Perhaps even asking the question renders meaningless the idea of a post-secular age. Now it is no longer the theologians versus the secular liberals, nor is it merely a question of secularist making room for religion. We can't merely designate current theory as post-secular without farther distinguishing how and to way purpose religion has made a return. But I degress...
Now, of course it goes without saying that Slavoj Žižek has much to say about theology, and even uses theological concepts and codes. But does that make him a theologian?
My question springs from something Pete Rollins said while describing a reading group he is pulling together which would be "dedicated to introducing and exploring the work of key theorists who are contributing important insights into Christianity." Now, framed this way, of course I would recommend reading Žižek. But Rollins introduces Žižek as "a dialectical materialist theologian." Really? For me, riffing on the title of this installation piece, I would have to say, "Slavoj Žižek (the theologian) Does not Exist".
Now I'm sure that many will jump on my intolerant exclusion, my hubristic tendency to police borders and draw lines, my pitiable need for creating Others, Monsters, and Enemies, all of which, they will say, Žižek help us to recognize and overcome. Well, perhaps.
But I would counter that by calling Žižek a theologian is to make a huge mistake in either one or two ways. The first would be to misunderstand Žižek's project, the other would be to misunderstand theology. Žižek has been, and it seems always will be, a "fighting atheist" who really does believe that religion in its actual forms, its lived realities (which I hope this site would be about, even if tangentially) is fundamentalist and violent (see he his "Defenders of the Faith" where argues that atheists are the only true practitioners of religion). For me, Žižek is at his best as a political theorist of ideology practicing a critique of capitalism, and for the most part I choose to walk a great distance with him. But in this way he is functioning as a provocative philosopher (and I'm not saying that while looking down my snobby theological nose).
But the only way to understand Žižek as a theologian is to serious downgrade theology itself, which is the second mistake. If theology is merely the sociology or anthropology of religion run through the Lacanian registers of the Imaginary, the Symbolic, and the Real, then I might as well become a stock broker. If theology is merely explication of the immanent infinitude of human subjectivity, the void of the cosmos, the height and depth of reality, then let's own up to that (which I believe Žižek has). But if theology is truly about something, someone, transcending reality as we know/perceive/construct it, something, someone, that, yes, stands beyond/above/outside what we can conceive, then it is plain that Žižek is not a theologian, and clearly states as much. Some version of the latter is what I hope theology is, even in all its apophatic, kataphaic relations, even in all its discursive permutations through the Imaginary, Symbolic, and Real.
For these reasons, for me, Žižek is not a theologian.
What have I missed? What do you think?