The Geometry of Life

If you've followed my work closely since the publication of The Slavery of Death you'll have noted a dominant theme in my thinking regarding the notion of an "eccentric identity."

The notion of eccentricity grabbed me when I read David Kelsey's two-volume work Eccentric Existence. And I've tried to give Kelsey credit whenever I mention the idea. 

I've gone on to fuse Kelsey's idea with the work of Arthur McGill. McGill speaks about Jesus' "ecstatic identity" in contrast to an "identity of possession." That is, Jesus receives, as a gift, his identity from the Father rather than trying to grasp or possess his identity in an act of territorial ownership. Jesus' life is located outside of himself, in the Father. In my work, in connect McGill and Kelsey to speak not of "eccentric existence" or of an "ecstatic identity" but of an "eccentric identity."

Again, if you've been following me, you'll have noted that I've come to think of "eccentric identity" as a sort of master idea for spirituality and psychological flourishing. And if you know to look for it, the notion shows up over and over again across all sorts of Christian writers and thinkers. Most recently in my work, eccentric identity is at the heart of the chapter "The Good Catastrophe" in Hunting Magic Eels, how help has to come to us from the outside. 

A deepening of the idea comes when we connect the "eccentric identity" with Charles Taylor's analysis regarding the buffered self in the immanent frame. Specifically, with the loss of a transcendent dimension in the modern world the self is thrust back upon itself. The self cannot become "eccentric" because God is dead. That is, there is no transcendent ground of being, meaning, or value found outside of or beyond the self. Facing that void, the self must turn inward for direction and meaning. Modern existence is no longer eccentrically grounded but is, rather, interiorized. The symptoms of this "inward turn" are everywhere. The rise of therapeutic culture. Individualism. The sovereignty of the ego. 

Simply phrased, we're talking here about the geometry of life. Is the self incurvatus in se (curved inward) or excurvatus ex se (curved outward)? Is the self introverted or eccentric? 

The argument I've been making since The Slavery of Death, culminating in Hunting Magic Eels, is that your life boils down to this basic geometry.

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