BN.com Gift Guide

Modes of Faith: Secular Surrogates for Lost Religious Belief

Hardcover (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from BN.com
$34.56
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $26.00
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 35%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (7) from $26.00   
  • New (5) from $33.49   
  • Used (2) from $26.00   

Overview

In the decades surrounding World War I, religious belief receded in the face of radical new ideas such as Marxism, modern science, Nietzschean philosophy, and critical theology. Modes of Faith addresses both this decline of religious belief and the new modes of secular faith that took religion’s place in the minds of many writers and poets.

Theodore Ziolkowski here examines the motives for this embrace of the secular, locating new modes of faith in art, escapist travel, socialism, politicized myth, and utopian visions. James Joyce, he reveals, turned to art as an escape while Hermann Hesse made a pilgrimage to India in search of enlightenment. Other writers, such as Roger Martin du Gard and Thomas Mann, sought temporary solace in communism or myth. And H. G. Wells, Ziolkowski argues, took refuge in utopian dreams projected in another dimension altogether.

Rooted in innovative and careful comparative reading of the work of writers from France, England, Germany, Italy, and Russia, Modes of Faith is a critical masterpiece by a distinguished literary scholar that offers an abundance of insight to anyone interested in the human compulsion to believe in forces that transcend the individual.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Journal of the American Academy of Religion - David Jasper

"We should be thankful . . . for this wise, learned, and beautifully written contribution to the project of literature and religion. . . . Ziolkowski has given us a deeply learned and profoundly moving book that deserves to be widely read and studied."
Religious Studies Review - Forrest Clingerman

"The importance of [the author's] work is how he reflects on the reaction to traditional faith in the face of a world in crisis. Readers from students to scholars will find this discussion of religious faith and literature well worth their time and reflection."
Review of Metaphysics - Ben Vedder

"A brilliant insight into the literature of the beginnng of the 20th century."
Commonweal - Richard A. Rosengarten

"[Modes of Faith] affords vivid examples of what it can mean for a modern person to negotiate such competing claims. The rejection of inherited tradition and the unquenchable thirst for religious life combine on almost every page. . . . What counts as religion has broadened, and religiosity is shaped not just by religious traditions but also by deep human needs for transcendent meaning in a world that offers multiple ways to satisfy that need. The sesdbed for both the glories and the dreads of that fact are beautifully limned in this trenchant, accessible, and deeply compelling work of a master scholar of religions and literature."
Choice

"Ziolkowski's breadth of reading, deft handling of disparate sources and genres, and genius for synthesis make this an exemplary work of comparative literature. Essential."
Journal of the American Academy of Religion

"We should be thankful . . . for this wise, learned, and beautifully written contribution to the project of literature and religion. . . . Ziolkowski has given us a deeply learned and profoundly moving book that deserves to be widely read and studied."—David Jasper, Journal of the American Academy of Religion

— David Jasper

Religious Studies Review

"The importance of [the author's] work is how he reflects on the reaction to traditional faith in the face of a world in crisis. Readers from students to scholars will find this discussion of religious faith and literature well worth their time and reflection."—Forrest Clingerman, Religious Studies Review

— Forrest Clingerman

Review of Metaphysics

"A brilliant insight into the literature of the beginnng of the 20th century."

— Ben Vedder

Commonweal

"[Modes of Faith] affords vivid examples of what it can mean for a modern person to negotiate such competing claims. The rejection of inherited tradition and the unquenchable thirst for religious life combine on almost every page. . . . What counts as religion has broadened, and religiosity is shaped not just by religious traditions but also by deep human needs for transcendent meaning in a world that offers multiple ways to satisfy that need. The sesdbed for both the glories and the dreads of that fact are beautifully limned in this trenchant, accessible, and deeply compelling work of a master scholar of religions and literature."

— Richard A. Rosengarten

Choice

"Ziolkowski's breadth of reading, deft handling of disparate sources and genres, and genius for synthesis make this an exemplary work of comparative literature. Essential."—Choice

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226983639
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 5/15/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 296
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Theodore Ziolkowski is professor emeritus of German and comparative literature at Princeton University. Among his many books are Fictional Transfigurations of Jesus, The Mirror of Justice, and Ovid and the Moderns.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt


MODES OF FAITH

Secular Surrogates for Lost Religious Belief


By THEODORE ZIOLKOWSKI
THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS
Copyright © 2007

The University of Chicago
All right reserved.



