Monday, February 29, 2016


What can a miracle do
but bring you back to me?

Miracles return us to memory, our own, our faith's, our religion's; miracles orient us toward the past made present, and protend to the advent of the miracle-for-us awaiting through hope for a future. Beyond any horizon of expectation, miracles surprise us by jarring the predictions of the natural world, or through uncanny synchronicity of events, those meaningful concurrences of the unexpected with presence.

Meillassoux's spectral dilemma compels him to remain open to the advent of [a] God, heretofore inexistent, now existent, whose effect instaurates past and present, resolves all death into life, all injustice into justice. Such a dilemma calls for a 'miracle' of sorts, one quite different from the Incarnation, which by Meillassoux's standard, accomplishes little more that a wrinkle in time that fails to point to anything. Incarnation as instauration: that would be something Meillassoux could sign on to; but that would be no miracle, but a mere prestige, a return to Eden on a magic carpet that whisks Eden to-us and for-us that's all a pocus which never knew a corpus. Eden brought back from the ruins would certainly make the past present, wiping away every injustice that occurred since its heyday; but how would that be real-for-us?

An all-immanent incarnation would not require a divine logos to unite to the human; the return of everything to immanence solves the spectral dilemma by simply starting again, ricorso. It fulfills a hope grounded in immanence and in a materialism that undermines and overmines the real object. Miracles simply do not happen that way. A miracle marries immanence with the wholly other. A miracle cuts a gap in immanence with an edge of reality that withdraws from its entry; it itself is tout autre. And if tout autre est tout autre, then the gift of death visited upon us in the Incarnation must go beyond immanence, perhaps to the transformation of immanence.

If we finally find God, we find him in the transformation of immanent existence, in the death of finitude as such, which is the gift of the death of death offered in the miracle of the Incarnation, the miracle of miracles that ground all miracles not within the horizon of being, but in the horizons of hope and love, in hoping and loving. Miracles provide the givenness of hope and love: a miracle is where hope and love are real.

The Incarnation is not the virtual god proffered in expectation of the solution to the spectral dilemma. The Incarnation does not eradicate all misery, suffering and injustice in an instauration of a decrepit 'justice.' Instead, the Incarnation is the inauguration of the advent of the justice to come. Christ comes to witness to injustice, to experience every injustice, not to eradicate finitude but to validate it, and open it up to transformation.

The miracles of Christ are the signs of the in-breaking of transformation of creation, not the transformation of the Creator. They open us up to metanoia, a change of heart, but do not alter us by fiat. For every miracle accomplished, a million miracles are left undone. But hope and love encounter us in the countless, nearly invisible miracles that occur in every moment where hope and love give themselves, grounded as they are in the other, the interpersonal and inter-Personal, which authenticates them on their own terms of vertical experience.

All miracles are saturated phenomena, and they are as banal and as precious and unique as there are encounters of the reversibility of the visible and the invisible.  Now you see them; now you don't. Hocus Pocus? Hocus Pocus declares verticality null and void in its idolatrous delimitation of the real. Is there any place in horizontal experience where the miraculous encounters the willful idolater? How broadly must horizontal experience spread before it discovers a productive, that is generative, synechism? How far down the horizontal plane must one go, how many metonymic signifiers down the road does it take to move, finally, paradigmatically, to the vertical? What syntagmatic occurrence loosens idolatry from the grip of delimitation, freeing into the vertical? Answer: a miracle. An impossible miracle made possible at the intersection of metonymy and metaphor, where a bump in the road calls the vehicle into being, and awakens idolatry from its ennui.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Had you read any of Viktor Frankl's work, you would have made this point in a very different way. That you read it as a poor apologetic, a saccharine blush of gobble-dee-guk, betrays very thick lenses of theodicy twisting a view not just upon this piece, but upon any vista in the lifeworld. A silver lining to the Holocaust? What kind of point of view finds the Holocaust in this piece? What purchase does a worldview have if *everything* must pass through a hermeneutic of the Shoah? When Meillassoux recovers a weak correlationism, is it the weak fideism of the camps? How shall we move past the arche-fossil made of Zyklon-B?

    If you misread the hope that informs every page of *After Finitude* as the movement of evil erasing contingency, where does such a point of view come to rest?

