“Teach Me To Do What’s Right”: Faith, Hope, and Love as Post-Religious Virtues

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According to Thomas Aquinas, what distinguishes the theological from the cardinal virtues is the nature of their object: the latter aim at the natural excellence of humans, while the former direct us beyond ourselves to focus on the Divine. This paper considers the cinematic work of Drew Goddard — in particular, his 2018 film _Bad Times at the El Royale_ — as a post-religious response to Aquinas, insofar as it retains and re-presents Faith, Hope, and Love as valuable elements of the human experience itself, even in the absence of a supernatural vector of their application. After the fashion of Caputo’s Derrida, I offer a religionless interpretation of each of the three theological virtues and show how _Bad Times_ itself deconstructs the roles of ‘god’ and ‘human,’ interchanging them in a way that manifests a “religionless religion” wherein the theological virtues can remain vibrant, even without the theological structure that might be expected to undergird them. In short: _Bad Times at the El Royale_ demonstrates how even if God is dead, Faith, Hope, and Love are not.
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Archival date: 2021-11-15
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