Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Study on Buddhism and the Existential theology of Jurgen Moltmann on the issue of Human Suffering

Buddha’s life and teaching
"May all that have life be delivered from suffering" Gautama Buddha
The following excerpts about the life of Buddha are taken from Geshe Kelsang Gyatso’s book, Introduction to Buddhism
The Young Prince
The young prince Siddharta grew up and he mastered all the traditional arts and sciences without needing any instruction. He knew sixty-four different languages, each with their own alphabet, and he was also very skilled at mathematics. He once told his father that he could count all the atoms in the world in the time it takes to draw a single breath. Although he did not need to study, he did so to please his father and to benefit others. At his father’s request he joined a school where, in addition to various academic subjects, he became skilled at sports such as martial arts and archery. The prince would take every opportunity to convey spiritual meanings and to encourage others to follow spiritual paths. At one time, when he was taking part in an archery contest, he declared, “With the bow of meditative concentration I will fire the arrow of wisdom and kill the tiger of ignorance in living beings.” He then released the arrow and it flew straight through five iron tigers and seven trees before disappearing into the earth! By witnessing demonstrations such as this, thousands of people developed faith in the prince.
Witnessing Suffering
Sometimes Prince Siddhartha would go into the capital city of his father’s kingdom to see how the people lived. During these visits he came into contact with many old people and sick people, and on one occasion he saw a corpse. These encounters left a deep impression on his mind and led him to realize that all living beings without exception have to experience the sufferings of birth, sickness, ageing and death. Because he understood the laws of reincarnation he also realized that they experience these sufferings not just once, but again and again, in life after life without cessation. Seeing how all living beings are trapped in this vicious circle of suffering he felt deep compassion for them, and he developed a sincere wish to free all of them from their suffering. Realizing that only a fully enlightened Buddha has the wisdom and the power to help all living beings in this way, he resolved to leave the palace and retire to the solitude of the forest where he would engage in profound meditation until he attained enlightenment.
Buddha’s Teaching on Liberation
Buddha understood suffering not as a consequence of sin like the human understanding but as the consequence of passion and desire that binds the human person. Buddha’s reaction to this was not harsh asceticism like the Hindu mystics but “the middle path” of moderation in all human endeavor. Thus he proposed the four noble truths of human reality and the noble eight path solution.
1. All is suffering (dukkha).
2. Suffering is caused by desire/attachment.
3. If one can eliminate desire/attachment, one can eliminate suffering.
4. The Noble Eight-fold Path can eliminate desire. Extremes of excessive self-indulgence (hedonism) and excessive self-mortification should be avoided.
1. Right Views.
The true understanding of the four noble truths.
2. Right Intent.
Right aspiration is the true desire to free oneself from attachment, ignorance, and hatefulness.
[These first two are referred to as prajña, or wisdom.]
3. Right Speech.
Right speech involves abstaining from lying, gossiping, or hurtful talk.
4. Right Conduct.
Right action involves abstaining from hurtful behaviors, such as killing, stealing, and careless sex.
5. Right livelihood.
Right livelihood means making your living in such a way as to avoid dishonesty and hurting others, including animals.
[The above three are referred to as shila, or morality.]
6. Right Effort.
Right effort is a matter of exerting oneself in regulating the content of one's mind: bad qualities should be abandoned and prevented from arising again; good qualities should be enacted and nurtured.
7. Right Mindfulness.
Right mindfulness is the focusing of one's attention on one's body, feelings, thoughts, and consciousness in such a way as to overcome craving, hatred, and ignorance.
8. Right Concentration.
Right concentration is meditating in such a way as to progressively realize a true understanding of imperfection, impermanence, and non-separateness.

The Theravada tradition of Buddhism teaches that everyone must individually seek salvation through their own efforts. To attain nirvana, one must relinquish earthly desires and live a monastic life. The meaning of the term nirvana, literally "the blowing out" of existence, is not entirely clear. Nirvana is an eternal state of being. It is the state in which the law of karma and the rebirth cycle come to an end - though Buddhist conceptions of personal (non-)identity make these notions problematic. Nirvana is the end of suffering; a state where there are no desires, and individual consciousness comes to an end. Attaining nirvana is to relinquish clinging, hatred, and ignorance. Its achievement entails full acceptance of imperfection, impermanence, and interconnectedness. Sometimes "nirvana" is used to refer to nothingness
( 24-08-2010)
Jurgen Motltmann’s life and theology
Jürgen Moltmann was born in Hamburg, Germany, on April 8, 1926. He was raised in a rather "enlightened secular" home; therefore, he underwent no very profound Christian socialization, but grew up with poets and philosophers of German Idealism: Lessing, Goethe and Nietzsche. He was, for the time being, far from Christianity, the church, and the Bible. On this account he has always thought that he must discover, learn, and comprehend for himself everything that others had already learned from an early age. Thus theology has always remained to him even until today an "incredible adventure."
Moltmann was drafted, at the end of 1944, into the German army at the age of eighteen to fight in World War II. At that time he took with him Goethe’s poems and Faust as well as Nietzsche’s Zarathustra as intellectual nourishment. He served as a soldier for six months before surrendering, in Belgium in 1945, to the first British soldier he met in the woods. For the succeeding three years he was confined to prisoner-of-war camps in Belgium, Scotland, and England. In the Belgium camp he saw how other prisoners collapsed inwardly, how they gave up all hope, sickening and dying for the lack of it. Moltmann was saved from the same fate only by a religious conversion that began in a POW camp in Belgium. When he was given a Bible—a copy of the New Testament and Psalms—by an American military chaplain, he started to read it behind barbed wire. Though he began largely out of boredom, he was surprised to find that the words of Scripture fed his imagination and emotional need. They opened his eyes to the God who is with the broken-hearted. Moltmann found the God who was present even behind the barbed wire.
After he returned to Germany in 1948, Moltmann began to study theology regularly at Göttingen University. He studied there under teachers strongly influenced by Barth; he imbibed thoroughly the theology of Karl Barth. Therefore, he initially became a disciple of the great master of dialectical theology. Later, however, he saw some need to move beyond the narrow understanding of Barth and "Barmen orthodoxy"—solus Christus—when he wanted to give positive answers to the political possibilities and cultural challenges of the post-war period. Thus he became highly critical of Barth’s neglect of the historical nature of reality, while remaining indebted to Barth. Moltmann could come out of the dilemma by D. Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison. From Ernst Wolf as well as from Bonhoeffer’s work he developed his concern for social ethics and the church’s involvement in society. In addition, he was also influenced by Luther and Hegel through Hans Joachim Iwand. Luther and Iwand convinced him of the liberating truth of the Reformation doctrine of justification and the theology of the cross; Hegel and Iwand helped him develop his dialectical interpretation of the cross and the resurrection. Moreover, he gained his solid grounding in biblical theology from Gerhard von Rad and Ernst Käsemann. Above all, Otto Weber, who supervised the doctorates of him and his future wife—Elisabeth Wendel, helped him gain the eschatological perspective of the church’s universal mission toward the coming kingdom of God.
(From my previous assignment on “The Christology of Jurgen Moltmann”- Main sourceürgen_Moltmann)
The Cross and the problem of suffering
Moltmann’s major theological inspiration is Martin Luther. Luther’s “theology of the cross” deals with the pain and death of God on the cross of Jesus Christ. Moltmann also borrows extensively from St Paul.
His major theme is the alienation of Jesus on the cross. Jesus died the death of the sinner so that the sinners might come into fellowship with God. God suffered on the cross of Jesus so that those who suffer in this life look upon the God who suffered and felt the pain and alienation of death and can identify themselves with him.
Moltmann also deals with paradoxes especially the Pauline paradox of “In my weakness is his strength made whole…” The God who died on the cross derives his strength and his life from his suffering on the cross.

