Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Asking Questions, Tillich and the Existentialists

"I start with man asking questions about the ultimate meaning of life. People who listen to me are those who declare they don’t understand the Christian symbols that are given by the church and need them translated into modern language." --Paul Tillich

Paul Tillich emerged out of the Nazi regime and the era of Fascism to a world in wonder. The explosive force of the Atom bomb and the Hydrogen bomb left the known universe ajar. The pre-war answers to life's questions no longer filled a world searching for meaning at the world wars' end. While the First World War had been known as The Great War, its combatants, referred to as the Lost Generation. The Second World War gave way to the Beat generation, the Existentialists,  and authors such as Vicktor Frankl, a concentration camp survivor, who wrote titles such as Man's Search For Meaning.
Theologian Paul Tillich wrote about living in a Christian way within the revised world order of the mid 20th century.
Authors such as Jean Paul Sartre wrote books like Camus and La Peste also exploring the topic of Being and Nothingness, what has now become called Existentialism.

Existentialism is a view that was popularized, carried over into the arts-culture and into general society. While existentialism is sometimes called "the philosophy of the absurd," most existentialist thinkers would likely define themselves by a sense of free choice and lack of sense for past or future, only a present.
The one first identified as an existentialist was Soren Kierkegaard who wrote that this sense of self and time leads into humanism, a state where man in his own experiences, maintains the center the universe.
Paul Tillich
wrote, "being religious means asking passionately the question of our existence and being willing to receive answers, even if the answers hurt."
Such an idea of religion makes religion universally human, but it certainly differs from what is usually called religion. It is here that Tillich makes his contribution to the understanding of the modern, technological world.

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