Twilight of the God-Idols: Race, Religion, and the Life and Death of Whiteness in Contemporary America
Driscoll, Christopher M
Pinn, Anthony B.
Doctor of Philosophy
White people die. Such a brash statement not only refers to an obvious physical death faced by humans across race, but is metaphoric commentary on literal shifting racial demographics in an increasingly diverse 21st Century U.S. society. This project suggests that certain concepts, such as whiteness or the category of god, what I refer to as “god-idols,” make acceptance of this real or imagined “death” difficult, as it is their function to ignore, deny or fight directly against recognition of human limit and uncertainty experienced through a confrontation with physical and social expressions of death. Though not limited to white Christians, historically, many white U.S. Christians have been unable and unwilling to accept a loss of social control and certainty—a loss that appears on the horizon. Responding to the fears of some and the hopes of others that such a “death” becomes reality, I make use of the trope of death as theme and ontological grounding so as to theorize a death-dealing system of adherence to these “god-idols,” followed by suggestions about how to respond to such a social arrangement. I offer the start of a program of response, calling for white Christians and white people more generally to fully exercise their limited human freedom through a radical embrace of their responsibility to learn to live in an uncertain social world where interdependence and equitable relationships are required in ever-complicated ways.
Race; Religion; Whiteness