Wednesday, May 23, 2018

A Small Apologia



Before I depart for a summer in the heart of the old Confederacy (I will still be reachable and in touch though), here is a confessional statement. Pardon all the Christianity, but I hope there is enough here to gladden the hearts of non-Christians at least a little.
 I should also point out that consistency has never been one of my strengths.


Things I DON’T believe in:

--nationalism (Samuel Johnson was right about patriotism)
--master races
--absolute certainty (the world promises none).
--Ideology will save us
--Dogma will save us.
--The Democratic Party will save us.
--The Republican Party will save anyone who’s not a qualified paid-up member.
--politics will save us (though political action might help us)
--religion will save us (fanaticism will destroy us; religiously inspired resistance might help us)
--History (no cycles, no over-arching reason, no inevitabilities, no zeitgeist, it don’t mean a thing ‘cause it ain’t got that swing)
--Strong Leaders will save us (They only help themselves)
--Prosperity Gospel will save anyone (except the celebrity preachers who get rich off it).
--The Bible is inerrant and a science textbook, or that it’s God’s oracle. (It is what it says it is, testimony).
--Anarchy will save us
--Conformity and assimilation will save us.
--The Hidden Hand of the Free Market will save us
 --political messiahs
--That God or Nature picks winners and losers.
--That anyone earns salvation.
--That people make their own destiny (shit happens).
--Firearms will save us
--Violence will save anybody
--Ends justify means
-- Peace as Mutual Assured Destruction
--absolute self-sovereignty (in the end, everything we have including our bodies is ultimately on loan and will be paid back)
--Karma (few if any really get what they deserve or deserve what they get)
--spirit versus flesh dualisms
--One True Religion (all religion is ultimately a guess and a gamble)
--“Defeating” atheists, apostates, heretics, etc. (I’d rather just live with them)
--That God needs to be defended (God can take care of God’s self)
--A moral universe (“I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created parasitic wasps with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars.” – Charles Darwin)
--the Afterlife (no ghosts, no séances, no zombies, no harps and golden slippers; just “dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return”)
--hell (a loving God does not make eternal torture chambers; God annihilates evil)
--A God whose existence can be proved (such a god is no God at all).
--That God is an old man
--The God is a mean old grand-daddy home from a three day drunk.
--That God is a clockmaker who winds everything up and then just watches.
--That God micromanages the cosmos and makes everything happen that does happen.
--That God is a tyrant and a monster



Things I DO believe in

--Liberty
--Equality
--Friendship
--Liberal Democracy
--Human Dignity
--Universal education and opportunity
--Universal enfranchisement
--The right of labor to organize
--Universalism
 --The rule of law
--That everyone is our neighbor (we should always try to be good ones).
--Sin (we trip over ourselves repeatedly on the way to the Celestial City or to whatever Utopia we are looking for, and we can’t help but do so)
--That human beings are fundamentally selfish and frightened creatures like all other life on earth.
--That our selfishness not only prevents us from being perfectly good, but saves us from being perfectly evil.
--That means justify ends.
--Looking and thinking for yourself and making up your own mind.
--Looking at life without illusions and without cynicism (easier said than done).
--Science (it may not save us, but it helps out a lot; the only human enterprise that begins with the assumption that it could be wrong)
--Art (wonder working that reveals meaning and bears witness; “…they weep here for how the world goes, and our life that passes/ Touches their hearts. This fame/ Insures some kind of refuge.” – Virgil)
 --Music (the most abstract of all the arts; the only one that speaks so directly to feeling, and for that is the envy of all the other arts)
--That a Palestinian Jew sits at the right hand of God on behalf of all of us.
--No matter who or what we are, Christ is always one of our own kind.
--Peace (and not passivity)
--Variety (the more the better, the overflowing abundance of life; even the superfluous, even contradictions -- what do God or nature care about consistency).
--Love (a monkey wrench thrown into the orderly workings of the world that drives gods and mortals to madness; a madness that made the world, preserves the world, and will save the world)
--Sex (the same animal urge to find pleasure in each other’s flesh can make people jealous, mad and lead to crime; and it can create mutual joy, make babies, inspire art, and build civilizations)
--Forgiveness (you can only learn this by being forgiven; when someone values your friendship over their anger)
--Reality (it’s really there independent of whatever we think or wish about it)
--That the Truth proclaimed by the Christian Faith is a Person, not a book, still less a law book.
--That the point of being a Christian is to do the Gospel, not to be a member of some country club of the Elect.
--religious pluralism (there’s no warfare more cruel and destructive than religious warfare; One True Religions must learn to live with each other)
--Faith is not certainty (and not just in religion)
--The power of metaphor and symbol
--Mercy and Compassion (two things that save the world daily).
--That the universe is meaningless (but not worthless)
--That we create meaning
--God is always bigger than our doctrines or our speculations.
--hell (a place we build for ourselves with industry and ingenuity in this life and the next; where all our fondest wishes come true; a place we go to eagerly and that locks from the inside)
--Resurrection (we will all live again; and live in the fullest sense of that word, growing, changing, and learning forever)
--That our bodies, the animal that is host to our souls, will see salvation with us.



Francisco Goya, "I Am Still Learning"



2 comments:

Raven~ said...

I'm standing with ya ...

JCF said...

Amen!