Socrates died as a wise man. Cheerfully and calmly he drank the cup of hemlock. This was a demonstration of magnanimity, and was also a testimony to the immortality of the soul, which Plato tells us he taught. For him, death was a breakthrough to a higher, purer life. Thus his farewell was not difficult. He had a cock sacrificed to Asclepius, which was only done on recovery from a severe illness. The death of Socrates was a festival of
liberty. The Zealot martyrs who were crucified after the unsuccessful revolts against the Romans died conscious of their righteousness in the sight of God, and looked forward to their resurrection to eternal life just as they looked forward to the resurrection of their lawless enemies, and of the transgressors of the law who had betrayed them, to eternal shame. They died for their righteous cause, the cause of the righteousness of God, conscious that this
would ultimately triumph over their enemies. Many of them succeeded in cursing their enemies even as they died. RabbiAkiba found in his death on the cross the freedom for which he had longed, to give himself utterly to the God who, according to Israel's Shema, can only be loved 'with the whole heart, the whole soul and the whole might. The wise men of the Stoics demonstrated to the tyrants in the arena, where they were torn to pieces by wild animals, their inner liberty and their superiority. 'Without fear and without hope,' as we are told, they endured in freedom and demonstrated to their fearful overlords and horrified crowds their complete lack of terror even at their own death. The Christian martyrs too went calmly and in faith to their death. Conscious of being crucified with Christ and receiving the baptism of blood, and of thereby being united for ever with Christ, they went to their death in 'hope against hope'. The last words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, with which he took leave of his fellow-prisoner Payne Best as he went to the place of execution in Flossenburg extermination camp were: 'This is the end—for me the beginning of life.' As he had written in a letter, he was certain 'that our joy is hidden in suffering, and our life in death'. Jesus clearly died in a different way. His death was not a 'fine death'. The synoptic gospels agree that he was 'greatly distressed and troubled' (Mark 14.33 Par-) and that his soul was sorrowful even to death. He died 'with loud cries and tears', according to the Epistle to the Hebrews (5.7). According to Mark 15.37 he died with a loud, incoherent cry. Because, as the Christian tradition developed, this terrible cry of the dying Jesus was gradually weakened in the passion narratives and replaced by words of comfort and triumph, we can probably rely upon it as a kernel of historical truth. Jesus clearly died with every expression of the most profound horror. How can this be explained? The comparison with Socrates, and with Stoic and Christian martyrs, shows that there is something special here about the death of Jesus. We can understand it only if we see his death not against his relationship to the Jews and the Romans, to the law and to the political power, but in relation to his God and Father, whose closeness and whose grace he himself had proclaimed. Here we come upon the theological dimension of his life and death. Mark 15.34 reproduces the cry of the dying Jesus in the words of Psalm 22.2: 'My God, why hast thou forsaken me?' This is certainly an interpretation of the church after Easter, and indeed Psalm 22 as a whole had a formative influence on the Christian passion narratives. But it seems to be as near as possible to the historical reality of the death of Jesus. The Western group of texts of Mark 15.34 have watered down the words, and read: 'My God, what hast thou to reproach me for?' Luke omits these words completely and replaces them by the confident utterance of the Jewish evening prayer from Ps. 31.6: 'Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit' (23.46). Therefore the disciples in Luke do not flee from the cross, for in his view Jesus did not die 'forsaken by God', but as an exemplary martyr. In John, for different theological reasons yet again, we read: 'It is finished' (19.30), since for John Jesus' struggle ends with his victory and glorification on the cross. The history of the tradition being as it is, it can be accepted that the difficult reading of Mark is as close as may be to historical reality. To complete the paradox, in Mark the Gentile centurion responds to the cry with which Jesus breathes his last by professing that Jesus is the Son of God: 'Truly this man was the Son of God' (15.39). ^n t n e pages that follow, therefore, we start from the assumption that Jesus died with the signs and expressions of a profound abandonment by God.

The Crucified God – Jurgen Moltmann

The Resurrection
The resurrection is not seen as a fact for Moltmann unlike other modern theologians but as the righteousness of God made whole in history.
The resurrection according to Jurgen Moltmann similar to the theology of St Paul is the resurrection of the crucified God. That is God saw the suffering of Jesus and witnessed the death of his son on the cross and he ceased to be the eternal father. Thus the fatherhood of the father was dead and the spirit that proceeds from this is the spirit of abandonment that justifies the ungodly and raises Jesus from the dead.
Thus God deals with the problem of suffering with his own death on the cross and with the resurrection the Lordship of Jesus is validated and the suffering of our present times is nailed to the cross with him and is overcome by his resurrection. The resurrection is the glorious Christian hope that gives dignity to a human person and gives him eternal access to the uncreated life of God.

Soren Kierkegaard and the Human Person

Soren Kierkegaard and the Human Person
Søren Kierkegaard was born on May 5, 1813 in Copenhagen. He was the youngest child of seven, born to parents of Jutlandish descent. He sometimes called himself a child of old age because his mother was 45 and his father 56 when he was born. Kierkegaard was influenced early in life by the devoutly religious teachings of his father which concentrated on Christ's suffering. In 1830 Kierkegaard went to study theology, philosophy and literature at the University of Copenhagen. In 1834 his mother died, and he began the famous journal that he would keep for 20 years. He had decided that he must know himself before he could know what he would do with his life. In 1837 he moved away from home to work teaching Latin at Borgerdydskolen. In 1838 his father died. In the same year, Kierkegaard published a critique of H.C. Andersen's novel Kun en Spillemand entitled Af en Endnu Levender Papierer. In 1840 he became engaged to Regine Olsen, a woman he had known since he had first moved away from home. He broke the engagement soon thereafter, however, believing that domestic responsibility would hinder him in his philosophical calling. He entered into a life of seclusion, writing and publishing constantly for the next ten years.
( 24-08-2010)

Kierkegaard’s context
Kierkegaard lived in a world where the Individual was isolated from his immediate reality. Metaphysics was dominating the European world and the western intellect was trying to constantly reinterpret the philosophy of the late German Philosopher Hegel. Metaphysics in western philosophy posits a center (Plato’s world of forms, Descartes notion of the cogito etc) and grounds all of reality based on that center. Hegelian metaphysics dealt with the concept of the Idea and how it has evolved historically. Since Kierkegaard’s concern was Christianity or to narrow it down Lutheranism the emphasis should be laid on the Hegelian notion of the evolution of religious consciousness. Hegel believed that religion has evolved from animism to Christianity and that Christianity was the pinnacle of religious human consciousness. There were two schools of thought that emerged from that proposition. The left wing Hegelians believed that Christianity has attained its pinnacle in Human civilization and must give way to science and the right wing Hegelians believed that the pinnacle of Human glory was already achieved in Christianity. Denmark during the time of Kierkegaard was dominated by right wing Hegelians. Thus religion (Lutheranism) for an average Dane was a “given” and they “strengthened” their faith by participating in an intellectual discourse on how Christianity was the ultimate goal of Human endeavor.
This notion was very disturbing for Kierkegaard because he believed that Christianity was not “logical” but contained a series of paradoxes and that cannot be understood but what a man needs is “A leap of Faith”. Faith according to Kierkegaard was an inward passionate commitment in the person of Jesus Christ. Kierkegaard believed that the Lutheran notion of the “death of God” cannot be understood by human logic. Thus the Christian Truth is beyond reason and it takes passionate commitment to be a Christian. It does not take much faith to believe in a Mathematical or a scientific truth but it takes much faith to believe in the Christian truth because it is neither mathematical nor scientific.

