Title

II. The question of god in the struggle for racial justice

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1-1-2021

Abstract

In March 1943, having narrowly escaped Europe three years earlier, Abraham Joshua Heschel published "The Meaning of This War," his first essay in an American publication. The essay shows, quite remarkably, his full command of literary English. It also shows, as biographer Edward Kaplan remarks, that Heschel "had found his militant voice." "Emblazoned over the gates of the world in which we live," the essay begins, "is the escutcheon of the demons. The mark of Cain in the face of man has come to overshadow the likeness of God. There have never been so much guilt and distress, agony and terror. At no time has the earth been so soaked with blood." Heschel's extraordinary life's witness, his whole body of work, traverses precisely this anthropological and theological knife's edge: The mark of Cain in the face of man has come to overshadow the likeness of God. Where is God? Or better, Who is God? In relation to the rapacious misuse and idolatrous distortion of human freedom? Or simply, Is God?

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