Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A Whole New Paradigm...

I am currently in a course titled, "The History of Christianity," and it is rocking my world. The course, which is taught by a man of strong faith and intellect, takes a very objective view at the figures and numbers behind the Christian faith. Strangely enough, we're starting with the 20th century instead of year 0 AD (a good strategy, in my opinion, for keeping the attention of 20 somethings like myself).

Recently for that class I read a slew of articles on the creation and evolution of Pentecostalism in the world, starting in the 50s and 60s. Pentecostalism and charismatic faiths revolve around the "gifts of the spirit," things like speaking in tongues, faith healing, etc. I tend to take the, "whatever floats your boat," stance on matters like this, but others do not, namely Pentecostals.

You see, originally, Pentecostals believed that until you could speak tongues or perform some other miracle through the Holy Spirit (which I learned is definitely a "He" in the faith), you are not truly saved. Your salvation is still in question. I have a minor problem with that. Telling people who is going to heaven and who isn't is a touchy subject. The whole thing just blows my mind.

Here's the essence of my problem: That kind of language creates a very "Us vs. Them" kind of world. Someone is right, someone is wrong. Someone is going to heaven and someone is going to hell. It gives people grounds with which to subjugate the others, and that ground is very flimsy. It feeds the ego. There are those of US that can speak in tongues, but there are those other LESSER people who don't have the kind of faith we do.

We humans have a way of messing everything up. Have you ever noticed that? It just makes me sad. We can't be content with each other. I don't know whether or not to be misanthropic. I see so much possibility for greatness in the human race. We have the potential to do amazing things, to love each other in fantastic and selfless ways, but we fall short. We pervert potentially beautiful things for the sake of boosting ourselves into a seemingly "better" position. It makes me want to cry.


LB said...

With people like you who notice the right things... like why does it have to be "us" vs. "them" I have hope that the human race won't completely mess it up. Yet, if it's going to get messed up, humans are probably the ones who will do it.

Yesterday's post gives me hope. It would be helpful if more and more people started looking at ego as simply a construct, fragile and sometimes dangerous.

Anonymous said...

I have a book about living life the way a martial artist ought to live, and in the beginning the author lays a basic framework for the history and tenets of eastern philosophy and religion, so people can understand the context in which these forms of combat evolved. The author talks about how most of the eastern traditions--like Buddhism--didn't start out as religions, but were eventually transformed into faith systems by the governments as a method of control. It goes along with what you're saying: spirituality is the core of religious belief, but people can really mess things up by establishing ritual and dogma that gets too far out of control.

To the question of whether or not to be misanthropic, to me it's not a decision. Hate breeds hate and love breeds love, and to feel hate or mistrust towards the whole of the human race doesn't seem like it's going to solve any problems. Maybe instead if we are outraged in the name of lovingkindness that these things are happening and have been happening for all of human history, we can change things, but it's not going to happen if all we do is hate.

All Things said...

well, one of the greatest things about human choice, in my opinion, is that we don't have to have that superficial power-struggle with people if we don't want to, and i love it when i can be with someone and we can both consciously choose to leave that behind. i am thinking that you probably know what i'm talking about, and on your side of the fence, i definitely understand your frustration. remember the power of choice!!