Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Something I posted on Julia Sweeney's Forum

If a Christian thinks long and hard, and has a modicum of honesty, eventually a point is reached at which there are religious words and feelings and there is everyday life. Religious words and feelings belong in the sphere of religion and relative normalcy everywhere else. As long as the religious sphere is felt to be real but separate, there is no confusion between this world and the world to come.

Modern Christians, Evangelicals in particular, expect the religious sphere to influence, guide, and manifest itself in the everyday world. The justification for belief in another world is to be found in this one. Hence Creationism, miracles, The Rapture, The Second Coming, Evangelicals for Israel, and all sorts of tomfoolery.

Traditionally, the world to come was felt to be more real, more important, it was there that all the injustices of this world would be reckoned and judged, rewarded and paid for if need be.

Sometime in the 19th Century or maybe Early 20th Century, large numbers of people began to question the reality of this other world. Some not so clever folks realized that they could make believe that if they didn't doubt the reality of the world to come, then they could go on like they and their ancestors had before.

But it wasn't so easy. Doubt remained. Unacknowledged doubt wants assurances, signs, and miracles. However much these New Christians protested to the contrary, the locus and center of reality had shifted from the other world to this world. Consequently, if their Faith really was true, then there would be unmistakable correspondences, incontrovertible evidence, and signs enough for the blind in this world.

Unfortunately for the New Christians, their thread in the Minotaur's labyrinth that is this world had broken. There was no way back. And no way forward. Their eyes are closed. These New Christians flail about blindly, bumping into walls, each other, and other people in the labyrinth. And since they were taught from before birth to associate truth with comfort, and error with discomfort, pain, suffering, and doubt, the New Christians demand respect for their principled cowardice. Courage with open eyes being the one thing of which they deem themselves incapable. But the New Christians do share with their ancestors the courage of a sacrificial animal: the feelings of helplessness, the resignation to inevitability, and an unwillingness to be anything else but a lamb led to slaughter.

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