Author Evelyn Waugh, when asked how he reconciled his private conduct (e.g. stained by offenses against chastity and sobriety) with his public beliefs (i.e. he argued for the operations of divine grace). His reply has become celebrated: How much worse would I be if I were not a Catholic? How much worse would you be if you were …? Pick one: (above the law, capable of making yourself invisible, infinitely wealthy, a “made man” (woman), God, a god, a devil-with-a-blue-dress-on) How do you go about reconciling your private conduct with your public beliefs?
Question of the Night:
Following an assassination attempt by an insane black woman in 1958, Martin Luther King Jr. issued a press release reaffirming his belief in “the redemptive power of nonviolence ~ I felt no ill will toward Mrs. Izola Currey and know that thoughtful people will do all in their power to see that she gets the help she apparently needs if she is to become a free and constructive member of society. How hard is it to forgive those who currently and possibly never will acknowledge their misdeeds and will probably die threatening the peace of those who care for them? For whom are you willing to risk probable personal scars for possible permanent change?
From Christoph Luxenburg’s The Syriac-Aramaic Version of the Koran (a rare non-Arabic translation): The rewards of a “martyr” in paradise: the heavenly offering consists of sweet white raisins rather than virgins. How would your life be altered if you “found” that your beliefs were a result of “lost in translation”? Do you seek paradise in sensuality or sustenance?
From Edward Gibbon, Decline and Fall of The Roman Empire ~ The various forms of worship, which prevailed in the Roman world, were all considered by the people to be equally true, by the philosopher as equally false, and by the magistrate as equally useful. On the board of your life, is religion treated as king, rook, or pawn? What happens to societies when the manipulations of religions go unchecked?
Following an analysis of slavery’s history as influenced by religion, this arguable aphorism emerged: The chance that someone’s secular opinion would cause the denunciation of slavery and racism is extremely high. The chance that someone’s religious belief would cause the denunciation of slavery and racism is quite small. Why did organized religion play such a small role in slavery’s demise? Does individual resolve eventually trump financial and power interests in the pursuit of freedom and justice for all?
Fill in the Blanks
Think of a time when someone disappointed you, hurt you or a loved one:
First: You are harmed in some way by _________ (church, family, friends, pub fools, etc.). Next: You learn that what you attributed to malice is better explained by __________ (stupidity, ignorance, a forgivable error, substance abuse, immaturity, mental impairment, lack of self-awareness, overmedicating, under medicating, etc.).
Finally: Does your new-found understanding allow you to __________ (forgive, move on, discount the incident, cancel the hit, etc.)?
Of Politicians and Polish Sausage
An old popular saying (paraphrased) has it that ~ If you want to maintain your respect for a politician, or your appetite for sausages, you should take care NOT to be present when the former is groomed, or the latter is ground. What might the process of creating a religion look like? What assumptions might you make about a religion’s origins, keeping in mind that the religion was put together before most people could read?