Everyone agrees that theology has failed; but the question of how to understand and respond to this failure is complex and contested. Against both the radical orthodox attempt to return to a time before the theology's failure and the deconstructionist theological attempt to open theology up to the hope of a future beyond failure, A Theology of Failure proposes an account of Christian identity as constituted by, not despite, failure. Understanding failure as central to theology opens up new possibilities for confronting Christianity's violent and kyriarchal history and abandoning the attempt to discover a pure Christ outside of the grotesque materiality of the church.
The Christian mystical tradition begins with Dionysius the Areopagite's uncomfortable but productive conjunction of Christian theology and Neoplatonism. The tensions generated by this are central to Dionysius' legacy, visible not only in subsequent theological thought but also in much twentieth century continental philosophy as it seeks to disentangle itself from its Christian ancestry. This book argues that the work of Slavoj iek can be understood as an attempt to repeat the original move of Christian mystical theology, bringing together the themes of language, desire and transcendence not with Neoplatonism but with a materialist account of the world. Tracing these themes through the work of Dionysius and Derrida, and through contemporary debates about the gift, violence and revolution, this book offers a critical and theological engagement with iek's account of social and political transformation before returning to Dionysius in order to demonstrate how iek's work makes possible a materialist reading of apophatic theology and Christian identity.
"This is the best work I have ever read on Zizek in relation to theology, maybe the best such work possible. Rose's prose style is clear and engaging, and her project significantly advances our understanding of Christian apophaticism, of Zizek's project, and of the potential future stakes of theology for a secular world." -- Adam Kotsko, author of Neoliberalism's Demons: On the Political Theology of Late Capital
"An ambitious and significant project in continental philosophy and theology. Engaging Dionysius beyond the usual texts and reading that corpus through Zizek, Rose offers way of linking ontology, language, and theology-through failure-that is theologically productive." -- Ellen Armour, Vanderbilt University