Sunday, January 15, 2012
Kafka's "Metamorphosis" & "Judgment": Even though the above video refers to what is perhaps Franz Kafka's most famous short story, "The Metamorphosis" (Die Verwandlung), it's another one of his short stories, namely "The Judgment" (Das Urteil), which contains equally profound existentialist themes. Published in 1912, Kafka's "Judgment" embodies the modern psycho-social intricacies that tend to define the father-son relationship. A father's demands often weigh heavily on a son, and that is precisely what occurs in "The Judgment." Since Kafka was familiar with the writings of Nietzsche and Freud, he frequently incorporated a kind of existential psychology into his literary works. In "The Metamorphosis," for example, Kafka uses an absurdist approach to the problems of existential thought and primordial pain, as the story's protagonist, Gregor Samsa, attempts to cope with the morphing of his physical body into a bug. While in "The Judgment," Kafka conveys a personal reflection of the story's main character, Georg Bendemann, on his father's criticisms. These criticisms become so severe that Georg is no longer able internalize them. As a result, he commits suicide by leaping from one of the many bridges that span the Vltava River in Prague.
Sunday, January 1, 2012
On Salvation and the End of Time: Two ideological constructs of Christian theology come to mind when considering topics such as salvation and the end of time: soteriology and eschatology. As for soteriology, theologians focus their studies on the Gospels' resurrection stories, which generally concern either Lazarus or Christ. In effect, salvation is a "free gift" that originates from God's divine sovereignty. And depending on one's personal engagement with Faith and free will, salvation can either be accepted or rejected. Regarding eschatology, however, people will necessarily be confronted with the choice of salvation at the end of time. To gain perspective on end times, theologians emphasize the Book of Revelation, which foretells apocalyptic events and Christ's Second Coming. In a historical context, therefore, every generation feels like it's the last one on Earth. But this kind of thinking largely materialized in the 1840s during the Second Great Awakening in Upstate New York. Encouraged by the teachings of Baptist preacher William Miller in the 1830s, people attempted to discern an exact date in either 1843 or 1844 for Christ's return. After questions about which Jewish calendar to use when calculating a date, the Millerites (as they became known) finally decided on October 22, 1844. And when Christ did not return on that date, Millerites labeled the event the Great Disappointment. An intriguing coincidence: Nietzsche was born in Prussia seven days prior to this event.