Monday, August 22, 2016

Religion

I was contemplating forgiveness just now. I often wake up feeling the need to ask for forgiveness.  It is impulsive.  It arises and comes out.  I do often sleep in, but that is not the root problem: my destiny is to do something connected with this sort of work in the long run, once I get my own shit figured out.

From what does the need to ask forgiveness come from?  It comes from social disconnection.  A rupture has occurred, and needs to be repaired.  Some rule has been violated, some feeling of tenderness or propriety crossed.  There was connection, now there is not.

Childhood trauma, of course, will generate the continual sense of shame, of alienation, and the futile asking for, but never receiving, forgiveness. I myself compensate with arrogance.  It is a shield of sorts, or has been.  It is an interesting thing to contemplate that somewhere in the hardest human beings there is the capacity for tenderness and softness which they have forgotten.

And being me, I started contemplating the dynamics of asking forgiveness from GOD.  We cannot see God.  Is asking for forgiveness the same as asking for connection?

And being me, I started thinking about T'shuvah, repentance, which at one time consisted in offering animal sacrifices at the Temple in Jerusalem.  What is this dynamic?  I will need to feel about this for a while longer.

But the point I wanted to make here is that it is quite possible, and in my view desirable, to treat religion BOTH as a cultural artifact intended to enable social cohesion and the maintenance of meaning, AND as a set of objective claims about the physical universe which can be investigated in a scientific manner. A study can be made as to what works and why culturally, and as to what is true empirically.

As I've no doubt mentioned repeatedly, Religion (Religions, if you want to be more politically conformist) was my own academic field of interest, and sacrifice--"acts of the sacred"--my main interest there.  But the question "is this true?" was not an important question.  I think it should be.

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