Wednesday, May 16, 2012

12th Century Faith in a 21st Century World

Sometimes I wonder what compelled me to run headlong into the Church the way I did. Those who've been around here for a while know that the religion thing wasn't deep-seated in my childhood, but something I arrived at over the last few years slowly.

It all started with a late-night shower and the sudden realization, upon pondering the Big Bang and some physical laws, that the mathematical impossibility of arriving at the state of the universe prior to the Big Bang leaves a comfortable gap for divinity to rest in, something I already understood to be true given that science deals exclusively with the natural and therefore cannot say anything about the physical. There was room for God in my life, and as long as we're being honest, I've always needed something to believe in.

The problem I arrive at is that I pretty much live on the internet in my downtime, and the internet is, as Thunderf00t so often says, where religion comes to die. Not that I think religion needs to die, per-se, but it is difficult to avoid logical fallacy when asked any variant of the question "Why God?", or its popular cousin "Why Jesus?"

First admission: I never calculated a proof for God's existence. I merely convinced myself that there is room in my world-view for the supernatural, and let enter what forces may.

Second admission: Arriving not only at the God of Abraham but at Christianity specifically probably has more to do with socio-political forces surrounding my upbringing and my day-to-day life than any reasoned study. My readings of the Qu'ran and the Talmud have been cursory at best, and wanderings beyond the scope of Abrahamic religions have all been limited to academic curiosities rather than any serious study?

So, why Christianity? Because it works for me. Community is important to spiritual growth and it would be pointless to declare myself to be, say, an Eighth-Dynasty Egyptian Revivalist Neopagan in a community with few enough neopagans (and those we have are more nordic if anything). Christian Parables are the ones I know and the stories are ones I've heard, admittedly in the context of being stories and not history, basically since childhood. I can stand behind the precepts without standing behind the lore.

I am, however, one of the first to admit my faith is young, unformed, and dwindling. Gone is the raging inferno of RCIA and the heady glow of post-confirmation. For my mildly introverted self, Mass is yet a chore that my early-morning personality can't yet stomach. Prayer is reserved for thanksgiving or please-asking, the latter being something I promised myself I'd never do. Belief in God is exclusively reserved for manic moments and exists in abstract alone on down-turning cycles. Bottles of holy water from Easter and various religious texts go untouched for weeks at a time, then pursued for moments before returning to the mundane world.

The chief problem is a reluctance to release the products of the Enlightenment in order to embrace what are always known as the Hard Sayings of the bible. Call it vain, but I believe I have an above average intellect, and I believe that, God being the Creator, I would not have this intellect if I was not intended to use it in some way. Perhaps it is a case of me being a literalism, or my new-age upbringing, but I have difficulty conflating the commandments of Christ from the Gospels to the commandments from God in Leviticus, and being the hippy-dippy centre-left small-l liberal that I am, I'm more inclined to follow the former.

The problem is that the Church I've aligned myself with has serious deficiencies, in my mind, in rationalizing the new-covenant problem. Is closeness to life in cases where rape is occurring anyway a wrongness greater than the spread of an epidemic, which could be prevented by that closedness? Is keeping atheists from engaging in gay marriages a bigger issue than reunifying the Church and healing thousands of years of internal conflicts? How can moral law be imposed upon those who have different morals?

If we cannot accept the imposition of Sharia, how can we accept the imposition of Leviticus? Was the old covenant not fulfilled by the arrival of the messiah?

You have to be a theologian to answer these questions. I don't have that kind of time.

1 comment:

  1. You cannot perform in a manner inconsistent with the way you see yourself.