Kierkegaard’s Subjective truth in relation to the Human self
Kierkegaard does not believe that the Christian truth is subjective and not universal rather he believes that the objective truth of Christianity must be understood subjectively. The relation ship between the subject and the object is not entirely objective but has a great element of subjectivity. Thus every Christian must understand the Christian truth subjectively.
Classical philosophy and metaphysics alienated man from his reality by underplaying the role of passion. Passion in Classical philosophy was considered a hindrance to the truth. In western Philosophy passion was considered as the enemy of truth and knowledge. Metaphysics on the other hand discredits human suffering and human life only to favor essences that are beyond immediate human scope.
Christianity posits a different commitment because it talks of a God who is transcendent and yet is directly involved in history in the incarnation. Thus the Christian faith is not metaphysical but is concerned with immediate human problems. Metaphysics only alienates a Human Being from true Christianity and thus Kierkegaard is concerned with the immediate problems that a Human Being in any given context faces- The sickness that causes death and the even more immediate problem of anxiety. Kierkegaard makes a psychological enquiry into the problem of anxiety and attempts to give a Christian interpretation to that problem.
Man is spirit. But what is spirit? Spirit is the self. But what is the self? The self is a relation which relates itself to its own self, or it is that in the relation [which accounts for it] that the relation relates itself to its own self; the self is not the relation but [consists in the fact] that the relation relates itself to its own self. Man is a synthesis of the infinite and the finite, of the temporal and the eternal, of freedom and necessity, in short it is a synthesis. A synthesis is a relation between two factors. So regarded, man is not yet a self. In the relation between two, the relation is the third term as a negative unity, and the two relate themselves to the relation, and in the relation to the relation; such a relation is that between soul and body, when man is regarded as soul. If on the contrary the relation relates itself to its own self, the relation is then the positive third term, and this is the self. Such a relation which relates itself to its own self (that is to say, a self) must either have constituted itself or have been constituted by another. --Kierkegaard
Thus for Kierkegaard subjective truth arises from the knowledge of the self. If the self is complete with it relates to “the other” then no problem arises, no visible problem is seen even if the self is fully contended in relating to itself but the more the self relates to itself the greater the despair of the self. Thus the self needs to relate to the third entity that gives life and substance to the self and this third entity according to Kierkegaard is God. The self overcomes the problem of despair when it relates to the reality of the eternal God.
Anxiety is another problem that is visible in a Human Being. Kierkegaard analyzes the problem of anxiety and traces it to the first sin of Adam. The uniqueness in Kierkegaard is that he believes that the problem of anxiety was visible in man after the fall and the fall was from a state of ignorance to the present state. He builds a strong connection between innocence and ignorance. Thus the fall did not transfer the human person from the outside history to mortality rather it transferred him from the state of innocence to a state of anxiety and despair.
For a human person to regain that state of innocence he must immerse himself in the person of Jesus Christ but totally and passionately committing himself to his cross (In Luther’s terms because he was one of Kierkegaard’s major influence).
I look upon the crucified one to save me from myself – Soren Kierkegaard

The Individual and the Whole
Existentialism as a movement is criticized for being centered on a single individual and Kierkegaard is often criticized for that but he does not promote radical individuality rather he merely lays emphasis on the role of an individual in a society that alienates man from himself. In his writing in hereditary sin he says that the fall is not a one time event but every sin that is performed by every individual causes the whole race to fall again. Thus Adam is not to be blamed for sin rather every individual is responsible for the sin of the whole world.
Man is an individual and as such simultaneously himself and the whole race, and in such a way that the whole race participates in the individual and the individual in the whole race.
To conclude Kierkegaard’s contribution in understanding the human self paved way for may different movements in western Anthropology. Other existentialists like Nietzsche, Heidegger and Jean Paul Satre acknowledge Kierkegaard as their influence and his genius had a role in Heidegger’s “Being and time” and Satre’s “Being and Nothingness” thus laying the foundation for a new understanding of a human being. Thus he is also a major influence on post-modern thought.

The Christology of Archbishop Alban Goodier

Archbishop Goodier (1869-1939)
PRAY LIKE THIS, and we shall lay the foundation on which sanctity is built. LIVE LIKE THIS, and sanctity will build itself DIE LIKE THIS, and we shall die “good and faithful servants.”
Archbishop Alban Goodier, S.J.
Archbishop Alan Goodier is known for his work on “Saints for Sinner”, he was the Archbishop in Bombay, India and later on became the Archbishop of Hierapolis Phrygia.
Writing Style
The sources of the Archbishop are wholly the gospels themselves and like the writers of the gospels he does not hesitate to quote the Old Testament liberally. He does not resort to any form of the critical methods available during his time rather his work is a theological meditation on the life of our Lord. His use of creativity is exemplary. He chooses to bring harmony to the texts from within the gospels themselves. He thus merges all the gospels chronologically. He also logically deduces the sequence of events. Thus the most important tool he uses is common knowledge. He also has a deep knowledge on the Geography of Palestine and traces the Journey of our Lord as he begins his ministry in the banks of the river Jordan and his various temporary destinations until he reaches Jerusalem. The compassion that the Archbishop has towards the poor is also visible in his writing.
The Christology of the Archbishop
The Archbishop gives due recognition to the two natures of the Lord. He takes a lot of effort in explaining the Humanity and the Divinity of our Lord. Since his concern is the “Public life of our Lord” he does not begin with his nativity rather interestingly begins with the testimony of John the Baptist. He does mention in places the mystery of the origin of Jesus but does not lay emphasis on it. Archbishop Goodier begins with the witness of John the Baptist the reason being that he gave him the credit for being the forerunner of Christ. Although he does not fully mention it he lays open the fact that Jesus might be heavily influenced in many ways by John the Baptist. Thus according to him, the public life of Jesus starts with the preaching of John the Baptist.
John the Baptist preaches repentance to various groups of people who journey past the river Jordan. He encounters the variety of people and they have mixed feelings towards him. Some consider him as a great prophet, others doubt if he was the Messiah himself while a great majority of the people think that he is Elijah. This led the controllers of religion to investigate. John is quick to point out their hypocrisy calling them a brood of vipers who think that they are saved because they have Abraham as their father. John also says that he is not the light in response to those who think that he is the Messiah rather he affirms that he is come to bear witness of the light and that he is the voice that in the wilderness that cries asking the people to make their ways straight for the Lord to come drawing inspiration from the Prophet Isaiah. He also famously says that he merely baptizes with water but the one coming after him is the one who baptizes Human Beings with the Spirit of God. The courage of John the Baptist is also visible when he is not afraid to point of the mistakes of King Herod. Herod is portrayed as someone who is fearful of John the Baptist.
When it comes to his relationship with Jesus, John the Baptist according to the Archbishop is aware of the mysterious circumstances that marked the birth of Jesus and he is already aware that he is greater that himself but is not sure that he is the Messiah. He is also very aware of his ministry and his purpose and thus he needs more than an external sign to know who Jesus really is nevertheless he acknowledges his inadequacy before him when he says that he is not worthy to baptize him. Jesus insists on his Baptism and John the Baptist reluctantly agrees. He is then a witness to the divine affirmation that Jesus is truly the Son of God he hears the voice from heaven and he witnesses the Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus. He nevertheless keeps baptizing people and is joyous that Jesus keeps increasing while he decreases. One of the most important point stressed here by the Archbishop is that Jesus is relatively dormant in his first year of ministry because John the Baptist was still active but his real ministry begins after John the Baptist is cast into prison by King Herod. As he goes on ministering John the Baptist becomes more certain on who Jesus is and on more then two occasions points him out and declares that he is the one that the prophets spoke of and that he is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. This inspires the first disciples of Jesus to follow him.
The temptation of Jesus
After his baptism Jesus journey’s into the wilderness to be in close communion with the father and while this happens he is tempted by Satan.
The First temptation: Here Jesus is asked to turn stone into bread. The Archbishop draws parallels with this temptation and the life of Moses. God performs an extraordinary miracle during those days, he sends Manna from heaven to feed the hungry children of Israel. Satan knows that God is the provider of all good things including material sustenance and tempts Jesus to test God by appealing to the immediate needs of his flesh. According to the Archbishop Jesus knew the scriptures well and he learnt the most important lesson that Moses learnt from his experience. The lesson Moses learnt was “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”. Thus Jesus meaningfully quotes scripture to overcome this temptation.
The second temptation: The second temptation of Jesus was to leap from a Hillock. Satan quoted the Psalmist who said “For he shall give his angels charge over….they shall bear thee in their hands lest you dash your foot against a stone”. Jesus again authoritatively quotes scripture saying “Thou shall not put the Lord thy God to the test”.
The third temptation: Here Satan agrees to offer all the kingdoms of the world to Jesus if only he would worship him. Here the Archbishop brings a very important notion that existed in ancient Judaic monotheism. YAWH was the only God and the Jews worshipped none other than him. Jesus being a Jew himself quotes from scripture telling Satan to flee and that only God alone is to be worshipped. This, the Archbishop says is the “triumph of Judaism against the paganism that existed in those days”.
He concludes this part by saying that Jesus submitted himself to the buffeting of the evil spirit and therefore ends up being ministered to by the spirits of good.
In his Christology the divinity of Jesus begins to surface only after his baptism when the Father testifies that Jesus is his Son. Satan also beings his temptation by saying “If you are the son of God…..” Jesus thus after the temptation was strengthened and began his ministry. The Archbishop adds that since the word became flesh, Jesus needed Human Beings to minister for him and the next part of his journey would be the choosing of the twelve.
The Disciples
After the temptation Jesus journey’s past the river Jordan where John the Baptist was preaching. When the Baptist beholds the Christ he cries out and says “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” and immediately two of his disciples follow Jesus. The follow his discretely for a distance until Jesus turns to them and says “What do you seek?” The Archbishop gives a detailed analysis on the way Jesus looked at people, calm, composed, certain but with soft authority. The Archbishop points out with his use of imagination that Jesus lived in a hut that was situated deep in the valley. His first disciples recognize him as the Messiah of whom the prophets spoke of and were quick to call their friends and their loved ones to meet Jesus of Nazareth. Most of the people invited arrive as skeptics, some like Nathanial even wonder how anything good could come out of Nazareth but after they meet Jesus they change their mind. Simon too arrives as a critic but is taken over by the very nature of Christ. Since the Archbishop deals with all the gospels including the gospel of St John as being in harmony he mentions the call of Simon Peter twice. Simon Peter also plays a very important role because in the saddest and darkest hour of the ministry of Christ he confesses that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God while the rest of the world did not recognize him. The Archbishop describes him as human, overzealous, imprudent, rash and timid. Jesus declares that this Simon is favored of God and it is upon him that Christ builds his Church.
The sons of Zebedee James and John are also called of Christ and they are the first disciples who willingly throw away their nets to follow Jesus when he promises to make them “Fishers of Men”.
Jesus and his Mother
There is a very important role played by the mother of Jesus in the public life of Jesus according to the Archbishop. It is she who inspires him to work his first miracle in Cana. She is aware of the mystery of her son and knows that he is the one chosen of God. After she requests him to do something about the scarcity of the wine in Cana, Jesus tells her “Woman, why do you involve me, my time has not yet come” The Archbishop immediately traces this quote to Genesis and talks of Mary as the new Eve. He also reveals how God favors the woman over the serpent. When Satan asked Jesus to turn the stone into bread Jesus was quick in his rebuke him but is pleased when the woman requests him to turn water into wine.
The Archbishop also uses his imagination very creatively to find another place for his mother in the Public life of Jesus. After reading the scriptures in Nazareth and declaring himself to be the fulfillment of these scriptures, the people of Nazareth were not pleased. They threatened to push him off a cliff, here the Archbishop said that his mother was present, she made her way through the crowd and was prepared to die with him.
Thus the Mother of Jesus played a very important role in his public life; she inaugurated the working of his signs and was present during his death on the cross.

