Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I Like Religiosity, Just Not Religion

Hey, come back already. Seriously.
I mean, if you're really going to.
Yeah, there's a contradiction there, that being religious is okay but religions aren't. What it's come down to for me is two things: One, what's with the idea that God decided that the Middle East was where He was going to talk to all his prophets, and, two, why two or three thousand years ago and then He shuts the fuck up. What's with that?

(I'm discounting the notion of speaking in tongues or attending any church whose minister says anything like "I was speaking with God the other day, and he reminded me of the glory and the power of Ch. x, Verse y...")

I remember hearing somewhere that Mother Teresa had a vision when young, that God had come to her, spoke to her. And then He shut up and never came back. That haunted her all her days, that abandonment. It was a form of cruelty, almost torture. Think about it: God comes, says serve Me, then takes a hike. Seriously, Dude, what the fuck?

I'm sorry for Mother Teresa, I am. For me, I don't buy it. Comes two thousand years ago, drops his Son on us, we crucify Him, and then He splits. Pretty rude for a God "who so loved the world..."

Will these people allow religion to ban contraceptives
in the public sphere? What's frightening is that they might.
I read David Brooks again today (I never learn), and I didn't hate him. He wrote about religion, about how it should be deep and very inner. I get that. I don't mind that. Spirituality is often more deeply felt the more towards the core we find it.

What I didn't like -- he is entitled to his opinion -- was his saying that "There is a strong vein of hostility against orthodox religious believers in America today, especially among the young." There may be, I don't know. I, as a teacher, spent a good deal of time around young people and really didn't feel the young -- from 16 to, say, 35 -- showed a hostility toward religion so much as a simple "meh."

It just doesn't float their boats. Something out there might, but not this stuff foisted on us as religion. I say us because I identify more with them that the grumps who want us off their lawns and into their churches. Sorry. Lawns and churches, maybe.

It isn't the youth that are hostile to religion but rather that religion as practiced these days is hostile toward youth. The whole organized-religion fight against contraception is a case in point. Young people today -- and wisely, I'd add -- want to get their lives together before "starting a family." They might even want to finish college or make a dent in their student loans without worrying about how to finance their six-month-old's education. Conservatives recommend abstinence, essentially on religious grounds. I quit religion over sex in 1965; I'm not surprised that the youth today might react the same way, only more so.

Hyper-religious Governor Brownback:
"Teaching critical thinking in schools
undermines parental authority." Sheesh.
Religion doesn't have to be that way. Seriously. I've more than once said that a decent, moral humanism could be built on a foundation of Christ's teachings. I really believe it. But in order to do it, one would have to peal off an awful lot of old varnish covering the Christianity that passes as the Word today.

Yes, I could live a moral life based on an inner Christian code, one of my own engineering, back to the original specs, you could say. But I could do that with the Dalai Lama, or Gandhi, or Lao Tsu, or Buddha, and yes, a lot of that is backward looking from an historical perspective. Yet there's a difference.

All of the great thinkers of the past three thousand years have orbited around Truth, Beauty, Love, Charity, Knowledge, and Honor -- I could go on -- and whatever the mass is that keeps that orbit intact is timeless and devoid of doctrine, unencumbered by restraint or coercion.

I'd say a little more Buddha
and a lot less Limbaugh, Right?
I should go back and read Augustine and Aquinas, I really should. It would please David Brooks. I liked the Augustine quote in his column yesterday. There wasn't an ounce, not a milliliter, of Washington DC in it. More like that, Mr. Brooks, more like that, without accusing the young of hostility toward antiquated ideas. They were born to hate the old shit and yearn for the new. Let them. They just might create a new spirituality, one that doesn't resemble the chloroformed piety mixed with hate speech that organized religion has become today, a religious canon quite at home in DC, it's fair to add.

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