Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on the death of Thomas Altizer:
God isn’t dead, but the author who famously declared He is is. Thomas Altizer passed away last week, though few people took note of it. He was the subject of the April 8, 1966 cover story of Time magazine. The black background and bold red lettering shouted out, “Is God Dead?” Time chose the Easter season to roll out this gem.
After Altizer received his Ph.D. in the history of religions from the University of Chicago in 1955, he wanted to become an Episcopal priest. But they didn’t want him: he flunked the psychiatric exam. He later explained why. Here is what he said in his 2006 memoir, Living the Death of God.
“Shortly before this examination, I was in a turbulent condition. While crossing the Midway I would experience violent tremors in the ground, and I was visited by a deep depression, one that occurred again and again throughout my life, but now with particular intensity. During this period I had perhaps the deepest experience of my life, and one that I believe profoundly affected my vocation as a theologian, and even my theological work itself. This occurred late at night, while I was in my room. I suddenly awoke and became truly possessed, and experienced an epiphany of Satan which I have never been able fully to deny, an experience in which I could actually feel Satan consuming me, absorbing me into his very being, as though this was the deepest possible initiation and bonding, and the deepest and yet most horrible union.”
A decade after Altizer’s Satanic possession, he declared the death of God. It’s not hard to connect the dots.