    I've been looking hard at Meillassoux lately, and I find him open and honest, hopeful and good-humoured. His essential spectres are nothing like the ghosts that haunt your hermeneutic of a justice never to come.

  3. Don't blame me, Joe, that is what Christianity and Catholicism teaches. "Silver lining to the Holocaust"? This is interesting. What you have done here is given my assessment of your religion's belief (in a powerfully good God, providence, etc) the most inane and laughable description in order to somehow make it seem like, *of course* Christianity couldn't speak of a silver lining to so much evil. Sorry, Joe, that rhetorical trick won't work. The sad, despairing fact of the matter is that Christianity does believe God allows evils like the Holocaust to happen for some perfectly good reason, whether it's known or not. You should be writing more posts against Barron and your fellow Catholic apologists, because they say this very thing and you know it. They influence Catholic opinion more than any atheist or secular person, especially some random commenter like myself, could ever do. You should use your energy and intelligence more wisely.

  4. Also, I would only suggest you look a bit harder at Meillassoux—he finds your religion, as I do, to be utterly hopeless. Yes, he certainly hopes in a future whose probability literally cannot be measured (because it is neither probable nor improbable). But you can't fail to see Meillassoux's argument that either there is no god worth believing in now or that the truly worthy, virtual divinity must have nothing to do with Yahweh, Yeshua, the holy trinity or the great, merciful Allah. The only god worth hoping for is the one who has had nothing to do with history up to the point that it appears. I have serious problems with his treatment of contingency and probability, but he's absolutely right with regard to the theism of the religions. To call that god "good" is a blasphemy against goodness.

    That is why you find yourself stuttering and teetering at the edge of an abyss when you cannot find Jesus Christ in the world today, why Jesus does nothing to prevent or end the suffering that you believe he did when he was alive. You almost imply this when you say Jesus's miracles were a sign of the transformation of creation. What happened? Did the transformation end? Are the people who cry out to Jesus for help, in faith and hope, different somehow from Jesus's contemporaries? Do they have less faith and hope? Are their needs any less dire? Is the risen Jesus somehow *less* efficacious, less powerfully good than he was when he was alive in the first century? You have no answers to these questions. More than that, the very absence of Jesus, the very fact that these questions exist, is a contradiction, a challenge to who you think Jesus is in the first place. No, wait, not a contradiction. That is far too abstract. These problems are a crisis. There seems to me to be only two solutions: compromise or abandonment.

    And you've never given a good reason why you have hope in a total justice to come, either. I certainly believe justice is possible, but that also means there are many times when it is simply not realized, that possibility is lost, and I don't want to pretend otherwise. The only reason it's a justice to come is because it isn't here now, and if there is a god, that delay and silence is its responsibility. Unless you want to posit two completely separate orders of justice and goodness, one for us and one for God, then God will more to answer for than any created being. And if God IS the good, the perfect good, then there is a serious flaw in being perfectly good.

  5. “The miracles of Christ are the signs of the in-breaking of transformation of creation...”

    There’s too much evil and suffering, BC and AD, for this to be believable.

    What the God of love does today, he’ll undo tomorrow. There is no pattern or consistency to these events which reveal the possibility of the impossible. Jesus opened the eyes of one born blind—yet blindness at birth persists throughout history with no resistance (save scientific medicine) as it did before Jesus was born. What is this God of love, of perfect love, a God who, Marion says, loves before us and loves better than us, what does this God mean when impossibility remains only a possibility? Jesus’s love, which is God’s love, came to Lazarus’s tomb and Jairus’s house bearing impossible love.

    Omayra’s lahar, though, did not yield to any impossibility. Her torturous death never transcended the possible. Possibility promised nothing but horror for her, her family, her friends, first responders, rescue team and the photographers that witnessed her inescapable suffering.

    When Jesus became the possibility of the impossible, he created the starkest contrast with a creation almost completely abandoned to the merely possible. We are left to our own devices on the horizon of possibility.

    How does an impossible love tolerate any possible suffering?

    Job—Jesus—Omayra: what if all three are revelations about God? There’re no Jobs after Christ, you once said. And, for me, there’s no Christ after Omayra.