Class Warfare Blog

May 17, 2017

Trapped Between Two Ideals

Filed under: Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:03 am
Tags: ,

The religions I see around me all talk of people as if they are scum. We are all sinners. We are unworthy. We are saved by God’s grace, not by becoming a good person, or achieving a stage of enlightenment. Speaking for myself I have never sinned. I have no reason to seek salvation as I am not condemned, except by the ignorant or those seeking political advantage over me.

There seems to be little middle ground in this discussion. On one side we have statements such as:
“What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an Angel! In apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals!”
Prince Hamlet (via a Mr. W. Shakespeare)

And on the other we have:
“I am, after all, only human”

Admittedly, Prince Hamlet’s outburst is stated with no little irony, but there are oodles of comments of how humans are “the peak achievement of evolution,” “made in God’s image,” etc., etc. Likewise the “what can you expect from me?” comments abound also.

Interestingly, religions encourage both of these extreme viewpoints.

Both viewpoints, I hope you believe, are deeply flawed, playing upon common emotions and observations. We are amazed at the things infants can do; we sometimes amaze ourselves. We see professional athletes and scientists and artists do things that are so far beyond our abilities that we must believe that we have some sort of divine spark in them and therefore, us.

We also see incredibly stupid things done by humans having temporarily, we hope temporarily, been bereft of their senses. There seems to be a cottage industry on cable TV providing video clips of these astoundingly stupid things, for us to marvel and laugh at, and despair of.

But the vast majority of people I meet are just people, people who have skills and flaws, and are mostly just trying to get through life with some grace. When a religion comes around addressing us as we really are and encouraging “the better angels of our nature,” I will consider it.




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