storytime

So, do we suppose I am enjoying my bedtime reading, or just enjoying the thought of enjoying it?  Sadly, it’s acted more like espresso than chamomile.

The idol does not indicate, any more than the icon, a particular being or even class of beings.  Icon and Idol indicate a manner of being for beings, or at least for some of them.  Indeed, a determination that would limit itself to opposing the ‘true God’ (icon) to the ‘false god’ (idol) in extending the polemic of the vetero-testamentary prophets, would not be suitable here.  For the Christian iconoclasts of the eighth century gave the name ‘idol’ to that which had been conceived and venerated as icon of the true God, and the Jews of the Old Covenant rejected all representation as idolatrous, even representation of the God of the Covenant.  (the ‘Golden Calf’, it has been argued, perhaps only personalized the God of the Covenant, and the very Temple of Jerusalem could have been deserted by the divine Shekinah only insofar as it foundered in idolatry.) …  In short, the icon and the idol are not at all determined as beings against other beings, since the same beings (statues, names, etc.) can pass from one rank to the other.  The icon and the idol determine two manners of being for beings, not two classes of beings.

Jean-Luc Marion, God Without Being
transl. Thomas A. Carlson

You must admit, that bit about the Skekinah is pretty clever.

7 thoughts on “storytime

  1. I think you need to find something more soothing. This gives me a sore head – I think the many parentheses make for unnecessarily convoluted text unmerited by the subject matter which it obscures.

    And that last sentence seems to have been infected by some polysyllabic virus which makes it almost as bad!

  2. Chris, it’s the fault of the translation. I spared you the torturous sentence that went on for four lines but deferred the main verb till the last three words.

    Sarah, I love that you have another book on the same topic more appropriate to bed time.

  3. I’m not at all sure how the Shekinah-idolatory-temple idea works out. Do we suppose therefore that the Shekinah remains in the Temple as it is sacked, ruined and desolate? Interesting, if so. For we did indeed see the glory of that in a place not so far from the Temple.

  4. I took it to mean that the presence of the Shekinah in the temple was bound up with the relationship between God and Israel, the one present – and those perceiving presence. So, temple remains icon so long as presence is perceived: so long as the temple points beyond itself. But as soon as presence is not perceived, it is idol, and presence becomes absence.

    If that is so, I think you could argue for paradoxical things at the destruction of the temple. (1) when only the destroyers were present, there was no presence. (2) insofar as the faithful perceived God in the desolation, the Shekinah was there.

    That would be much easier to say if I meant that it was all about human projection, but I don’t. It’s somehow about relationship and perception.

    Off to read the next three pages before bed (what can I say? I gave you one of the easy passages).

    [here’s a source of joy just for you, Rosemary. Have you noticed that the word offered by the spell checker for ‘shekinah’ is ‘sheepskin’?]

  5. The follow on question for me is, then, what is God’s perception of this? How many faithful does he need to see the shekinah in the Temple? As in the pair of limericks on Bishop Berkeley:
    There was a young man who said: ‘God
    Must think it exceedingly odd
    When he finds that this tree
    Still continues to be
    When there’s no one about in the quod.’

    ‘Dear Sir, your astonishment’s odd
    I am always about in the quod
    Which is why this tree
    Will continue to be
    Since observed by,
    yours faithfully
    God.’

    Jeremiah felt that the Temple in his age slipped into idol. but was he objectively right? Did God stay to be beaten at the pillars of the Temple? Can any Christian have the idea of the Temple as Icon and not see that in the story afterwards?

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