When I read Barth, I notice – and I am sure many others do as well – that we have fallen asleep and have produced legitimizing explanations for all kinds of substitute pleasures. Of course Barth can motivate you to wake up and to stop retreating to pseudo-justifications for social, political, or biographical success. But that alone is insufficient. That is the reason why Kafka’s “The Trial” is so important for me. The protagonist Josef K. is asked to appear before a court on his 30th birthday to testify about his life. When he realizes that he cannot justify his life with the things he has done, he despairs. He sees lawyers, artists, and finally a priest. The more he strives for justification, the more he realizes that he is lacking it. You cannot finish the book without confronting these themes in Kafka’s writings. The book is incredibly radical; it ends in a staged suicide. That is more than simple fiction (More...)
He continues: "You cannot retreat to the comforts of atheism. Behind us are two thousand years that have been marked by questions about God. Today’s atheistic calm, even from intellectuals, is equal to the eradication of our intellectual history." Superb stuff from Martin Walser (in an interview in The European Magazine.)
Not quite at the same level, but I did also enjoy Melvyn Bragg attacking Richard Dawkins' 'atheist fundamentalism' in this video on The Telegraph's site.