The Problem with Grace: Reconfiguring Political Theology

The Problem with Grace: Reconfiguring Political Theology

The Problem with Grace: Reconfiguring Political Theology

The Problem with Grace: Reconfiguring Political Theology


This book develops a post-secular, post-sectarian political theology, taking that burgeoning field in a new direction. With his bold suggestion that political philosophy must begin with political theology, Vincent Lloyd investigates a series of religious concepts such as love, faith, liturgy, and revelation and explores their political relevance by extracting them from their Christian theological context while refusing to reduce them to secular terms. He assembles an unusual canon of thinkers "too Jewish to be Christian and too Christian to be Jewish"- Simone Weil, James Baldwin, Franz Kafka, and Gillian Rose- to aid him in his explorations.

Unique in its serious attention to both theological writing about politics and the work of academic philosophers and theorists, The Problem with Grace deepens our understanding of political theological vocabulary as a way back to the everyday world. Politics is not about redemption, but about grappling with the ever-present difficulties, tragedies, and comedies of ordinary life.


Beyond Supersessionism

In 1933, GRACE MULLIGAN WAS PASSING THROUGH RURAL ALABAMA when she happened upon the Manderlay plantation. A white woman of refined tastes and social conscience, Grace was traveling with her father and his posse of upmarket gangsters. The cars in their caravan slowed, and then stopped, as a black woman hailed them and asked for help. “They’re going to whip him,” the distraught woman cried. Grace discovered a community of African-Americans who had never been informed that slavery had been abolished decades before. As she entered the Manderlay plantation to investigate, Grace took it upon herself to inform the black residents of Manderlay that they no longer were slaves and were now free. Grace abolished the rules of the plantation, “Mam’s Law” and reorganized the community into a democratic polity. She remained at Manderlay to facilitate the transition from slavery to freedom, overcoming various difficulties along the way. Her efforts paid off, and the new community reaped a bountiful harvest. But Grace’s success was short-lived: the community soon imploded with suspicion, blood, and flames, viciously turning on itself and on Grace.

Lars von Trier’s film Manderlay ends as its fictional heroine, Grace, is fleeing the plantation. Grace came to replace Law—with unanticipated, disastrous results. Manderlay allegorizes a structure that is pervasive but almost . . .

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