It is a great shame that W. H. Auden’s long poem The Age of Anxiety is not more widely known or discussed. Auden here is at his lyrical best, and the melding of Anglo-Saxon alliteration with the imagery of telegrams and radios is delightfully disorienting. A High Modernist text, albeit twenty years after High Modernism’s peak, this poem deserves to be classed alongside “The Waste Land.” Like Eliot’s great poem, The Age of Anxiety occasionally verges on the impenetrable, especially in the poem’s third part, where Auden sends the reader into a dream vision that draws upon Jungian psychoanalysis and is structured around the Zohar, a kabbalistic text—two things about which I know unfortunately little. But the impenetrability is part of the allure, and like the other modernist masterworks, this text calls to be read and reread again and again.
James R. Wood
Two works that I’ve recently come across pose an indirect challenge to Barthian assumptions that I, and many modern theologians, tend to hold. First is Philip John Paul Gonzales’s Reimagining the Analogia Entis: The Future of Erich Przywara's Christian Vision. Metaphysics fell on hard times in the second half of the twentieth century. Barth famously referred to the metaphysical doctrine of the analogia entis as the “invention of the anti-Christ” and a primary reason he could never become a Catholic. Most Protestants have subsequently dismissed the idea out of hand. Various scholars have recently sought to retrieve this teaching of Przywara and explain it to a contemporary audience. Gonzales makes his contribution here, and it is masterful. He does not merely recapitulate Przywara’s views, but constructively builds upon them and engages important postmodern religious philosophers and theologians to demonstrate the ongoing relevance of an analogical metaphysics. It is a significant contribution to the revival of theological metaphysics we are witnessing at the moment.
The second book is A Companion to the Theology of John Webster, edited by Michael Allen and R. David Nelson. Webster died tragically early, just a few years ago. Nearly all of the essays in this volume are high quality, which is rare in such collections. Webster, though he greatly appreciated Barth and had intimate knowledge of his thought, was able to provide penetrating critiques of the “postliberal” theology indebted to Barth. I generally associate myself with that theological stream, and am grateful for the opportunity to refine my thinking by engaging Webster’s theology in this companion.
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