AUFS reader, Aimee Quesada, passed along this link with a great interview with the late D. G. Leahy. Here it is.
Thomas Altizer asked that I pass this along on here.
“America and the Death of God”
by Thomas J. J. Altizer
Our most revolutionary prophet, William Blake, in his first prophetic poem, America (1793), enacted the American Revolution as the initial realization of the death of God, the deity here named as Urizon, the preincarnate and alien God, whose death initiates apocalypse. This is the God whom Hegel named as Abstract Spirit and the “Bad Infinite,” a God not realized until the advent of the modern world, and who is the consequence of an absolute self-negation or self-emptying of the Godhead. Both Blake and Hegel enact the death of God, indeed Hegel and Blake are the first enactors of the death of God, a death that for each is an absolute self-negation or self-emptying, a self-negation that is the absolute source of all and everything. Hence the death of God is both genesis and apocalypse, or absolute beginning and absolute ending, the absolute beginning of all and everything, and the absolute consummation of everything. That consummation itself proceeds out of an original self-negation or self-emptying, one negating or emptying an original absolutely undifferentiated Godhead, and only this self-negation makes possible either apocalypse or the world itself. Hegel is our most profoundly apocalyptic thinker, while Blake is our most totally apocalyptic visionary, each recover and renew a long lost apocalyptic ground, a ground that is the original ground of Christianity, one that is wholly transformed in the great body of Christianity, and only recovered in revolutionary movements, which are the most revolutionary movements in our history.
Both Blake and Hegel are profoundly Christian, but they are radical Christians, even atheistic Christians, who absolutely negate the given God, or who deeply and comprehensively realize that this God has absolutely negated itself, a self-negation that inaugurates the modern world. Each could know the French Revolution as the historical realization of the death of God, but Blake, at least in America, could know the American Revolution not only as the initial realization of the death of God, but as the inaugurator of absolute revolution. This is the deepest calling of America, one known to every deeply American seer, and actualized in that America which is the first secular nation, the first not only to separate Church and State, but to create a public realm that is a truly secular realm. This inspired an assault upon America by many European Christians, but Europeans have never been able to understand America, and the question can be genuinely asked if America has ever understood itself. Continue reading “Altizer: “America and the Death of God””
Thomas Altizer asked me to pass along a few things in honor of D. G. Leahy. The first is an article, “Apocalypticism and Modern Thinking,” originally published in the Journal for Christian Theological Research 2.2 (1992), par. 1-27.
“Apocalypticism and Modern Thinking”
Thomas J. J. Altizer
1. While the power of apocalypticism in our history is now acknowledged, we have little sense of its power or even meaning in thinking itself, and this despite the fact that so many of our primal modern thinkers, such as Hegel, Marx, and Nietzsche, have manifestly been apocalyptic thinkers. Indeed, the very advent of modernity can be understood to be an apocalyptic event, an advent ushering in a wholly new world as the consequence of the ending of an old world. Nowhere was such a new world more fully present than in thinking itself, a truly new thinking not only embodied in a new science and a new philosophy, but in a new reflexivity or introspection in the interiority of self-consciousness. This is the new interiority which is so fully embodied in the uniquely Shakespearean soliloquy, but it is likewise embodied in that uniquely Cartesian internal and radical doubt which inaugurates modern philosophy. Cartesian philosophy could establish itself only by ending scholastic philosophy, and with that ending a new philosophy was truly born, and one implicitly if not explicitly claiming for itself a radically new world. That world can be understood as a new apocalyptic world, one which becomes manifestly apocalyptic in the French Revolution and German Idealism, and then one realizing truly universal expressions in Marxism and in that uniquely modern or postmodern nihilism which was so decisively inaugurated by Nietzsche’s proclamation of the death of God.
2. Yet a truly modern subject or “I” is a doubled or self-alienated center of consciousness, and is so in a uniquely Cartesian internal and radical doubt, one never decisively present in previous cognitive or philosophical thinking, although its ground had been established by Augustine’s philosophical discovery of the subject of consciousness. Even as Augustinian thinking had been deeply reborn in the late Middle Ages, thence becoming a deep ground not only of the Reformation but also of Cartesian thinking, this new modern subject which is now established and real is an interiorly divided subject, and so much so that its internal ground is a truly dichotomous ground. Nothing else is so deeply Augustinian in modern thinking and in the modern consciousness itself, and if Augustine discovered the subject of consciousness by way of his renewal of Paul, it was Paul who discovered the profoundly internal divisions and dichotomies of consciousness and self-consciousness. This is the Paul who is so deeply renewed in the dawning of modernity, but also the Paul who was the creator of Christian theology, a theology which if only in Paul is a purely and consistently apocalyptic theology, and Paul’s realization of the ultimate polarity or dichotomy of consciousness is an apocalyptic realization, one reflecting an apocalyptic dichotomy between old aeon and new aeon, or flesh (sarx) and Spirit (pneuma). Continue reading “Altizer on Leahy: “Apocalypticism and Modern Thinking””
Word is circulating that radical theologian D. G. Leahy passed away yesterday. He is probably best known to AUFS readers as someone whose thought has been enormously influential on Thomas Altizer, just as Altizer’s writings deeply influenced Leahy.
His dense books include Novitas Mundi, Foundation, and Faith & Philosophy. He continued to write after these works, including two recent books Beyond Sovereignty and The Cube Unlike All Others. His website was updated with new material as recently as March, 2014. (His website used to have a great essay on gender, which seems to have been taken down, and may be part of one of the new books.) He founded the New York Philosophy Corporation, where he taught courses. Continue reading “RIP, D. G. Leahy (1937-2014)”
My first book of sermons, Too Good to Be True, is now published by Christian Alternative and is available through Amazon and good bookstores like Hearts & Minds Books. The book features a foreword by Peter Rollins and an afterword by Thomas Altizer, and the opening essay, “Pentecosting: Preaching the Death of God,” is an edited and expanded form of my presentations at last year’s Subverting the Norm 2 and AAR/North American Paul Tillich Society conferences.
The sermons loosely follow the lectionary; a few sermons that have been previewed here at AUFS; and two were published separately in Knights Templar Magazine last year.
If you’re interested, the ebook sells for less than $5, so I hope you will find it to be a good value.
All in all, this is a book that wouldn’t have been possible without my association with this blog, without a larger platform for preaching, so thank you to Adam and Brad for supporting me here. I am grateful to Pete and Tom for their support of the project, and to Bruce Epperly, Clayton Crockett, and Phil Snider for writing endorsements for the book. And thanks to Christian Alternative, especially Trevor Greenfield, for supporting the project. Continue reading “Too Good To Be True released 2/28”
This commercial gets me every time I see it, so I thought I would share it.
For those of us who are truly theologically radical, believing in a diachronal Godhead who is still speaking and still pouring out into the present moment, there is a strange coincidence that the mainline church is perhaps our best home. As many left the “mainline” churches in the late 1960s and early 1970s searching for relevance, declaring these denominations and their God to be dead—our Good News is again that in every death there is a resurrection, and that the one-mighty mainline churches are now in a severely weakened state. We emergents understand the appeal of weakened structures, and it is here in these “oldline,” mainline churches where we may genuinely follow a Christian descent and that unmasks the majority of our American churches’ bad habits as too comfortable, too easy, and an idolatry of corporate American selfishness.