defending religion
January 31, 2002 07:03 AM

I read somewhere.

You know, there are the ones you read that are so them you couldn't get confused. And then there are the ones you love, you really do, but they blur together a little. They aren't straight-line defined, you know.

So I read somewhere.

That maybe Christianity was just like Hellenism (well, I think it more referred to "the Ancient Greeks", but we've got the drift here, right?). In that. In that maybe all the mythology belief-structure dogma whatever came down to basically the same thing as those kooky simple Greeks with their belief that the seasons were explained by this girl and her mom and the guy who kidnapped and married but didn't live happily ever after with her, no ma'am.

You know. It almost pissed me off. It did piss me off, a little.

See. I think all religions are the same. Sure. But I don't think any of them are that simplistic.

Those kooky simple Greeks had a whole year of ritual around that girl and her choices and how all those characters blurred together. How girl and kidnapper guy were one. How the world was. And they knew, at least on a metaphorical level, that the year, these acts of ritual, kept the world cemented.

And some of them were philosophical and were humanists and talked about Free Will. And some of them said Myth is Metaphor. And some of them said No, These Things Happened. For Real. And others got all gnostic about it and wrapped themselves up in the nature of Man (and for the most part they really only meant man, not woman, even though the girl was one and the word came first, even if they didn't know that because they didn't speak that language) and the nature of God and they saw their beliefs on many levels, some of them secret. And then some of them didn't really think or talk about it, but maybe lit candles or burnt things because you never know, sometimes superstitions aren't a bad idea.

And maybe a few of them only saw the outside of it all. Maybe most of them saw it that way, and it was just something you believed because the people around you did and you liked them.

If you know things about perspectives on Christianity and Christian mythology - or about any religion and its attendant stories, you recognise that winding semi-historical prattle. That's what religions have in common. They are complex.

They are not the answers of a people to the things they could answer with science (which is a religion in its own right). They're bigger than that. They're rarely answers at all. They're part invention and part truth and part more questions, and if they answer questions it's mostly just to say Because. What they do is tie people together and place people here, with something above and something below.

And I guess the reason this pisses me off, the oversimplification, is that in order to truly believe one thing or another, you have to have a sense of its vastness. Even if you don't consider it. But when you don't consider the vastness you've accepted, you'll likely fail to recognise it in others who maybe disagree with you.

When you think about it, oversimplification is the root of entirely too many problems. Maybe we should all look at the rest of the world with the assumption that it's more complex than we see.

It probably is.

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