The Unique message from the miracle of Cana
The Archbishop is quick to link the relationship between the turning of water into wine to the Eucharist. While in his first miracle Jesus turned water into wine, he would in the course of his life turn wine into something eternal and precious, namely his blood which is a part of the new covenant.
Jesus and the First cleansing of the temple
In this episode, Jesus is stated to have visited the Temple in Jerusalem, Herod's Temple, at which the courtyard is described as being filled with livestock and the tables of the money changers, who changed the standard Greek and Roman money for Jewish and Tyrian money, which were the only coinage that could be used in Temple ceremonies. Creating a whip from some cords, "he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers' money and overturned the tables. But he said to those who sold doves, "Get these out of here! Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise!
When the Pharisees and the priestly class questions his authority, Jesus challenges them saying “Destroy this temple and in three days I will rebuild it” They did not know that the temple that Jesus meant was his body and this would be one of the major causes for his death.

Jesus with Nicodemus and the Samaritan Woman
Nicodemus saw the signs that Jesus performed and acknowledged the hand of God in all that Jesus did. Since most of the members in his community were against Jesus after he cleansed the temple he had to meet him in secret. Nicodemus does not understand the deeper implications of the words of Jesus and takes them literally. Jesus is disappointed because although he is a great teacher in Israel he still does not understand the message of Jesus.
The Archbishop draws parallel between Nicodemus the Pharisee visiting Jesus under the cover of darkness and the conversation of Jesus with the Samaritan woman. While Nicodemus had to put his shame aside to associate with Jesus, Jesus had to redefiune his “Jewishness” to talk to the Samaritan woman.
Both Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman fail to understand the “language” that Jesus uses and interprets them in a very literal way but Jesus being patient and gentle does not take offence in their ignorance but lovingly associates himself with them and teaches them the ways of God. The Samaritan woman is quick to grasp the message of the gospel and announces the arrival of Christ to her community and all those who came and heard the words of Christ believed in him and thus the Samaritan woman become the first Apostle of Christ.

The Divinity of Christ
The Archbishop borrows extensively from the gospel of St John to emphasize the divinity of Christ and his eternal Sonship.
“He was in the world and the world and the world knew him not, he came to his own and his own received him not”
“These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God and that believeing you may have life in his name”
These quotes refer to the divinity of our Lord in the works of Archbishop Alban Goodier.
The Christology of the Archbishop is traditional and scriptural but his main contribution is visible in his attempt to write a Biography on the life of Christ with all the intellectual faculties of his age.

