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Culture and the Death of God Hardcover – March 25, 2014
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‘Wide-ranging and intellectually impassioned.’—Sarah Bakewell, The Financial Times (Sarah Bakewell The Financial Times 2014-04-12)
‘Terry Eagleton brings all his forensic insights and acerbic wit, to the search for a replacement for God in critical thinking since the Enlightenment. . .Eagleton’s thoughts – “one can kill for all sorts of motives, but killing on a spectacular scale is almost always the consequence of ideas” – are a joy to ponder. That and his depth of knowledge make for fascinating reading.’—Scarlett MacGwire, Tribune Magazine (Scarlett MacGuire Tribune Magazine 2014-05-16)
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'Culture and the Death of God' is a dense academic text that reviews the last three centuries in which one intellectual movement after another has denied the existence of God only to pursue the divine elsewhere. The irony fuels Eagleton in this cunning exploration of Western religious culture, which I enjoyed quite a lot, although it was quite a challenge. From science to art, Eagleton seems pessimistic that we will find a satisfying alternative to God and remains sympathetic to religion as a basically decent expression of core human dilemmas and values, corrupted as institutions may be.
There are many Westerners questioning the merits of secular society right now and the revival in the philosophy of religion has brought a lot of groundbreaking work! Readers of this book would also like the collection of essays found in Reasoned Faith: Essays in Philosophical Theology in Honor of Norman Kretzmann.
But the subject matter is challenging. Eagleton's wit is subdued, after early on a joke at the expense of Birmingham. He hones in on not the "death of God" so much as his replacement, high European culture. The kind of thinking that George Steiner represents the last generation to have espoused.
This arose earlier than the Enlightenment, but that period, for the French and the Germans, gave it its fullest diffusion. Many Germans crowd these pages, along with the sometimes somewhat more familiar French. Eagleton looks down on the likes of Diderot and Voltaire, for they suffer the hypocrisy of many of their peers. For they speak a 'double-truth': they claim the masses need religion for its calming messages and social utility. The elite, of course, can rise to a higher worship of reason.
Yet, as Eagleton astutely notes, Deism roused no martyrs. He constantly defers to, or better still champions, the Gospel message as liberation theology (even if he steps aside from this phrasing). His Christ comes to afflict the comfortable and to condemn the authorities, taking up the side of the poor.
If one wonders if this is a selective interpretation of biblical verses, one will end this book unenlightened. Eagleton employs these talks to promulgate his own insistent reading of Jesus as a revolutionary.Read more ›
I was very moved by the final few pages of the book which contains a compassionate appeal for collective action to mitigate the suffering of the less fortunate. I found the tone of this appeal to be about as disheartening and fatalistic as can be in our current zero sum political situation.
Religion is here to stay under these circumstances in this culture .
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Loved the book could not put it down. Eagleton at his best.
Go buy and read it as soon as possible
Satisfying, really. A good take on a fundamental perspective. Culture is rife with deities. It's an art form to organize power.Published 23 months ago by Phyllis E. Liddell