Significant Quotations

1. “Where is God? Where is He?” someone behind me asked.
For more than half an hour [the child in the noose] stayed there, struggling between life and death, dying in slow agony under our eyes. And we had to look him full in the face. He was still alive when I passed in front of him. His tongue was still red, his eyes were not yet glazed.
Behind me, I heard the same man asking:
“Where is God now?”
And I heard a voice within me answer him:
“Where is He? Here He is—He is hanging here on this gallows . . .”

Explanation: An innocent child with an angelic face, who perpetrated no crime except devotion and affection to man, was chosen to die. His death was particularly gruesome. The prisoners, observing the scene, asked, “Where is God?” In other words, how could a supposedly all-powerful God who is supposed to be benevolent allow this to happen? God must be either passive, helpless, or disinterested in human welfare.

Some of the prisoners chose to believe that He is helpless and impotent to reverse the evil. They, therefore, concluded that “He is hanging here on the gallows,” meaning with the child, and that He is metaphorically dead.

This is reminiscent of Nietzsche's statement of the famous “God is dead” phrase. One can read it in one of two ways. One could read it in the way that Nietzsche intended it, that humankind has destroyed God by their disbelief in Him and their embrace of agnosticism/atheism, as contrasted with the medieval that God is alive and well. Alternatively, one can interpret it as simply posing that while an earlier age had claimed God’s existence, more sophisticated man was beyond that and realized that belief in His existence was senseless. There simply made no sense to assert belief in a God, particularly since science and technology had replaced Him. This was Durkheim’s rationalized thesis of modernity, wherein the increasing state of sophistication in science displaced...

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Essays About Night