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Religion and Identity in Germany Today

Doubters, Believers, Seekers in Literature and Film


Edited By Julian Ernest Preece, Frank Finlay and Sinéad Crowe

In German-speaking Europe, as in other parts of the western world, questions of religious identity have been discussed with sudden urgency since the attacks of ‘9/11’. Nowhere was this clearer than in the heated controversy over the building of a mosque in the city of Cologne, which is the subject of Michael Hofmann’s contribution to this volume. Turkish Germans have also found themselves defined by the religious background of their parents. For different reasons German Jews have faced pressure to reconnect with a religion that their forbears cast off sometimes more than a century ago. At the same time religious belief among the nominally Christian majority has been in retreat. These changes have generated poetry, drama, and fiction as well as a number of films by both well-known and emerging authors and filmmakers. Their works sometimes reflect but more often challenge debates taking place in politics and the media. The essays in this volume explore a range of genres which engage with religion in contemporary Germany and Austria. They show that literature and film express nuances of feeling and attitude that are eclipsed in other, more immediately influential discourses. Discussion of these works is thus essential for an understanding of the role of religion in forming identity in contemporary multicultural German-speaking societies. This volume contains eight chapters in English and six in German.


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KEITH BULLIVANT - That Old-Time Religion? Thoughts on Patrick Roth’s ‘Resurrection’Trilogy 147


KEITH BULLIVANT That Old-Time Religion? Thoughts on Patrick Roth’s ‘Resurrection’ Trilogy In an interview with Der Spiegel in 2007 Abbot Notker Wolf stated that 1968, which he called the ‘deutsche Kulturrevolution’, had compounded the substitution of reason for religious faith in the French Revolution by, in its turn, now enthroning nature in reason’s stead. He went on: ‘Seither leben wir in einer Welt ohne Gott, ohne Jenseits, ohne Väter und ohne eine vernünft- ige Vorstellung dessen, was Freiheit ist’.1 While I would argue that there are clear signs of a general secularisation of West German literature well before 1968, there is no doubt that after that time West German society in general and literature in particular reflected an increasing lack of interest in religion. It was astonishing, therefore, to find Michael Krüger, a major writer and the managing editor of the Hanser-Verlag, writing in 2003 in the introduction to an anthology of biblical stories retold for today how he regarded the Bible as one of the basic texts of Western civilisation which impressed him in par- ticular by the way its stories were told ‘[mit] welcher Leidenschaft, […] mit welcher Ehrfurcht…’2 Now, this in itself does not necessarily imply a significant increase in religious thinking, but, coming when it did, the volume offered yet another indication that in the course of the 1990s the solid secularism of German lit- erature had been somewhat eroded. In 2005 the critic Hubert Winkels, in an interview about his Gute Zeichen,...

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