Wednesday, January 30, 2008

“Let us declare that God is dead…”

… and then we ourselves will be God. (Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, p.257)
No, I don’t think he is actually suggesting this as a good idea. He is suggesting that this is “the logic of the modern age, of our age”.

It comes as a part of his reflection on the parable of the vineyard (Mk 12:1-12), in which the “tenants” of “the vineyard” who rejected and killed each messenger the King sent them.
The King had still one other, a beloved son; finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ And they took him and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard.
“If we open our eyes”, writes Pope Ratzinger, “isn’t what is said in the parable actually a description of our present world?”

How true. Papa Benny, of course, had to endure the great “God is dead” debates in the 1960’s. But today, it’s less of a declaration than a plan of action: “Let’s kill God, and then we will be free.”

We saw this in Pullman’s His Dark Materials series, where a rather pathetic angel-like “god” is put out of his misery so that the Kingdom of Heaven can be replaced by something Pullman styles “The Republic of Heaven”.

I saw it again during my recent break when I borrowed from the library the English TV mini-series The Second Coming.

The blurb on the back says:
What if there was a Second Coming and the Son of God arrived on earth? What would he say? What would you do? Are you ready for Judgement Day?...

Christopher Eccleston [Yep, the same bloke who played the penultimate Dr Who in the new series] plays Steve Baxter, a video shop worker, who is found wandering the Yorkshire Moors after 40 days and nights, mumbling that he is the Son of God.

Steve isn’t mad—he is the Second Coming. He…performs a miracle that brings northern England to a complete standstill. The world’s media kicks into a frenzy. Steve has a simple purpose—mankind must produce a 3rd Testament, or face Judgement Day in five days time.
So. That’s the basic plot. The “Final Solution” (so to speak) is reached by one of his (more reluctant) believers—she offers him a plate of pasta cooked up with a generous helping of rat poison and tells him that it is his destiny—as God incarnate—to kill himself off so that the human race can finally be free from God, take responsibility for itself, and find a peaceful existence without religion. He accepts this, eats the pasta, and dies. Hurrah! Everyone lives more or less happily ever after.

I doubt that Papa Benny has watched this drivel. But his conclusion is fitting:
At last we can do what we please. We get rid of God; there is no measuring rod above us; we ourselves are our only measure. The “vineyard” belongs to us. What happens to man and the world next? We are already beginning to see it…

8 Comments:

At Thursday, January 31, 2008 10:04:00 am , Blogger Australian Atheist said...

we ourselves are our only measure

And that's ok. Have a bit of faith (pun) in yourself and your fellow man.

 
At Thursday, January 31, 2008 11:56:00 am , Blogger Schütz said...

To have faith in anyone requires some basis for the faith.

I have found absolutely no basis for faith in the human race in general or in any human being in particular (with one exception to which I will soon come) that might lead me to that "life in abundance" (see previous blog) which I seek in my deepest being.

The one exception is, of course, Jesus Christ, who, according to historically reliable evidence, rose from the dead just under 2000 years ago.

I'm sticking with him.

 
At Thursday, January 31, 2008 9:49:00 pm , Anonymous Australian Atheist said...

To have faith in anyone requires some basis for the faith.

We agree.

I have found absolutely no basis for faith in the human race in general or in any human being in particular (with one exception to which I will soon come) that might lead me to that "life in abundance" (see previous blog) which I seek in my deepest being.

So you do have faith in humans to make the world a better place. Just no faith in humans to give you everlasting life in heaven.

 
At Thursday, January 31, 2008 10:25:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Yes, you almost have my meaning, AA. I have faith in many people--my wife, my parents, my best friends, my spiritual director, Pope Benedict etc. etc. But I do not look to any of these nor trust in them for that deepest good for which I long: abundant and limitless life.

However, by using space-time qualification like "everlasting" and "in heaven", you have failed to grasp exactly what I am talking about when I speak of "life in abundance".

Pope Benedict gets the idea exactly right, as I have pointed out, in his encyclical and book: "eternal life" is that life for which the inner soul longs and yearns and yet never seems to be able to attain in this limited existence.

I think that even atheists--Australian atheists even--might know what I mean by that.

 
At Thursday, January 31, 2008 11:30:00 pm , Anonymous Australian Atheist said...

"eternal life" is that life for which the inner soul longs and yearns and yet never seems to be able to attain in this limited existence.

I can say with all truthfulness that I have none of this feeling you describe.

Sure it'd be cool to live forever (although it could get boring) just like it'd be cool to have the powers of superman but I have no desire, let alone a deep desire, for such supernatural attributes.

Thanks for the chat.

 
At Friday, February 01, 2008 9:21:00 am , Blogger Schütz said...

No, no, you are still way off the mark about what I am talking about. I am precisely NOT talking about "living forever" or "having the powers of superman". I am talking about that for which the soul longs--the telos, the goal, the purpose, the fundamental reason for being of the human soul...

To say that you have never longed for this would be to say you have never detected the beat of your heart...

But maybe that is so. Maybe that's why you are an atheist.

'Tis mystery all.

 
At Friday, February 01, 2008 10:28:00 am , Anonymous Australian Atheist said...

I don't believe in souls, there is no evidence, and I don't feel like I have one.

So obviously I can't speak of feeling that my soul has a purpose.

My heat continues to work alright though.

 
At Saturday, February 02, 2008 3:47:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Deary me, AA, are you being deliberately obtuse, or what?

You don't "have" a soul, you ARE a soul. Your soul is your very inmost and essential SELF. Surely you have one of those?

I am amazed that you seem to declare that you don't believe in things that you don't really know anything about!

 

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