Polemics & Exchanges

On Religion and Utopia

I am an admirer of Derek Turner’s writing and his work as editor of Right Now! and Quarterly Review.  Yet I sense that he cuts John Gray undeserved slack in his review of Gray’s book, Black Mass: Religion and the Death of Utopia (“The Skeptical Mind,” Opinion, June).  I have not read this book, nor do I intend to, but from Turner’s summation I gather that there really is not much to choose between Gray’s apparently bottomless skepticism and that of “Marxist professor Terry Eagleton,” cited by Turner to the effect that “progress is a myth, freedom a fantasy, selfhood a delusion, morality a kind of sickness, justice a mere matter of custom and illusion our natural condition.”  This is the terminal nihilism and relativism characteristic of the left today, especially in its academic mode.  Like Eagleton, Gray apparently makes what is now the common error among our intelligentsia of lumping “religion” (any religion) indiscriminately with “ideology” and rejecting them all as hopelessly utopian.

But the truest skepticism is skeptical even of itself.  Leftists, disillusioned by the failure of one particular ideology, Marxism, have concluded that all truth claims must be bogus.  This is obviously the reaction of an angry...

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