This is my Body: Deconstruction, Eucharist, and Community

This is the paper Joel Avery and I presented at the Homebrewed Christianity session at AAR this year. It was a great experience, and having Jack Caputo respond on the panel was such a privilege.

We're planning to do some revisions, and the goal is to get it ready for publication with the other papers from the panel and Caputo's response, but for now you can find here the paper as it was read.


As Derrida returned to Plato's writings throughout his life, looking for moments of aporia in each new reading, so too Christians, returning time and again to the Eucharist, open themselves to the possibility of encountering the body of Christ in the presence of the stranger in each new gathering.

Using John Caputo’s work in What Would Jesus Deconstruct? and his interaction with Derrida in Deconstruction in a Nutshell, as well as the work of Louis-Marie Chauvet, we will show how deconstructing the Eucharist in response to the call of the nondeconstructable absent-yet-Real Presence harbored therein yields an encounter in which the Eucharist becomes a deconstructive act that calls into question and breaks down social hierarchies and individualized faith in order to reveal Christ’s broken body in the community that gathers at his table.

We discuss liturgy as a repeated yet singular event--a counterpath of life that we travel as strangers together on our way to the table, where we arrive without ever arriving, and where we see in the face of each stranger the presence of Jesus revealing itself.

We will spend the bulk of the paper demonstrating how these ideas are manifest in the work of two communities-- St. Lydia’s, an ELCA-affiliated “dinner church” in Brooklyn who ground their worship in a deconstructed liturgy centered on a shared meal, and ikonNYC, a group outside the realm of traditional church who explore and deconstruct ideas about faith.