the assumption of responsibility for the welfare of the world
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“When you believe in things you don’t understand, then you suffer.” Such are the wise words of Stevie Wonder, but he apparently saw no need to heed them personally. He was himself a strong proponent of a belief system that has no basis in personal understanding, no connection with reason or even common sense. Christianity is not alone in that fact. It is a hallmark of modern religions to insist on the tenet of faith, or blind faith, wherein every adherent is asked to set aside doubt, to set aside thought itself, and accept the doctrine of its religion without knowing the reasons behind it. This is made necessary, of course, by the fact that the reasons behind the modern religions, where there are any, would not explain why a person should believe these religions, but rather why the establishments of the various societies and naturally the hieararchies of the churches themselves have worked so hard to obtain belief, and to obtain it without allowing it to be submitted to critical analysis. Religions make sense in a social context, in a political context, in a power context. They do not make sense in the light of truth.
This is not to suggest that every parish priest or village ملا mulā is a hypocrite, or has a conscious interest in manipulating the simple and credulous or in perpetuating a system of social control. They, mostly, are victims as well, having been brought into the faith well and early, and having never thought to reconsider the beliefs themselves, or the methods through which they were accepted. I do not pity them as victims, though, for many of them are well-enough educated that only willful ignorance can explain their failure to see through the sham they are selling. Even if completely innocent of malice, they are still culpable in the results. They are doing a great disservice to the world, blasting doubt with false assurance. They create an environment, a mentality among the indoctrinated, that doubt is a sin. I myself struggled to abandon my Roman Catholic beliefs, because I first needed to convince myself that I was not risking a trip to hell merely by questioning the existence of hell. Basically, I needed to stop believing before I could stop believing. Not, clearly, a simple thing. I would attribute the result to the great power of truth, if I did not see daily the failure of that presumed power.
Faith, whether so intended or not, is a tool of dominion. It serves the purposes of the dominion so neatly that it is difficult to ascribe good motives to those who facilitate this power. I could personally look more fondly on the major religions, as potential tools for charity and the spread of morality, if they were shorn only of this one burden. The teachings of the legendary founder of Christianity, ישוע Jeśūac, whatever their shortcomings, were full of love and compassion, of nobility and charity. They were, even, somewhat representative of stewardship. But his followers have lost track of his teachings in preaching the worship of his supposed divinity. He is taken for an omnipotent god, not a wise teacher. As it is, the stewardship must work against the church, an unfortunate development. I should find the desire of many Christians to give of themselves for others a good basis for alliance, but I fear they will have little to do with those who can speak so plainly about their failings, and the misguided state of their belief. It would be foolish to expect anything but condemnation from the church leaders, who can see only too well that the culture of stewardship would lead ultimately to their own disenfranchisement. The traditional role of priests in all religions has been as specialist in theology, in ethics, in the governance of the spiritual order. If a physician says we are sick, we are sick. If a priest says we are immoral, we are immoral. We trust the one, as the other, to do or know things we ourselves are too busy to do or know, and they trust us to build their houses, or mop their floors, or fry their fish.
But in the stewardship, every member is a priest, its own spiritual leader. There is no specialization of that sort. In a nation of brahmins, there could be no monopoly on power. The masses would know better than to allow it. This would cost the power not only of the hierarchy of the church, but the hierarchy of all of society. Imagine a state governed by citizen legislators. Major policy would be set by referendum, and the electorate could simply hire a body of managers to carry out its will. Democracies have this power today, and that includes the Yankee state, but the electorates choose not to exercise this power. They have been taught that some matters are too complicated for their limited knowledge and understanding. They do not ask if this is so, or if so, how this knowledge and understanding came to be so limited. Washington and Roma tell them how to behave, and, coincidentally of course, Washington and Roma handle their education. The central doctrine of this education is the doctrinaire standpoint. Everything else that follows is simple, if only the critical process can be arrested. We know what is best for you, better than you could ever know for yourself. Trust us.
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