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Anatheism: Returning to God After God (Insurrections: Critical Studies in Religion, Politics, and Culture) Paperback – May 17, 2011

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Product Details

  • Series: Insurrections: Critical Studies in Religion, Politics, and Culture
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (May 17, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231147899
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231147897
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.9 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #256,857 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Richard Kearney is an eminent contributor to Continental philosophy and to the Continental turn to religion. This book is an important contribution to the turn toward the philosophy of religion. Kearney helps to define a field that is new: the return of religion not only to the center of public and intellectual life but also to the center of significant discussion in the humanities.

Anatheism is an exciting, imaginative, and robust account of the life of faith in the postmodern world, a world marked by cultural plurality and religious strife, by militant faiths and militant attacks on faith. Richard Kearney moves with ease across a breathtaking amount of literature and cultures in an effort to retrieve a more mature and complex faith, beyond both doubt and dogmatism, to find the sacred in the secular, to see God in the world. Hospitality is first among the virtues for Kearney-both the hospitality that religion is and the hospitality to be shown among religions. This book is everything we have come to expect from Kearney-clear, fascinating, and engaging, all in all a major contribution to the contemporary continental philosophy of religion.

Anatheism is a philosophical and personal exploration, reminiscent of Augustine's Confessions, of how one might envisage God after his demise. The book weaves a rich philosophical tapestry of cultural, literary, political, and religious reflections that give witness and content to how the God who has become a stranger might be ethically welcomed today. This remarkable work is, in the most positive sense, an intellectual 'tour de faiblesse.' It advocates a form of post-theism that enables a rediscovery of a 'powerless' sacred in the midst of a self-assured secular. A phenomenological and hermeneutic exercise that is of great significance and assured controversy.

Kearney invites us all to a space he calls 'anatheism,' a place that precedes belief and unbelief where the close-minded dogmatism of either theism or atheism is left at the door and a respectful encounter ensues. It is a most welcome invitation.

A heartfelt, pragmatic, and eminently realistic argument about how one might continue to think about—and even dedicate one's life to—God after the 'death' or 'disappearance' of God over the last hundred years or so.... Richard Kearney wants to see what is left of God, in the time after God, and he does so superbly well.

(The New Yorker)

I enjoyed Kearney's book tremendously, especially the ana-theme: the distinction between going on believing as before or believing again. This is a profound distinction for our age. The possibilities opened up by the 'ana' offer a large palette of expanding choices combining and recombining new and old positions of belief and non-belief.

Numerous dogmatic believers possess the consummate art of rendering God utterly insupportable to any free spirit... while certain atheists can be so obtuse in their scientific utilitarianism that one feels like converting at the nearest altar. It is to avoid these extremes that the Irish philosopher, Richard Kearney, has written this remarkable hermeneutics of faith.... One must salute this thought-provoking book written with rare honesty and openness of mind.

I find the notion of ana-theism extremely pertinent as a way of witnessing to the death of the death of God (a double privative) while opening a third way: a path beyond both theism and atheism, beyond metaphysics and religion, which returns to the possibility of the divine event as such.

provides a thought-provoking exchange between the religious and contemporary continental philosophy.

(Robert W.M. Kennedy Symposium 1900-01-00)

As always, Kearney's work is poetic and thoughtful.

(Forrest Clingerman Religious Studies Review 1900-01-00)

This book is the outcome of a rich philosophical journey... I highly recommend this book to readers who wish to move beyond well-trodden paths in the debate between theism and atheism.

(M. Moyaert Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses 1900-01-00)

About the Author

Richard Kearney holds the Charles H. Seelig Chair of Philosophy at Boston College and is visiting professor at University College Dublin. The author of two novels and a volume of poetry, his most recent philosophical works include the trilogy Philosophy at the Limits: Strangers, Gods, and Monsters: Ideas of Otherness, The God Who May Be: A Hermeneutics of Religion, and On Stories (Thinking in Action).

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By msb on July 27, 2013
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A remarkable book exploring what it means to "return to God after God," as Kearney puts it. This is a must-read for those who take faith and culture, experience and thought, seriously, and who know "God" as one who is a stranger and wanderer who lives in exile from the certainties of "thin" religion. This is a call to a poetics of belief, an apologia of the "learned ignorance" of the mystical path. Kearney here reminds us that our calling in this age is to be "strangers to the earth so that we may dwell more sacramentally upon it." This is not a book for those who have never doubted, never wondered, never pondered what it means to live in the "disenchanted" world of late modernity. But for those who are such "resident aliens," it will be a book to read slowly and ponder thoughtfully. It is testimony to the elusive sense of the God who absents himself from our dogmatic certainties, freeing himself from our clutching grasp in order to lure us into the unknown terrain where beauty alone reveals another Presence to us.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By barryb on February 4, 2013
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Personally I think Kearney has been shortchanged in the recognition department. He is superior to many of the post-modern leftists out there. I read his essay on the "desire of god" and that led me to this book. This book is systematized beautifully and defines his constructive moments of "wager" beautifully. And he covers "mediation better than most. I like a leftist who desires god. And admits it. He also emphasizes the importance of the existential workspace of self-model construction when we engage in his ethics. And to admit the possibility of "epiphany" as the first moment solidifies him as a writer truly seeking answers and communication. He is accessible and full of depth at the same time. Ignore the average rating. This gets a HUGE 5 STARS.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mark P. Sweeney on March 25, 2013
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I might be one of the few, but this book really helped my outlook on life and God. I have a Master's degree in Religious Studies at Florida International University and this book was really original and powerful.
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13 of 20 people found the following review helpful By D. Pool on February 14, 2011
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Anatheism is a worthwhile philosophical read. It takes the thoughts of earlier works like Kolakowski's Metaphysical Horror and ramps it into "high-gear" as it were.

The basic premise is, "What do we do after religion" and postulates a positive agnosticism--that is if we cannot know a god then we should strive to enjoy life no matter what is waiting for us (even if it is scary) after we die it is more important to live.

The wording is poetic, which is fun to read but also at times frustrating to understand, but completely worth reading. I feel like this is one of the more important recent works I have seen on the market.
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