The Christology of Jurgen Moltmann

Introduction to the life of Jurgen Moltman
Jürgen Moltmann was born in Hamburg, Germany, on April 8, 1926. He was raised in a rather "enlightened secular" home; therefore, he underwent no very profound Christian socialization, but grew up with poets and philosophers of German Idealism: Lessing, Goethe and Nietzsche. He was, for the time being, far from Christianity, the church, and the Bible. On this account he has always thought that he must discover, learn, and comprehend for himself everything that others had already learned from an early age. Thus theology has always remained to him even until today an "incredible adventure."
Moltmann was drafted, at the end of 1944, into the German army at the age of eighteen to fight in World War II. At that time he took with him Goethe’s poems and Faust as well as Nietzsche’s Zarathustra as intellectual nourishment. He served as a soldier for six months before surrendering, in Belgium in 1945, to the first British soldier he met in the woods. For the succeeding three years he was confined to prisoner-of-war camps in Belgium, Scotland, and England. In the Belgium camp he saw how other prisoners collapsed inwardly, how they gave up all hope, sickening and dying for the lack of it. Moltmann was saved from the same fate only by a religious conversion that began in a POW camp in Belgium. When he was given a Bible—a copy of the New Testament and Psalms—by an American military chaplain, he started to read it behind barbed wire. Though he began largely out of boredom, he was surprised to find that the words of Scripture fed his imagination and emotional need. They opened his eyes to the God who is with the broken-hearted. Moltmann found the God who was present even behind the barbed wire. But whenever he tried to profess or grasp this experience of the presence of God, the experience evaded him. "All that was left was an inward drive, a longing which provided the impetus to hope" (Moltmann 1980, 7). His inexpressible experiences led Moltmann to become interested in theology. Fortunately he was allowed to study theology in a Protestant theologians’ camp, Norton Camp—an educational camp run by the YMCA and supervised by the British army—near Nottingham in England. Since then, the experiences of the life of a prisoner have left a lasting mark on him: the suffering and the hope which reinforce each other.
After he returned to Germany in 1948, Moltmann began to study theology regularly at Göttingen University. He studied there under teachers strongly influenced by Barth; he imbibed thoroughly the theology of Karl Barth. Therefore, he initially became a disciple of the great master of dialectical theology. Later, however, he saw some need to move beyond the narrow understanding of Barth and "Barmen orthodoxy"—solus Christus—when he wanted to give positive answers to the political possibilities and cultural challenges of the post-war period. Thus he became highly critical of Barth’s neglect of the historical nature of reality, while remaining indebted to Barth. Moltmann could come out of the dilemma by D. Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison. From Ernst Wolf as well as from Bonhoeffer’s work he developed his concern for social ethics and the church’s involvement in society. In addition, he was also influenced by Luther and Hegel through Hans Joachim Iwand. Luther and Iwand convinced him of the liberating truth of the Reformation doctrine of justification and the theology of the cross; Hegel and Iwand helped him develop his dialectical interpretation of the cross and the resurrection. Moreover, he gained his solid grounding in biblical theology from Gerhard von Rad and Ernst Käsemann. Above all, Otto Weber, who supervised the doctorates of him and his future wife—Elisabeth Wendel, helped him gain the eschatological perspective of the church’s universal mission toward the coming kingdom of God
Moltmann received his doctorate in theology from Göttingen University and got married, in 1952. Then he served as pastor of the Evangelical Church of Bremen-Wasserhorst for the following five years. In 1957 he got to know the Dutch theologian Arnold van Ruler, from whom he discovered the Reformed kingdom of God theology and Dutch apostulate theology. At the urging of his teacher Otto Weber, he became a theology professor at an academy in Wuppertal—Kirchliche Hochschule—operated by the Confessing Church in 1958. There he came into contact with Wolfhart Pannenberg. Then he joined the theological faculty of Bonn University in 1963. The following year he published Theology of Hope. After his brief stint at Bonn University, Moltmann was offered the prestigious position of professor of systematic theology at Tübingen University and taught there from 1967 to 1994. Now he is emeritus professor of theology at Tübingen University.
Since his marriage Moltmann has received help from his wife in doing theology. Continual discussion with her opened his eyes to many things which he should "probably otherwise have overlooked"; it also made him conscious of the "psychological and social limitations" of his "male point of view and judgement." (Moltmann 1990, xvii). His wife, Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel—the author of The Women Around Jesus, A Land Flowing with Milk and Honey, and I am My Body, etc.—also has played an active part in feminist theology.
His Ideas
The Shamefulness of the Cross
Jurgen Moltmann does away with any “imperialistic” interpretation of the Cross of Jesus Christ rather he emphasizes the fact that the Cross was something to be ashamed about. In the book of the law this kind of death is given to a blasphemer, he is abandoned by the people of the law and the God of the law and he is hung upon a tree as someone rejected by everybody. This is the cross of Christ. Jesus was rejected by nearly everybody close to him including the disciple that he loved the most. Early Christianity was considered to be a very crude faith that lacked esthetics. The Roman citizens would not even talk about the cross for it was something perverse for a gentleman to discuss yet it is the Cross that gives identity to a Christian. The cross marks the center of every Christian church. The cross is the center of Christian worship and liturgy. Moltmann is concerned because the cross of today is a cross that is “adorned with roses”.
Nietzsche says “Modern men, with their obtuseness as regards all Christian nomenclature, no longer have the sense for the terribly superlative conception which was implied to an antique taste by the paradox of the formula, 'God on the cross'. Hitherto there had never and nowhere been such boldness in inversion, nor anything at once so dreadful, questioning and questionable as this formula: it promised a transformation of all ancient values (Beyond Good and Evil, III, 46).
He called its morality the pitiful 'morality of a child made to stand in the corner', which had made the morbid virtue of compassion out of the necessity of suffering. He treated Christianity as a nihilist religion which had developed from Judaism. One statement which sums up his criticism is: 'Basically there was only one Christian, and he died on the cross.' Down to the present day, everything else was morality for slaves. Karl Marx also directs his criticism of Christianity to the 'roses' in the cross of reality'
His main idea on the cross was
The cross is the utterly incommensurable factor in the revelation of God. We have become far too used to it. We have surrounded the scandal of the cross with roses. We have made a theory of salvation out of it. But that is not the cross. That is not the bleakness inherent in it, placed in it by God. Hegel defined the cross: 'God is dead'—and he no doubt rightly saw that here we are faced by the night of the real, ultimate and inexplicable absence of God, and that before the 'Word of the cross' we are dependent upon the principle sola fide; dependent upon it as nowhere else. Here we have not the opera Dei, which point to him as the eternal creator, and to his wisdom. Here the faith in creation, the source of all paganism, breaks down. Here this whole philosophy and wisdom is abandoned to folly. Here God is non-God. Here is the triumph of death, the enemy, the non-church, the lawless state, the blasphemer, the soldiers. Here Satan triumphs over God. Our faith begins at the point where atheists suppose that it must be at an end. Our faith begins with the bleakness and power which is the night of the cross, abandonment, temptation and doubt about everything that exists! Our faith must be born where it is abandoned by all tangible reality; it must be born of nothingness, it must taste this nothingness and be given it to taste in a way that no philosophy of nihilism can imagine
Thus according to Moltmann the Cross is truly the center of Christian faith and worship and it is an act of shamefulness, that shame was the pride of the early Christian community and that is the reason why St Paul declares “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes……”
The Pain and Mutability of God
Jurgen Moltmann believes that God truly suffers and dies on the cross.He is a critic of popular religion that believes that God is immutable and cannot suffer, the Greek God for Plato and Aristotle was a “necessary” cause, he was the “uncaused cause and the unmoved mover” and the Church is guilty of borrowing this idea from Greek culture and this is visible in the God of Calvinism too. He draws inspiration from the writing of Dietrich Bonhoeffer who says “God lets himself be pushed out of the world on to the cross. He is weak and powerless in the world, and that is precisely the way, the only way, in which he is with us and helps us. Matt. 8.17 makes it quite clear that Christ helps us, not by virtue of his omnipotence, but by virtue of his weakness and suffering . . . Only the suffering God can help . . . That is a reversal of what the religious man expects from God. Man is summoned to share in God's sufferings at the hands of a godless world.”
At about the same time, and in a similar political situation in his country, the Japanese Lutheran theologian Kazoh Kitamori was writing his book Theology of the Pain of God in which he developed a similar theology of the cross: the pain of God heals our pains. In the suffering of Christ God himself suffers. These suggestions must be taken further.
Similarly, the piety of the Negro spirituals sung by black slaves in the southern states of the USA concentrates upon the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. For them his sufferings and death were a symbol of their own sufferings, their despised condition and their temptations in an unfriendly and inhuman world. They saw their fate in his sufferings. On the other hand, they could say that when Jesus was nailed to the cross and the Roman soldiers stabbed him in the side, he was not alone. The black slaves suffered with him and died with him. Were you there, when they crucified my Lord?' begins one of their songs. And the answer is: 'We, the black slaves, were there with him in his agony.' In Jesus' death black slaves saw themselves, and they unleashed their imagination in describing what they felt and saw . . . His death was a symbol of their suffering, trials and tribulations in an unfriendly world. They knew the agony of rejection and the pain of hanging from a tree . . . Because black slaves knew the significance of the pain and shame of
Jesus' death on the cross, they found themselves by his side. By his suffering and death, Jesus identified himself with those who were enslaved, and took their pain upon himself. And if he was not alone in his suffering, nor were they abandoned in the pains of their slavery. Jesus was with them. And there too lay their hope of freedom, by virtue of his resurrection into the freedom of God. Jesus was their identity with God in a world which had taken all hope from them and destroyed their human identity until it was unrecognizable.
Mysticism of the Cross
Mysticism of the passion has discovered a truth about Christ which ought not to be suppressed by being understood in a superficial way. It can be summed up by saying that suffering is overcome by suffering, and wounds are healed by wounds. For the suffering in suffering is the lack of love, and the wounds in wounds are the abandonment, and the powerlessness in pain is unbelief. And therefore the suffering of abandonment is overcome by the suffering of love, which is not afraid of what is sick and ugly, but accepts it and takes it to itself in order to heal it. Through his own abandonment by God, the crucified Christ brings God to those who are abandoned by God. Through his suffering he brings salvation to those who suffer. Through his death he brings eternal life to those who are dying. And therefore the tempted, rejected, suffering and dying Christ came to be the centre of the religion of the oppressed and the piety of the lost. And it is here, in the theology of the mysticism of the cross in the late Middle Ages, that we first hear the monstrous phrase 'the crucified God', which Luther then took up.
The gospels intentionally direct the gaze of Christians away from the experiences of the risen Christ and the Holy Spirit back to the earthly Jesus and his way to the cross. They represent faith as a call to follow Jesus. The call to follow him is associated with Jesus' proclamation of suffering. To follow Jesus always means to deny oneself and to take 'his cross' on oneself. He gathers about himself a circle of disciples who follow him. Outwardly, there is no distinction between this and the picture presented by the scribes and their disciples. But the relationship was of a different kind. The disciples of Jesus did not request to be accepted into his 'school', but were called by him. Presumably calling and following were originally concerned with God alone. Thus for Jesus to call people to follow him was an unparalleled claim to authority on his part. His disciples did not follow him in order to become rabbis themselves one day. They were to call each other brother, rather than rabbi . For Jesus did not found a new rabbinic school, but proclaimed the imminence of the kingdom. His call to discipleship was made under the sign of the kingdom of God which was beginning, and this sign was Jesus himself in person. Consequently, the call to follow him was absolute, and no motive was given at the time or later. Instead, there was a direct appeal: 'Follow me!'
Those who followed this call abandoned everything, and others refused and remained what they were. To follow Jesus was to break all links with one's family, job, etc., and indeed to break the link with oneself, to deny and hate oneself, in order to gain the kingdom: 'Whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it'
Thus the call to discipleship is a call to suffer and die with our crucified Lord, suffer seeking no reward but the shamefulness of his cross. This is a call to glory in the sufferings of this world. To quote St John
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
Christ overcame the world through his suffering and this is the spirit of Moltmann’s Christology.


