Saintly Thoughts

Religion & Limitation (and explanation of my preferred idiom)

Why am I so concerned with issues of religion, nay Christianity even, in a post-religious world?  Perhaps because the world both is and is not post-religious.  Our impulses towards religion will always be with us, and I think it likely given the complexity of the different strands composing the human family, that there will always be many conflicting religions and, thus, the apparent necessity of defining ourselves in relation to one or another tradition as opposed to others.  But, I think that it has been truly said that we, as peoples, have come to intrinsically feel (if not necessarily consciously understand) that this state of affairs is not justifiable, and that none of us can truly live comfortably amidst a world of such random and indeterminable distinctions.  And thus, in the material abundance of our current standing in the west, this humanistic impulse to level the old distinctions has led us to strive for a world that is post religious.  But this impulse, insofar as it excites our moral consciousness, itself feeds an impulse emanating from the same place as religion.  But few people are content (for good or for ill) to act against the backdrop of an unexamined impulse, and thus we systematize these impulses and apply law and creed to them, and in the end wind up with a system of religion.  Thus, in the end, there is no escaping the human process of religious impulse followed by codification.  This at least explains the foundational moral thinking underlying religion and religious thought.  And thus, perhaps, you see the loop; for what at once appears revolutionary, skeptical and atheistic (and do not forget that the early Christians were accused of atheism) becomes, in its time, an equally entrenched school of dogmatic religion (and I do not mean necessarily to herein denigrate dogma).  Do I mean that all thought is religious?  Not exactly.  But whether or not we employ an overt notion of God and the Divine, those concepts which touch on our most basic and fundamental concerns will be dear to us in much the same way that a good friend or a lover becomes dear to us.  For that which is dear is that which we love, and our relationship to that which we love is far different than is our relationship to the whole world, unless we come to love the world entire.  So I do not deny the validity of the religious or the non-religious, for in truth I have come to think that, rather than being distinct states of being, or even being composed of distinct groups of people, the religious notion and the non-religious notion are simply the dialectical poles at war within the depths of the human soul.  So goes my concern with religion.  What of Christianity specifically?  It is the idiom that I know, the language that I have learned by which my mind may soar into the heavens and contemplate the mysteries of existence.  It is not to say that my thinking is confined to one idiom, in truth I have tried to expose myself and my thinking to a diverse menagerie of thinkers and ways of knowing.  But it shall forever remain my first and most substantial idiom, that idiom wherein I first learned to consider the great mystery lying beyond (or perhaps merely behind?) mankind.  Does this mean that I owe Christianity allegiance?  Not as a system.  But as for myself, Christ and His Church shall always be a distinct and real part of my thinking; a dialectical pole that pulls me away from the abyss of the existential self--for I am convinced that it is the responsibility of the soul to approach and recognize itself as a self, but that the soul is not, in and of itself, equipped with the necessary tools to embark on, let alone succeed in, such an endeavor.  Left to itself, the soul creates idols of the self.  Is this a limitation upon my thought?  Yes it is; but language itself is a limitation of thought.  Without limitations, there would be no thought, for we do not have the capacity to take in the whole in its entire.  But it is necessary that we recognize our limitations as such, and not mistake the whole for a part.  No one may name this limitation for another, only for oneself.