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Why Julian Barnes Couldn’t Possibly Miss God


University of Alcalá


This article analyses and evaluates from a Catholic perspective the notion of Christianity Julian Barnes articulates in Nothing to Be Frightened of, his latest book. The article first presents the picture of Christianity Barnes offers. It then provides theological arguments to show that Barnes’s picture is in crucial terms not a Christian one, e.g. as regards the relationship between body and soul, listening and thinking, and the Old and New Testament God. A further argument, the notion of God as father, leads to a comparison of a Christian account of successful filio-parental relationships with Barnes’s description of such relations in Nothing to Be Frightened of. The article argues that Barnes’s filio-parental experience suggests his views about God are rooted in personal experience, or in experience as constructed in Nothing to Be Frightened of. The article closes by showing some of the consequences of Barnes’s filio-parental experience in Nothing to Be Frightened of.


Keywords: Nothing to Be Frightened of, Catholicism, Christianity, Aristotle, soul and body, faith, listening and thinking, Old and New Testament, filio-parental experience



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