As fascinated as I am by the sheer number of interpretations of religion, philosophy, and Jesus Christ, I can't help looking for the root of it all.
Searching for motives behind the formation of people's worldviews will, I'm convinced, show a common thread, more, a common foundation; "anything but God", I'll call it.
I think it is entirely fair to say most people have put no thought into their worldview. It is formed by the combination of one's likes and dislikes, needs (wants) and passing fancies and is come upon quite accidentally.
If you were to ask the first person you met in Wal-Mart, "What is the meaning of life?", you would most likely be either stunned, confused or extremely amused depending on your appreciation for cynicism.
(I daresay America is no doubt the most diverse in this area, continually melting as we are, into one sticky, insoluble mass, recognizable only as goolash, in our large culture pot.)
We are an amalgam of every book, magazine, movie, album and person we have ever known. Having begun with no blueprint, the collection of values and philosophies that have rained down on us throughout our existence lay strewn about, useless, rusting, settling into disrepair; a junkyard. But it's our junkyard, and we know where everything is, so don't come through trying to organize things. First thing you know, you'll be trying to put things in the closet or spraying disinfectant everywhere and that stuff makes it hard to breathe.
All this observation boils down to one point, I realize, and a less curious person would be content to state the bottom line, it is all breathed into existence by the Father of Lies. [simplistic and very true. After all, it may sound unseemly to say that Buddhism,for example, is Satanic, but none the less true, Buddhism being yet another manifestation of the "anything but God" thread, which is, at its root, self-based and self-centered or didn't you know that Buddha left his wife and children in search of truth and thereby embarked on one of the longest wild goose chases in history.]
But the devil is still in the details and I think it is profitable to examine the junkyard. A pattern will emerge, one of chaos, organized.
In the modern religious manual, orthodoxy is condemned. Orthodoxy is rigid, unyielding, stubborn and arrogant.
Creativity is praised. We are philosophical bohemians, running around like abstract artists flinging paint and mud and dung and ideas at a canvas, waiting for some three dimensional masterpiece to emerge so we can collect our funding.
And when I say orthodoxy, I don't just refer to orthodox Christianity, I refer to orthodox anything. Single-mindedness of purpose is admired nowhere, not in Athens, not in New York, not in San Francisco. You may be a gay transgender transvestite earth-worshipping artistic vegan living with your partner you married in Vermont and your adopted kid and that's great, just don't be dogmatic about it.
And that is the hellish genius of it. That is, if we don't approve of forcefulness or proselytizing from anyone, we can continue to feel infinitely open-minded, and continue to ignore the one snide little question, is your mind open to being closed?
And in large part, we as Christians have hamstrung ourselves.
I think an excellent example of this is the way Christians and sympathetic social conservatives used the other edge of the civil liberties sword to strike back, quite effectively, at the celebration of Christmas sans Christ. It was pointed out that it was hypocritical of civil liberties activists to restrict the religious expression of Christians celebrating Christmas. As a trend, they are coming around, Merry Christmas is acceptable once again, and Christ is allowed back in the pantheon.
And we've done ourselves no favor. The best thing we could've done is give the libertarian zeal free reign and let it rush down the slope to choke in the sea.
Book Review: Peace for Today
10 months ago