I have protested that gender is not an interest of mine, not in a public way, in my real life. But I do seek freedom from the false and disturbing constructs of gender which imposed a life of unnatural repression on my younger self.
But within my own solitude, I have kept company with the best of books. When my mother died almost twenty years ago, I read and underlined my tattered copy of The Courage to Be. Then it was about the courage to continue to live within the reality of enormous stress and alienation that I experienced in fundamentalism.
Recently a friend asked my about how I handle anxiety, the stress of leaving the evangelical sureties, the certainties of a prescribed belief. He asked me about life and death, the leaving of children at some future point, passing into our own non-being.
Here is one passage that is underlined in my old copy of Tillich,
- It is not astonishing that those who those who are unshaken in their courage to be as a part, either in its collectivist or in its conformist form, are disturbed by the expressions of the Existentialist courage of despair.
They are unable to understand what is happening in our period. They are unable to distinguish the genuine from the neurotic anxiety in Existentialism. They attack as a morbid longing for negativity what is in reality courageous acceptance of the negative. They call decay what is in reality the creative expression of decay. They reject as meaningless the meaningful attempt to reveal the meaninglessness of our situation.
It is not the ordinary difficulty of understanding those who break new ways in thinking and artistic expression which produces the widespread resistance to recent Existentialism but the desire to protect a self-limiting courage to be as a part. Somehow one feels that this is not a true safety; one has to suppress inclinations to accept the Existentialist visions, one even enjoys them if they appear in the theatre or in novels, but one refuses to take them seriously, that is as revelations of one's own existential meaninglessness and hidden despair.
In looking for some Tillich on the internet I have discovered Wade's blog. It's good to know this book has not gone completely out of style.