New issue, now live

Our March 21 issue is now live on the website, with a feature essay from Terry Eagleton (adapted from his new book) on the Christian response to Frederick Nietzsche, “the first real atheist.”

Nietzsche sees that civilization is in the process of ditching divinity while still clinging to religious values, and that this egregious act of bad faith must not go uncontested. You cannot kick away the foundations and expect the building still to stand. The death of God, he argues in The Gay Science, is the most momentous event of human history, yet men and women are behaving as though it were no more than a minor readjustment. Of the various artificial respirators on which God has been kept alive, one of the most effective is morality. “It does not follow,” Feuerbach anxiously insists, “that goodness, justice and wisdom are chimeras because the existence of God is a chimera.” Perhaps not; but in Nietzsche’s view it does not follow either that we can dispense with divine authority and continue to conduct our moral business as usual. Our conceptions of truth, virtue, identity, and autonomy, our sense of history as shapely and coherent, all have deep-seated theological roots. It is idle to imagine that they could be torn from these origins and remain intact. Morality must therefore either rethink itself from the ground up, or live on in the chronic bad faith of appealing to sources it knows to be spurious. In the wake of the death of God, there are those who continue to hold that morality is about duty, conscience, and obligation, but who now find themselves bemused about the source of such beliefs. This is not a problem for Christianity—not only because it has faith in such a source, but because it does not believe that morality is primarily about duty, conscience, or obligation in the first place.

Read the whole thing here.

Also, Margaret O’Brien Steinfels writes on Robert Gates and his memoir (“just as he did his duty to his commanders-in-chief, he now does his duties to his fellow citizens, who are still paying for two failed wars” [subscription]), and Ronald E. Osborn examines just-war pacifism and its realist assumption “that foreign policy is seldom if ever guided by rigorous just-war precepts.” The full table of contents for the March 21 issue is here.

And while you’re on the site, don’t forget to stay current with our ongoing series of daily Lenten reflections from Joseph A. Komonchak. 

Dominic Preziosi is Commonweal’s editor. Follow him on Twitter.

Please email comments to letters@commonwealmagazine.org and join the conversation on our Facebook page.

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