undoing the “reign of non-mediation,”


Matthew Engelke is right: religion is about mediation. Ironically so, because it is about the divine; but because the divine is never directly available, religion must instead be about how the divine is indirectly manifest. Thus, as Régis Debray has shown in his God: an Itinerary, monotheism, which is apparently the most other-worldly and non-mediated of creeds, has had to identify itself in concrete terms, which may bizarrely include preference for some landscapes over others, or for association with some animals over others. Because religion is about mediation, it naturally refuses any duality of nature and culture. Reality, as the true nature of things, is sacred, but it must be mediated by particular human relations and practices. Culture, therefore, can be neither merely arbitrary nor totally opposed to nature, since it is what truly discloses the latter. Since all, or nearly all, human cultures have been religious, it is therefore unsurprising that, as Marshall Sahlins has pointed out in The Western Illusion of Human Nature, they do not recognize a nature/culture divide. Instead, they define themselves in groups of kinship with other natural beings and with the gods, animals being typically defined as types of human, not humans as types of animals.

more from John Milbank at Immanent Frame here.