After Religion Fizzles, We’re Stuck with Nietzsche by Chris Hedges

by Chris Hedges
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
Truthdig
May 10, 2010

Who Would Jesus Bomb?

Image by Dandelion Salad via Flickr

It is hard to muster much sympathy over the implosion of the Catholic Church, traditional Protestant denominations or Jewish synagogues. These institutions were passive as the Christian right, which peddles magical thinking and a Jesus-as-warrior philosophy, hijacked the language and iconography of traditional Christianity. They have busied themselves with the boutique activism of the culture wars. They have failed to unequivocally denounce unfettered capitalism, globalization and pre-emptive war. The obsession with personal piety and “How-is-it-with-me?” spirituality that permeates most congregations is undiluted narcissism. And while the Protestant church and reformed Judaism have not replicated the perfidiousness of the Catholic bishops, who protect child-molesting priests, they have little to say in an age when we desperately need moral guidance.

I grew up in the church and graduated from a seminary. It is an institution whose cruelty, inflicted on my father, who was a Presbyterian minister, I know intimately. I do not attend church. The cloying, feel-your-pain language of the average clergy member makes me run for the door. The debates in most churches—whether revolving around homosexuality or biblical interpretation—are a waste of energy. I have no desire to belong to any organization, religious or otherwise, which discriminates, nor will I spend my time trying to convince someone that the raw anti-Semitism in the Gospel of John might not be the word of God. It makes no difference to me if Jesus existed or not. There is no historical evidence that he did. Fairy tales about heaven and hell, angels, miracles, saints, divine intervention and God’s beneficent plan for us are repeatedly mocked in the brutality and indiscriminate killing in war zones, where I witnessed children murdered for sport and psychopathic gangsters elevated to demigods. The Bible works only as metaphor.

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Chris Hedges spent two decades as a foreign reporter covering wars in Latin America, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. He has written nine books, including Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle (2009) and War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (2003).

see

Jesus: Man, Messiah, or More?

Chris Hedges: Violence is our primary form of communication (must-see)

Chris Hedges: When America leaves reality behind

And They Crucified Him by Art Katz

Jewish Marxist Atheist has vision of Jesus

Jesus of Nazareth (1977)

10 thoughts on “After Religion Fizzles, We’re Stuck with Nietzsche by Chris Hedges

  1. Hedges is such an obvious preacher-manque that it’s hard to take him seriously. Religion is so tedious.

    • George , thou protest too much . mmmm . Contrare , it is hard to not take Hedges seriously given that the fact that he is suing the Obama Administration for the NDAA act .

      How much do you actually know about Hedges ? He reported war crimes overseas and has been vigilante here at home . Can one have a problem with that ?

      • p.s. George , you are right when you say that religion is tedious . why ? because it takes serious study and not just superficial screening to truly understand the nuances of faith verses unbelief in regards to religious matters.

  2. It’s easy to bemoan the “lack of morality” in the younger generation that the older generations have done for millenia.

    I do have a minor correction. The writer, like many others, misunderstands Nietzsche’s position.

    The “Ubermench” is one capable of giving themselves a morality. Which means, they have to be capable of being moral.

    Saying “I have my own morality” is not the same as saying “I can do what I want”. The Ubermench is not a common hedonist.

    I think what the author is really trying to say is that the current generation is not even capable of being moral. And it’s certainly incorrect to think that the younger generation has any understanding, even a gross misunderstanding of Nietzsche at all.

    That’s just a minor correction. The article is good and the author is well-written and well-educated.

    • chris , good point . Nietzsche not only changes from book to book , but he changes within books . if Hedges wants a credible alternative to all of this fake Christendom , he need look no further than Kierkegaard , who was a real follower of Jesus, and other than Savonarola, Christendom’s best and most scathing critic .

  3. Surely the Übermensch, in the United States or elsewhere, is the supreme individual: an embodiment of the State (the bureaucratically-organised ruling élite, not ‘society’) that for its own expansionary ends ‘transvalues values’ — inculcating the hunting of innocents, deflecting hatred of its totalitarian control onto the ‘enemy’ — in imperialist wars which cannot be rationally justified to the bulk of working class belligerents. We cannot overturn such a corporate individual except as a democratic, rationally-organised collectivity. Individuals who confront power are supremely courageous, but they fail if their example prompts no collective moral response. That response will reassert the power of social coercion over the parasitic minority who rule in the name of democracy.

  4. tim , when you read his book on the new Atheism and how it is aligned itself with the imperialistic religious right , then you will fully understand this article .

  5. Yeah. Chris Hedges is a great writer and I admire him greatly. His work is almost always thoughtful and provocative. This piece is no exception. But I think he is way off here. While we on the left should, of course, fiercely defend and support religious freedom, we should leave the ‘it’s either religion or insufferable Nietzschean nihilism’ canard to the right wing demagogue camp.

  6. Hedges ignores the historical fact that morality and religion are opposing forces.

    More troubling is the general tone of his writing where he endlessly asserts his supposed superiority to everyone else instead of making calls to action on what is supposedly troubling him.

    • lib , Oscar Wilde said that ”Morality is something we invent to use on people we dont like ”. this goes for the secular and the religious persons . the so called opposing force of religion and morality does not exist . moralizing is bullshit . stating one is moral is bullshit too . it is all fabricated , and it is all deadly . it looks down on others. we dont need it . time to transcend both religion and morality and give our deepest heart to Christ . .. who is a person ..where love resides .

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