Thursday, May 27, 2010

Christian Marxist Against Atheism

I found an interesting article about a self-proclaimed Christian Marxist who wrote a book opposing the militant atheism of the likes of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. He makes some interesting points.

By the way, if you hadn't noticed already, saying something is "interesting" is my code-word for "I don't necessarily endorse it all, but there's some stimulating and possibly useful ideas in there." And, of course, "useful" can mean either as an idea to borrow/build on or merely serving as a foil inspiring thought (if only in the effort to refute it; producing better answers through the new questions it raises).

So, yeah, I thought this was interesting:
This Christianity "is not primarily a matter of signing on for the proposition that there exists a Supreme Being, but the kind of commitment made manifest by a human being at the end of his tether, foundering in darkness, pain, and bewilderment, who nevertheless remains faithful to the promise of a transformative love." He goes on to say that faith "is for the most part performative rather than propositional. Christians certainly believe that there is a God. But this is not what the credal statement 'I believe in God' means. It resembles [rather] an utterance like 'I have faith in you.' "


"Reason, Faith, and Revolution" argues that the first third of that trinity is not the enemy of the second, properly understood, and that the second can inform the third by offering "valuable insights into human emancipation." Eagleton is certainly correct that the atheists miss how Jesus and his followers took on the religious and political establishments, preaching an unconditional and egalitarian love that, if anything, is utopian in its radicalism.

This erudite but often entertaining volume runs out of gas only sporadically, whenever Eagleton commits too much philosophy, dishing up wordy and opaque paragraphs. His politics, while humane, can be as simplistically rendered as Ditchkins's theology. Arguing that evil is an intrinsic part of humanity, he writes, "This is not to conclude that racism or sexism or capitalism cannot be defeated."
I found some other quotes from the book in this article that are also very interesting:
The New Testament is a brutal destroyer of human illusions. If you follow Jesus and don’t end up dead, it appears you have some explaining to do. The stark signifier of the human condition is one who spoke up for love and justice and was done to death for his pains. The traumatic truth of human history is a mutilated body. Those who do not see this dreadful image of a tortured innocent as the truth of history are likely to adopt some bright-eyed superstition such as the dream of untrammeled human progress, for which we shall see, Ditchkins is a full-blooded apologist. There are rationalist myths as well as religious ones. Indeed, many secular myths are degutted versions of sacred ones.”
I'll write more about Marx and religion soon.


ZuluFan said...

"Democracy: the god that failed"

Brian M said...

Dr. Eagleton was a Catholic seminarian in the 1960s, and one of his formative influences throughout his life was Fr. Herbert McCabe, OP. A lot of the theological arguments he makes come from McCabe's work on Aquinas.

A Sinner said...

I'll have to read McCabe, probably. Anyone described (as I saw when I did a little preliminary research on him) as a "Thomist Neo-Marxist" sounds at the very least interesting, and probably someone I'd sympathize with...