To haunt does not mean to be present, and it is necessary to introduce haunting into the very construction of a concept. Of every concept, beginning with the concepts of being and time. That is what we would be calling here a hauntology. Ontology opposes it only in a movement of exorcism. Ontology is a conjuration. – Jacques Derrida, Spectres of Marx
Old theology haunts. It lingers as a specter, looming over discourse like whispers of the dead. Its absence is both powerful and overwhelming. An absence seeking to reconstitute itself, desiring theology’s former glory. Seeking presence, old theology wishes to be known and felt. Its presence is both unmistakable and undeniable. The theology of old moves by sheer will of force. It wants to be known and heard. Thus, it strives for a return of its sovereign realm.
Old theology is the realm of dualism. A kingdom comprised of metaphysics and ontotheology. Yet such a kingdom is crumbling and dying. Admittedly, old theology suffers a prolonged death. It persists under the guise of past dogmas and principles. It proposes a glimpse of Being. Old theology needs Being. It craves Being and the first principles that comprise it. Its craving, nay its addiction to Being, spells its own death. A death by a priori.
Old theology haunts, because it cannot accept what it has become. A shell of itself, it fails to realize that:
no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins. – Mark 2:22
What was old will be made new. A new theology that doesn’t linger or obsess over presence and absence. The new theology, never finished but ongoing, dwells between presence and absence. It doesn’t haunt, but stands at the threshold and waits. It doesn’t assert, but quietly dwells with. This new theology, a liminal theology, lives at the boundaries of the known and the unknown. No longer dependent on Being, it questions and challenges for all and with all. Unbounded, liminality opens the imagination for progress and justice. The never-ending conversation with the eternal-now. A conversation with the people, places, and ideas found in-between and unfit for the neatness of Being’s a priori.
Liminal isn’t about a theology, but the theologies at the boundary.
Photo by Erik Müller on Unsplash