Thursday, December 10, 2009

Who Really Abandoned their Duty to the Truth?

This is a five minute long video of a Catholic Priest, Father Robert Barron, and his comments on the "Danger of Turning Religion into a Toy".

The Danger of Turning Religion into a Toy

This is my response to him and his short talk.

* * *

This man has life and spirit, I can see that. But he also has the typical Christian narrow focus.

He begins with the assumption- which he takes as solid, literal truth- that humans are "hardwired" for "God"- and, in the place of God, he uses synonyms like "Truth", "Beauty", and "Good". That's very Neoplatonic of him, and I wouldn't mind that so much, except that the Pissed off God of Israel is not "Truth", "Beauty" and "Good". The God of Israel, which this man means when he says "God", is a being, an entity, not abstract universal qualities like "Truth", "Beauty", and "Good".

A being, an entity that gives laws and has a will and gets pissed off and floods the world to destroy sinners, is not a "quality". An entity- even a God- cannot simultaneously be a quality like "Truth", anymore than I can be a person and simultaneously a "happiness" or a "peace". It's like suggesting a square can be round. It's not possible. We're conflating qualities or aspects of reality that cannot merge without absurdity.

Now, let's drop the ancient Hebrew superstitions out of the equation, and give up on their hopelessly inane tribal theism. Let's give the priest, for one moment, the conclusion that "God" equates with "Truth" and "Beauty" and "Good". Now, we have something closer to the old notion of the Greek Philosophers, a notion of "The Good", or the "God of the Philosophers" as my professors once said- something distinct from the Hebrew "God of Revelations".

Let's say that the priest is correct and humans are indeed "hardwired" for finding the Truth, beauty, and the Good. His Christianity swoops in once more and prohibits him from allowing that people can discover Truth, Beauty, and Good in any way other than adherence to and agreement with his own dogmatic principles and beliefs. You can have "sorta" Truth, but it ain't "Ultimate Truth" unless you're proclaiming your faith in Jesus Christ, and (ideally) attending his church.

That's bosh. That's malarkey. Truth, Beauty, and Good are universal qualities that have countless manifestations in human lives, and a presence in all places, in all ages, worldwide. These qualities do not cluster exclusively around a single recent religion's triumphalist and exclusivist claims and mythologies. These revealed religions that want to stake total claim on Truth don't want to share, (it would certainly be financial bad business for them to share) but fortunately for us, their claims mean nothing. Truth was here long before them and will be here when their malignant organizations are washed away to dust by the tide of time.

But my critique of this man's message goes a bit further. I agree with him on some things that he says- people who give up on the natural quest for Truth and Goodness and assume the "who cares" stance that characterizes so many of the lost and degenerate of our age DO harm their souls- on this, the priest and I are in total agreement. He's also correct to say that people who repress this urge for wholeness and truth feel those repressed aspects of the soul "re-emerge" in harmful, twisted form.

But there's an issue here. He says that people who put aside "God" and the search for "God" see that repression re-emerge as addiction, or a lust for power, or what have you. He goes on to say that these things will never be enough, and indeed, I agree with him again. But how in the world does a person "have" God? Is he suggesting that the search for God actually ends, and that some blessed people have "found" God, and now, don't have addictions or lust for power, or lust generally, and none of the other false, shallow fixations that characterize so many people?

Precisely where are these saintly, happy people? I've known countless Christians, and they aren't all sitting around blissfully happy, "With" God, in lieu of all those other sorry alternatives that the poor unenlightened masses have.

This man talks a good talk about the benefits of "having" God in lieu of the shallow alternatives, but I've yet to meet anyone that appears to have seized on this holy state. EVERY Christian I've ever known- including pastors and priests- had one or more of the following: addictions, annoying personalities, troubles, rudeness, judgmentalism, depression, questions and doubts, greed, lust for power, pride, ego run amok, and any of the other issues that characterize Human Beings.

And, ironically, I don't truly hold these things against them- they are humans. But they are humans who make fabulous claims of having achieved some wonderful state above others, by virtue of their amazing Christian Truth. But it's bosh. Their own lives and minds and appearances don't verify their claims. All they really seem to have is a strong certainty that somehow, they "have" God, due to their "faith" or adherence to the dogmas and teachings of religion. Even when they can't "understand" God fully, or when things are hard for them, they have this "faith" that they've still achieved some great leap towards the Truth that others have not- but which others need to.

You'll forgive me for saying what's obvious to most, but I don't buy their claims, or his. Nothing I have experienced thus so far, and nothing I have read about Christian history and its impact on this world, leads me to believe that these people have a profound Truth that the rest of us lack.

They DO, however, have a disturbing and unwise story that they espouse, an aggressively evangelistic story of monotheism, anthropocentrism, human exceptionalism, triumphalism, elitism, and absurd, unqualified eternalism that many of us lack, but which most of us have already seen through on a philosophical level.

When I see things like this, it makes me appreciate how wise my Ancestors were, and why the organic Heathen religion is so important and relevant today: it can spare us from this particular brand of madness.

The "Truth" is not a colossal idea or set of doctrines that describe how the universe works to people, and the "Truth" is not a single monolithic idea or even a being; the "Truth" is not hidden, despite how the Philosophers and later the Monotheists want to present it that way (the better to position themselves to be able to "reveal" to others how to find it, thus winning a great measure of pride, fame, and money for themselves). The "Truth" reveals itself from moment to moment through every day of our lives, in every experience.

To hunt, to shelter from cold and heat, to raise children, to grow food, protect your loved ones, create art, build buildings, explore, compose poetry, make music, seek excellence in your crafts - all of these human pursuits are the Truth about what we are. We come to know the Truth about man and this world by experiencing it, not having it taught to us with hopelessly absurd metaphysical claims that can't be verified until we've died. Truth about human life never hid from us; we became convinced that it was hidden because we sadly allowed ourselves to believe a story that told us that we were flawed and lost.

We became, like spoiled children, unwilling to accept that the most obvious things could be our Truth. We wanted angels with trumpets and eternal bliss, not the simple pleasures of life, the love of family and kin, the great joy of surviving and thriving in this world. No longer content to be humans, we have to be Gods ourselves, or eternal spirits living in heaven. The absurdity of these things have poisoned our history for 2000 years, and poisoned our societies, our world, and threatened our survival. May the Gods guide the new generations of Heathens on the right course!

May we never forget what happened the last time Christians were given the power to "teach their Truth" to people who were brave enough to resist it:

Snorri Sturluson in the saga of St. Olaf chapter 73, describes the brutal process of Christianisation in Norway: “…those who did not give up paganism were banished, with others he (Saint Olaf) cut off their hands or their feet or extirpated their eyes, others he ordered hanged or decapitated, but did not leave unpunished any of those who did not want to serve God (…) he afflicted them with great punishments (…) He gave them clerks and instituted some in the districts.”

1 comment:

Apuleius Platonicus said...

Excellent analysis.

It would be nice if Christians took their Platonism seriously - but it's just a ploy for them to distract attention away from what they are really up to.