Insomnolent Anathemas: E.M. Cioran's Unbelieving Gift to Theology

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Over several decades during the second half of the last century, the Romanian-born Parisian intellectual E. M. Cioran penned a series of uneasy works whose despondent obsession with God is matched only by their utter disavowal of the reality of the divine. Wrestling pessimistically with nihilism in a world forged by chronic insomnia, illness, nicotine, and despair, Cioran confronts the theologian with a particularly radical articulation of unbelief hard-won at the “verge of existence,” and existence suffered as an “accident of God.” This short article explores the form and substance of Cioran’s biting and aphoristic expression of modern unbelief in an attempt to discern something of its theological significance. Perhaps theology would do well to receive this work as a necessary ascesis of its inapt and faithless contentment and ease with the world. And could it be that theology stands to be schooled in the near impossibility and profundity of hope by the cynicist’s surprising confession that, “Each time the future seems conceivable to me, I have the impression of being visited by Grace”?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-398
Number of pages8
JournalTheology Today
Issue number3
Early online date22 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018


  • nihilism
  • creation
  • suffering
  • faith
  • grace


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