefront of theology, and I shall argue that the most important question of modern ecumenism (still) revolves around this single issue. However, the tendency towards absorbing dissident groups back into one ‘Mother Church’ can only end in failure because heterodoxy — that is, the plurality of orthodoxies — is what makes ecumenical dialogue and reconciliation possible. Rather than suggesting that ecumenism must ultimately accept a single set of positions as properly authoritative from which all deviations move towards heresy, I suggest that there can never be such an orthodoxy for it is based on a gross misperception of the historical development of orthodoxy. To be orthodox, then, is to become something other-than-orthodox because orthodoxy is a semiotic play between theological sense and nonsense.