Losing Your Religion When L’Etat C’est Moi
Turning and turning in the widening gyreThe falcon cannot hear the falconer;Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhereThe ceremony of innocence is drowned;The best lack all conviction, while the worstAre full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
from The Second Coming, by William Butler Yeats
Retardation and restraint
When to hold back, what to allow, these are the questions that bring to the surface the bedrock beliefs that form the foundation for our lives, the definitions for life purpose that shape the direction of our lives with every choice and reaction we make. We find our real religion is not what we profess it to be but instead based on circumstances that incline us to feel entitled to privileges and indulgences we wish to preserve.
This is the basis of fundamentalism, which flowers into religious violence. It is backwards looking, seeking to maintain order by preserving norms and expectations, however selectively.
Examine your deepest sense of self in the world:
- Deep in your heart, do you feel like you were born lucky?
- Do you have a sense that angels are watching over you whom you might ask for favors or expect them to keep you safe?
- How do your circumstances reflect your sense of God’s providence?
- What are you expressing about your relationship to God when you speak of blessing as if it’s an entitlement?
Now in the world today, religion stands as the one great thing that can unite people, but only if it is correctly understood, only if its Source is understood, its purpose, its meaning and its direction. Without this understanding, religion then becomes the ultimate justification for cruelty, violence and punishment.”
from Religious Violence
People born into prosperity are at risk for being lulled into a false sense of security, easily persuaded to think the way things are is the way things will always be. Looking at examples from history and deeply considering the choices they made will give us guidance as we face similar turning points.
Marie Therese, child of the French Revolution: how did she survive?
The daughter of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI lived in, as the proverbial Chinese curse goes, “interesting times,” a time of revolution. The mystery of her life begs the question: if you were Marie Therese, which way would you have gone after the Revolution? Either she lost her mind and disappeared into the woodwork, or she recovered to resume a place in high society, defending the Bourbon dynasty with all the force of her character and comfort of leisure to do so.
Either the daughter defends the old guard to the end…
If she recovered from the collapse of the dynasty, found safety and security within the still-strong ruling class and committed her energy to proclaiming its value to society, for the rest of her life she stood for a return to the past. Successfully, too, for that viewpoint does endure even now as the world bows to grandiose personal acquisition as evidence of highest merit among peers.
So the Marie Therese known from history is the champion of inherited wealth for the purpose of maintaining order in a society where roles are justified, predestined. This Marie Therese fully expected vindication when it came time to stand before the God of her convictions, the agency behind the order that among all educated people was thought to be the source of wealth and privilege for the few.
There is no holy war. There is no holy warrior. You go to war for other reasons—for power, for domination, for resources, for control, for revenge.
from Religious Violence
… or she disappears, losing everything, including her mental health
The alternative history for Marie Therese could have been more true to the calling of the times, to the calling her parents forfeited, fatally, when they could not respond to changing times with compassion and foresight. They could not see that the old regime was top heavy, a burden to the state supporting it.
For all true religion teaches tolerance and moderation. All true religion teaches humility and reverence. All true religion teaches compassion and forgiveness. All true religion teaches charity and service.
from Religious Violence
To abandon her position in society would have required a willingness to risk all security: would any of us have had the nerve or felt the pressure to escape the prison of the status quo? We begrudge her mother’s self-indulgence, never asking ourselves if we might have had the wisdom to choose self-abnegation.
You know yourself which way you would choose
The likelier scenario is that Marie Therese survived imprisonment and her parents’ beheading; the odds are she did not succumb to PTSD but suppressed it with active declamation against the forces that conspired to revolution in a lifelong protest against change, waging a war against modernity, cozy in a perch atop the still-stratified class system that persists today in a more fluid environment of more rapid change. And on the day of judgment, at the end of life, she would have been surprised to find how misplaced were her attachments to comfort, security and status.
The religion of forgiveness, the religion of reunion with the Divine, the religion of human development, the religion of compassion—all of these tremendous movements in the evolution of religion in the world were fostered by the establishment of the world’s religions, which have brought the world to its present state.
from Who is Jesus?