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Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate (2009)

by Terry Eagleton

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301262,309 (3.67)9
On the one hand, Eagleton demolishes what he calls the "superstitious" view of God held by most atheists and agnostics and offers in its place a revolutionary account of the Christian Gospel. On the other hand, he launches a stinging assault on the betrayal of this revolution by institutional Christianity. There is little joy here, then, either for the anti-God brigade -- Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens in particular -- nor for many conventional believers. --from publisher description… (more)



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On the model of my other reading group Deleuze book, some notes from "Reading, Faith, and Revolution", the reading group.

Week 1:

-that Karl dude is intense! He just literally called my viewpoint Satanic!
-I like the initial point very much. Eagleton positions himself as part of apostate culture (a move which the CHes in my group have a lot of trouble understanding--"how can you be Catholic and not be Christian?!" Really?) and as concerned with religion's (Christianity's) revolutionary potential. Along the way, he dismisses Hitchens and Dawkins--"Ditchkins"--with a simple "they made a categorical mistake; it's as pointless to talk about or condemn religion in science's terms as it is to vice versa"
-if you're a Christian and you're not dead, you've got some explaining to do
-the gift economy and the privatization of love, because real public love is a burdensome injunction from Jesus--the meaning of the Cross--and unlovely, and will cause bloodshed. What is shaping up is a Latin Squares structure where you have your religious-secular x-axis and your reactionary-revolutionary y-axis. Liberation theology!

Week 2:

Chapter 2 is a step down in interest, a semi-plodding lecture on what it means for radical thought to be radical and how it separates it from the liberal positivism of ol' Ditchkins. Could have been written without reference to Jesus really.

Week 3: What, in fact, are the material foundations of belief? They have to be available, right? To mean anything? Or is it just a Bakhtinian, authoritative thing? And what does that mean for Eagleton trying (somewhat diffidently) to reclaim "dogma"? In, perhaps, the context of Marxist-Leninist "ideology" (in its empowering Janus face)? But he hurls the brutal-mouthpiece tag at Ditchkins, and stresses that belief--faith--of the kind we are lauding here is motivated by love, right? So what is this love? Does it imply a debt, Augustinian? Is that just the extreme form of a sacrificial, public, giving love, an agape not yen annulled into caritas? Passionate interest--Enlightenment--passion of Jesus v. Romantic love v. Donnean God-lust--personal love, the bourgeois family, strategies of control? Oh, and Judgment Day ?=? The Revolution? These are the biggest questions, and there is never actually any way to stop drawing connections, they're so big, and only about half of this stuff is in Eagleton. But we had a good working group today. (Oh, and Karl is fine).

Week 4: So is it a marriage of convenience that Eagleton has in mind? If capitalism is agnostic (better said nontheistic, Terr), then is the only way to get people over that Althusserian hump, to act in a revolutionary way instead of just believe whatever and go to work, to insist on forms of our mighty belief systems--a Jesusism, a classic revolutionary socialism--that brook no compromise, no recourse to private goodness, that insist on public love? And is that the final uselessness of Ditchkins? The complacency of their liberal humanism? Jesus is Truth in the end indeed, if he can get us to drop pieties, embrace a tragic humanism, and force ourselves to work ever harder for change. This is an invitation from one band of revolutionaries to another to start a great conversation. ( )
1 vote MeditationesMartini | Oct 20, 2009 |
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Yale University Press

2 editions of this book were published by Yale University Press.

Editions: 0300151799, 030016453X

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