God's Funeral by A. N. Wilson
The Decline of Faith in Western Civilization

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Synopsis

A magisterial, colorful narrative illuminating the central tragedy of the nineteenth century: that God (or man's faith in him) died, but the need to worship remained as a torment to those who thought they had buried Him. By the end of the nineteenth century, almost all the great writers, artists, and intellectuals had abandoned Christianity, and many abandoned belief in God altogether. This was partly the result of scientific discovery, particularly the work of Charles Darwin in The Origin of Species. (No reader here will soon forget the venomous Oxford debate between Thomas Huxley, brilliant defender of Darwin, and Bishop Wilberforce in 1860.) But as Wilson demonstrates in such fascinatingly diverse lives as those of Gibbon, Kant, Marx, Carlyle, George Eliot, and Sigmund Freud, the doubt about religion had many sources. By 1900, the Church of England, so vastly rich, so politically and socially powerful, could be pronounced spiritually empty, however full its pews might be on a Sunday. Echoes of the "Death of God" could be found practically everywhere: in the revolutionary politics of Garibaldi and Lenin; in the poetry of Tennyson and the novels of Hardy; in the work of Freud, connecting this "death" to our deepest wishes; and in the decline of hierarchical (male) authority and the first stirrings of feminism. Wilson's exquisitely detailed argument reveals the growth of a new imaginative order of unbelief that supplanted organized religion, and left in its wake a devastating sense of loss extending to our own times.
 

About A. N. Wilson

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A. N. Wilson is the author of the acclaimed biographies Tolstoy, C. S. Lewis, Jesus, and Paul; God's Funeral, and several celebrated novels. He lives in London.
 
Published June 1, 1999 by W. W. Norton & Company. 512 pages
Genres: History, Religion & Spirituality, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for God's Funeral

Publishers Weekly

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At the end of the 19th century, Christian theologian Ernst Troeltsch proclaimed that the sun was setting on Christianity, and poet Matthew Arnold declared that in the future poetry would replace relig

May 31 1999 | Read Full Review of God's Funeral: The Decline of...

The New York Times

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''The nature of society itself, urban, industrialized, materialistic, was the background for the godlessness which philosophy and science did not so much discover as ratify.'' In ''God's Funeral,'' Mr. Wilson re-examines the ''Victorian Big Fight'' between religion and science, faith and intellec...

Jul 02 1999 | Read Full Review of God's Funeral: The Decline of...

Project MUSE

Wilson tells us about Clough's upbringing and quotes his reaction to his first years at Balliol, asserts that Clough experienced agonies, but quotes nothing to illustrate them;

| Read Full Review of God's Funeral: The Decline of...

Project MUSE

Wilson tells us about Clough's upbringing and quotes his reaction to his first years at Balliol, asserts that Clough experienced agonies, but quotes nothing to illustrate them;

| Read Full Review of God's Funeral: The Decline of...

Country Life

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Sep 02 2003 | Read Full Review of God's Funeral: The Decline of...

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