Of God and Man
By Zygmunt Bauman & Stanislaw Obirek
Polity – £14.99 (paperback)
The moment that uncertainty was born was the moment that morality was born – together with the moral self, a self aware of walking a tightrope.
Engaging and thoroughly thought-provoking, stimulating and brimming with a theological analysis that is ultimately enticing to say the least, Of God and Man, is many things – predominantly that of a search for clarity and some kind of behavioural understanding.
As the title might suggest, this book is an in-depth, dense investigation into the sort of moral abyss; many of us would sooner bypass for whatever fleeting distraction of folly may happen to come our way. As such, by way of a more than fetching, if not intriguing dialogue between the sociologist and philosopher Zygmut Bauman, and the theologian and cultural historian Stanlisalw Obirek, these seven chapters ecclesiastically erupt unto a place where an assortment of home-truths, silently scream with the sort of candid candour, great swathes of society continues to do its utmost to avoid.
For example, whether it’s the following from the second chapter (‘What about This Religion? On the Threat of Fundamentalism – Not Only the Religious Kind’), where Obirek emphatically states: ”To possess the truth is so all-consuming that the walls built around it can only be stronger, higher, simply unconquerable. Dialogue and interaction become not only unnecessary, but even redundant, interfering with the bliss of the possessed truth. The only thing that remains is conversion, opening the eyes, and in extreme circumstances excluding or even killing the adversary. This is my objection, Zygmut, to the followers of monotheism.” Or the following from the sixth chapter (‘The Disinherited; or, Creating Tradition Anew’), where again, Obirek address Bauman: ”So maybe, together, we are on the road to a greater understanding and increased ability to handle the world, because dialogue allows us to cross the boundaries of our own loneliness? That you are able to read newspapers, react to questions sent from different parts of the world, always reading new texts and finding in them accurate diagnoses of our reality allows me to believe that an alternative exists; that TINA (There Is No Alternative), proclaimed by Margaret Thatcher with such conviction and with such devastating results – not only for British society – is passing into the dustbin of history as one of the twentieth century’s stupidest utterances by a politician. And that is good news.”
It is good news – although a mighty shame it took so long for much of the populace to let it finally pass it ”into the dustbin of history.”
There remains an enlightening and fundamentally quintessential daring throughout these one-hundred and sixteen pages; the sort of which, by the time one has reached the book’s conclusion, one cannot help but feel compelled to read more.
Ask more. Investigate further.