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Phenomenologies of the StrangerBetween Hostility and Hospitality$
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Richard Kearney and Kascha Semonovitch

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780823234615

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823234615.001.0001

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The Hospitality of Listening

The Hospitality of Listening

A Note on Sacramental Strangeness

(p.98) 5 The Hospitality of Listening
Phenomenologies of the Stranger



Fordham University Press

Among the most promising-seeming possibilities for an ethics linked to theology is that of regarding the world as sacramental. A sacramental sensibility seems, potentially at least, a way to a valuing of some aspects of the world, but not a way particularly welcoming of the strange or the stranger. But fundamental to such a sensibility, this chapter argues, is a discipline of attention, of a carefully open listening, and such an attentiveness in fact requires that we listen to what we do not already understand, what sounds in our ears and appears to our eyes as something foreign. This chapter presents an account of a sacramental ethics that is always hospitable to the strange. Drawing on various texts from Augustine, Lewis Mackey, Jean-Luc Nancy, Jean Chrétien, and others, it narrates a history of the sacramental in Christian intellectual history. It advocates “listening” as a primary method of hospitality, a radical openness to the strangeness of the world in its all its beautiful, destitute, and bizarre incarnations.

Keywords:   Augustine, Lewis Mackey, Jean-Luc Nancy, Jean Chrétien, hospitality, listening, strangeness, sacramental ethics, attention, stranger

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