2000 Years and Beyond: Faith, Identity, and the Common Era

2000 Years and Beyond: Faith, Identity, and the Common Era

2000 Years and Beyond: Faith, Identity, and the Common Era

2000 Years and Beyond: Faith, Identity, and the Common Era

Synopsis

2000 Years and Beyond brings together some of the most eminent thinkers of our time - specialists in philosophy, theology, anthropology and cultural theory. In a horizon-scanning work, they look backwards and forwards to explore what links us to the matrix of the Judaeo-Christian tradition from which Western cultural identity has evolved.Their plural reflections raise searching questions about how we move from past to future - and about who 'we' are. What do the catastrophes of the twentieth century signify for hopes of progress? Can post - Enlightment humanism and its notion of human nature survive without faith? If the 'numinous magic global capitalism' is our own giant shadow cast abroad, does that shadow offer hope enough of a communal future? Has the modern, secularized West now outgrown its originating faith matrix?Often controversial and sometimes visionary, these seven new essays ask: how do we tell - and rewrite - the story of the Common Era? Introduced by Paul Gifford, and discussed in a lively dialogic conclusion, they add their distinctive voices to a debate of profound and urgent topicality.

Excerpt

Paul Gifford

The present volume of essays is an exercise in a neglected art: that of exploring the relationship between evolving secular culture and the matrix of thought, sensibility and social practice derived from the ongoing religious traditions of Judaism and Christianity.

The essays themselves find their origin in a much-followed public lecture series held at the University of St Andrews to mark the bi-millennial year. As the first of our essayists, Jürgen Moltmann, points out, the year 2000 signified very little in its own right, except the poetic stardust of those three noughts. the misadventures of London's Millennium Dome at Greenwich - now fast retreating from memory - no doubt demonstrated the poverty of that slight magic. With the possible exception of its star attraction, the 'Body Zone' (which happened to feature an authentic natural wonder), the Dome failed to address anything vital in collective memory or in spiritual imagination. It offered no point of deeper human self-recognition. It found little to celebrate or commemorate beyond a kaleidoscope of acceptable contemporary images. What it in fact - and briefly - memorialized was the ethos of a passing political moment, and its own monument-making.

Meanwhile, almost unnoticed, the year 2000 offered a landmark of very different interest: a point of overview, properly bi-millennial and pertinently symbolic in character; a point from which to reappraise not the empty arithmetic of one more millennium added to other millennia, but our own collective identity, past, present and future. Symbolically, the year in question invited consideration of this theme with reference to an actual, historically affirmed and dated inheritance of religious belief, value and self-understanding. It was a good time to acknowledge and appraise something much forgotten: the informing presence in our culture of a Judaeo-Christian matrix that has traditionally offered to give human time its horizon of

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