Reflections on the Anomaly of Christ: Good Friday

There are two details I want to emphasize; first when Jesus was asking the father why he has to undergo pain, the father did not answer him. Second, when Jesus publicly asked why he was forsaken, the father did not answer him and the people mistook it for Elijah. These two accounts set us on the silence of God and how God properly speaking is not a hermeneutical principle. By hermeneutic principle, we refer here to a foundational zero point upon which we begin interpretation (and by prejudice we mean in the sense that Gadamer used it). To see God as a hermeneutic principle means to fit God within the metanarrative. Suffering becomes a God-given test and salvation a narrative already determined by God. The silence of the father in the two scenes mentioned above goad is to think outside of a theological meta-narrative. At the sight of silence, what shall we be? What remains of us at the threshold of the real?

Here we can fully understand Nietzsche’s proclamation of the death of God. When Jesus died, God died but what died there is the hermeneutic God, the God of the meta-narrative. Before Christ, the Jews have to be put in line by strict laws, concerning every aspect of social life from diet to what is to be defined as work during the Sabbath. If one reads the Jewish tables of law, one is placed in a Kafkaesque universe in which at every point there is room for sin and no way out of the bureaucratic mess; salvation for that matter is a no easy task since the complex rites and the complex laws demand everything from the standard Jew. The death of Jesus transgresses all of that and creates a new universalism beyond the comprehension of the normal Jew. The criticism of the apartheid of his day (Jew and Gentile, sinner and pious, etc) took its final and perfect expression in the crucifixion. By dying, Christ violates the Jewish ideology of God as immortal law-giver and leader of hosts. What he did was an expression of solidarity to those who were left out by the empire and the Jewish religion (widows, the disabled, the lepers and the rejects). His death—an expression of love, a universal love expressed in the Pauline texts—is the highest expression of rebellion i.e. of taking into oneself the responsibility of first violating the present order as an genuine entry into a politics of liberation. For that reason, are the Good Friday penitents in Bulacan and Pampanga who engage in violent self-flagellation and crucifixion the ones who express their criticism of the liberal imperative to enjoy? By flagellating themselves are they not engaging in a Zizekian critique of ideology and hence labelled by Liberal and Catholic authorities as deviants and fanatics? The interesting part here is that these peoples have no illusions about suffering. They see it as an inherent part of their predicament that will exist even inside and outside of the pleasure and pain dichotomy. As Christ suffered so should we by inflicting to ourselves the wounds of Christ.

The refusal to give in to the idea of an easily explainable principle of everything is the truth of the crucifixion. By suffering Christ disappoints us, we should feel like the Jews since what came for them was not a king in a steed but a man who is about to die. The death of Christ is the beginning of a process, an act that will be carried out until Easter. The death of God is not the end but the beginning; but this beginning already ends our illusions about the divine. We are in front of an incomprehensible scene, silent at the encounter with the traumatic scene, disturbing our preconceived notions of liberations. To-day, as Christ resided in the tomb, the apostles are thinking and so are we. What are we going to do? What remains of my ideas of God and now he’s dead. We killed God! Nietzsche simply reminded us of the same act of calling for Christ’s crucifixion. Crucify him! We shouted it and we killed him; but what we killed is the idol, the “God” that fits within a comfortable space in my fantasies. To be able to experience the full effect of Easter and the real core of Christianity is to experience the emptiness of death. Truly, to-day God is dead.

Reflections on the Anomaly of Christ: Good Friday

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