Which gods? The gods that we worship. The gods that our enemies worship. Their sacred names? There is Science, for one: he who was to redeem the world from poverty and disease, on whose mighty shoulders mankind was to be borne onward and upward toward the high stars. There is Communism, that holy one so terrible in his predilection for blood sacrifice but so magnificent in his promise of the messianic age: from each according to his ability, to each according to his need. Or Democracy, that gentler god with his gospel of freedom for all peoples, including those people who after century of exploitation and neglect at the hands of the older democracies can be set free now only to flounder in danger of falling prey to new exploiters. And we must not leave out from this role of the dying what often passes for the god of the church; the god who sanctifies our foreign policy and our business methods, our political views and our racial prejudices. The god who, bless him, asks so little and promises so much: peace of mind, the end of our inferiority complexes. Go to church and feel better. The family that prays together stays together. Not everybody can afford a pyschiatrist or two weeks of solid rest in the country, but anybody can afford this god. He comes cheap.
These are the gods in whom the world has put its ultimate trust. Some of them are particular gods, and there are plenty of others, each can name for himself. And where are they now? They are dying, dying, and their twilight thickens into the night. Where is the security that they promised? Where is the peace? The terrible truth is that the gods of this world are no more worthy of our ultimate trust than are the men who created them.
And where are we? Stripped of our securities and bereft of our man-made gods, we stand as lonely and hypnotized spectators at the dance of death as it is being played out in our time. With the gods that we have created all going or gone, soon all that may remain is the God who created us, brooding over our darkness.
The former things are passing away and the gods are dying, just as the former things must pass away and the gods must die so that the new things can begin to come to life beneath the dark wings, so that creation can go on happening. My question is this: Are there in us, in you and me now, that recklessness of loving heart, that wild courage, that crazy gladness in the face of darkness and death, that shuddering faithfulness even unto the end of the world, through which new things can come to pass?
If not, God have mercy upon us, for we will soon be as yesterday when it is gone. If so, then we, even we, will have some part in the new heaven and the new earth the God is creating.