new yorker takes down the utterly exasperating marxist catholic theology of terry eagleton

Bravo to James Wood on a brilliant reading in the new yorker of the utterly exasperating marxist catholic theology of terry eagleton (Reason, Faith and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate) (and when a title has to resort to title language like "reflections on" we know that it is a circular file of random high-thoughts, i.e., without a real agenda. now this book is 177 pages, from the terry lectures that eagleton delivered at yale. and we were reading a few weeks ago another in the series from 1938 by carl jung. it seems pretty much a sure thing to me that eagleton is not of the stature of jung and hence appropriate to lament how far the yale series has fallen since the pristine good old days of the ancient giants. on the other hand jung's lectures are barely of any use to me, so maybe it's always been hopeless to invite an allegedly great thinker to speak about science and religion)...more than a review, "God in the Quad: A don defends the Supreme Being from the new atheists."

From the abstract (subscribe to read it all):
Oddly, despite God’s general discrediting, serious theological argument is being done by literary and cultural theorists alike. Terry Eagleton’s “Reason, Faith, and Revolution” attacks the new atheism as a kind of secular counter-fundamentalism. It makes a sharp, limited case against Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, better than any previous book of its kind has. But its own incoherence is symptomatic of the frailty of what might be called the new anti-atheism. Discusses the influence of Thomas Aquinas and Maimonides on Eagleton, a Marxist Catholic literary theorist who taught English for many years at Oxford. Eagleton shows little interest in the central claim of Christian belief that Christ was God incarnate. Jesus is less important to him as the Son of God than as a proto-Marxist. Heaven is not really about a world to come but about the transformation of the world we have. Eagleton recoils from the idolatrously human appropriations of the televangelist or the mullah. The Princeton philosopher Mark Johnston argues in “Saving God” that most religious belief is idolatrous. Johnston is humane and philosophically nimble, but his rarefied and almost scholastic definition of the ideally non-idolatrous God is not obviously very helpful to anyone but a rarefied scholastic. Considers Wittgenstein’s view of religion as a form of life. John Rawls’s “A Brief Inquiry into the Meaning of Sin & Faith.” If the new atheism offers an inadequate account of the varieties of religious experience, so does its most vigorous critic, Eagleton. What is needed is neither the overweening rationalism of a Dawkins nor the rarefied religious belief of an Eagleton but a theologically engaged atheism that resembles disappointed belief.

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