Thoughts on “In Defense of Blasphemy: Negotiating the Sacred”

“Societies are created by codes, rules and beliefs about one-another, about nature, about altruism, about love and so on. There are certain rights and wrongs that become performative (i.e., we agree upon certain behaviors as a society) and over time , the performance becomes routine, the routine becomes truth and truth becomes dogma and people stop thinking.”
George Elerick

I have checked out George Elerick’s elucidation of the necessity and importance of blasphemy as a means to liberate people from marginalization and discrimination in a society that has become entrenched in its own dogma. I would see blasphemy as a driving force of postmodernism which itself is a critique of the power structure and hierarchy that has been created and established in the process of modernism.

As he put it, “in comes comedians, blasphemers, and heretics. These are the voices who wake us up from our slumber”, as humour is an anthropological tool to make us better humans, blasphemy serves to resist dogma and heretics serve to critique established systems of thought. Yes, these help people to question established ideologies and practices, especially those that have inadvertently caused oppression and discrimination in the world today, and encourage people to find ways to liberate themselves and others from such oppression and discrimination.

In this sense, Jesus is a contemporary postmodernist of his day, who uses blasphemy to challenge and critique the discriminatory power structures and hierarchy in the religious Jewish system. As noted by Elerick, Jesus was being heretical when he challenges the notion of sabbath not being doctrinal. He broke the rules by healing people on the sabbath. He disregarded customs when he spoke with a Samaritan woman at the well, and when he touched the leper to heal him.

I agree with his observation that Paul also sought to challenge the societal uses of identities which are based on appearance and performances, by teaching that we no longer see one another according to the flesh but rather we are all new creations and we are all one in Christ, being neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female and so on. In the same way, postmodern Christianity today seeks to challenge traditional christian doctrines in institutional churches that discriminate against women, LBGTQs, people of colour, atheists and so on.

As mentioned in another blog, it is typical perhaps of some institutional churches to “demonise” postmodern Christianity because the authorities do not want their congregations to question or challenge their ideologies, theologies and practices, which is unfortunate. I can only hope that more people will somehow come out of institutional religions and question the status quo, and draw their own conclusions and trust their own intuition, as I am also learning to do so myself so far.

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