Sunday, November 28, 2010

With Apologies to Many

When I was in confirmation class, I don’t remember how the subject came up but I asked the Pastor about Jonah and the Whale.  I’d read (not in my Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod grade school science book) that whales have baleen and can’t swallow anything much larger than a krill.

Silence, and on to the rest of the day’s lesson.

You are living on the shore of the Mediterranean in the year 0 (or a year or so later depending on the chronology your progeny subscribe to).  It’s December 24 (or perhaps another day of the year, again depending).  Everything is pretty good.  You are a Jew, doing what all your neighbors do, worshiping your God as prescribed by the local powers that be.

You wake up the next day and you don’t know it but everything has changed.  I know, it took a long time for the Triune God concept to become mainstream.  But it did change that day didn’t it?  Jesus was born.  Or maybe it was thirty-three years later on a Friday, or maybe a Sunday, the sacrifice and the ascension have taken place.  Now everything changes, right?

And of course it didn’t.  But what’s an ancestor of Christianity supposed to do?  At what point are you an upstanding member of the religious community only to find yourself an unbeliever?

God, the Christian God, is in charge of this.  When did He decide that you aren’t going to Heaven if you don’t buy into the change He made that He didn’t tell you about?

I suppose Hell is OK today for those of us that have had centuries to accommodate our beliefs and haven’t.  But, isn’t it a little unfair to flip a switch way back then and change the rules?  And the switch did have to be flipped didn’t it?  Otherwise it doesn’t make sense, right?  Or is it that the whole thing doesn’t make sense?

Why shouldn’t it make sense?

Why is it that almost all religions when you strip the ground rule trappings away say pretty much the same thing?  Love your neighbor as yourself, do unto others, don’t do the bad stuff like kill and so on.  Rephrase the teachings as it suits you.  They are of course societal rules, creating norms that allow us to live together smoothly, more often than not.

Does that mean that there is one God, who’s content if you live a good life?  Or is creating a god a human need, something missing in our short lives that cries out for an afterlife where everything is better?  Or, God Forbid, so to speak, are only the Christians (or a flavor thereof) or Buddhists or so on right?  And if there is a category of belief that is Right, I sincerely hope some Taliban or Iranian religious guy or the Glenn Beck’s and Sarah Palin’s of the world haven’t nailed it.  That would be truly sad.


Sonja's Mom said...

Yes! Why is it that you always seem to be able to put my thoughts into words better than I can?

Anonymous said...

There's a Taoist saying, "Dismount your donkey at the summit."

The "summit" is enlightenment, the "donkey" is the path or religion you use to get there.

The point is that it doesn't matter how you get there, as long as you do.

Dave said...

Many years ago I worked for a corporation. Early in my tenure, the corporation gave Good Friday and Christmas Eve afternoons off, but only to those going to church. I told my manager, Pat Cleary, a good Catholic, that I wanted the Summer Solstice off as I was considering becoming a Druid.

He glared, and told me to get out of his office.

All was well the next year as the corporation went to giving "personal" days. When the announcement was made, Pat, with a bit of a smile, asked me if I was still converting.

I wonder if Tao will get me any similar temporal benefits?

And, Sm, I too often make the mistake of writing what too few other people are thinking.

Jeni said...

All of what your wrote here is basically true. The only difference I think is which theory each individual subscribes to. But wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone -with or without a particular religious belief - just did what those societal rules prescribe? Think how many problems would be solved, instantaneously, too! Happy Belated Thanksgiving while I'm here too, Dave.