ISBN: 978-0-226-98363-9



Chapter One Introduction

Alexander Pope, that sly skeptic, understood that "graceless zealots" have always fought over the modes of faith. The history of Western civilization amounts in a significant sense to a catalog of epochs in which the breakdown of traditional systems of belief opened the way for more or less violent conflicts among competing value systems-conflicts that in an inevitable dialectic generated the emergence of a new dominant faith and, often, the concomitant production of cultural monuments commemorating these epochs. Several of the most notable texts of Greek literature-for instance, Aeschylus's Oresteia and Sophocles' Antigone-document the crucial moment in preclassical Greece when cultic religion began to give way to civil law. Orestes is torn between the primitive culture of blood vengeance and the emerging polity of law and justice, while Antigone upholds the values of an archaic matriarchal cult of the dead against the injunctions of Creon's progressive secular state.

In the first centuries of the Common Era until the establishment of the New Testament canon and the Christianization of the Roman Empire, one appeal of Christianity was the novelty of its simple faith. Before the late first century CE, the terms pistis and fides had for the Roman mind no association with belief in gods and conveyed no meaning beyond the legalistic notion of reliability in keeping oaths. Romans had long been accustomed to a religion of ritual without doctrine, of knowledge rather than faith, of orthopraxy instead of orthodoxy. Their polytheistic religion invoked the principle known as evocatio to incorporate ever more new gods as the empire's borders expanded, thereby accelerating the diffusion of any primal religious sense. Conversely, their satisfaction with polytheism inspired substantial Roman opposition to the Judeo-Christian idea of monotheism, as in the anti-Jewish critiques of Juvenal and the anti-Christian polemics of Celsus. Meanwhile considerable dispute arose among the early Christian sects before something resembling a unified church emerged following the Council of Nicaea in 325. Moreover, it is increasingly recognized by scholars that there were many continuities as well as a notable reciprocity of influence between paganism and Christianity on various points of ideology, such as resurrection. Yet the desire for faith ultimately prevailed, laying the spiritual foundation for the works of Saint Augustine and other documents of early Christianity that established the doctrines of the new belief. This is the situation and the process outlined by Hegel in the penultimate chapter of his Phenomenology of Spirit ("Revealed Religion"), which posits the exhaustion of Roman Stoicism as the necessary precondition for the rise of Christianity.

The High Middle Ages witnessed an ongoing struggle for power between popes and emperors, a struggle epitomized in the spiritual turmoil of the eponymous hero in Wolfram von Eschenbach's verse epic Parzival, who as a naive youth is confused by the conflicting values of religion and knighthood. The friction between the church and secular culture in the late Middle Ages generated much of the intellectual and cultural energy that precipitated the Reformation and informed the Renaissance. In the eighteenth century a bland orthodox Christianity, challenged by the extremes of rationalist skepticism and Pietism's spiritual intensity, brought forth Voltaire and Kant on the one hand and German Romanticism on the other.

The erosion of Christian faith accelerated in the course of the nineteenth century as the Creation narrative was undermined by spectacular findings in geology and by Darwin's biological reordering of the descent of man, as the Higher Criticism of the Bible and its startling historical and anthropological discoveries qualified the understanding of Jesus and early Christianity, and as the social criticism of such radically different thinkers as Karl Marx and Friedrich Nietzsche tore at the ideological roots of Christianity. The resulting growth of secularism-a term coined in 1851 by the English atheist George Holyoke as a designation for the belief that religion should play no role in the temporal affairs of the state-reached a peak in 1914. By 1922 the perceptive social critic Siegfried Kracauer was able to identify what he termed a generation in waiting: "They are suffering to the core from their expulsion from the religious sphere, from the enormous alienation prevailing between their spirit and the absolute. They have lost faith, indeed almost the capacity for faith, and the religious truths have become for them colorless thoughts which they are capable only of thinking."

The tensions that these issues raised, most bitterly perhaps within families, produced a conspicuous surge of autobiographies and autobiographical novels revolving around the crisis of faith as experienced by thoughtful individuals from England across Europe to Russia. Successive waves of literary works in the years up to and following World War I recorded the responses, the modes of secular faith, that individuals sought to replace the religious faith that had been challenged and often destroyed by the nineteenth century.

