(An Acrostic Conversation
for Holy Week, 2013 A.D.)
Just leave me alone!
Stay out of my life!
Useless you! I have
Success on my own!
Come unto me all you
Receive my peace.
I give you life,
Then love one another.
- Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, March 26, 2013
In the tradition of Nietzsche’s parable of The Mad Man who enters the public square at midnight to cry out “God is dead! God is dead! And we have killed him, you and I,” Willem Zuurdeeg (author of An Analytical Philosophy of Religion, and Man Before Chaos: Philosophy Is Born in a Cry), declared that:
Christ has been crucified by an Order which refused to be disturbed by him (Dostoevsky’s legend of the Grand Inquisitor). Christ historically was killed by the justifying Order of the Law. We establish similar Orders!
Zuurdeeg was part of the compassionate underground in The Netherlands that provided refuge for Jews fleeing the horrors of the Order of the German Third Reich. He spent his life in search for an answer to the question of how such a proud and sophisticated culture could become the perpetrator of unthinkable evil. During his years in the United States, he saw once more a social, economic, political, religious order (Western Democracy and Capitalism) that muzzles the shameless crying out for what we so desperately need (Freud). "Contrasted to modern man [sic] who cannot cry, primitive man [sic] was not ashamed to cry, and his culture provided him with living, vital forms of crying out.”
We are offered a significant choice, namely between two ways of being human. The difference between logical necessities or physical necessities and vital necessities is made clear in that in the latter we have the possibility of refusing ‘to turn away from a disaster’ – we can in fact choose a lesser way of being human over a fuller way. What is at stake in the necessity of cry is one’s own humanity, the meaning of one’s own existence, and to turn away from crying is to turn away from decision and responsibility. This is to deny the very possibility of becoming genuinely human.
Man Before Chaos, published after Zuurdeeg’s untimely death at the age of 57, ends with the unedited notes from the sermon he preached to his students and faculty colleagues at McCormick Theological Seminary. Here is the conclusion of his sermon.
God is dead (II). This is now turned around. In principle the man gods, of the Primitive Order, the Law, of the Founding Fathers, of Democracy, of Reason, of Being (Necessary Being, Being-Itself), of a moral World Order – these are the gods who are dead. They are “idols in the sense that they exist only because we believe in them. They are dead, in principle, in hope, though the present reality is different. … And the God who is alive is Jesus Christ.
Gordon C. Stewart is a social commentator, writer and radio commentator onMinnesota Public RadioHe is pastor at Shepherd of the Hill Presbyterian Church in Chaska, Minn. Visit him at http://gordoncstewart.com/.
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