"The Second Coming" And The Death Of God

1517 words - 6 pages

Death of God theology is a theological movement dating back to the radical theologians of the 1960s, like Thomas Altizer and William Hamilton, and continuing in a more diverse form in the work of individuals like Slavoj Žižek and John Caputo. The movement can be traced back to the works of G.W.F. Hegel, of whom Thomas Altizers says, "The Phenomenology of Spirit (1807) is the first philosophical enactment of the Death of God,” and thinkers like Nietzsche, Marx, Freud, Lacan, Heidegger, Kierkegaard, and Derrida and poets like William Blake, Dante, and Milton. Although not having any explicit political commitments, Liberation Theology also acted as an influence on Death of God theology. The thesis of the Death of God theologians is that in some way "God is dead,” whether that be in a literal sense (God died on the cross and stayed dead) or, although not excluding the former, in a symbolic sense (God is dead in our culture). as Altizer says Hegel tried to do, but to accept the finality of the death of God and join together in the community of faithful believers, which is a radically egalitarian community based on love. Using Death of God theology, we can see how “The Second Coming” describes the condition of man in modern life and predicts the eventual rise of postmodernity, or “Anti-Christ”.
The first two lines of the poem,“Turning and turning in the widening gyre\The falcon cannot hear the falconer;”, express a sentiment that Altizer calls “The Dark Knight of the Soul” (a reference to a poem of the same name by St. John of the Cross. “The dark night of the soul” for Altizer has its roots in a distinction made by Kierkegaard between the spheres of Objective Reason and Subjectivity. For Kirkegaard, God was absent in a world which was bound up in objectivity, rationalism, empiricism, etc. which meant that it took an act of subjective will to reach God and acquire Truth (“the leap of faith”). Altizer tells us that this leap is no longer possible in modernity since the death or absence of God occupies the space of subjectivity rather than remaining in the space of objectivity, which means that the death of God presents itself as the most true and personal theological fact of our existence. This subjective experience of the death of God, or “dark night of the soul”, fills the subject with existential terrors: dread, anxiety, and angst being some of them. The falcon then is a metaphor for the existential subject experiencing the absence of the falconer, or God.
“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;\’Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,\The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere\ The ceremony of innocence is drowned;”. Lines 4-7 convey that something horrible has occurred in the world. For Death of God theologians, the death of God represented a point from which the world would be forever changed. Nietzsche was the first to explicitly proclaim the Death of God in "The Gay Science". Nietzsche uses the parable of a madman who...

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