Friday, December 14, 2007

Excessive Religion, Part 5: Faith and Time

Part 4

Recap of Part 4: The faithful relationship to God is the fantasy that takes God as the ultimate object of desire.

Two elements of the above will bear on what follows. The first is obvious: faith as sublation requires a God that is an object. God is an object that is raised into the dignity of the Thing. However else this God is predicated, it must carry the status of a definite object. In a sense, God must be held to occupy both the position of object a and Autre. God is both a person and a structural position; faith offers the ultimate fantasy scenario of the satisfaction of desire through God as the sublime object.

The second element is that of deferral into the future. Ritual actions are carried out in order to secure God’s desire - a securing that is always deferred into the future. This deferral is how religion “respects” or “avoids” the void, the empty space. Religion avoids the fact that desire is always deferred by promising a future time in which desire will be fulfilled. This promise of eternal life is well known; heaven is nothing but a place in which one will perpetually enjoy the jouissance of the Other.

The present, however, is not neglected. The present is a time of looking to the future fulfillment, to the undoing of the fall, to the undoing of castration. The present is a time of anticipation, but not of inaction; the repetition, the striving for God’s desire, all demand a heavy load upon the faithful. One cannot make a libidinal investment in God without taking on both duties and joy. The present is a time of work, of watchfulness, of engaged repetition of acts that will usher in the future possibility of enjoyment. The present also enjoys the effects of the sublime. To those with faith that makes one object sublime, all other objects reflect the faint glow of the divine. In a capital driven, mechanistic world, only the elevation of one particular object offers the rest the ability to have value.

Faith can also be seen as an imaginary relationship - in other words, a fantasy. Faith is the construction of a fantasy in which God’s desire is aroused and offered. The praxis of faith such as rituals or charitable works of whatever content are the scenarios in which God’s desire is aroused and in which the subject is promised the enjoyment of God.

Both sublimation and fantasy offer promises for the future. The satisfaction of desire is promised, if only after death. Sublimation takes God’s satisfaction as its object and fantasy creates scenarios in which God’s desire is aroused. Faith is therefore oriented to a future time, an orientation that creates significances for the present. The fantasy scenarios must be acted out.

It is that “must” that needs to be considered more carefully. The promises of full satisfaction are conditional - the fantasy always involves the need for some sort of submission. Faith demands actions and commitments even from the most ardent Lutheran. For instance, rejection of the value of works by Luther was nonetheless accompanied by an absolute insistence on a particular social structure as exemplified by his reaction to the peasant revolts in northern Germany. As good Christians, the peasants were expected to cede some of their freedom to the princes in the name of a future satisfaction.

The fact that the promise of the future asserts demands upon the present is a necessary aspect of faith. Faith involves works in the present devoted to a future faith. Faith is a relationship to an object cause.

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