THE ROLE OF THE CHURCH IN THE POLITICS OF SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION: THE PARADOX OF NIHILISM
The paper attempts to demonstrate, drawing on the recent experience of Philippine Catholic faith, that the relevance of the Church in the postmodern age is as much a political choice as it is a tolerance of the nihilistic mood of the times. It is a political choice insofar as the Church has nowhere to go in the postmodern except through asserting its relevance, which necessarily means homing in on the growing irrelevance of the organized faith, amidst the secular and liberal currents of the present, in order to thresh out strategic directions for its continued survival, which is recently challenged by stories of sex scandals involving its clergy. The postmodern age also compels the Church to come to terms with the nihilism that accompanies what Nietzsche saw in his own time, and still true today, namely, the ‘death of God’. The ‘death of God’ continues to be a pervasive force behind the historical reaction of the faith toward the secularisation of the modern world, in terms, for instance, of the rise of today’s conservative attitude of Roman Catholicism, which can be considered a throwback of the earlier papal orthodoxy that looked down on temporal powers as a disguised evil. This conservatism entails a certain practice and belief in the purity of the faith and the sacred over and against the secular and the profane. It ignores the actual and objective distinctions between the temporal and the sacred, which betrays a form of nihilism, that is, the forced oblivion of the real ambiguity and the paradox that inform the distinction between the secular and the sacred. This kind of nihilism connotes that no distinction can be tolerated at the expense of the sacred, while certain strategic compromise with the secular in the guise of advancing the aims of faith are tolerated if only to allow for the full maturity of the regime of the sacred.
Berger, Peter, and Luckmann, Thomas (1966). The Social Construction of Reality. A Treatise In the Sociology of Knowledge. New York: Doubleday.
Bourdieu, Pierre (2000). Pascalian Meditations. Translated by Richard Nice. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.
_______________(1998). Practical Reason. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.
Briand, Aristide (1905). Declaration of the Separation of Church and State. Paris, France.
Bokenkotter, Thomas (1990). A Concise History of the Catholic Church. New York: Image Books, Doubleday.
Deleuze Gilles, and Guattari, Felix (1994). What is Philosophy? Trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Graham Burchell. New York: State University of New York Press.
Durkheim, Emile (1951). Suicide. New York: Free Press.
Ehler, Sidney, and Morall, John, ed. (1954) Church and State Through the Centuries. Westminster, Md., Newman Press.
Foucault, Michel (1970). “The Order of Discourse,” in Untying the Text: A Postructuralist Reader. Ed. Robert Young. Southampton: John Hopkins University Press.
Heidegger, Martin (1984). “The Anaximander Fragment,” in Early Greek Thinking: The Dawn of Western Philosophy. San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers.
______________(1977a). Basic Writings. Edited by David Krell. London: Routledge
______________(1977b). “The Word of Nietzsche: “God is Dead,” in The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays. Translated by William Lovitt. New York: Harper & Row Publishers.
_____________(1967). Being and Time. Translated by John Macquarrie & Edward Robinson. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
Hegel, G.W.F. (1977). The Difference between Fichte’s and Schelling’s System of Philosophy.Trans. H.S. Harris and W. Cerf. Albany: SUNY Press.
______________ (1956). The Philosophy of History. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.
Hitchens, Christopher (2007). God is not Great. How Religion Poisons Everything. New York:Twelve.
Jenkins, Philip (2001). Pedophiles and Priests: Anatomy of a Contemporary Crisis Oxford: Oxford University Press.
John Paul II ( 1995). Evangelicium Vitae (Gospel of Life) Origins.
Kant, Immanuel. 1970. Kant’s Political Writings. Edited by Hans Reiss. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Keen, Maurice (1987). The Pelican History of Medieval Europe. New York: Penguin Books.
Kristeva, Julia. 1974. Revolution in Poetic Language. Translated by Margaret Waller. New York: Columbia University Press.
Manning, Joanna (2002). Take Back the Truth. Confronting Papal Power and the Religious Right. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company.
Nietzsche, Friedrich (1967).”Genealogy of Morals,” in On the Genealogy of Morals. Trans. Walter Kaufmann. New York: Random House, Inc.
Noble, David (1999). The Religion of Technology. New York: Penguin Books.
Pascal, Blaise. 1966. Pensees. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Rorty, Richard (1991a). “Heidegger, Contingency, Pragmatism,” in Essays on Heidegger and Others.
Philosophical Papers, vol. 2 New York: Cambridge University Press.
_____________ (1991b). Essays on Heidegger and Others. Philosophical Papers, vol 2. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Scarf, Lawrence (1989). Fleeing the Iron Cage. Culture, Politics, and Modernity in the Thought of Max Weber. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Schapiro, J. Salwyn (1967). Anticlericalism. Conflict Between Church and State in France, Italy, and Spain. Princeton, New Jersey: D. Van Nostrand Company, Inc.
Smith, Gregory Bruce (1996). Nietzsche, Heidegger and the Transition to Postmodernity. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Southern, R.W., trans. (1970). Western Society and the Church in the Middle Ages. Hammondsworth, England: Penguin Books.
Vattimo, Gianni Vattimo (2004). Nihilism and Emancipation. Edited by Santiago Zabala. Translated by William McCu. New York: Columbia University Press.
______________________(2003). Nihilism and Emancipation. Edited by Santiago Zabala. Translated by William McCu. New York: Columbia University Press.
______________________ (2002). After Christianity. Trans. Luca D’Isanto. New York: Columbia University Press.
______________________(1993). Adventures of Difference. Trans by Cyprian Blamires with the assistance of Thomas Harrison. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Zabala, Santiago. (Ed.). 2005. The Future of Religion. New York: Columbia University Press. Textbooks and Conference Papers
De Leon, Hector (1987). Textbook on the New Philippine Constitution. Manila: Rex Bookstore.
Rivas, Virgilio A. (2008). Future of Religion. Intersections of Rorty, Vattimo, and Zabala. Paper Read during the Mid-term International Conference of the International Sociological Association.
“Religion and the Formation of New Publics.” 23-26 January, 2008. University of Santo Tomas, Manila, Philippines.
Copyright (c) 2017 Virgilio A Aquino Rivas
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.