Waiting for Godot in Sarajevo: Theological Reflections on Nihilism, Tragedy, and Apocalypse

Waiting for Godot in Sarajevo: Theological Reflections on Nihilism, Tragedy, and Apocalypse

Waiting for Godot in Sarajevo: Theological Reflections on Nihilism, Tragedy, and Apocalypse

Waiting for Godot in Sarajevo: Theological Reflections on Nihilism, Tragedy, and Apocalypse

Synopsis

Using as his backdrop Susan Sontag's staging of Act I of Waiting for Godot in war-torn Sarajevo, the author attempts to come to terms with what it means to live a dignified life in a world of suffering.

Excerpt

It is a common thought among historians that the twentieth century did not begin in 1900, or even in 1091, with the turning of the calendar. Rather, the century began on June 28, 1914, on Franz Josef Street in Sarajevo, when Gavrilo Princip shot and killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Hapsburg throne. This event, of course, led Austria-Hungary to declare war on Serbia, and before long the whole of Europe found itself embroiled in a war that would last for four long years and claim the lives of almost an entire generation. Here, say historians, in the trenches of World War I, the twentieth century began--and what a beginning it was for the century that would produce Hitler and Stalin, Auschwitz and the Gulag, Hiroshima, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, Afghanistan, Rwanda, Chechnya, and, of course, Bosnia.

In the spring of 1992, through some strange twist in history, the century that began in Sarajevo returned there, bringing with it the cumulative horror of a century's worth of war and genocide. The century that began with the assassination of the Archduke had circled around and come home to roost, with the result that between 1992 and 1996, Sarajevo was all but destroyed. It may well be that historians of the future, as they sort through the past, will declare that the twentieth century ended where it began, in the streets of Sarajevo, on April 6, 1992, the day the siege of the city began.

But even if historians let the century live on for another few years, Sarajevo cannot help but symbolize for us the borders of a century that we can remember only with the astonishment that accompanies grief. And, of course, if the twentieth century has come to an end in the rubble of Sarajevo, then we need to wonder what the future might hold. For Sarajevo was famous not only as the place where the Archduke met his end but also as the city that embodied in a concrete way all the hopes of the Enlightenment: a city where Jews and Muslims and Christians (both Catholic and Orthodox) lived together in peace, overcoming (but not abandoning) their religious differences. More than any other city in Europe--or for that matter, in the world--Sarajevo, because of its unique history, had become a city of hope. It had become, as Dzevad Karahasan says, the new Jerusalem. But that city now lies in ruins. And what does that suggest about Enlightenment dreams? What does the fate of Sara jevo . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.