Bahai Temple, Wilmette, IL early Christmas morning 2009
I took this picture early this morning on my dog walk.
Mulan, Michael and I opened presents, had breakfast, and then flew to L.A. Now I am here, and I realize how much I miss it! Yippity yah, five days in L.A.
Not much to report, but I wrote this (below) last week and I guess I'll paste it here now...
Amongst the non-believers of this world, there appears to be a split in thinking between:
1.) Those that think religion is good - regardless of truth - for some people. Religion is useful for those who are trying to get sober, for those who have no where to turn, for those that might not follow society's rules, for those who might not otherwise respect others, for those in complete despair, and for those that need the idea, the concept - as a new drug - to get off another one.
2.) Those who think religion and the idea of God is never good for anyone.
I have always put myself in the #1 category. It suits me because I don't want to proclaim that seeing stark reality, which is very dark and full of potential catastrophe, is good, or possible for everyone.
But this thinking is very condescending. It's Plato saying religion is good for the masses. It's Will Durant saying how religion helps to bind people together, and so for society it's good. It's AA using the idea of a higher power to get people to let go of another, actual drug.
But #2 is so arrogant too.
I mean this is all just for the rumination - religion and the idea of God is not going away and most likely never will - so this is all just blathering about the number of angels who can dance on the head of a pin.
I have always stayed away from the #2 thinking because it puts me in a position of dismissing so much in others. I am not comfortable with it. It's very judgey. Of course, that is no way to decide what you think. Being judgey is the point of this whole debate!
But in my private thoughts, what do I really think? It's like a little debate between Plato and Voltaire. Plato did think religion was good for the masses. Voltaire believed religion enslaved people.
Truthfully, now I'm beginning to lean towards Voltaire.
I asked my husband yesterday if he thought religion did any person any good at all. "Think about Anne Lamott, a nice, liberal, happy Christian, " I said, "Or people who get off drugs and alcohol because they find Jesus. I mean, aren't we all better off because of that transfer of the more dangerous drug to the more benign one?"
And he said, "Maybe. But now those people are primed to follow. Jesus might be the idea for now, but it really could be anyone. They have made themselves programmable and basically they are sheep and now anyone could lead them - it could be to the top of a mountain or it could be off a cliff."
Again, I am paraphrasing and adding imagery for emphasis. And may I remind you that I do not hang on this guy's every word, far from it!
But I thought about that all day. I mean, I have always thought #1 was the benevolent point of view, the humble point of view, the less-judgemental and superior point of view, but actually that is wrong!!
The #1 thinking is really so cynical and superior and #2 has all this faith in everyone to use rationality and critical thinking to get through. #2 is actually the humble - or no, the optimistic point of view! (Not that being humble or optimistic is some sort of proof for an argument!) But you know, neither of these words is right, it's more like empowering - it's the empowering point of view.
I have not really come to any conclusions about this. But I'm just realizing how there is this split in thinking and I'm not sure - I vacillate between those views.