Modern history has been marked by the emergence of the figure of the titan, who yearns for self-mastery in the face of death and who denounces modernity’s tendency to reduce the individual to the lockstep of need and gratification. But what of those few who rejected the impulses of the titan, those militant desires to exert supremacy over all? The story recounted in Against the Titans: The Theology of the Martyrdom of Alfred Delp examines one martyr’s rejection of the titan’s perversion of heroism and sacrifice. The life of Delp, a Jesuit priest, embodied a Christian theology of martyrdom, articulated over against a virile fundamentalism that rejected divine sovereignty. As Peter Nguyen, S.J., shows, Delp opposed Ernst Jünger’s active nihilism by revealing a more authentic and no less demanding existence, one that came not from acquiring self-mastery, but rather from an emptying out of self — an indiferencia, an unselving — through a radical dependence upon God.
In this significant study Father Peter Nguyen presents a fine introduction to the life and thought of the twentieth-century Jesuit martyr Alfred Delp. Even more, he offers a moving and insightful analysis of Delp’s own painful spiritual maturation as he confronts anxiety and fear in a Nazi prison. Hence the book is not merely an historical exploration, but a penetrating theological discernment that makes Delp’s witness newly available to us as we seek, as disciples, to journey from darkness into the full light of Christ.
This fascinating book presents the witness of the German Jesuit and martyr Alfred Delp. Peter Nguyen provides an invaluable overview of Delp’s life and theology, making use of his sermons, essays, plays, journal entries and prison letters. Furthermore, Nguyen carefully locates Delp in his early twentieth-century intellectual context, convincingly contrasting him with the Promethean philosophy of Ernst Jünger. Nguyen also clarifies Delp’s rich, kenotic Christology with close reference to his contemporary Hans urs von Bathasar. This important book is an invitation to learn from Delp’s extraordinary witness and theology.