Now for some advanced preparation for the 2007
Kearney's fourth chapter is on 'Desiring God.' This chapter moves from an interpretation of the Song of Songs, to a discussion of the Song of Songs by Levinas, to a discussion of Levinas discussion by Derrida and Caputo. It progresses from summation, to metaphysical reading, to phenomenological reading and finally to deconstructive reading. Through this discourse on interpreting desire the question turns on what the desire of God is, who desires whom, and what kind of desire it is.
Kearney begins with a truncated exposition of the Song of Songs itself. He is not shy: the Song is about sex. It is about desire. It is about longing of the other. It culminates in Song 8:6: "Place me as a seal upon your heart/ like a seal upon your arm/ for love is as strong as Death/ ardor as is as mighty as the Grave/ the flashes are flashes of fire/ a flame of Yhwh." (my translation). Kearney surmises, "unlike Platonic love, this incarnational love of the Bible does involve all the senses, sound, odor, touch, sight, taste, but unlike the old pagan rites of sexual fusion and sacrifice, it resists the phallic illusions of totality, finality or fullness." (p. 59) It is "a desire that desires beyond desire while remaining desire." (p. 60)
This desire is then contextualized and analyzed in light of the two predominant metaphysical categories in the book: onto-theology and eschatology. The onto-theological reading of desire is tied to an inner lack, an inner desire to know absolutely. It is a desire to storm the heavens and find the certainty that would render faith unnecessary and make God less dangerous. The eschatological reading of this desire is a hope of the future, a response desiring the God that has first desired us.
The discussion and preference for the eschatological, a preference seen through out Kearney's work, brings about an analysis of the work of Emmanuel Levinas. It is from Levinas that Kearney appears to take his ideas of the eschatological. Levinas himself formulated this idea in rejection to the grand Hegelian system of history. Levinas sought to break this system with an eschatological desire from outside of time, eschatological over teleological. Levinas played Hegel's concept of desire against itself. He saw the object of desire as voluptuousity of the other which brings about fecundity through a transcendence of paternity. That is to say, desire leads and engenders a gift that transcends the initial desire. However, Derrida and Caputo would see this last step as impossible.
Derrida and Caputo work with a deconstructive reading of desire. This desire desires an other that is tout autre, every other. In Derrida's summation, this other is not conscribed merely to human or divine but includes everything. Caputo interprets this as a desire rooted in importance of every specific other. Yet, this is a desire that Kearney shies away from. He holds instead that there needs to be something that allows us to recognize the object of our desire. Kearney in the end concludes, "While God's lovers will always continue to seek and desire him whom their soul loves, they have always already been found because already sought and desire by him who their soul loves." (p.79)
Kearney's fifth chapter is entitled "Possibilizing God." The title comes from Mark 10:27 where Jesus states that with God all things are possible. Kearney's goal in this chapter is to chart a new metaphysical course that allows for the eschatological notion of the possible, the possibility of the impossible. To this aim he interacts with recent attempts to reexamine the possible in the works of Husserl, Bloch, Heidegger and Derrida. A quick summary of these theories are in order. While Kearney ultimately finds all four of these scholars' religious understandings of the possible wanting, he holds that they all point to the possible as something more than the actual. He ends the chapter by summarizing his understanding of the Possible God.
"1) It is radically transcendent, guaranteed by the mark of its "impossible-possibility." 2) It is "possible in so far as we have faith in the promise of advent." 3) It calls and solicits us. 4) And, finally, the eschatological May-be unfolds not just as can-be but as should-be, already, now, and not yet, is always a surprise and never without grace. (p.100)
In his conclusion "Poetics of the Possible God" Kearney ties two general premises of the book together. The first is his attempt to retrieve an alternate hermeneutic of the possible; and the second is the concept of Godplay in this possibility.
First, Kearney looks at various philosophers from Averroës to Cusanus to finally Shelling in an attempt to explain the possible in a way that allows for the eschatological hope of the possible. Kearney sees "the divine Creator transfiguring our being into a can-be", a being capable of creating and recreating anew meanings in our world, without determining the actual content of our creating or doing the actual creating for us." (p.102). This openness of God is revealed in a new hermeneutical understanding of the trinity, "The Father might thus be re-envisages as the loving-possible which transfigures the Son and Spirit and is transfigured by them in turn." (p. 106)
This inner Trinitarian transfiguration plays finally into Kearney?s understanding of Godplay. God and humanity are in an eschatological play of possibility, the possibility of the Kingdom never fully possessed. The Trinity is understood in the Eastern Church as a sacred dance or perichoresis. Kearney holds that this dance is the God-play into which the Triune invites humanity to partake.