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Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate (The Terry Lectures Series) Paperback – March 16, 2010
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--Laurie Taylor"New Humanist Magazine" (07/01/2009)
"[B]etter than any previous book of its kind."--James Wood, "The New Yorker"--James Wood"The New Yorker" (08/31/2009)
"Eagleton writes with lucidity, wit and panache and, though an atheist himself, successfully shreds what the conflated Ditchkins say in their books."--Piers Paul Read"Spectator" (11/14/2009)
'A boisterous polemic ... Eagleton yields to none in his denunciation of institutional Christianity and a punitive, vengeful God as a betrayal of Jesus's championing of the poor and rejected.'--Jonathan Benthall"Times Literary Supplement" (12/11/2009)
"Brisk, funny, and challenging . . . . One of the most fascinating, most original and prickliest works of philosophy to emerge from the post-9/11 era."--Andrew O'Hehir, "Salon"
--Andrew O'Hehir"Salon" (04/01/2009)
"Eagleton''s book is a brisk and welcome contribution to the ongoing discussion about the place of religion in the world today. Readers will find plenty to challenge them in this brief snapshot of today''s ''God Debate.''"--;i>Association for Mormon Letters
"--Blair Dee Hodges "Association for Mormon Letters "
''Eagleton is one of Britain''s leading literary critics and writes with verve and humour.'' -- Paul Goodliff, Baptist Times--Paul Goodliff"Baptist Times" (06/18/2010)
"Eagleton is an unconventional and entertaining thinker. His book is as much about capitalism, politics, and literary criticism as it is about religion." --Kurt Kleiner, "The Globe and Mail"--Kurt Kleiner "The Globe and Mail "
"Erudite, but often entertaining volume." --Rich Barlow, "Boston Globe"--Rich Barlow "Boston Globe "
Eagleton''s book "meets the challenge of the New Atheists with a sense of playfulness (for example, he melds the two leading lights of the movement, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, into one signifier, "Ditchkins"), and a dogged refusal to let Oxbridge-trained rhetoric stand in for actual reason. The result is a work bathed in wit and punctuated with soaring prose that, while sympathetic to religious truth-claims, ends with a flourish on his Marxist hopes for an embrace of "tragic humanism.""--Lyndon Shakespeare, "Anglican Theological Review"--Lyndon Shakespeare "Anglican Theological Review "
"Terry Eagleton is at his best as a critic, and much of the book, which is really a series of lectures delivered at Yale University, is devoted to incisive and angry analyses of what is wrong with our world in the twenty-first century."--Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, "Metapsychology Online Reviews"--Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi"Metapsychology" (12/01/2009)
."..[a] gloriously rumbustious counter-blast to Dawkinsite atheism...paradoxes sparkle throughout this coruscatingly brilliant polemic.... Eagleton is stronger on reason than Ditchkins, for he thinks carefully about what his opponents say.... This is, then, a demolition job which is both logically devastating and a magnificently whirling philippic.... It is easy to see why a lot of people will not be happy with this book. Much of what it says is too true."--Paul Vallely, "The Independent"
--Paul Vallely"The Independent" (07/17/2009)
"[Eagleton''s] gleeful, often satirical, piercing of the chinks in the armor of modern atheist apologetics is beneficial to any reader interested in the ''God Debate.''" --James Heiser, "thenewamerican.com"--James Heiser "thenewamerican.com "
"There is a great deal here that readers from different backgrounds will find informative. It is a polemical book, but the deeper sense of the polemic is the subtle and multi-formed argument that what is at stake here, in the distinction between religious and secularist values, is actually a way of being alive. As Eagleton powerfully states, faith is never about the superficial use of reason."--Oliver Davies, "Scottish Bulletin on Evangelical Theory"--Oliver Davies"Scottish Bulletin on Evangelical Theory" (05/01/2011)
"Terry Eagleton has a deserved reputation as one of the most influential of British literary critics and cultural commentators who has developed over his many publications a highly effective communicative style. This book is no exception."--Oliver Davies, "Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theory"--Oliver Davies "Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theory "
"There are plenty of things in this book to anger all sorts of people, and few will not find something in it with which to disagree strongly. And that's just fine. This is an exceptional contribution to recent debates around faith, religion, and atheism."--Dale B. Martin, Yale University--Dale B. Martin
""Reason, Faith, and Revolution" is a challenging, feisty contribution to the current public debate about God and religion. It is poetic, wise, and clear. Eagleton proves he is more than a literary critic; he's also an exceptional preacher." --Kurt Armstrong, "Christian Week"--Kurt Armstrong "Christian Week "
"Eagleton's book began as a series of lectures delivered at Yale University. They must have been a riot.... He's fantastically rude all round, about 'Ditchkins, ' about religion itself, which 'has wrought untold misery in human affairs'.... It's terrific polemic."--Melanie McDonagh, "Evening Standard"
--Melanie McDonagh"Evening Standard" (07/16/2009)
"This is a good and stimulating reading for theologians, and invites in a provocative way to think about theology's identity and mission in times of deep changes and challenges." --Lluis Oviedo, "Religion & Theology"--Lluis Oviedo "Religion & Theology "
Eagleton's book "meets the challenge of the New Atheists with a sense of playfulness (for example, he melds the two leading lights of the movement, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, into one signifier, "Ditchkins"), and a dogged refusal to let Oxbridge-trained rhetoric stand in for actual reason. The result is a work bathed in wit and punctuated with soaring prose that, while sympathetic to religious truth-claims, ends with a flourish on his Marxist hopes for an embrace of "tragic humanism.""--Lyndon Shakespeare, "Anglican Theological Review"--Lyndon Shakespeare "Anglican Theological Review "
'Eagleton is one of Britain's leading literary critics and writes with verve and humour.' -- Paul Goodliff, Baptist Times--Paul Goodliff"Baptist Times" (06/18/2010)
"Eagleton's book is a brisk and welcome contribution to the ongoing discussion about the place of religion in the world today. Readers will find plenty to challenge them in this brief snapshot of today's 'God Debate.'"--;i>Association for Mormon Letters
"--Blair Dee Hodges "Association for Mormon Letters "
"[Eagleton's] gleeful, often satirical, piercing of the chinks in the armor of modern atheist apologetics is beneficial to any reader interested in the 'God Debate.'" --James Heiser, "thenewamerican.com"--James Heiser "thenewamerican.com "
Top Customer Reviews
Eagleton sees the neo-atheist movement as a reaction to the resurgence of Islamic and Christian fundamentalism after 9-11, and he sees that reaction as largely obtuse, both intellectually and psychologically. Eagleton, for example, sees real value in the Bible, and in the story of Jesus in particular, and what it can teach us about life and social change. Eagleton's readings of the Ten Commandments and the story of Jesus were especially dazzling, and illustrated his point that one needn't throw the religious/mythic babies out with the fundamentalist bathwater.
