Samson Agonistes: suicide bomber


“Post-secular” is a rather nebulous term, as Mohamed admits. It is supposed to cover recent theoretical turns towards taking faith seriously, whether through theological movements such as Radical Orthodoxy or Derrida’s “messianicity without messianism”. Alain Badiou in particular, an avowed atheist, allows us to “glimpse” what Mohamed (himself a Muslim atheist) calls, in his convoluted way, “the possibility of an unreligious turn away from a secular view of belief”. This appears to mean that we must now consider faith in romantic love, or Cubism, say, as equivalents for what used to be associated with the divinity (so perhaps “I saw her face; now I’m a believer”?). Milton gets into the act in strained ways because he provides a “pre-secular” parallel to the post-secular present, and each illuminates the other. An ambitious intellectual leap brings the plain style of God or Abdiel in Paradise Lost – where grace, for example, “Comes unprevented, unimplor’d, unsought” – into a supposedly productive dialogue with modern Messianism, the appeal to a faithful few, and then, oddly enough, with the plainer still style of the internet – the medium through which both jihadists and supporters of Barack Obama communicate.

more from Neil Forsyth at the TLS here.