A Heaven-Gram for World Politics: Hillesum, Heschel and Rilke Rescuing God in Exile

16 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009

See all articles by Meins G. S. Coetsier

Meins G. S. Coetsier

Ghent University, Etty Hillesum Research Center

Date Written: 2009


In the foreword to Anamnesis: On the Theory of History and Politics, Voegelin places his understanding of “Anamnesis,” remembrance, squarely within the philosophy of order and consciousness. A philosophy of order, for Voegelin, is the process through which we find the order of our existence as human beings in the order of consciousness. For him remembering is the significant activity of consciousness by which the forgotten, i.e., the latent knowledge in consciousness, is raised from unconsciousness into the presence of consciousness (CW, 6:37). This paper explores how Hillesum, Heschel and Rilke 'rescued' God in exile through remembering the ineffable Name, the divine presence in their minds and hearts. The truth expressed in their poems, letters and diaries, is not informative, as Voegelin would say, but evocative (CW, 12:344). Their anamnetic writings are empirically and experientially grounded in their consciousness, both historically and biographically embodied. As poets they return to basic human problems to repair the World, insisting upon their ethical and political responsibility through compassion and love. The unrest of the age personifies God's exile and God's need for partners. And as God has limits in world politics, human beings must seize the initiative, like Hillesum, Heschel and Rilke to reaffirm the basic human task, i.e. to rescue the Transcendent from the demolition of reason. God or humankind could demand no fuller political commitment than to face the ineffable of infinite distances.

Keywords: Voegelin, Hillesum, Heschel, Rilke, God, Philosophy, Ethics, Theology, Religion, Poetry.

Suggested Citation

Coetsier, Meins G. S., A Heaven-Gram for World Politics: Hillesum, Heschel and Rilke Rescuing God in Exile (2009). APSA 2009 Toronto Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1449488

Meins G. S. Coetsier (Contact Author)

Ghent University, Etty Hillesum Research Center ( email )

Sint-Pietersplein 6
Ghent, 9000

HOME PAGE: http://www.ehoc.ugent.be

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics