On Becoming Creatures: Being Called to Presence in a Distracted World

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In the biblical creation story human beings are depicted as beings ejected from the true home given to them in creation and entrapped in the dynamics of their flight from God. Franz Rosenzweig suggested that modern life is best understood as a type of chronic living death characterized by an animate but nevertheless sterile experience of loss. Following Eric Santner's presentation of this theme in Rosenzweig, this article will explore what it might mean to recover a sense of the goodness of place and particularity. I will examine Santner's suggestion that to become present to ‘place’ is to have undergone the ‘undeadening’ intervention of another person, who offers us an exit route in the midst of the tangle of our lived lives. I will then show how the main lines of his analysis both parallel and offer ways to sharpen important aspects of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's account in Creation and Fall of the dynamics of the Fall and the healing of creatures. Human beings are depicted by Bonhoeffer as in need of being transformed into creatures, a theological insight resting on a complex account of creation, and which I will suggest, in conclusion, is a particularly important theme of a Christian gospel that can speak to a world saturated by the desire to be elsewhere.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)432–452
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Systematic Theology
Issue number4
Early online date29 Sept 2016
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016


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