[Rough Draft]

A weblog about god, doubt, insomnia, culture, baseball

2.01.2005

christianity & "religion"

a friend emailed me today to ask what i thought of this quote:
religion was designed by the creator to satisfy that longing for infinite good and purity, which exists, in some degree, in every human soul; its mission is to elevate and purify mankind, and a system which tends to degrade any portion of humanity is but a libel upon the sacred name of religion.
i thought i'd ask whether the quote or my own hastily penned response generate any discussion (read: can anyone please say what i mean better than i can?). here go what i wrote:
hmmmm. good and noble sentiments throughout, nothing to say "i disagree" or "that's wrong" necessarily. but i think this is an example of something i do take issue with regarding the issue of "religion," or @ least what i perceive to be the common conception of it. what is "religion" exactly? for instance, the american heritage dictionary (bought for freshman english and currently residing upon my desk) defines religion as "belief in and reverence for a supernatural power recognized as the creator and governor of the universe." the quote you sent implies it is a worldview or a system that a quite anonymous creator designed in order to satisfy some innate human desire for goodness and, thereby, move a step toward "elevating" or "purifying" humankind (watch that non-gender-inclusive language in the quote there). as i see it, that may be what "religion" is, but that's not what "christianity" is. the latter wasn't just dreamed up or crafted out of whole cloth in order to achieve some end; it is a true account of the creator god acting in history to redeem his creation. moreover, christianity explains what i think is far more universally evident than any generic "longing for infinite good and purity," which is to say that the doctrines of christianity explain why humans don't always long for good, why sin and evil exist and why redemption and purification are even necessary. it seems to me that "religion" is, or can be, a way of thought that is generally considered nice, socially acceptable, politically correct and tolerated (although most moderns know it's really not true and have a darwin fish on the car). "christianity," on the other hand, refuses to be that. if it's anything, it's not nice, socially acceptable and politically correct. rather, it is messy and complex and it makes us nervous because it has to do w/ guilt and forgiveness and whatnot -- it talks about blood, for goodness sake, and that is not a topic of polite conversation, dontcha know. and i would prefer, to be quite honest, not to have anything to dow/ it . . . except i believe that it's true.

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