Realist Failures

Realism is always already a failure as a Christian approach to either politics or philosophy (and I believe that the latter is generally more about former when you poke it hard enough), since it takes the world as it is as a given. And yet, the world as it is is fundamentally judged and subverted by the apocalyptic disruption of God’s kingdom that has been inaugurated in the life, death & resurrection of Jesus Christ. To think Christianly, therefore is to think apocalyptically, hyper-really; to call into question what is on the basis of what will be. Father, let your kingdom come!

2 responses to “Realist Failures”

  1. Matt

    To say anything in reply would be to oversimplify what this post requires. After all you dismiss realism. But to give two cents. I am sympathetic your criticism of a realism, specifically Christian realism, that takes the world as a given because we know that this world is not ultimate. However, this is not the only realism out there, so to speak. At a more basic level realism claims that we can experience reality, that our experiences are experiences of some thing, as opposed to idealism which says otherwise. I think that this might be part of a defensible Christian realism because there seems to be a biblical picture that includes our ability to experience true things about God’s reality. Perhaps even something as simple as ‘taste and see that the Lord is good.” But more importantly I am thinking of Jesus’ heralding of the kingdom. I get the impression from him that the kingdom is something that we can have experiences of and hence be experiencing (to some degree) some thing that really is.
    Like I said though, lots more could be said on this topic. Despite what my comment might look like, my main reason for making this point is not because I completely disagree with you (I actually think that the target of your criticism is the right target and yours is the right criticism) but that I am not sure we want to open the door to some kind of idealism.

  2. @Matt B Good comment, thanks. You’re correct in pointing out the fact that this paragraph would need a lot more context to express the heart of what I’m saying here, but you also see that I’m more concerned with the political/eschatological implications here more than anything. A basic affirmation of a type of philosophical realism grounded in a creational theology—the kind you’re driving at, I think—I have no problem with. It’s just that I suspect that most philosophical realism is really just a front for political realism, particularly of the neocon variety.

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