Tuesday, April 10, 2007

thinking generally

12:41 PM Posted by: M., 5 comments

I am young, so I haven't studied a ton of history, but I am starting to think about lot of things about our faith and our world in terms of its historical frame. For instance, I was wondering recently, why we want an afterlife so badly--and I realized that cultures and religions since the beginning of man have been trying to answer the afterlife question, and have been believing in gods who are more powerful than us here on earth. In this, Christianity is much the same. We long for "more than this life" and a God who can do everything for us, but I really am curious why.

I also wonder why so many religions are exclusionary in who gets to have an afterlife--or at least how that afterlife is played out. I forget all the terms, but in re-birth, your karma or way you lived your life, determines what you will be re-born into, in Islam and most christian sects, you will not live in eternal paradise if you are an unbeliever, etc. Part of me wonders if this kind of thinking didn't originate at a time when it was necessary to differentiate between members of your own group and enemies or something--a lot of world conflicts are like that today--where one party in a conflict finds a difference between themselves and the "other" and then exploits it to win power. That difference can be religion, tribal identity, geographical location, even physical differences. It is easier for militias to form when all their members have something in common that the enemy does not have--and religion would not only serve to unite a group, but also to exclude others and demonize them. I don't know, these are just some of my thoughts. Not that Christianity just demonizes for power--I am not saying that at all, but I am just curious how the original ideas developed that allowed for those "outside" the religion to be seen so negatively, and so deserving of eternal damnation.


5 comments:

Heather said...

I'm wondering how much it has to do with people like to belong, and feel special. One of the easiest ways to accomplish that is to set up a 'us vs. them' mentality.

One of the protests I've seen to Universalisism is "What's the point if everyone gets in?" Why should they bother following the rules or being good? And to me, that almost misses the point of the Bible. It's about a relationship with God, and how it's one of the best things available (as presented by the Bible).

HeIsSailing said...

Hi Marie
I have to agree with Heather here. I think part of the idea of hell, or being reincarnated into a tapeworm, or .. other bad supernatural things, is the idea of retribution. In one of the psalms, I forget which one, it is mighty early here, David is lamenting the fact that the evil people seem to get away ScottFree. People want them to "get theirs".

Heather sez:
"One of the protests I've seen to Universalisism is "What's the point if everyone gets in?" Why should they bother following the rules or being good? "

Yeah, there is another cliche I have heard from the pulpit that goes like this, "People ask me how a good God can send people to hell. I say, how could a good God NOT send people to hell?" gag - I really hate Christian cliches that involve eternal torment.

Heather said...

**People ask me how a good God can send people to hell. I say, how could a good God NOT send people to hell?" **

Hmm. It seems that message is equating 'good' with 'holiness.' In which case, question doesn't work, because when people ask, "How a good God can send people to hell," they're using good in terms of 'loving,' 'kindness,' compassionate, and even 'just.' But the answer doesn't use 'good' in the same way, and just reduces good to 'holy.' But that's not how people use 'good.'

BruceD said...

Maybe the Cross revealed the true nature of the world... where there is only "us"?

Love your blog!

Don said...

Doubt is the seed that leads to TRUTH...