At some point in the nineteenth century God died, the world grew
secular, and Christianity became oppositional, irrational, odd,
even queer -- or so the story goes. To explore this narrative, John
Schad offers a suitably odd or unreasonable' history of what Michel
Foucault once called Christian unreason'. This proves, in part, to
be an unlikely, or uncanny history of Christian involvement in such
radical movements and developments as Anarchism, Surrealism, the
Absurd, deconstruction, and even quantum physics. It also proves to
be a dark and guilty history of Christian involvement in such
terrible things and events as slavery, forced conversion, Fenian
bombs, the Great War, the Holocaust, and even Hiroshima. The book
begins with Matthew Arnold's Dover Beach' and its withdrawing sea
of faith' as time and again Schad finds the figure of the Christian
to be beached, a fish out of water -- a queer fish, in fact. This,
then, is a book that is all at sea -- beginning with Charles
Darwin's voyage to the extreme point of Christendom' that was South
America, and ending with James Joyce and Jacques Derrida in the
same boat', the same ruined, but sea-going, boat that is the
twentieth-century Western Church. In between: Karl Marx is to be
found in 1848 watching the waves of revolution' withdraw in Berlin;
Sigmund Freud stands incredulous by the shore of Loch Ness; Oscar
Wilde is laughed at in the rain at Clapham Junction; and Charles
Dickens visits a church for the drowned, a church for ship-wrecked
corpses. Revisiting Dover Beach' is often an appalling event, an
event of death; often it is comic or even absurd. Sometimes it is
both at once. With chapters devoted to Darwin, Marx, Freud,
Dickens, Wilde, Joyce, and Derrida, Queer Fish has plenty for
students not only of literature and philosophy but also theology
and Jewish studies.
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