Wednesday, September 25, 2013

owning jesus

Man of faith smashing scripture 
If I was Khalid I would not belong to the Muslim faith. I would not subscribe to its beliefs, nor would I follow its practices. If I was Khalid, I would own Islam.

You may think I am being pedantic, but in fact, I am being Orthodox. This post is about Faith and Religion, chapter and verse.

As it happens, I don't own Islam, although I do have some ideas for how I'd fix it up if I did. It could use some pictures on the walls, for one. I own Catholicism. Yes, the Pope is mine. Sorry about him. He just won't listen. We've been thinking maybe medication would be a good thing for him.

I never asked for Catholicism. I inherited it. I find it unsightly, myself, but my mother likes it. It's not like I can give it away. It's not much practical use, so I usually keep it in the attic, buried under a pile of other accumulated crap. Sometimes I drag it out when we have visitors who are interested in that sort of thing. It's not pretty, it gets in the way, it's poorly constructed, rotting, and often stinks, but it's mine, my problem.

The actual point of this post is to point out the absurdity of the idea of anyone belonging to a faith. In my view, Faith requires free choice. Without free choice, Faith becomes compulsion, or unthinking adherence to culture -- without free choice. If faith is possible without free choice, then Ants can be believers.

My complaint may seem specious. Belonging has 3 senses, roughly: classification, fit, and ownership, and it is reasonable to say that a Christian person belongs to the Christian faith in the same way that an ant belongs to the kingdom Animalia, the phylum Arthroproda, and the class Insecta, i.e., in the sense of classification.

To my ears, however, when people say they belong to a faith, it sounds like they mean the faith owns them. It sounds inappropriately passive. Subscribing to a faith is equally passive. (More often, believers are prescribing the faith, which, at least, is active.) To be a follower of a faith is also passive. All these terms seem dispirited, especially for a faith. Faiths should spirited, not passive.

So is my problem pedantry? YES! My problem is other peoples' pedantry, the pedantry of people of the word. Because language, like mathematics, is a system of symbolic manipulation, processed by the parts of our soul (or brain, if you prefer), that handles logic and analytical thinking, which, if you think it through, are anti-thetical to faith. Salt on the slug of faith. If your faith needs a logical proof, then it isn't faith. If you have a logical proof, then you don't need faith.

Faith and Reason don't mix. Language is a system of symbolic manipulation, inextricable from Reason. So people of the word, i.e, subscribers/prescribers of scripture-based religions, must swallow this indigestible nugget before they can open their mouths to preach. This may explain the constipated empathy for non-believers. Scripture is no place for Faith.

The proper medium of Faith is Art. Art is handled by the systems of the brain that deal with intuition, emotions, fellow humans, and beauty. Compare: which religion you would like to own?

Scripture Art
Rational Intuitive
Manipulative    Open
Consistency Beauty
Eternal Humane

What about Poetry? I grant, poetry is Art, capable of expressing the ineffable. But is religious scripture poetry? Millions of the faithful claim it is. But if scripture is poetry, then is it fiction? No. The categories of fiction and non-fiction don't apply to poetry. Poetry, like music, has its own criteria of Truth, based on Intuition, Authenticity, and Beauty.

So, if scripture-based faith was music, what kind of music would it be? Probably something like this ancient music:
Music of Ancient Greece - First Chorus, Orestes Tragedy of Eurypides - by Christodoulos Halaris - Ancient Greek Music


It may have it's musical qualities, but it doesn't come anywhere near this more recent work in terms of Intuition, Authenticity, or Beauty:


My point is, if scripture is to be read as non-fiction, then believers are literally followers, and that's no way to belong to a faith. If scripture is meant to be poetry, then, it's a crunky, stiff, and unappealing kind of poetry, a poor alternative to other, better, more uplifting and soul-nourishing art on the market.

The best indication of the Truth of scripture-based religions, like Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, is the Art they have inspired, not the scripture they are based upon.

People of the word (followers of scripture-based faiths) may argue that scripture is poetry, and believers do make the free choice to believe in its truth. But poetry, like music, does not give prescriptive truth.  Art does not give Rules.

I'm preaching to the converted. If you are still reading this far, you already agree with me. Otherwise, you would have stopped reading this infidel nonsense earlier, recognizing it for the Sophistry it is. The fact is, dear reader, I don't even believe in the existence of you. I can't think who would be interested to read this far. Oh yes. Sorry. Hi Mum! Yes, I believe in you. I hope you are looking after Jesus.


If you prefer less introspective fare, my other blog is for the more practical and professionally-minded reader

1 comment:

  1. Well lets hope your views on religion don't land you in that hot place that will burn up your tiny speedos.

    ReplyDelete