Jacques Derrida
Biography and Timeline
Derrida was born on 15 July 1930, in El Biar (Algiers), then French Algeria, into a Sephardic Jewish family that became French in 1870 when Crémieux Decree granted full French citizenship (Pied-Noir) to the indigenous Jews of French colonial Algeria.On the first day of the school year in 1942, Derrida was expelled from his lycée by French administrators implementing anti-Semitic quotas set by the Vichy government. He secretly skipped school for a year rather than attend the Jewish lycée formed by displaced teachers and students. At this time, Derrida read works of philosophers and writers such as Rousseau, Camus, Nietzsche, and Gide. His name has become virtually synonymous in some circles with the word ‘deconstruction’. Derrida’s publications have become an enormous, though not uncontested influence on literary study and other academic disciplines in the latter half of the 20th century, particularly since the 1970s. Derrida first came to the attention in the English speaking academic world in 1966, following a paper presented in a colloquium Johns Hopkins University. In the following year 1967, Derrida published three books subsequently Of Grammatology in 1976, Speech and Phenomena in 1973 and Writing and Difference in 1978. These were followed in 1972 by three more in French, translated as Dissemination, Margins of Philosophy and Positions, securing Derrida’s influence. This influence has subsequently spread beyond the study of literature and literary theory, to produce effects in film and cultural studies, legal theory, in the study and theory of architecture and more generally throughout the humanities and social sciences. AS professor of philosophy, Derrida’s writing, ironically, though perhaps not surprisingly met with the greatest resistance sometimes, more simply, a lack of comprehension- in philosophy departments throughout British and North American Universities, and French and intellectual and political circles
1930 Derrida is born in El Biar, Algeria.
1950 Derrida begins his studies in France.
1957 Derrida becomes interested in how philosophy both denigrates and depends upon writing.
1962 Derrida's first major publication, a translation of Edmund Husserl's Origin of Geometry.
1966 Derrida attends a conference on Levi-Strauss at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He delivers a paper called "Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences," which marks his introduction of deconstruction into the US. This paper may be the most famous conference paper of all time.
1967 Derrida publishes Of Grammatology and a collection of essays, Writing and Difference.
1972 Derrida, Positions, a volume of interviews, and Dissemination. At this time, Derrida takes visiting appointments at prestigious US university, including Yale and Johns Hopkins.
1974 Derrida, Glas
1976 Derrida's Of Grammatology is translated into English.
1979 Derrida, Spurs and "Living On" in Deconstruction and Criticism, an anthology of essays edited by Harold Bloom.
1982 Derrida's Dissemination, the volume containing "Plato's Phramacy," is translated into English.

Gorgias and Socrates
To really understand Jacques Derrida one must trace the origin of Western Philosophy and the birth of the logo-centric way of thinking. Before the era of the great Greek trio there emerged a movement in Athens called “Sophism”, the proponents of this movement were known as Sophists. They worked on rhetoric and spoke on justice, truth, politics etc. The youth of Athens were introduced to “Sophistry” as a part of their education, prior to this they had the hereditary form of leaning. One such Sophist was a person who is called Gorgias and he emerged in the time of Socrates. His three main propositions were 1. Truth does not exist 2. Even if it exists it cannot be understood 3. Even if it can be understood it cannot be communicated. Socrates challenges this view and claims that truth can be understood and there is a “true” nature to the world around us. Socrates was favored over Gorgias in the history of Western Philosophy and this led to a formulation of the concept of “The Logos” which is the underlying principle behind everything that exists. The “Logo” centric way of thinking was opposed to the play of language that the Sophists participated in and Philosophy became a quest. With Derrida there is a resurfacing of the Gorgias of old. Derrida shifts this way of thinking and promotes the free play of language over the quest for the center. Derrida claims that the quest for a center only leads one into an “aporia” or waylessness by stating that every “center” has within itself a “deconstructive” element that contradicts its own pattern of expression. He reads the History of Western Philosophy as a search for meaning through “logo-centrism”. He does not invent the concept of “deconstruction” but merely “exposes” what already exists.
Derrida as a Post Structuralist
“Must not structure have a genesis and must not the genesis of the structure already be structured in order for it to be the genesis of something.”
Derrida was a post-structuralist. Post-structuralism offers a study of how knowledge is produced and a critique of structuralist premises. It argues that because history and culture condition the study of underlying structures it is subject to biases and misinterpretations. To understand an object (e.g. one of the many meanings of a text), a post-structuralist approach argues, it is necessary to study both the object itself and the systems of knowledge that produced the object.
Derrida also critiques the structuralist view on history as an already structured experience. Thus historical events have structures within themselves and these structures function in different combinations. Thus History has the tendency to repeat itself and there is also a statistical possibility of an incident that happened in the past to repeat itself exactly with the same combination in the future. As a critique of this Derrida emphasizes that an event is completely unforeseen, for an event to actually be an event it should be completely unpredictable and it should “affect” reality. In his conference in Toronto called “Other Testaments” Derrida talks about “Revelation” and “Revealibility”, Derrida talks about revelation as an event that takes place in History and affects all existence and completely changes the course of History. He even argues that this event should even be unforeseen by God and should also affect his existence.
Another critic of Structuralism and Claude Levi Strauss is that he uses the “language” of Myth to study myth and claims that his study is scientific. This method of study is criticized by Derrida as another form of a myth.

His Influences
Martin Heidegger
Heidegger questions the “privileged” form of philosophy. He critiques “phenomenology” by rejecting the difference between the subject and the object. He rejects the concept of the “Cartesian” dualism between mind and body and the “scientific” analysis of the world around us. He instead coins the word “dasein” which means “each of us”. He stated that the “dasein” is “engaged” in this world and thus is not a subject that can study an object. Dasein cannot exist without that which qualifies it to exist ie the world. Heidegger uses the word “destruktion” to explain his project on the destruction of widely accepted “ontological” concepts. His basic enquiry is “ontological” in nature ie he studies the being that “questions”. He also distinguishes between the “self” that society constructs and the “authentic” self. He says that the “authentic” self emerges when the “dasein” in engaged in its activity.

Fredrich Nietzsche
Nietzsche's relativism has had a powerful influence on Derrida.
“ The goal of life should be to find yourself. True maturity means discovering or creating an identity for yourself.” “The highest virtue is to be yourself.” – Nietzsche
These notions seem to be the centre of Derrida’s work, as they constantly refer to the ‘authenticity of being’ and the affirmation of being true to oneself. They also move him towards acceptance of the simplicity in reality which is the basis of Deconstruction (merely a play with words in the strict sense of their meaning.)

