You were given permission at your baptism
Preaching is one of God’s weapons against racism

Culture & the Death of God

Culture and the Death of GodCulture and the Death of God by Terry Eagleton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Based on a Christian Century review that ended with this description--"This is articulate, winsome, and dashing Christian apologetics dressed up as the history of ideas. It’s a sumptuous feast."--I ordered this book last year.

In an enjoyable survey of Western thought since the Enlightenment and its efforts and failures to find a replacement for God, Eagleton narrates how we have arrived at our current moment of a meaningless postmodernism and violent fundamentalism. He does so with intelligence and wit. Reading while flying the other day, I kept giggling at the humourous lines, such as "The first sentence of Fichte's Science of Knowledge declares that the book is not intended for the general public, a warning that the briefest glance at its pages renders instantly superfluous."

Along the way he makes key points such as this in a critique of Matthew Arnold and Emile Durkheim, “The idea of religion as a source of social cohesion receives scant support from the Christian Gospel. By and large, the teaching of Jesus is presented by that document as disruptive rather than conciliatory. . . . Jesus proclaims that he has come to pitch society into turmoil.”

Much like my own thought, and those Don Wester who influenced me, he reads Nietzsche in a way that opens up the possibility for a truly revolutionary Christianity rather than the socially and politically accommodating kind that has traditionally existed, even if this is not at all what Nietzsche had in mind. Basically, it’s a good thing that God is dead—at least the God Nietzsche proclaimed as dead.

For much of the book I was unsure where he was heading, and enjoyed the turn near the end.

But I throughout I thought the book lacking, though finishing I now realize that the missing elements may have been intentional. There is no discussion of key figures who represent an alternative to the main narrative of the book, folks such as Peirce, James, and Whitehead. In other words, those figures who have most influenced my own thought.


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