Posted by: terrapraeta | December 15, 2009

Dichotomy


Dear God,
sorry to disturb you,
but I feel that I should be heard loud and clear.
We all need a big reduction in amount of tears,
And all the people that you made in your image,
See them fighting in the street,
‘Cause they can’t make opinions meet,
About God,
I can’t believe in you.

Did you make disease, and the diamond blue?
Did you make mankind after we made you?
And the devil too!

XTC, Dear God

As I mentioned before, I have been reading God Is Red by Vine Deloria. It is fundamentally an analysis of Native religion compared to Christianity. It is an indictment of Christianity itself. Many Native American cultures were finally destroyed when the US Government made it illegal for them to practice their traditional religious ceremonies. Perhaps, whether intentional or not, Vine believes that by undermining Christianity the same can be done to civilization.

Unfortunately, unlike traditional cultures, civilization and religion are not integral parts of one another so that approach won’t work. In fact, I think he nails this on the head over and over ā€“ Christianity is the bastard step child of civilization and so it changes as civ needs it to change, it is the apologist of civ, it is an escape from the realities of civ, and it is the opium of the masses that keeps civ chugging along no matter the cost. But, and this is important, were Christianity to lose its legitimacy, the system would simply create something new in its place and keep on plugging along.

In any case, all of his pointed discussion of civilization has gotten me seeing a pattern that I never recognized before. I wrote the other day about anthropomorphism and the church. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. I’m starting to wonder if the church itself is based upon doublespeak. Bear with me.

Thous shalt make no idol — so the church envisions an anthropomorphic god.

Salvation is based upon personal, individual salvation. A direct communion with god. Yet the Albigensian Crusade was raised to destroy the Cather church because it dared to suggest that man could have a personal relationship with god. Granted, in this case we are looking at a degenerate Catholic Church. But it is not only the Catholic Church that has dismissed religious experience in favor of religious dogma.

Another Commandment: Love thy neighbor…, yet Christianity has been the single greatest destructive force on the plnet, such that the commandment should read Love thy neighbor so long as he believes as you do, else annihilate him.

Everyone believes (regardless of religious belief) that a primary purpose of religion in general, and Christianity in particular, is to remove the fear and consternation over death. Yet it appears that Christians carry more fear of death than any other subgrouping of humanity.

Christianity preaches that one be responsible for their own actions, yet, again, no other subgrouping of humanity has become nearly so deft at shifting blame, externalizing responsibility, blinding oneself to the consequences of their own actions.

I’m sure there are more, and perhaps better examples of what I am seeing. What I am trying to decide is whether this is a systemic result of Christianity, or more a side effect of civilization. Perhaps most appropriately, it is a necessary result of the two systems working together. As Vine says in the book, Christianity is a reflection of the culture within which it exists, whereas native religions and cultures are virtually one and the same. So where Christianity requires an ethical system to be defined, for its adherents to follow as best they can, in traditional cultures, ethical behavior is a side effect of the total world view of the people.

Hmmm… I’m still trying to reach for a key to this that I am unable to quite grasp. Something in this seemed really important in that moment of epiphany, but as I write it is seeming both obvious and irrelevant. Anyone have thoughts? Perhaps then I can grasp and explain what I’m feeling.

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Responses

  1. Mmm… Christianity was neutralized and absorbed by Rome in the fourth century. The early communities were pretty damn radical and tribal. When you read the Jesus stuff on not gathering into barns… it can be seen as a vote for the tribal way… which was still everywhere around in that age.

    I been thinking quite a bit about what civ does to engulf and devour any challenges to itself…

  2. And yet, here all these contradictions still are, hidden in plain sight.

    Christ is not Christianity, and to borrow an Islamic formulation, the god you don’t believe in, I don’t believe in, either.

    The Way started in Rome, as seemingly total an institution as the Rat posted about the other day. You can say they were psychotic if you like. But in a sense, they’ve survived. And that’s got nothing to do with individual salvation focussed on an afterlife.

    The Albigensians are all gone, and yet the Albigensian heresy is alive and well.

    History she moves in mysterious ways.

    AND time out on this public computer again.
    John

  3. Hey —

    Oh yeah…. I am definately talking about Christianity now. One of the points Vine drives home is that Christianity is religion divorced from its landbase. And that the same thing is now happening among the native communities. (Now meaning last few hundred years, of course).

    Jesus was a tribalist. Its in many of his words and actions. Unfortunately, Paul was not… and Christianity has become what Paul wanted, not what Jesus sought. (Jason G has written extensively on this topic)

    tp

  4. I just wanted to point out that the idea of a personal, individual salvation is a Protestant idea, not a Christian idea. It is very easy in the U.S. to forget that not all Christianity is Protestant.

    JimFive

  5. Hey Jim —

    I’m not certain of that… I mean, with Catholicism there is the whole church hierarchy and all of the attendant ritual…. but at its core, the idea is still that one must accept God thus saving oneself. No one can save another, there is no “group effort” or “group effect” in any Christianity I have ever encountered…….

    tp

  6. What I wanted to get across is that in Catholocism, salvation is mediated, by the priest, by the saints, by Christ. A personal relationship with God is a protestant (and animist) view.

    JimFive

  7. Hey,

    Jesus, like all people, was many things. I’d hesitate to slap an
    “-ist” label on him!

    As for Paul – well I was pretty down on Paul for many years. Perhaps there’s
    more to his life and letters than meets the eye. The road to Damascus
    event…. ah, I had more, but I’ll reel myself in. [Emil Bock’s book
    on Paul made sense to me, as does the Christian Community for
    Religious Renewal he was part of (ritual, sacrament without dogma;
    devotion, reverence without submission to any religious
    authority;space for story, season, myth and song – like a lot of Steiner-influenced things, it turns out to be a great
    combination for me)].

    To use your words “ethical behavior is a side effect of the total
    world view”…moralism just doesn’t work any more. Perhaps it’s the
    ‘colonised’, moralistic mindset that generates a lot of this
    doublespeak. (That along with the principle that some things look a
    lot like their opposite). The moralism didn’t start with Paul. Paul
    had been there, alright, and after Damascus (you could see Christ as
    the antidote, if you like) he could start pointing to a way forward
    and out. 2000 years later, and this is beyond any religion – beyond
    belief! I think people are starting to get it. It’s still ridicul-able
    as ever: faith, hope and love. The counterfeits of those aren’t
    working any more, and it’s a sunny day.

    These things take a little time to ripple through.

    There’s a shift of heart here we must urgently make. Fortunately, as
    Pollard’s Law states, we do first what we must. šŸ˜‰ There is no ‘back’
    button. Forward and out.

    Hehe, so much for reeling it in…
    John

  8. Hey —

    Jim… Yes šŸ™‚

    John… I’ve never been any kind of fan of any kind of Christianity, it has only been with Jason’s writings on the anti-civ trend in Jesus’ sermon’s that I have given even a little credence… so I’m sure that comes thru in my writing šŸ˜‰

    tp

  9. Hehe fair enough. I don’t intend to be a fan(atic) either.

    So why were we talking about Christianity again?
    Any closer to being able to express the epiphany you had?

    John

  10. Ah, and I’ve just found Jason Godesky. Thanks for the pointer.

  11. Oh… sorry John… I just assume everybody knows Jason at this point… else I would’ve left a link!

    tp


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