"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"It is impossible for me to say in my book one word about all that music has meant in my life. How then can I hope to be understood?--Ludwig Wittgenstein

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

As I was not saying....

Stanley Hauerwas makes an interesting point, apropos of what I posted below:

That a theologian should be surprised about being a Christian may seem strange, particularly among folk who have little sympathy with Christianity. They often assume that theologians by definition must believe in what they think about. That, of course, is a deep mistake made, particularly in recent times. Many who become theologians in our time think their task is to try to determine how much of what has passed for Christianity they still need to believe and yet still be able to think of themselves as Christians.
Maybe that's what drives the "atheists" so nuts, and also drives them away from any serious consideration of theology: in the theologians (especially), but also just in ordinary Christians, they recognize a kindred spirit, and think: "There but for the non-grace of no-god, go I".

I mean, it's obvious the "atheists" like Shook and Dawkins and Harris are as rabidly evangelical about their views as the Christian fundamentalists they despise and caricature. All you have to do to get the Dawkins/Harris/Shook atheist point of view is to reverse Hauerwas' formulation: how much of what passes for Christianity does one have to reject in order to not believe and still think of oneself as an "atheist"? I know a lot of non-believers who aren't bothered by that question at all, but the atheists Shook addresses certainly seem to be consumed with answering that question.

Maybe the problem is really rooted in the issue of identity, an identity that really has a common taproot. But where Christians and Christian theologians want to identify the nature of God, atheists want to identify the reasons they shouldn't be plagued by the question of the nature of God.

It's an itch they can never scratch. Hmmm...maybe I should be more sympathetic to them. Or would that just drive 'em crazier?


Blogger ProfWombat said...

Sure. Atheism can't even be falsified. It's a matter of faith, though those who hold it rarely if ever admit it.

Found this in the New York Review and thought you'd be interested: our old friend Auden, who wrote that poetry makes nothing happen, on Voznesensky, a poet from a country in which, arguably, that isn't the case:

6:48 PM  

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