Believing that one can no longer believe

Boundaries between theology and contemporary literature

Systematic theology engages in a conversation with contemporary literature, where the complexity of contemporary lifeworlds and experiences is reflected. Above all, the literary treatment of questions such as friendship, love, sadness, guilt and death deserves systematic interest, because here, at least implicitly, the question of meaning comes into play. However, recourse to the traditional faith hardly plays a role in contemporary literature. One believes that one can no longer believe, it is impossible to believe for reasons of intellectual honesty. Not only is 'God' formally considered to be a "bad principle of style" (Gottfried Benn), the objections of the criticism of religion, the protest against God in the name of injustice, etc., seem to have become so self-evident that it is hardly worthwhile to include them in any debate. In any case, contemporary literary production gives the impression that 'God' has ceased to serve as the reference point of human self-assurance. However, it is noteworthy that thoughtful voices have been gathering for some time, drawing attention to what is lost if believing is no longer possible. There are gaps left behind when God breaks away as a potential addressee of human self-understanding. The question will be pursued interdisciplinarily, by engaging with texts by contemporary authors (Ulla Berkéwicz, Judith Hermann, Daniel Kehlmann, Pascal Mercier, etc.).

Preliminary work

  • Die Zeit widerrufen oder: Vermächtnis einer Freundschaft. Zu Thomas Bernhards „Wittgensteins Neffe", in: Internationale Katholische Zeitschrift Communio 36 (2007), S. 282-292
  • Rebellion gegen Gott. Glauben nicht mehr glauben zu können. Anmerkungen zu Pascal Merciers „Nachtzug nach Lissabon", in: Magnus Striet (Hg.), Wiederkehr des Atheismus.  Fluch oder Segen für die Theologie (Theologie kontrovers), Freiburg: Herder 2008, S. 119-138
  • „Setz deine Fahne auf Halbmast". Zur synoptischen Verdichtung der Leidens- und Widerstandsgeschichte in Paul Celans Gedicht „In eins", in: Alfred Bodenheimer / Bettina von Jagow / Georg Pfleiderer (Hg.), Literatur im Religionswandel der Moderne. Studien zur christlichen und jüdischen Literaturgeschichte, Zürich: TVZ 2009, S. 221-245
  • Sterben - Weiterleben - Zurückbleiben. Versuch über Judith Hermanns „Alice", in: Stimmen der Zeit 228 (2010), S. 266-278