Roundtable on The Monstrosity of Christ

The Villanova University online journal Expositions has a new issue out, including a “roundtable discussion” of Zizek and Milbank’s Monstrosity of Christ. Surprisingly, I have a contribution (PDF), and since I’ve already written so much on the book, I used this as an opportunity to reflect on its overall structure and impact. Ultimately, as my title indicates, I regard the volume as a missed encounter and a missed opportunity. Other roundtable participants include Clayton Crockett, Jeff Robbins, and Frederiek Depoortere.

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6 Responses to “Roundtable on The Monstrosity of Christ

  1. Alex Says:

    Clayton quoted Joy Division. Brilliant.

  2. Adam Kotsko Says:

    I seem to be alone in being critical of the volume, in terms of format, etc. What I wonder is whether all the contributors could have written essentially the same thing if someone had told them to imagine and respond to a debate between Zizek and Milbank, without any such book existing — I expect that the answer would be yes, which kind of proves my point that the only conceivable audience is people who already know both men’s work well.

  3. Mark William Westmoreland Says:

    Well said, Adam. I agree, in particular, with your comments in para 2 on 126: the end result of the volume is not what was envisioned (as stated in the introduction). Your comment above describes my own frustration. Unfortunately, I see this sort of thing happening in waves. For example, in the late 90s and shortly before his death, Derrida had a ridiculous amount of engagements with Caputo on the topic of deconstruction and religion. A few years ago, Badiou and Critchley went through a similar exchange regarding politics. Today, Zizek and Milbank seem to be following this same trail (although, this last one does not seem to have as much a following among my colleagues, i.e., philosophers, in the same way that the former too did). In each example, one could imagine that followers of the discourse “could have written essentially the same thing if someone told them to imagine and respond to a debate between X and Y.” The two figures continue to say the same things over and over. Or do they? Sometimes I tell myself, “Mark, they’re not just repeating themselves. Perhaps you’re missing a new concept or a particular nuance.” However, I don’t think this is the case this time. In the end, I think I’d have been happy only reading the last Zizek chapter.

    I second Alex: the use of JD was brilliant.

  4. Chris Rodkey Says:

    I’m using The Monstrosity of Christ for a religious education curriculum that I’m writing for a church-related publisher at the moment. I hope it survives the editorial process.

  5. Adam Kotsko Says:

    I don’t want to sound negative, but that sounds like a really bad idea to me. The book is terrible for that kind of setting – in fact, I wouldn’t even use it for a doctoral seminar.

  6. Brad Johnson Says:

    Really, at the end of the day, a much better title than book.


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