- 1932 -
Goethe, who may well be counted among the "godless", was a bitter hatred of the bells. He called it an "unbearable child"; he speaks in Faust of the "damned ringing", of the "damned Bim-Bam-Bimmel".
I must admit that I do not like to hear the church bells toll on Sunday and even on the weekday, even if they do not call me to go to church, but only remind me that it is Sunday morning or weekday evening.
Nor do I have the dislike of the churches that some of the wicked have or display. When I have an opportunity, I like to enter and feel the coolness and silence in the high rooms as a pleasant understatement of the outside, which is noisy or hot. That is why I sometimes regret that the Evangelicals shut down their churches for the week rather than keep them open like the Catholics.
I can also imagine that many of these churches will once serve as assemblies of a secular character and become quite well suited to them. In Switzerland z. For example, the churches have long been used for such purposes.
Even the words religion and god did not need to be abolished, as far as I personally am concerned. There are "true" freethinkers who get angry at the greeting "hello god," or expressions like "God knows," "in God's name." In fact, these people are not likely to join in our era of Christ's birth; just as little as the Christians are supposed to write "Tuesday" or "Thursday", because they are actually paying homage to a pagan idol.
In fact, all these words and phrases have been ground off in such a way that they have long since lost their original content. They are relics, venerable remnants of the past that have only antiquity value or that have in the meantime become imperceptibly filled with new content. This is the fate of all words, and anyone who shudders back at an old word content, does not look at anything other than that he still attaches a certain importance to it.
With my best conscience, I could also say "if God wills", even "with God's help", even though I no longer believe in any god.
All I would say is that I am aware that it is not my will alone or the human alone that makes my power and human power quite narrow.
And the word "religion", as Strauss or Schleiermacher understand it, seems to me to be meaningful and good, especially if one uses the original meaning of "binding" as a basis. I feel "bound" to the world of which I am one piece; I even feel this bond as the happiness and source of bliss, such as a bond of love or kinship.
Nevertheless, I avoid speaking of God, and I like to be called "godless," even in the bad side sense of being declared. The word religion, I think, belongs until further notice excluded from use.
For the sole but valid reason, because it leads to constant misunderstandings.
In a time like ours, where the old collapses and the new is not there, such misunderstandings must be avoided. Whoever wants to serve the truth, and that is ultimately the duty of a decent person, must under no circumstances foster the appearance as if he still wished or maintained the old faith. Where the truthfulness is in danger, the piety stops.
So long as the word "God" can be understood as meaning a personal God, then I belong to the ungodly; and as long as everyone should count on the godless, who no longer believe in the God of the church. Even if the other misconception had to be accepted, that certain people consider him to be the devil and declare him to be a wicked man.
As long as "religion" can have the meaning that Sigmund Freud and others attach to the word: as if trying to deal with a God who wants to be worshiped by people - so long as I want to declare the word in disrepute and be "irreligious", too if I silently consider myself "religious" in my own way.
Otherwise we will not get any further, we will not get out of the spiritual mire in which we are stuck with this so-called Christianity. Goethe once used a rough word about him, which today entered into a writer's prison. And he has said on another occasion that the "fairy tale of Christ" is the cause that "the world can stand for another ten million years and nobody comes to their senses."
Would not we rather try to shorten the ten million years? Do not we want to do our part so that we come out of the big mendacity, in which some have already "taken some damage to his soul"?
Even though there are some cherished habits to sacrifice, some personal relationships, some pleasant hours: the sacrifice is inevitable and it is not too big.
Let us confess to godlessness; And we also do not bother when it is sometimes expressed in the struggle of opinions in forms that are hurtful. Birth processes are usually associated with unpleasant, ugly concomitants. We must not be put off.
There will come a time when one can again speak of God and religion without being misunderstood; like we are talking about heaven or sunrise today. Then, I think, they will also dig up and use the entire Christian linguistic and thought treasures, just as they did a few hundred years ago with the kingdom of the Roman-Greek divine world. (Perhaps with the sole exception of "Marterholz," the Christ hanging on the cross-shelf, whose image is bearable only for minds who can take it thoughtlessly.) The Bible is an inexhaustible treasure trove of wisdom and truth; one will one day know how to appreciate them again.
Maybe even "religious" celebrations will be possible again. But probably in forms that we do not yet suspect, which are in any case fundamentally different from today's, about as different as today's "worship" from an ancient pagan or Jewish sacrifice scene.
Meanwhile, a "religious break", a "religious moratorium" could be said to occur. Without church, without confession, without god and religion.
The godlessness, the "won silence and peace is not death, but the life that blossoms and shines, and with a clear conscience, we walk through it, the things that come or will not come," as Gottfried Keller in "Lost laughter" said so well.
"God" is therefore not dead, even if the God, the Christian God, the fate of his many predecessors will not escape.