All The Candy You Can Eat

On The Eucharistic Potential of Felix Gonzalez-Torres

Anthony Easton

Within a few days of each other, I had two friends who traveled to Chicago separately, and were at the Art Institute of Chicago on the same day within hours of each other, and both emailed me that day, to talk about a piece they saw, a piece that moved them. This isn’t that unusual, I spend a lot of time with artists and curators and I spend a lot of time talking about art. Mostly it’s a rarified form of shoptalk, a commentary on how a piece was interesting because of this idea, or that line, or tradition, or how it played into or against a work that had been done before. It’s much like shoptalk about how a liturgy goes, when talking to priests or deacons. Continue reading

Archiving the Messianic: Derrida, Benjamin, and the politics of memory

There is no archive without a place of consignation, without a technique of repetition, and without a certain exteriority. No archive without outside. (Derrida, Archive Fever, 11)

For most of us, the archive represents a practical space of investigation, with its contents sitting in darkness, waiting to be reassessed and rediscovered. What’s perhaps less obvious about the archive is its construction, an analogue to the scholar’s privileged cultural position and, along with it, the hermeneutical agenda she brings to her research. Since Derrida’s Archive Fever, the archive has become a important concept for cultural theory and historical methodology. Of course, Derrida wasn’t the first to question the archive’s authority or the ways that history is produced by it. Not simply a site for the preservation of cultural artifacts or a repository of a past authenticity, the archive also names a basic procedure of inclusion and exclusion, a simultaneous remembering and forgetting that proceeds from any attempt to archive. Derrida’s work invites us to consider several crucial outcomes of this process: first and foremost, that a dialectic exists between what gains historical legitimacy through its preservation, and what is condemned to oblivion by being ignored or repressed. The archive always entails some kind of exteriority and for this reason opens up the discussion to theology (the messianic) and psychoanalysis (repression). Secondly, while discussions of the archive have traditionally been driven by questions surrounding the organization of the past, Derrida’s work considers how these ongoing modes of organization orient us toward the future. Continue reading

Not in my Backyard

Jeffrey Metcalfe

Before I begin, I have a confession to make: I’m an addict. I didn’t choose to be, I was born with this addiction. Sometimes I am able to wean myself off of it, if even for a little while, but never for very long—a few hours at most. To be honest, if I were to go without it for much longer then that, I would probably die. Continue reading

The First and Final Word is Eternal Light

mental_health_awareness_ribbon_button-p145188434955212106en8go_400Ashley Cole

Last year I posted a piece about the darkness of Christmas season; this year I have come to think of its reverse – Easter. I wrote about having to face the darkness as that is where truth resides. I still agree with that sentiment, however, as I was out walking this week I was struck with how difficult it can be to tunnel out of that darkness into a space of light. Continue reading

Violence, Grace, and Solidarity: Reading Flannery O’Connor on Good Friday

Jonathan Dyck

In order to arrive at the joy and affirmation of Easter Sunday, we encounter the suffering and despair of Good Friday. It’s not a pleasant thing to acknowledge, but grace and violence appear bound together at Easter.

Few writers are as astute at recognizing this relationship as Flannery O’Connor. Rather than a world of neutral surfaces, O’Connor’s fiction presents us with a world that is irreducibly “grotesque.” For her, the history of the South has made for an environment that is “hardly Christ-centered, [but] is most certainly Christ-haunted” (M&M 44). Her characters may not act like Christians, but theirs is a world which is divinely given, a world in which grace regularly emerges and disrupts. For this reason, O’Connor’s fiction adopts what she has called, “prophetic vision,” a way of seeing that paradoxically understands near things at a distance and far things up close. As she puts it, “The prophet is a realist of distances, and it is this kind of realism that you find in the best modern instances of the grotesque.”  This has everything to do with her view that art is incarnational. It is, in other words, ultimately about embodiment rather than abstraction, and its particular kind of embodiment is a deeply mysterious and troubling one. Continue reading

Preaching the Good News After Auschwitz

The Responsibility, Judgment, and Risk of Homiletic Thoughtfulness

Jeffrey Metcalfe

Never shall I forget that night, the first night in the camp, that turned my life into one long night seven times sealed.

Never shall I forget that smoke.

Never shall I forget the small faces of the children whose bodies I saw transformed into smoke under a silent sky.

Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith forever.

Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence that deprived me for all eternity of the desire to live.

Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes.

Never shall I forget those things, even were I condemned to live as long as God Himself.

Never.

–       Elie Wiesel, Night[1]

Night, smoke, bodies, silence, flames, and ashes: these are the words that describe a shattered faith and a murdered God. Seven times Wiesel tells us life after Auschwitz can never be the same, that he shall never forget. Yet the question remains: can we? Or, perhaps more accurately as church leaders, have we? Continue reading

Unanswered Questions

Mennonite Participation in the Holocaust

Alicia Good

Introduction

A few years ago, I was left feeling deeply disturbed and more than a little shocked by a conversation with my brother after he returned from his studies at Canadian Mennonite University. He claimed that it was an “open secret” on campus that a  number of his friends had living relatives who had served in the Nazi SS during the years of the Holocaust. I failed to understand how, if this was true, the Mennonite Church I thought I knew could be home to individuals who had most likely committed war crimes. I was even more troubled as I wondered why I had never before heard this topic addressed or discussed in my Mennonite congregation or by the wider denominational body, Mennonite Church Canada. I was left with the feeling that a dark secret was buried behind under the thinly whitewashed walls of our peace church theology. Yet the existence of this secret was confirmed for me only by rumour, through conversations with ethnic Mennonite friends who recalled with discomfort their family members bearing SS tattoos. Continue reading