On One Hand

March 4, 2007

The Right Box

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 8:04 pm
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The Christian cannon has Jesus explaining the importance of faith. But the importance of the “Christian” identity is more deeply rooted in the thoughts of later writers like Augustine and Calvin. Those men built the theological system in which it is through faith that we are saved from damnation, to the extent that, to be saved, we do not only have to beleive in the right God, being the Trinity, but must also know the correct facts down to some important specific details. Those details are about why Jesus died, whether Jesus is in the Eucharist or not and which specific acts are sins and which are not sins. You need to know the details because you are cleansed from sin by Jesus’ death because Jesus loves you sooo much, but if you do not claim Jesus’ death with the right particular language, the request doesn’t go through so you go to hell because you are still full of sin. One example of not using the right particular language is claiming Jesus without realizing how it relates to your inherent sinfulness as a fallen human being – that means saying you’re Christian without knowing why, without beleiving in Hell. Another example is claiming Jesus while beleiving in evolution and not undestanding that this is all necessary because Adam and Eve, two real historic humans, ate the forbidden fruit. A third example is claiming Jesus, but voting for the wrong political party or mistyping the word “Jesus” on your divine Atonement application forms. That is why it is necessary to spell-check everything before approaching Jesus to be saved, and why Hell is full of dyslexics.

Those last two sentences are a joke, but everything else is substantially true. In Christianity, having faith is considered a paralel to being a good person, or sometimes causes you to want to be a good person, but the two are distinct, and Faith is the more necessary component. No matter how “good” you are, you cannot get into Heaven without having faith that Jesus’ crucifixion washes away your inherent sinfulness, which was brought on by the first sin of Adam and Eve, and a decent understanding of that down to the details. In Christianity, being a “good person” is secondary to being a beleiver.

In Islam, though, beleiving in God is one of the first principles of being a “good person” in the first place. If you want to inquire whether or not a man is good, you first ask if he beleives in God. You can do good deeds all your life, but if you do not beleive in God, the One God, and the correct God of scripture, you are not a good person, and will be punished for not being good. The importance of beleiving is imbedded deeply in the Qur’an, coming straight from the teaching of Muhammed, who, in Islam, recieved telepathic messages directly from God’s angelic correspondents.

Maybe if God had ever communicated directly to me, I would have faith like Muhammed. However, I have not been so lucky, being born of this world and knowing nothing but the phoenomena therin. I would surmise that few have had the fortune of having seen direct evidence of God, but are instead left to rely on the merits of their faulty rational enqiry. And it’s too bad that 95% of humanity is automatically dammned because, even though some religions have substantial proportions of the World’s population, the nuances of beleif that are necessary to salvation are not shared by more than a small faction of a fraction within the One True Faith.

When I was going through my religious crisis in my late teens, I started to see the religions that beleive in Hell and the necessity of Faith for salvation like this:

Imagine that you unexplainedly find yourself in a dark room, and in the dark room are several lit doors engraved with symbols that are intrinsically meaningless to you, but claiming their own meaning. Each door is posted with reasons it is superior to the other ones, that usually read something like this: “this door is superior to the other ones because it is right and they are wrong.” You might find yourself starting out with your hand already close to the knob of a particular door, or you might be far from any door. You understand that if you pass through the correct door before your allotted time is up, you will find Paradise on the other side. If you choose the wrong door or, or find the correct door but are not sufficiently confident in your choice of that door before your time is up, you will fall into a pit of burning molten lava and writhe in it forever. You are given no other information, except that the being who created you wants you to pick the right door and in his infinite wisdom has determined that you truly deserve wherever you end up based on your choice of doors.

This is basically why I first gave up on Christianity, Catholocism in particular, and Abrahamic religion in general. It is not because I “disagree” with Catholic politics, it is not because I am gay, not because the Catholic Church “kicked me out,” and it is not because I am bitter or have insufficient “proof” of the historical phonomena any religion is based on. It’s because it’s hopeless – that is, to say, each religion only explains itself, to itself, and is otherwise devoid of meaning. All religions can understand the world reasonably well on their own, but in the presence of each other, no religion stands out, and to alledge that any person has a fair chance of choosing the right one out of so many is absurd.



  1. I really don’t know what to say, except that I have recently had a situation in which my faith was shattered, tested, and more or less restored, and I found three authors to have been helpful in this:

    Bunyan in The Pilgrim’s Progress, Lewis in his Mere Christianity, and Ambrose in several of his writings.

    Comment by engelschwanz — March 5, 2007 @ 4:33 am | Reply

  2. Oh, and Eliade helped to resolve some of the doubts you’ve voiced, along with Why God Won’t Go Away: Biology and the Brain Science of Belief which I heartily recommed to satisfy one’s more “rational” side of things.

    Comment by engelschwanz — March 5, 2007 @ 4:36 am | Reply

    • Thanks

      Well, I’m not looking to answer any questions about religion anymore; I found my answer when I decided not to self-idenfify as religious. I realized didn’t need to save a beleif in Christianity that I no longer had for the sake of keeping “Christian” as a label. I’m not Christian, and haven’t considered myself so for over four years. I’m happily Unitarian Universalist now, and my beleifs are closer to Buddhism than anything. I appreciate the references though; I’ve never really checked out C.S. Lewis, though I’ve heard a lot about him, so maybe I’ll pick up the book sometime.

      Comment by ononehand — March 5, 2007 @ 9:15 am | Reply

  3. “Hopeless”

    And therin lies the pit that ensnares so many of the faithful and leaves twisted with anger, jealousy, and despair. They then go to shoot abortion doctors or spew hateful rants about the perversions of the homosexuals. Modern chirstians have fallen to Hubris, the sinful brought that brought god’s wrath upon the hebrews in the old testament. We have forgotten that we are but children next to God when we claim to *know* his mind or whims. Reighteousness is eating away at the established religions because they have forgotten that the Church is not a building, not the vatican, not even the Book, it is the people, the family joined in their hearts through faith in God and love for one another. This is the heart and soul of the Gospel which is no longer preached from the pulpit. All that is left for us to do is go out, make connections with others, experience a life of love and compassion. Always, since the first Easter this has been the True Way of God. All things done in love lead back to God. An old saying I once heard puts it quite beautifully: “If you want to find God simply look into the eyes of the man standing across from you.” Never doubt that God is speaking to you through those you love and love you in return. When you recognize these things for truth you will have found all the faith you will ever need; faith that will carry you when you falter, when you feel abandoned and bereft. I hope you find my words helpful and not too inappropriate as they come from a complete stranger. But I once found myself facing a row of doors. When I had gone and learned and suffered I came back with love. Then I knew, absolutely, where I was supposed to be. So again, thank you and I hope you find some use for what I’ve written here, if only to laugh over it.

    AIM outonawildlimb

    Comment by Anonymous — March 15, 2007 @ 6:18 am | Reply

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