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Terry Eagleton on "The Cult of the Will"

In this remorselessly up-beat climate, feeling negative becomes a thought-crime, and satire a form of political treason. Everyone is urged to feel good about themselves, whereas the problem is that some of them don’t feel anything like bad enough. Evangelical Christians avow their faith in Jesus, a failed inmate of early-Palestinian death row, by maintaining a manic grin even when being carted off to prison for fraud or paedophilia. With its impious denial of limit, its bull-headed buoyancy and crazed idealism, this infinite will represents the kind of hubris which would have made the ancient Greeks shiver and glance fearfully at the sky. It is, indeed, at the skies that some of the will’s champions glance fearfully these days, searching for signs of nemesis.

Those who support the American imperium do not have to respond to such comments. They can simply dismiss them as ‘anti-American’. This is a marvellously convenient tactic. All criticisms of the United States spring from a pathological aversion to Sesame Street and baconburgers. They are expressions of smouldering envy on the part of less fortunate civilizations, not reasoned criticisms. There is, it would seem, no reason why this tactic should not be extended. All criticisms of North Korea’s odious repression of human rights are merely diseased symptoms of anti-Koreanism. Those who rail against the execution-happy autocracy in China are simply being odiously Eurocentric.

Terry Eagleton, After Theory (New York: Basic Books, 2003), 188.


  1. bobby grow wrote:

    Isn’t Eagelton former secretary of state, I’m sure I’ve seen him on one of the news channels.

    His analysis is right on, in many respects. Evangelicals are so absorbed by the culture of hedonism that there no longer appears to be a discernable horizon between the two. I’m hopeful that there might be a possibility for change; only hopeful in light of who our God is.

    Friday, June 1, 2007 at 7:42 pm | Permalink
  2. Halden wrote:

    There might be someone of a similar name that was in the government (that sounds familiar to me). But, no, this Terry Eagleton is a british literary critic, and in my opinion and incredibly astute cultural thinker. He’s not a Christian (as far as I know), but his knowledge and appreciation for the Christian tradition, and his critiques of world culture are amazing.

    Friday, June 1, 2007 at 7:50 pm | Permalink
  3. bobby grow wrote:

    Thanks Halden.

    Woops . . . I just googled, I was thinking of “Larry Eagleburger” former sec. of state. It must have been the “y” on the end of each name, and the “Eagle” in the names that threw me off (grin ;).

    Friday, June 1, 2007 at 8:49 pm | Permalink
  4. dan wrote:

    I worked through this book last month and enjoyed it a great deal. Eagleton had been on my horizon for awhile but, after reading his “review” of Dawkin’s thoughts on God, I decided to bump him up the “to-read-list” — I’m glad I did!

    Grace and peace.

    Saturday, June 2, 2007 at 9:15 am | Permalink
  5. Christopher wrote:

    Eagleton has an article on Jonah for which I have half-heartedly looked for years. The article is supposed to be really good.

    Sunday, June 3, 2007 at 7:15 am | Permalink
  6. Halden wrote:

    Actually, Dan, it was when I saw your comments on Eagleton on your blog, that I ordered a copy!

    Sunday, June 3, 2007 at 9:20 pm | Permalink
  7. Bobby wrote:


    I like the new look, and I think wordpress provides nice clean themes. Nice choice.

    Monday, June 4, 2007 at 1:58 am | Permalink

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