LEST edition:6 location:Leuven date:7-10 November 2007
The question around which I will structure my paper, is: Is a “community of love” possible?
I depart from the presupposition that the Christian churches all gather around the love of God, and that this love binds them. In my perspective, however, one of the problems of ecumenism, and more generally, of forming a community, is that theologians tend to have a one-sided conception of what the nature of this love really is.
Elaborating on the concept of love, I will discern two accounts of love that correspond with two different conceptions of subjectivity. The love of which the Church bears witness, corresponding with man as imago Dei, and the love that is related to another form of transcendence, namely a transcendence within the subject that cannot be symbolized (in opposition to the symbolized transcendence of the Church). I will argue that what a community binds, is not an identification with a symbolized transcendence, but rather a difference, a transcendence with which one can never identify, that can never be symbolized.
An important source of inspiration for my reflections on the idea of a community and love, are the works of psychoanalytic Julia Kristeva. In Psychanalyse et foi, she writes that analysis begins with a moment comparable to that of faith, namely the transference of love. But whereas the analysis ends with the finding that I must alienate myself from my ‘benefactor’ (the analyst), this binding remains unbroken in a Christian believer. Therefore, Kristeva states, psychoanalysis goes beyond (au-delà) religion. This ‘kind’ of love can be, in my perspective, a reference to a form of transcendence that I wish to defend against the ‘domesticated’ and particularized transcendence of the different Christian Churches. In my paper, I will investigate the consequences of this thesis for the existence and the identity of a community of love.
With this paper, I believe having embarked on a research circling around the following questions of the LEST conference that were formulated on the website:
- Believing with or without the Church: What are the challenges the church, as a community, is facing in an age of individualisation?
- How are the churches responding to this challenge together?
- In what way are communities held together? How do instances of authority function?
- What is the community to which we belong and what is this community’s identity based on?