Tuesday, February 13, 2007
The God Juxtaposition
Beliefs infect hearts and minds because they are based on the powerful parent/child imprint
Over the Festive Season, I wrote 7 papers, and in one I compared Christianity’s success as a belief system to that of a virus, and I quoted a number of factors that supported the infectiousness and stickiness of the underlying psychology (the hero traits common to plenty of others gods and heroes, including Dionysus and Mythra for example). I’d like to have a look at the simple inner mechanism that makes us susceptible to contagious psychologies, and why ‘belief’ feels incontrovertibly ‘right’ even though it is evidently delusional but based on some principles and truths.
Having been overseas for as long as I have, it is shocking to return to South Africa and realize what a powerful hold religion has on a great number of local hearts and minds. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, I sometimes think, because at heart, Christianity and other religions are ‘good’, right? Well, as any Christian can tell you, half measures aren’t good enough. Something is either good, or it isn’t. Well, I mean to apply that standard to Christianity. Being a Christian for the wrong reason is living in a delusion, and the consequences can be extreme. George W. Bush is a poster child for modern Christianity (so is his dad). The Christian ilk can thus be seen as a well meaning bunch of pretty ugly, self righteous zealots who are capable of incredible stupidity, incredible violence, all in the name of their definition of ‘good’, and ‘peace’. The war in Iraq is an example of the silliness of Christianity, where a threat is colored in as ‘doomsday adversary’ and wiped out. No one of the Christians who penned their signature authorizing the use of shock and awe against their Anti-Christian adversary (Iraq?) saw themselves as they really are: murderers on a self righteous, self ingratiating mission. Iraq was not a mission of necessity, but a mission built on the popular belief of 50% of American citizens that a war would ostensibly be about ‘good’ versus ‘evil’. Obviously the underlying demographics of the Iraqi’s was not a byproduct of this decision, it was completely ignored. Even when good was as powerful as an elephant, and evil as effectual (vis ?avis an elephant) as a rat, it was spun as a war in the name of self preservation. All that the American elephant has managed to do in Iraq is time a few good kicks to the rat’s mouth, knocking out a few teeth, and a few stomps to the tail. But Iraq is a mere distraction in the context here.
What I really mean to say is this. I was listening to a song playing on my car radio this evening. OFM dedicates Sunday evenings to many hours of religious based content. The song was about ‘God reigns’, and I was wondering what the payoff was in singing, in a reverent tone, about something apparently so self evident? Why is it that we sing songs in church that are so obvious and self evident? Self hypnosis? When I’m in my car I don’t sing that I am driving, or that I am going 100km/h. A child, of course, might do that.
So instead of turning it off I listened to the rest of the song. It wasn’t easy because it felt a little like listening to a home-shopping channel on TV, in the sense that you know it’s trying to sell you something, and you’re not in the mood to be convinced you need anything. Anyway, I listened, and the song went on about God being the father of ‘all the nations’. In the warm happy bosom of the song, that sounded nice. Then, it made reverence to us, calling us ‘children’. Even us adults. So God is portrayed as a great powerful father. That would also be nice. A big father for everyone to turn to. And he’d look after us. Especially if your real father has died, and you’re an adult without one, that would really be very very nice. The song went on to say, over and over again that God is the only God for all the nations, the only father. Very nice, very simple. One powerful ? I almost said person ? God, that sort of looks after everyone. Is that right?
Well the catch is he isn’t just there looking after you. You have to do something too. Even though he obviously exists, you have to believe in Him, sings songs about this, demonstrate to others that you believe this (even though it is supposed ton be obvious) and follow all sorts of codes and guidelines. Depending on where you go, you may have to be born again, baptized in the holy spirit, meaning you’ll speak in gibberish and be given ‘fruits of the spirit’. Before we get lost in the details, the point is that the simple song works on its own, but beyond the dreamy premise there is plenty that contradicts the underlying psychology. One of the reasons that Christianity works is because people can pretty much pick and choose what works for them, and what doesn’t: meaning, it’s a custom-friendly belief system. That’s an easily made point, and one Christians will fiercely refute, crying that ‘their’ psychology is the only, best, true reflection, and that anything else is nominal. Meanwhile, quite a few subscribers with different perspectives of the same thing are also holding up the nominal card. Oh but they’re nominal Christians, we’re onto the truth. Which is exactly what the deal is with the whole world: we’re right, you’re wrong. We have God’s sacred blessing, you’re lost and doomed etc.
While the initial imprint I get from the song works, when you examine it further it does become more interesting. God isn’t only a Father, he’s a Son. He’s also a ghostly sort of apparition (that’s everywhere), so you can pretty much take what you want. I like the ghostly apparition everywhere part, because it comes closest to my definition of God, which is the underlying consciousness of everything in the universe. Or put simply: all that is.
Meanwhile, whoever you are, you can identify with the Son, if you like, or you can be more reverent and put God in the sky (off the Earth). God can be immediate or distant, personal or impersonal, whatever suits you.
Get real. God, the God Christians claim, is nowhere near the father of all the nations. Not even the Jews (and Jesus was Jewish) believed that. Jesus is depicted in some cultures as an African or as an Asian, and slightly-funny as that may seem, it’s not less ridiculous than claiming God to be this sovereign God of all the nations. In reality, God as a psychology of energy and intelligence does breathe through the tissues of everything, the living, and the inanimate rocks. So there the imprint works. But sorry, in the reality of a religion called Christianity, the Christian-God is not the Father of all nations. Not even close. Travel a little and you may find that out. Only 25% of Koreans believe in Christianity. Buddhism is an amazingly sensible and benign belief system integrated with nature. Have Buddhists ever gone to war? In some Muslim countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan, the percentage of Christians dives to single digits. Large parts of Europe have become entirely secularized. These are intelligent, university educated populations that experienced both World Wars and experienced God’s Lordship then.
It’s also not true that God doesn’t exist. If God exists in someone’s mind, that is a claim to existence, however fickle. More potent though is the fact that faith and focus drive human behavior. Faith can bring about some positive results, based on our beliefs. The same is true of being positive, and living an affirmative life (because that is also based in faith in oneself, and in the world). Human behavior equals actions, and if your life is put into the service of God, and you’re an acknowledged instrument of God, then God’s actions are your actions. Well, hey, that’s pretty convenient too. And we’re told he is going to show up, very soon, but maybe in thousand years as well. Thanks for the blueprint, now we know exactly where we are.
No, when you really think about it, Christianity is absurd. Why it is not perceived to be absurd, and why so many Christians reading this article right now are feeling very unloving, un-Christian indignation and self righteous anger, is because believers do not think. They’re not allowed to. Faith, after all (the best display of faith), precludes thinking.
When we are irrelevant, and God is pulling all the strings, it’s a fabulous excuse to let ourselves off the hook. After all, God’s in control right. It’s up to him to set things straight right. It’s his plan isn’t it? God is none other than the God of Blame. The Christian payoff is about one thing, and one thing alone: uncertainty. The rationale, the buy in behind the elaborate scam is to comfort us about uncomfortable things like the end of our own existences, and about essential and difficult things we need to face and do. But we don’t. We pray and hope and let God sort it out, but in the end, someone goes out into the world and that’s how something happens. Not very effective.
We created God in our image, and then God returned the favour. He made a world in our image. I’m sure my saying that rings a bell in the most hardened of hearts. Do you know what that is? Self evident reality. God’s world is our world. Just look at it. All of this is our doing. Is it a world to be proud of?
Meanwhile, God is somewhere else, undoing, harmonizing the hell we unleash daily on this planet. The harm we did, and continue to do to ourselves, and on all other life, we do in his name.