Age Of Gristianism In Tony Kushner's Angels In America

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The characters in Tony Kushner's magnum opus Angels in America are reflections of the modern, millennial age. Like so many of us, they are on a quest for spirituality, for some kind of inner fulfillment, and their search seems to have taken on a desperate significance in the closing years of the second millennium. Philosophically, the twentieth century has been called an "age of uncertainty," of individuals seeking meaning for their lives and order in an increasingly chaotic universe. Traditional beliefs are being altered or ignored, while new faiths and new icons appear daily. Some people continue to enrich their lives with the religious doctrines of their ancestors - Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, or Hinduism - while others explore direct experiences through mysticism or paganism. Some find comfort and meaning in newly created, "cult" religions or abandon the search entirely and call themselves atheists or agnostics. In America, "Materialism," the quest for money and goods, has often been called a new religion of the age. This sense of anxiety and uncertainty, so prevalent in Angels in America, is rooted in the not-so-distant past - the changes in science, philosophy, and technology wrought by the nineteenth century. The nineteenth century taught the western world uncertainty, and the lesson - as much as any discovery, war, or disaster since - has shaped the identity of the modern age. Charles Darwin published his famous Origin of Species in 1859, presenting the world with revolutionary, and troubling, ideas. In suggesting that all forms of life evolved from a common ancestry, and that the evolution of species continues through the "survival of the fittest," the British naturalist pulled the rug out from under many of the world'... ... middle of paper ... of the world in which he lives. He doesn't believe in God and insists, "It should be the questions and shape of a life, its total complexity gathered, arranged, and considered, which matters in the end, not some stamp of salvation or damnation which disperses all the complexity in some unsatisfying little decision - the balancing of the scales." Traveling a spiritual path alone is difficult, however. Louis is criticized throughout the play for his unorthodox views on relationships, politics, and religion. Furthermore, like Kushner, who has never completely shaken his Jewish roots, Louis keeps returning to the faith of his ancestors subconsciously or against his will. In one of the play's more haunting scenes, Louis visits Roy Cohn's hospital room and, possessed by the spirit of Ethel Rosenberg, chants the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, over Roy's body.

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