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Religion for Radicals

The Immanent Frame has an interview up with Terry Eagleton that is well-worth a read. Here are just a couple of his memorable quotes:

Religion has become a very comfortable ideology for a dollar-worshipping culture. The scandal of the New Testament—the fact that it backs what America calls the losers, that it thinks the dispossessed will inherit the kingdom of God before the respectable bourgeois—all of that has been replaced, particularly in the States, by an idolatrous version. I’m presently at a university campus where we proudly proclaim the slogan “God, Country, and Notre Dame.” I think they have to be told, and indeed I have told them, that God actually takes little interest in countries. Yahweh is presented in the Jewish Bible as stateless and nationless. He can’t be used as a totem or fetish in that way. He slips out of your grasp if you try to do so. His concern is with universal humanity, not with one particular section of it. Such ideologies make it very hard to get a traditional version of Christianity across.

I think, actually, [Richard Dawkins is] a pre-Christian atheist, because he never understood what Christianity is about in the first place! That would be rather like Madonna calling herself post-Marxist. You’d have to read him first to be post-him. As I’ve said before, I think that Dawkins in particular makes such crass mistakes about the kind of claims that Christianity is making. A lot of the time, he’s either banging at an open door or he’s shooting at a straw target.


  1. Brad A. wrote:

    Yahweh is presented as stateless, but not nationless. That would be to abstract him beyond the particulars of Israel (and hence the church). Of course, I understand and affirm Eagleton’s point, but precision here is important.

    Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 5:41 pm | Permalink
  2. Christopher U. wrote:

    if precision is important, then perhaps we should clarify what ‘nationless’ means. if it means that He belongs to no nation, which is what it would mean for me to be ‘nationless’, then eagleton is spot on. now, that does not preclude the possibility that some particular nation might belong to Him. in a way, this does abstract from the particulars of israel, but i’m not sure how this affects the church at all. once again, precision here is important.

    Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 6:11 pm | Permalink
  3. d barber wrote:

    So generous that you keep Israel in mind, so that they can set up the church…

    Friday, September 18, 2009 at 10:05 am | Permalink
  4. Ted Grimsrud wrote:

    I think this is a great quote from Eagleton. How I would push toward more precision is saying that Yahweh’s universal concern is expressed through particular people, in concrete lived reality. This would relativize both Israel and the church—they are agents of Yahweh’s concern only insofar as they embody Yahweh’s healing justice.

    Sunday, September 20, 2009 at 5:25 am | Permalink

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