The Forsaken Jesus and the Black Sun of Atheism

  • Robert Young South Africa Apostolic Nunciature


This article begins with a presentation of the thought of French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy, who characterizes contemporary thinking as a gravitational movement around the “black sun” of atheism. Although he is an atheist himself, his project is to find an opening from within atheism that will allow contemporary thought to break free of the gravitational force of unbelief that keeps us locked into a post-Enlightenment nihilistic worldview. The article presents Nancy’s turn to Christianity and his intuition that the deconstruction of Christian realities such as “creation,” “ faith,” and “prayer” can provide a way out of our current dilemma. In the second part of the article, the author suggests that the figure of the forsaken Jesus may contain the very escape from nihilistic darkness that Nancy is searching for. A variety of texts from authors such as Albert Camus, G. K. Chesterton, and Samuel Beckett, poems by William Cowper and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and the writings of Chiara Lubich are presented to illustrate how the forsaken Jesus can be seen as underlying different symbolic expressions of the depth of human suffering, the sense of the absence of God, and the hope that emanates from crucified love.