The first wave bore individuals inward, to aesthetic realms they discovered within themselves, and outward, on a flight to find new faiths in exotic places. But the cataclysm of 1914 forced many thoughtful people to the realization that the leisure and liberty that supported or tolerated their aesthetic realms and exotic flights had depended heavily on the traditional forms and values that had been destroyed by World War I. They therefore turned from individual to sociopolitical collective modes of faith, such as socialism, myth, and utopia-initiatives that produced yet another wave of literary responses.

At the same time traditional Christianity, whose inability to prevent the ravages of politics and war had been exposed anew, came under fresh attack from other quarters. Among the most obvious examples of the new threat to faith were the Russian Revolution, which disestablished the Orthodox Church and campaigned zealously against religion; the pronounced secularist tendency among many Zionists; the movement toward modernization in Turkey and other Muslim lands; explicit programs of radical secularization in most European socialist parties; and the Scopes trial in the United States, in which the traditional biblical version of Creation was publicly challenged.

* * *

The dilemma of the decade was persuasively analyzed by Sigmund Freud in his book with the provocative title The Future of an Illusion (Die Zukunft einer Illusion, 1927). It is Freud's argument (chap. 3) that religion traditionally had a threefold task: to exorcize the terrors of nature; to reconcile men to the cruelty of fate; and to compensate humankind for the sufferings imposed by civilization-tasks more than adequately appropriated in the twentieth century by science and human reason. Religion's claim to belief is based on tradition, on proofs handed down from antiquity, and on the prohibition of questioning their validity (chap. 5). Freud maintains that these beliefs are illusions, grounded on teachings and not on experience or thought; they represent no more than fulfillments of humankind's own desires (chap. 6). It would be nice, Freud concedes, if there were a God who created the world and a moral order governing the universe; but this belief is only a consolatory wish-dream. It is time to replace religious faith with convictions stemming from the operation of the intellect and to find rational grounds for the precepts of civilization (chap. 8). Freud's rhetorical antagonist objects that if religion is expelled from European civilization, it will simply be replaced by another system of doctrines, which would take on all the psychological characteristics of religion: sanctimoniousness, rigidity of form and belief, and intolerance of free thought (chap. 10). Freud agrees that it is difficult to avoid illusions: humankind requires faith in some form. But unlike religious delusions, the illusions produced by reason and intellect are capable of constant correction. If the delusions of religion are discredited, the world of the believer collapses and nothing is left but despair. But science, being modified by ever new understanding, is not a delusion and provides a firmer basis for modern civilization than does religion.

Freud and the very real challenges he defined and exemplified provoked a powerful counterreaction: a worldwide upsurge of fundamentalism in the 1920s, when the term "fundamentalism" in its current sense was coined by conservative Protestants in the United States. A wave of conversions to Catholicism among European intellectuals engulfed England and the continent. Others were attracted to the radically antidemocratic and antimodern Traditionalism proposed by the charismatic René Guénon, who argued in several influential works that "the crisis of the modern world" could be averted, at least in the Occident, only by an "élite intellectuelle" recovering the "traditional spirit" and true "universality" of the pre-Reformation Catholic Church. About the same time such conservative groups as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt were formed, along with the Rashtriya Savayamsevak Sangh in India and similar movements elsewhere. The literature of the 1920s again fulfilled its traditional role by incorporating and reflecting the spirit of the times, its turn to mysticism, its (re)conversions, and its search for new modes of religious faith.

* * *

Many observers would say that our society today in the United States is undergoing a spiritual crisis and transition similar to that of the 1920s, as the growing interest in Islam, Buddhism, Zen, Kabbala, Gnosticism, Scientology, Wicca, and a well-nigh unsurveyable congeries of neopagan and New Age fads challenges traditional Christian beliefs and calls forth in response a new fundamentalism. The recent revival of interest in the apocryphal gospels of early Christianity can in no small measure be attributed to the search for faith or, at least, a reaffirmation of faith.

The situation in the United States differs conspicuously from that in Western Europe. According to a Gallup survey of spirituality in the early twenty-first century, 96 percent of Americans believe in God or a universal spirit. The authors of the survey conclude that "the United States is unique in that it has one of the highest levels of formal education in the world, and at the same time, one of the highest levels of religious faith." The statistical generalization is borne out by the spectacular attraction of Mel Gibson's 2004 film The Passion of the Christ or the apocalyptic novels of Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins in their series "Left Behind," which sell rampantly in the Bible Belt and elsewhere.

