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This Incredible Need to Believe

Julia Kristeva, trans. Beverly Bie Brahic (Columbia University Press: September 2009), 136 pages.

Kristeva delivers a focused and insightful discussion of religious belief. With material culled from various interviews, articles and lectures, the book is less a unified argument than a sprawling analysis of religion in major psychological and philosophical literature (e.g., Freud, Arendt, Winnicot), fiction (e.g., Proust) and in private life (Kristeva makes wonderful use of Saint Teresa of Avila’s writings) underscored by her claim that sharable knowledge of the inner religious experience is possible and could develop into an important field of discourse. Kristeva provides neither an attack on nor a support of religious belief; her interest is in drawing other disciplines into the discussion. She uses psychoanalytic techniques to comprehend religious experience, the clash of religions, notions of genius, theories of suffering and sexuality and the debt modern humanism owes to Christianity’s emphasis on self-questioning. Compelling and remarkable for its staunch unwillingness to take sides, this book sets forth Kristeva’s most sustained treatment of religion in a format that will interest both scholars and anyone looking for an accessible introduction to her methods and preoccupations. ~ Publishers Weekly

Table of Contents

    • The Big Question Mark (in Guise of a Preface)
    • This Incredible Need to Believe: Interview with Carmine Donzelli
    • From Jesus to Mozart: Christianity’s Difference?
    • "Suffering": Lenten Lectures, March 19, 2006
    • The Genius of Catholicism
    • Don’t Be Afraid of European Culture
    • Index