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Sunday, August 3, 2014

The problem with our gods

We live in a time when people still treasure their religion. As such the times of our lives are marked by the significant events on our religious calendar. The rituals that mark the various events are usually very elaborate, and the faithful are expected to set time apart for them and participate in each with all our hearts.

Passover comes and goes from generation to generation, but few of us as enslavers and as descendants of enslaved people recognized its significance to our emancipation. Easter is celebrated annually, but even though we are a still a significantly agricultural community, we have forgotten its significance to the planting season... To Spring. We talk about “salvation”, but most of us have no clue that this discourse has real applications to our freedoms and the real quality of our lives here and now. We pray for Peace, but are not taught to make the necessary connection between Peace and its foundation in Justice.

The disconnect between our religious experience and our day to day lives has become casually evident. We indulge in the rituals of “righteousness” on the days of worship, and then go about the business of taking gross disadvantage of each other on the other days. We “renounce Satan and all his works” in one breath, and proceed to the business of doing the devil’s dirty work in the next. We declare our worship of “the one true and only God...creator of all”; we say that all are created equal... And then we proceed to discriminate against others in scandalous ways. We declare that “we are all sinners”, but then proceed to designate ourselves “chosen”.

The many contradictions between our expressed religious beliefs and our behaviors have always been, and remain, the subject of much doctrinal and intellectual discussion. Many have come to the conclusion that our problems have their roots in the fact that as humans we are imperfect. It is true that as persons, groups, nations...we are still works in progress. But it seems to me that our dilemma is more fundamental than just a quirk of our humanity. Could it be that the thing that ails us runs much deeper than an evolutionary dynamic of our characters? To the extent that our “faith” makes no qualitative difference in our human relations we may reasonably ask... Could it be that our gods are codependents?

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