Jun. 13th, 2009

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Interesting review in the Grauniad of two books on the New Atheism - by Terry Eagleton and Bentley Hart.

I liked the reviewer, Mark Vernon's way of summing up Eagleton:

Christians in history have undoubtedly perpetrated many crimes. But their most fearsome judge is the very individual they claim to follow, the man who blessed peacemakers, tended lepers and loved enemies. Religion can be monstrous, like love – though like love, it also longs for the best.

Love which is monstrous is love perverted; love which has become its own enemy.

Eagleton also cites Herbert McCabe OP, who summarised the gospel as: If you don't love, you die. If you do love, they'll kill you. Which is true as far as it goes - but it's not exactly good news. The good news is rather that for all our efforts to kill love, it won't stay dead. I don't know if it can really be put better than it is in "Lord of the Dance"

they cut me down, but I leapt up high -
I am the life that will never, ever die.
I'll live in you if you'll live in me,
I am the Lord of the Dance said he.


"Tragic humanism" can be noble, dignified, moral; in some ways it seems more admirable than the irritating way in which Christianity insists in turning defeat into triumph. But whatever my aesthetic sense, and despite the grim realities which confront us at every turn, God seems to prefer the comic mode to the tragedy. Which is good news for the protagonists, though some of them - the dignified, the powerful - may have to recognise that they're actually not as dignified and serious as they thought, and learn to laugh at themselves. Which, in fact, is a pretty good safeguard against the potential corruption of love into selfishness and self-obsession.

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