In this interview with German writer Martin Walser, we witness someone struggling with faith, existence, meaning, and history:
Once you have awakened to the question of faith, you cannot simply return to your everyday agenda like a committed atheist could. You cannot retreat to the comforts of atheism. Behind us are two thousand years that have been marked by questions about God. Today’s atheistic calm, even from intellectuals, is equal to the eradication of our intellectual history.
At this point, the interviewer — perhaps sensing Walser has just made a personal confession that is not generalizable — asks the obvious question: Why?
Because we would have to admit that we were crazy. You cannot spend two thousand years trying to understand God and then simply abandon the question and declare that we’re not interested in it anymore.
While we shouldn’t be fearful to find that our ancestors were wrong or a bit crazy, Walser is right to sense that this remains an interesting question. He is carrying on, without much luck it appears, in the tradition of Kierkegaard, Dostoyevsky, Barth, and Nietzsche.
I get the sense that Walser’s empathetic range is limited and he is projecting, but judge for yourself.