Adam, Utopian Visions, and December
Yes, I know of utopian failures. Yet the world would be poorer had no one ever dreamed dreams of the no-place (u-topia) that is home to perfect sets of human arrangements. One looks for a way to rescue something positive from utopian experiments, since they can also inspire world-weariness and cynicism in the mode of those who groan: “Everything has been tried. Nothing works.”
Marty goes on, often tediously, with examinations of utopian works, mainly from the Christian realm. I appreciate what Marty has to say, about the importance of utopian paradigms, but I faintly see seeds of thoughts that seem alien to Islamic theology and ethos which traditionally managed an imperfect world as a Perfect Design, a crucible not for the achievement of perfection but, among other things, of forgiveness-seeking mortals, the Adamic essence that played out in the Garden-Satan episode in which Adam was not the model of fallen man, but of forgiveness-seeking man and, per Quran, forgiveness receiving. The salvation narrative goes back to this paradigm: the world designed for the impossibility of perfection but for the possibility of mercy and forgiveness, intangible qualities sought through intangible means, like sincerity. No violence necessary. Seeking what is impossible seems like the precursor to postmodern despair.
Visions of Utopia, by Edward Rothstein, Herbert Muschamp, and Martin Marty. Oxford University Press, 2003.