AFTER GOD by Don Cupitt


The Future of Religion
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 A postmodernist's shaky attempt to craft a theology in the twilight of the gods. Cupitt (Philosophy and Theology/Cambridge Univ.) claims that the very foundations of contemporary religion have been threatened by a ``collapse of meaning'' that encompasses our current global culture. Rather than mourn this loss of traditional religious belief, Cupitt revels in the new opportunities of a postmodern religion unfettered by inconvenient categories such as sin and superstition. He first provides a thumbnail sketch of the philosophical legacy of the ``old religions,'' drawing on thinkers such as Nietzsche, Kant, and Hegel. His cogent, artful explanations of complicated philosophical concepts are clearly the strength of the book. After these nubile expositions, however, Cupitt's own ideas for a postmodern religion fall flat. He proposes that three themes from traditional religion can be salvaged. The first principle, which Cupitt calls the ``Eye of God,'' states that we should still act as though we believe in God, despite God's nonexistence, because this makes for a more mediated consciousness. The ``Blissful Void'' legacy, drawn from a trendy appropriation of Buddhist meditation that weaves through the book, claims that we should eradicate the self through meditation and a disappearance into the Cool Sublime. Finally, ``Solar Ethics'' requires that we should simply emanate our rays into the world, since in our postmodern culture ``we ourselves are the only makers of meaning and value.'' Ultimately, now that God is dead, Cupitt believes that we will worship God more purely, since human beings always seem to have more regard for the dead than for the living. Religion will become art, a ``poetical theology'' that will rejuvenate our culture. Cupitt too easily dismisses the resurgence of conservative religions as a ``fad,'' ignoring the evidence that, in America at least, the ``old religions'' still seem to be meeting people's needs. It would seem that rumors of God's death have been greatly exaggerated.

Pub Date: May 7th, 1997
ISBN: 0-465-04514-6
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Basic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1997


by Steven Brutus