Sigmund Fred
Though the expression of Sigmund Freud ends up being extremely controversial, it seemingly has true reasons. Articulation of the highest order coupled with exploration of the inner self, gives the work of Freud. Such an approach apparently has caught the mind of Derrida and has influenced him to carry on with the same in his works.
His Works
Derrida is best known for developing deconstruction, a form of philosophical and literary analysis. Derrida argues that “deconstruction” is not a methodology nor is it neo-logism. This approach involves, in part, closely examining the language and logic of a written work, revealing its underlying assumptions, and showing how contradictions within the text itself undermine those assumptions. Derrida challenged the basic oppositions in texts of Western philosophy between pairs of concepts-such as mind and body or nature and culture-in which one is taken to be fundamental and the other secondary. In many of his essays and books, for example, he critically examined texts in which speech was assumed to be a more authentic form of language than writing. He argued that this opposition of speech and writing is neither natural nor necessary.
Probably the most important strategy at work in deconstruction is the tracking down of hierarchical structured oppositions. According to Derrida, it has been a characteristic of the western philosophical and scientific tradition since the classical times to think in binary oppositions. Presence opposes absence, speech opposes writing, philosophy opposes literature, the literal opposes the metaphorical, the central opposes the marginal, life opposes death, the real opposes the imaginary, the normal opposes the pathological, etc. Derrida shows how one of the oppositional terms is always privileged, controlling and dominating the other (dominating 'the other'). 'In a classical philosophical opposition we are not dealing with the peaceful coexistence of a vis-à-vis, but rather with a violent hierarchy. One of the two terms governs the other (axiologically, logically, etc.), or has the upper hand'
An example of a “deconstructive” work would be Derrida’s take on “Being”. He claims to inherit the concept from Heidegger who questions the question. Thus the question of “Being” is radically opposed to the affirmation. Thus the question is an answer when one analyzes what comes before and after the question which Derrida claims is more radical that the question itself and it is an affirmation. The Binary of presence and absence is also deconstructed when he says that for a question to be valid there should be the other. Thus “presence” is an interaction of the past trace with the “future”.
D iferrAnce:
"DifferAnce" is a term that Derrida coined. Derrida also is responsible for the popularity of the word "deconstruction' in our postmodern vocabulary. "Deconstruction", however, is a term he harvested from a little known use of the word "deconstruction" in Heidegger.
Trace can be seen as an always contingent term for a "mark of the absence of a presence, an always-already absent present", of the ‘originary lack’ that seems to be "the condition of thought and experience". Trace is a contingent unit of the critique of language always-already present: “language bears within itself the necessity of its own critique” Deconstruction, unlike analysis or interpretation, tries to lay the inner contradictions of a text bare, and, in turn, build a different meaning from that: it is at once a process of destruction and construction. Derrida claims that these contradictions are neither accidental nor exceptions; they are the exposure of certain “metaphysics of pure presence”, an exposure of the “transcendental signified” always-already hidden inside language. This “always-already hidden” contradiction is trace.

Derrida’s Style of writing:
When a few universities in the west decided to give Derrida a honorary doctorate for his contribution, about twenty renown scholars from across the west wrote saying that he did not deserve the honors due to his lack of clarity (as per the standards of such reputed universities) or deliberate obscurity
Derrida redundantly uses his rhetoric style of writing. Such redundancy and obscurity was not appreciated by the modern scholars.

Archi Writing:
Archi-writing is a term used by Derrida in his attempt to re-orientate the relationship between speech and writing. As far back as Plato, speech had been always given priority over writing. In the West, phonetic writing was instead considered as a secondary imitation of speech, a poor copy of the immediate living act of speech.

Derrida's central contention is that language is haunted by dispersal, absence, loss, the risk of unmeaning, a risk which is starkly embodied in all writing. The distinction between philosophy and literature therefore becomes of secondary importance. Philosophy vainly attempts to control the irrecoverable dissemination of its own meaning; it strives—against the grain of language—to offer a sober revelation of truth. Literature—on the other hand—flaunts its own meretriciousness, abandons itself to the Dionysiac play of language. In Dissemination—more than any previous work—Derrida joins in the revelry, weaving a complex pattern of puns, verbal echoes and allusions, intended to 'deconstruct' both the pretension of criticism to tell the truth about literature, and the pretension of philosophy to the literature of truth."

Critical Reception
Because Derrida is saying that all truth bears falsity along with it, some have declared Derrida absurdist for supposedly claiming that truth is falsehood, but this view is ill considered. The thrust of Derrida's thought points up the contingency and constructedness of truth, not that there is no such thing as truth. Satisfied to demonstrate the contingency of truth under any and all conditions, Derrida is silent on the nature of truth's contingency. A more considered critique of Derrida's view might see his thought as a form of transcendental skepticism, not dissimilar to Kant's. In any case, via rigorous philosophical demonstration, Derrida explicates the limitations of the logical conceptual thinking one routinely employs to live the requirements and ordinary situations of everyday life.
Derrida's works have tended to incite passionately divergent reactions from critics. Philosophers oriented toward the analytical and logical positivist schools, such as John Searle, refute Derrida by arguing that his championing of "indeterminacy" and linguistic freeplay leads to extreme forms of skepticism and nihilism. However, critic Christopher Norris defends Derrida by pointing out that deconstruction is actually an exceedingly rigorous form of analysis, and that Derrida's understanding of philosophy as a rhetorically structured form of writing indistinguishable in its essence from literature has been espoused by numerous other philosophers, notably Nietzsche. Derrida's reception among literary critics has been no less contentious. Part of the controversy may be attributed to the casual linkage of Derrida's name to the literary deconstructionists. As Rodolphe Gasché has pointed out, Derrida's philosophy does not concern itself directly with literary texts, and literary deconstruction is actually an independent movement which has for the most part only loosely applied Derrida's theories. Given that ideological and intellectual differences of opinion have made Derrida an extremely controversial figure, there can be no critical consensus as to the value of his work. However, his prominence in the history of philosophy seems assured. Philosopher Richard Rorty argues that the lasting value of Derrida's work is in its critical analysis of traditional Western philosophy. Rorty concludes: "Having done to Heidegger what Heidegger did to Nietzsche is the negative achievement which, after all the chatter about 'deconstruction' is over, will give Derrida a place in the history of philosophy."

Post Modernity and Film

If there is a definition of postmodern film, it should be understood as what it is not. Postmodernism does not focus, generalize, direct or respond. It is a new form of consciousness that emerged in the post-war era when there was a great outcry against structure and hegemony. There was a rising “indifference” towards “grand-narratives” on which structures are founded.
In the light of this change in “consciousness” there are also other elements that constituted the spread of “postmodern” culture across the globe. Colonial power has now been replaced by corporate power which is concentrated in the Western World. This advantage that the western world has over the other countries is due to the fact that the Industrial revolution had its origins in Europe. This in turn can be traced to the “Enlightenment”, which is entirely a western discourse. Post-modernity questions this grand narrative and expresses itself through different channels or mediums and since film is popular worldwide, it is now a potent medium.
Abstract Postmodern cinema has emerged in the 1980s and I990s as a powerfully creative force in Hollywood filmmaking, reflecting and helping to shape the historic convergence of media culture, technology, and consumerism. It corresponds to the post-Fordist, globalized phase of capitalist development typified by increasing class polarization, social atomization, urban chaos and violence, ecological crisis, and mass depoliticization. Departing from the modernist cultural tradition grounded in the Enlightenment, norms of industrial society, and faith in historical progress, postmodern cinema is characterized by disjointed narratives, a dark view of the human condition, images of chaos and random violence, death of the hero, emphasis on technique over content, and dystopic views of the future. While postmodern directors such as Woody Allen, Oliver Stone, Robert Altman, Quentin Tarantino, the Coen Brothers, Mike Figgis, and John Waters produce films that are often highly original and even subversive, their departure from conventional Hollywood formulas and motifs that define the studio system —their pronounced cultural radicalism—is rarely associated with any sort of political radicalism even where a harsh social critique might be visible. Postmodern cinema helps reproduce the very popular mood of anxiety, uncertainty, fear, and cynicism that it mirrors in the general society.


There is a great “Derridain” influence in post-modern cinema. The Derridian form of “criticism” plays on language and exposes the contradictions in every discourse. This is visible in post-modern cinema. In movies like “Masked and Anonymous” there is a constant play on language which is a direct result of the uncertainty of our era. Postmodern cinema of this genre often portrays the world as a “dark” place and Human Beings as futile creatures. This is due to the rising skepticism against the power that lies in the hand of the Capitalist and the decay of culture, environment and real Human dignity. These movies expose the possibility of a dark future crowned with anarchy. This is where the “subversion” takes place, just like Derrida does not prefer one binary over the other, these movies constantly try to empower the lesser but later expose the “evil” that is immanent in both extremes. There is no possible end to this, thus these movies end in a “suspended” state.
The next genre of Post-Modern film deals with lifestyle especially in the Continent. They deal with the lifestyle of a society entirely immersed in post-modern culture. These films try to expose society’s passions, dreams and everyday human conduct. These contain seeds of existentialism.
Another popular but least impressive of all the other existing genres are the movies that base themselves on the Conspiracy theory. They play on the “inauthenticity” of every structure’s origin. This instigates skepticism against life.