Eagleton is also an unreconstructed Marxist, which I think is a rather dubious intellectual position itself. Nevertheless, it gives him a vantage for making sharp and astute critiques of Ditchkins's complacency with regard to the role that capitalism and Modernism have played in creating a world of religious fundamentalist reactionaries. Eagleton sees fundamentalism as the West's psychological shadow---and points us to Euripides's Bakkhai as a play we would do well to study. In that play, King Pentheus treats Dionysus, who inhabits the borders of his realm, with enormous arrogance and without self-critical awareness, and the result is his own destruction. In this part of the book, Eagleton is rehashing material that he dealt with in more detail in a previous book ("Holy Terror").
Eagleton's book is strongest in its first half. The first chapter was especially thought provoking, for in it Eagleton offered a brilliant aesthetic defense of God's existence that could (almost) make me a believer. Eagleton's argument is a reversal of Liebnitz-like utility, in which God must do everything perfectly---and this must be "the best of all possible worlds." To the contrary, Eagleton suggests that God may have made the universe for a very different purpose. The universe may be (if we are to attribute it to God) a contingent art project, utterly inefficient and without utility---an act of freedom, not necessity. This, of course, has its own problems, but Eagleton has offered a clever retort to traditional theodicy.
Why did Eagleton write this book? If I may engage in a bit of armchair psychoanalysis, I think it is because Eagleton perceives the universal acid of reductionist rationalism heading his way. It's coming after religion now, but it's coming after poetry, literature, and Marxism later. In other words, Eagleton's book is, at one level at least, a battle against an obtuse utilitarianism which sees the price of everything and the value of nothing. I saw Eagleton's (perhaps unconscious) motive leaping from page 34 of his book, in which he wrote: "That a great deal of [religion] is indeed repulsive . . . is not a bone of contention between us. But I speak here partly in defense of my own forebears, against the charge that the creed to which they dedicated their lives is worthless and void."
In some sense, this book is Eagleton (as a Marxist critic) fighting for his own life---defending the importance of nuance and measured judgment against the crassest forms of reductionist cynicism---and making a case for the value of some form of hope for POETIC JUSTICE in the future.
True, the "Ditchkins" make some good points. But their sloppy thinking, strident language, and dogmatic condescension are warning signs of an atheism bought "on the cheap." Their stock in trade includes vulgar caricatures of religion, an "abysmally crude [and] infantile version of what theology has traditionally maintained," ignorance, cultural supremacism, an "eminently suburban" love affair with the Enlightenment myth of liberal progress, the refusal to acknowledge that religion has done any good anywhere or that science has done any harm, and an either/or mentality that ignores ambiguity. They are defenders of the political status quo, and hardly the revolutionaries they purport to be.
Eagleton was raised as an Irish Roman Catholic in working-class England, and although he has been ambiguous about his own personal faith, he says that one reason he wrote this polemic was to defend the faith of his forbears as something worthy of a defense. Christendom has betrayed the truly revolutionary nature of original Christianity, he says, and so in addition to attacking the secular left he undertakes the Kierkegaardian task of distinguishing between the genuine article and its many counterfeits. The revolutionary gospel does not conform to the geo-political and economic ways of the world and, in the end, "is absurdly, outrageously more hopeful than liberal rationalism" and its myth of progress. "Any preaching of the Gospel which fails to constitute a scandal and affront to the political state is in my view effectively worthless."
Along the way, Eagleton has harsh words for capitalism, which he considers inherently atheistic (as did Karl Barth), postmodernism, Oxford High Table, globalization, the corridors of power in Washington and London, and western civilization's failure to understand and engage Islam in a meaningful way. If you enjoy unapologetic iconoclasm of the highest order, Eagleton makes for a good read. In addition to his forty books, he's scheduled to deliver a single Gifford Lecture in March 2010.