25 October 2013

Theology De-mythologized

Here is everything you need to know about the four major Western religions in a nutshell:

Moses (most likely 1391–1271 BCE), a member of the royal family in pharoahnic Egypt, organized a slave revolt, liberated the enslaved populace, and established them as a unitary, theocratic nation with a code of laws which governed the actions of kings as well as subjects.

Siddhartha Gautama (most likely 563 - 483 BCE), aka the Buddha, a high-born prince from what is now Nepal, renounced his worldly possessions and family and inheritance once he became conscious of the suffering of the poor and outcast.

Jesus (most likely 2 BCE - 30 CE), aka the Christ, a Middle Eastern rural carpenter's son, took the criminal rap for his friends and family and sacrificed his own life, suffering a brutal execution at the hands of the state, for their sakes.

Muhammad (570 - 632), a merchant from the Arabian peninsula, raised an army and conquered and unified an unruly, polytheistic, pagan tribal region under a unified code of behavior and devotion to a single god.

There is a lot of gobbledy gook surrounding these persons and events—myths and scriptures and teachings and doctrines and interpretations and factions and whatnot—but what it all boils down to is this: militarism and legalism are the key themes in the founding myths of Judaism and Islam; self-sacrifice and empathy for the suffering of others are central to the origins of Buddhism and Christianity.

FN. I realize Buddhism is not strictly a Western religion, but it is 'major' in the West.


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

self-sacrifice and empathy for the suffering of others are central to the origins of Buddhism and Christianity.

Makes one wonder how our right-wing managed to blend Ayn Rand and Jesus into their political philosophy without their heads exploding from the hypocrisy.

mistah charley, ph.d. said...

erich fromm is worth reading - here a few quotes from him (please excuse old-fashioned, non-gender-inclusive terminology)

“The purpose of all the true religions is to help man overcome his narcissism.”

“The real opposition is that between the ego-bound man, whose existence is structured by the principle of having, and the free man, who has overcome his egocentricity.”

from a televised interview with mike wallace in 1958:

“We have a religious renaissance today in America…I would say this religious renaissance, 90% of it is the greatest danger true religious experience has ever been confronted with. Because what is attempted in this so-called religious renaissance is kind of a mixture between Dale Carnegie, how to win friends and be successful and the norms of the Bible, of the Old and the New Testament…and in a kind of clever and sometimes not so clever way, try to combine the two. Well, that is actually very much the contrary of the spirit of our true religious tradition. Man today being concerned with production and consumption as ends in themselves, has very little energy, time to devote himself to the true religious experience.”

But what is the “true religious experience” according to Fromm?

“The capacity to feel deep love, deep oneness with my fellow-men, with nature, and if I were religious in the conventional sense, I would say with God. But it doesn’t matter whether one uses God or doesn’t. What matters is which experience a person has.”


Randal Graves said...

Bah, Norse is where it's at. I mean, Mjolnir is made of CL3000 material and can be tossed over 10 areas.