Thursday, October 19, 2006

Moltmann on love and death

Christian faith starts from the assumption that it is impossible to reconcile life and death without the future of God. Should we accept death as a natural part of life? Then we must renounce love, which desires the life of the beloved and not his death. Should we renounce the body because it is mortal? Then we must renounce love altogether. If we accept death and if we repress death we cannot love life. Consciously or unconsciously, the knowledge of death destroys love’s ability to affirm life…. Surprising though it may sound, it is hope for the resurrection of the body which is the foundation and motivation for what Bonhoeffer called ‘Christianity’s profound this-worldliness’. It is precisely this hope which – contrary to what Nietzsche said – moves men and women to ‘remain true to the earth’, even in the face of individual, collective and universal death.

- Jürgen Moltmann, The Way of Jesus Christ, 264

Five points for the picture. It would be ten, but I think this one will be all-too-easy, especially since another well-known theo-blogger recently used an almost identical shot. An extra five points for saying who it was and providing a link.

13 comments:

andrewE said...

Does the picture imply a kind of "death as a gateway" idea?

In fact, we should probably even dispense with death-as-gateway language, for, "we will not all sleep!"

John P. said...

ooo, i got this one...(though it was you who showed it to me, but who's counting?)

Its the Cathedral ruins of St Andrews and Alastair at http://alastair.adversaria.co.uk/?p=447 had it last....

perhaps i should post my picture of the same shot? :)

byron said...

Erro - It's not meant to imply that - I think I was thinking about the atmosphere of the whole area (the headland at St Andrews in Scotland, featuring the ruined cathedral and graveyeard*), which I found both melancholy and yet hopeful. The ruin was neither abandoned nor demolished and built over. Even having a graveyard is itself a sign of hope in one sense. While I realise this is a contentious topic and an area of Christian freedom, I do find the symbolism of a graveyard (esp round a church building) to be a very powerful affirmation that the dead are asleep, and that as we meet we meet amongst the dead, who share our hope. Cremation (especially if accompanied by scattering) is a very different symbol.

*Link is to John's picture of the graveyard, which he recently posted, though Alastair did post even more recently with almost exactly the same picture as mine.

Oh, and ten points John!

cyberpastor said...

At the risk of being a party pooper, Moltmann has a lot of homework to do in order to get away from us having to accept death in God as a universal and potentially eternal characteristic of absolute Spirit. His eshatology bears a disturbaing resemblance to God exorcising his own demons and drawing us into this disaster.

byron said...

David - I agree that the eternalisation of death in God is a serious problem for Moltmann's whole system and by quoting him I'm not suggesting we adopt everything he says. Consider the party not pooped. What do you think of just this quote?

cyberpastor said...

B

I must confess that I find it very difficult to be enthusiastic about Motlmann's rhetoric - a lovely as it is to read. How can we not accept death as a natural part of life since the death of God is eternally his love, God is life and we are in him? God's love in Moltmann's system is the act of freeing us from the despicable weight that is his death in him. God does not act for us so much as for him self.

I have to say that I have never found Moltmann a convincing intepreter of Bonhoeffer. Moltmann has far less in common with Bonhoeffer than he thinks. Bonhoeffer rejected grand metanarratives likes Moltmann's out of hand along with all the rest of Motlamnn's Hegeliansim. At least that is what I have discerned from reading Bonhoeffer's works.

Sorry about that chief.

Alastair said...

Byron,

You might find Hans Urs von Balthasar's Mysterium Paschale helpful here. Read his preface to the second edition for a summary of his position. Actually, I might just post relevant sections on my blog.

One of Freedom said...

Quotes like that are why Jürgen is my homeboy.

I don't know where that photo is but the scene is brilliant!

byron said...

Al - Thanks, that would be great.

Frank - John got the location earlier - the cathedral ruins of St Andrews in Scotland.

David - sounds like you're having difficulty separating your experience of this quote from your reading of Moltmann as a whole. Can you reject his Hegelianism and affirm this quote?

byron said...

ooo, i got this one...(though it was you who showed it to me, but who's counting?)
John - I forgot I included the link to Al's site. Oh well...

cyberpastor said...

B,

I can rejet Hegelianism and accept this quote but then I am thinking my own thoughts on the subject and not Moltmann's :)

Death - bad. Embodiment - GOOD. Resurrection - the perfection of embodiment for human life.

As for Bonhoeffer, it was God's free binding of himself to the world in the Godman despite the sinful state in which it existed that affirmed to goodness of embodied life.

Jason Goroncy said...

It's the view from around the corner of my study here in St Andrews... what a place! So when are you coming to visit Byron?

byron said...

Jason - spot on, though John P already claimed the points. I was actually there in January (which is when I took the picture). I'd love to come back - might depend on some scholarship applications I'll be completing in the next few months...