Characteristics of Postmodern Film
Postmodern movies at large contain the following characteristics:-
• Negation of Metaphysics
• Absence of Teleology
• No presence but only “absence” and “Deferral”
• Suspension of the Conclusion
• “Beyond good and evil”
Negation of Metaphysics
Postmodern movies do not attempt to be self-explanatory although there is an illusion of a “grand narrative” a closer examination would reveal that it is only a mere “field” where the “game” is performed. A movie like “Masked and Anonymous” deliberately carries with it a lot of extra detail to exclude the role of a narrator who would have become a crucial entity in the movie. The narrator is often a carrier of meaning and explains the “context” of the movie; every viewer would consciously or subconsciously depend on him to constantly give them the “authentic” meaning of the movie but this is a direct violation of the rules of postmodernism. Thus with the negation of metaphysics in postmodern films, the viewer has the freedom to create his own narrative and his own “essence”
Absence of Teleology
“The trick is to enjoy life and accept that it has no meaning” Juan Antonia (Vikki Christina Barcelona)
The films that are influenced by modernity or existentialism often begin with chaos and the “hero” (who is the Messiah or the center) brings order to the chaos. Every character has an important role to play and a vast potion of the film focuses on how the “hero” finds his meaning; he could find meaning in tragedy, history or love and this would “inspire” him to “fulfill” his purpose in life.

Postmodern films begin and end with chaos. Every character is a helpless spectator and is confined to his own reality. Postmodern films are not short of “micro-narratives” but that does not mean that each character has purpose or is in a quest to understand his/her purpose, these narratives merely explain the character’s “construct”. Each character is a helpless mould of clay, discourses, circumstances and society “construct” each of the character and exposure to any other reality that might oppose the basic “essence” of a character would not be treated with disdain and anger but merely as a “worthy opponent” that possess the power to influence even the character with the strongest values. This is visible in the movie “The Dark Knight” where the joker (who appears to be the anti-hero) “exposes” the “unreal” self of Harvey Dent who was a successful lawyer known for his values; the Joker induces chaos in his life but later explains that it was not his “intention” to “personally” hurt him but an expression of his own freedom and he encourages Harvey to do the same and “unleash his impulses”.

Thus every character does not seek his “essence” or purpose but rather allows circumstances to mould them.

No “Presence” but only “Absence” and “Deferral”
Presence brings with it definite, immediate meaning that is accessible to everybody. Presence is always absolutely singular and rigid. Postmodern film attempts to negate “presence” by constantly exposing the limitation of Human language and expression. Puns are employed in good measure to keep the meaning suspended. The dialogues are mostly abstract but have a strong link to past experience and they also act as signifiers or clues for the viewer to attempt to decode the “end”. It is like a jigsaw puzzle with two ends, piecing one end does not in reality imply that the other is in harmony. Thus there is always uncertainty on one end and thus meaning is deferred. The narrative behind each character’s past might also leave clues to the meaning but viewing each character in isolation does not help because the “meaning” of a certain character is closely liked to the other although they might at times appear to have an absolutely isolated role. Thus “the trace” is always an active entity and meaning or presence is always divided.

I was always a singer and maybe no more then that. Sometimes it's not enough to know the meaning of things, sometimes we have to know what things don't mean as well. Like what does it mean to not know what the person you love is capable of? Things fall apart, especially all the neat order of rules and laws. The way we look at the world is the way we really are. See it from a fair garden and everything looks cheerful. Climb to a higher plateau and you'll see plunder and murder. Truth and beauty are in the eye of the beholder. I stopped trying to figure everything out a long time ago.
Jack Fate (Bob Dylan): Masked and Anonymous

Suspension of the Conclusion
Postmodern film is not romantic nor is it “unromantic”. The “And they lived happily ever after” ending is certainly not preferred neither is an insanely dark ending. The viewer has the power to decide on the ending and any possibility is open. According to me, the discourse does not end with the death of any or even every character but is merely a seed that is sown and would be present as a “trace” forever. This is the reason why postmodern films do not have a definite ending. The characters are not exhausted or obsolete but their journey in the aporia does not have an end.

This is how “The Dark Knight” ends:-
Batman- You Will hunt me, You’ll Condemn me, set the Dogs on me! I guess that’s what needs to happen, Because sometimes Truth isn’t good enough, sometimes People deserve more. Sometimes people deserve to have their faith Rewarded.

James Gordon Jr.- Batman, Batman! Why is he running Daddy?

Gordon- Because we have to chase him.

Cop- Ok, We’re going in, Go, Go, Move!

James Gordon Jr.- He didn’t do anything wrong?

Gordon- Because he’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not what it needs right now. So we’ll hunt him, Because he can take it, because he’s not our hero. He’s a second Guardian, a watchful protector, A Dark Knight!
While the world waits for the “official” sequel, they are free to decide on how Gordan would react to Batman. Would he suffer the same fate as Harvey Dent or would he retain his “sanity”? What would he do if he did catch the Batman knowing that he saved his family?
These are the parts that are absent in the movie’s conclusion.
Beyond Good and Evil
One of the most extraordinary images in modern cinema is the scene where the Joker burns a huge stockpile of notes in “The Dark Knight”. The Joker is not a gangster nor is he a conventional villain. The Joker says that he is the one who gives meaning to the Batman and thus inaugurating a whole new definition of the concept of the “villain”. He says that he does not want to kill the Batman but would only want his attention. All the newspapers celebrated the emergence of a anti-hero so different from the rest. Here are a few quotes by the Joker.
The Joker: Oh, you. You just couldn't let me go, could you? This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. You are truly incorruptible, aren't you? Huh? You won't kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness. And I won't kill you because you're just too much fun. I think you and I are destined to do this forever.
Batman: You'll be in a padded cell forever.
The Joker: Maybe we can share one. You know, they'll be doubling up, the rate this city's inhabitants are losing their minds.
Batman: This city just showed you that it's full of people ready to believe in good.
The Joker: Until their spirit breaks completely. Until they get a good look at the real Harvey Dent and all the heroic things he's done. You didn't think I'd risk losing the battle for Gotham's soul in a fistfight with you? No. You need an ace in the hole. Mine's Harvey.
Batman: What did you do?
The Joker: I took Gotham's white knight and I brought him down to our level. It wasn't hard. You see, madness, as you know, is like gravity. All it takes is a little push!

The Joker: [over the PA] Tonight you're all gonna be part of a social experiment. Through the magic of diesel fuel and ammonium nitrate, I'm ready right now to blow you all sky high. Anyone attempts to get off their boat, you all die. Each of you has a remote... to blow up the other boat. At midnight, I blow you all up. If, however, one of you presses the button, I'll let that boat live. So, who's it going to be: Harvey Dent's most wanted scumbag collection, or the sweet and innocent civilians? You choose... oh, and you might want to decide quickly, because the people on the other boat might not be so noble.

Batman: Then why do you want to kill me?
The Joker: [laughs] I don't want to kill you! What would I do without you? Go back to ripping off mob dealers? No, no, NO! No. You... you... complete me.
Batman: You're garbage who kills for money.
The Joker: Don't talk like one of them. You're not! Even if you'd like to be. To them, you're just a freak, like me! They need you right now, but when they don't, they'll cast you out, like a leper! You see, their morals, their code, it's a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble. They're only as good as the world allows them to be. I'll show you. When the chips are down, these... these civilized people, they'll eat each other. See, I'm not a monster. I'm just ahead of the curve.
A conventional understanding of this movie would imply that the Batman represents the forces of good and the Joker that of evil but the underlying base of this movie is that the Batman was the one who “constructed” a person like the Joker unconsciously and the public views them as the same entity. Thus the Joker implies that the Batman and he depend on each other and it is the public that both of them should be weary of because he believes that the world is filled with hypocrites and that only the Batman and himself are true to themselves. Thus the Joker does not exist to unleash chaos but merely is “ahead of the curve”.
Postmodern film represents “Art for Art’s sake” and medium is the message contrary to the classical understanding of art as a means to understand the truth behind a certain entity. Thus disjointed narratives, uncertainty, complexity, nihilism and anarchy are the qualities of postmodern films. The onus is on the viewer to decide the fate of the discourse because “All the world’s a stage and all men and women merely players”. The essence of the film is entirely the subjective perception of the viewer; the film only opens new possibilities.