The U.S. figures contrast sharply with those of a Gallup Millennium Survey of religious attitudes around the world, according to which a growing secularism prevails among contemporary Europeans. Roughly half of the Scandinavians surveyed said that God did not matter to them. In 2003, a scandal was aroused in Denmark by a popular Lutheran minister who asserted that he did not believe in a physical God, in the afterlife, in the resurrection, or in the Virgin Mary. In June of that same year, at the convention to draft a constitution for the European Union, the most hotly debated topic dividing its members concerned religion. Should God or Christianity be cited among the sources of the values constituting the common European culture and heritage? The preamble approved by the majority contented itself with vague and inoffensive references to "the cultural, religious, and humanist inheritance of Europe," prompting a prominent constitutional lawyer to speak of a current European "Christophobia." In 2004 a cover story in the New Statesman opened with the assertion that "Europe is a godless quarter of the globe and Britain the most atheistic part of it," even though "the government is anxious to keep God onside" and "religion is also a baleful presence in education."

In France, according to recent polls, only 13 percent of the population considers a belief in God necessary to morality. The official government policy of a self-consciously secular state antagonized many citizens by prohibiting the wearing of any explicitly religious apparel in public schools-Muslim veils, Jewish yarmulkes, or conspicuous Catholic crosses. "Religion is frightening," began a front-page article on the 2003 Church Congress in the German newspaper Die Zeit, "-at least to nonbelievers and those of other beliefs, to the TV viewers, to enlightened Europe." In a country where Muslim head scarves arouse nervousness, the piece continues, "religion has again raised its head in the midst of modernity, and the visage that it displays is grim and threatening." A land where Christianity is little more than "a museum with associated charitable functions" lacks all understanding for such spiritual phenomena as American piety, Turkish fundamentalism, and militant Israeli policies. When the newly elected Pope Benedict XVI visited his native Germany in the summer of 2005 the newsweekly Spiegel headed its cover story "Return to an Unchristian Land." And yet, as the story in the New Statesman observed, "In one of the world's most secular societies, ministers tremble at an archbishop's words and give clergy a hand in forming policy" (18), and the leaders of secular states flock to Rome to confer with the pope, to receive his benediction, and to be photographed with him for the newspapers back home.

If issues of faith are once again à lamode-the debate in the United States over school prayer and abortion, or in Muslim countries the rise of radical movements such as Al Qaeda and the Taliban-the roots of the debate can be traced back at least for a century, and its offshoots have sprouted again at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Freud recognized that humankind requires some sort of sustaining faith or "illusions." The same fundamental human need has been acknowledged by thinkers across the centuries. The generations that lived prior to Christianity, when religion was based on ritual and not belief, had their own modes of "faith." Believers in the various non-Christian religions around the contemporary world share different "faiths" that may or may not have anything in common with Christian values. Max Weber observed in 1915 that there are many possibilities of faith, but inevitably they constitute "a response to something in the real world that is felt to be specifically 'meaningless'" and hence implicitly a demand "that the world order [Weltgefüge] in its totality be somehow a meaningful 'cosmos.'" As T. S. Eliot phrased it more cogently in Four Quartets (1943), "human kind / Cannot bear very much reality."

If the preceding analysis is valid, then our contemporary age of spiritual crisis-of conflict between faith and unbelief, of strife between fundamentalism and secularism, of the search for nontraditional sustaining values-would do well to contemplate the period that marked the starting point for our situation today, to analyze the various modes through which those predecessors responded to their loss of faith, and to ponder the shift through which some of them regained some sort of faith that could be called religious. As was the case in Greek antiquity, in early Christianity, in the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the Age of Enlightenment, the situation of decline and loss followed by the search for a new faith produced as testimony and reflection of the process a wave of often outstanding and always revealing literary documents. Whether we look back as believers seeking to counter nonreligious modes of faith or as skeptics considering alternatives to religious belief, the comparison can be illuminating. What will turn out to be the "modes of faith" in the twenty-first century?




Excerpted from MODES OF FAITH by THEODORE ZIOLKOWSKI Copyright © 2007 by The University of Chicago. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Preface
 
Part One: The Decline of Faith
 
1. Introduction
2. The Melancholy, Long, Withdrawing Roar
3. Theologians of the Profane
 
Part Two: New Modes of Faith
 
4. The Religion of Art
5. Pilgrimages to India
6. The God That Failed
7. The Hunger for Myth
8. The Longing for Utopia
 
Part Three: Conclusion
9. Renewals of Spirituality
 
Notes
Index

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)