- Series: The Terry Lectures Series
- Paperback: 200 pages
- Publisher: Yale University Press; 1st edition (March 16, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 030016453X
- ISBN-13: 978-0300164534
- Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 45 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #390,140 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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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*Starred Review* Takes one to know one, they say, and Eagleton knows one of the new atheism’s dynamic duo, Christopher Hitchens, rather well, for in Hitchens’ socialist days, Eagleton was a comrade. Still a Marxist and, hence, an atheist, Eagleton scores Hitchens along with his biologist sidekick, Richard Dawkins (sometimes as the composite new atheist “Ditchkins”), for unconscionably misrepresenting theology generally and Christianity, in particular, and for adhering to the shallow liberal belief in progress. He does so from a perspective he says is Marxist but that resembles the classical Greek tragic view that human actions inevitably have both good and bad effects. Thus the Enlightenment, seedbed of modern atheism, the liberal state, and economic individualism—virtually all that is progressive—“has always been its own worst enemy.” Far better the communitarian, sometimes communal ethic, which Eagleton sees as the orthodox kernel of Christianity and says Ditchkins ignores, than the surveillance state, wars for corporate profit, degenerate entertainment, and managed news that “progress” has brought us. Eagleton is that rarity, a non-ideological Marxist with a keen understanding of and sympathy for the human condition, not to mention an informed as well as sharp sense of humor. Serious Christians may be his most appreciative readers. --Ray Olson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Eagleton...is a powerful and engaging writer, perhaps no more so than when, with bursts of comic vituperation which recall Kenneth Tynan at his best, he is seeing off those he regards as second-rate opponents. But probably more relevant is the sense among many readers and critics that Eagleton is providing a welcome antidote to the rather simple-minded conception of religion that Dawkins and Hitchens selected for their demolition jobs. He is rather like a wise old schoolmaster explaining to two eager young students that the significance of "Hamlet" is hardly exhausted by describing it as 'a revenge drama'."--Laurie Taylor, "New Humanist Magazine"
--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 "
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With his incomparable sense of humor, Eagleton makes fun of the entity he calls "Ditchkins." This is his new term for referring simultaneously to Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. Eagleton ridicules Ditchkins's reductive and simplistic vision of religion that forces them to enter into an unproductive science versus religion dichotomy: "Unlike George Bush, God is not an interventionist kind of ruler. It is this autonomy of the world which makes science and Richard Dawkins possible in the first place." Religion, says Eagleton, deserves an analysis that is at least a little bit more profound than the usual all-religion-is-bad approach taken by many Liberals. In their defense of rationalism, the critics of religion often demonstrate an irrationalism which is as strong as the one they keep denouncing. Eagleton doesn't stop at destroying the pseudo-rationalist piety of the so-called progressive scientists. He also demonstrates - in his inimitable, hilarious way - the ridiculous nature of the US fundamentalist Evangelicals and their utter failure to understand pretty much anything about the religion they claim to hold in such a high regard.
Of course, as happens with every good book, there are things in Eagleton's essay collection that I find unconvincing. Eagleton surmises that the resurgence of the importance of religion in the late capitalist society is a postnationalist phenomenon. I am a lot more weary than Eagleton of accepting the very existence of post-racism, post-feminism, post-nationalism, and the likes. In the US, for example, virulent nationalism and fundamentalist religiousness walk hand in hand and do not exist without each other. Evangelical fundamentalism has become the national idea of the US for the lack of any other set of beliefs or concerns that can possibly bind this country together. Whenever somebody begins to talk about post-nationalism and post-racism, I know that this is either a fan of the Oprah Show or an academic hiding deep within the ivory tower.
Among other things, Eagleton's Reason, Faith, and Revolution is such a joy to read because of his brilliant deconstruction of Christopher Hitchens's obnoxious God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything: "Hitchens seems to hold the obscure Jewish sect of the second-century BC known as the Maccabees responsible not only for the emergence of Christianity but also for the advent of Islam. It is surprising that he does not pin Stalinism on them as well." Eagleton is absolutely right when he suggests that atheistic fundamentalism is in many respects an exact copy of religious fundamentalism. It is just as intransigent, dogmatic, reductive, and obnoxious.
Everything I have said so far might produce the erroneous impression that Eagleton is trying to create a defense of Christianity. This is, of course, not true. The critic is opposed to a unilaterall dismissal of this complex and intricate worldview but he recognizes that "Apart from the signal instance of Stalinism, it is hard to think of a historical movement that has more stupidly betrayed its own revolutionary origins." Apart from Eagleton's unintelligent characterization of Stalinism as stupid, this statement could not be more true. Many people's hatred of Christianity has nothing to do with Jesus's teachings but is rather addressed to what many of the proponents of this religion have done with it. Are the actions of many of its followers enough, however, to discredit Christianity once and for all?, Eagleton asks. Haven't the tenets of Liberalism, the ideals of Enlightenment, the central points of Marxism suffered the same fate? Does this mean, then, that we should abandon all of these ideological and intellectual movements in their entirety?
In his brilliant analysis, Eagleton hits upon an absolutely wonderful definition of Christianity: "Any preaching of the Gospel which fails to constitute a scandal and affront to the political state is ... effectively worthless." It is amazing that a Marxist like Eagleton has been able to understand the very nature of the New Testament so much better than all the quasi-religious freaks out there put together and multiplied by five.
One of the things that make Eagleton's philosophy especially endearing to me is his passionate defense of the values of Enlightenment. He enumerates the ways in which Enlightenment has come to defeat its own basic propositions but still maintains that the task of Enlightenment is far from over. Just like Christianity, Enlightenment has been discredited by the atrocities done in its name by its misguided, unintelligent followers. This is why so many people today fall over themselves in their rush to abandon the Enlightened philosophy as wrong, evil, and outdated. These thinkers are just as wrong as the wholesale deniers of the value of religion.
It is impossible to read this book by one of the greatest living philosophers and literary critics without having uproarious fun on every single page. If you want to indulge yourself by reading a philosophical treatise that is exceptionally well-written and that will make you laugh until it hurts, Eagleton's new collection of essays is perfect for you.