Monday, May 30, 2011

There have been genuinely religious Abrahamists, but only because they’ve somehow maintained the forms of personal-God religions while having in fact abandoned any such belief. Some people think that men like St Paul and St Augustine are exemplary instances of what it is to possess the religious temperament. It’s easy enough to see why they have this reputation as long as we stick to the sociological understanding of religion: both were brilliant monsters of egotism, and almost all religious belief, considered as a sociological phenomenon, is about self.
This connects to a phenomenon that at first glance seems curious. If we take the term ‘morally worse’ as purely descriptive, denoting people whose characters generally appear to be morally worse than average, and if we restrict our attention to those who have had some non-negligible degree of education, we find that people who have religious convictions are on the whole morally worse than people who lack them. Are the religious worse because they’re religious, or are they religious because they’re worse? The first direction of causation is well known, but it’s the second that is more prominent in everyday life. The religious (sociologically speaking) tend to be religious because religious belief provides them with a framework in which they can handle certain unattractive elements in themselves. In converts – those who take up religion without having been brought up in it, or without having previously taken it seriously – the correlation between religious belief and relative moral badness in the strictly descriptive sense (which is not incompatible with charm) is particularly striking.

Galen Strawson in the LRB on Mark Johnson's Saving God: Religion After Idolatry and Surviving Death


Ahk4iePaiv8u said...

Quite simple riddle, I guess, if you consider religion (any) as kind of ( self-aware or not ) hypocrisy. What any religion concerns is mostly ethics - in short, what religion gives, is always a kind of warning, and legitimizations of sins - no matter how defined, a way of sliding out from responsibility.

Ahk4iePaiv8u said...

Our big house is whole on fire
Smoke in tunnels twists ropes
It's deep, really dark night
Burning rats escaping from the sewer

I scream in window my forehead touches glasses
With deep breath I make a hole in heat
One seeing me thinks I'm a madman
What else - he shouts - you dreamed, freaky?

So I embrace bars, white of their heat
I see my face in window, cursing
And right by me my neighbour watches quite interested
Burning safety jacket he's dressed on

Smoke in the lock hole, and doors have no handles
Grout cracks along sweating walls
I put my tongue in the burning lockhole
Behind my back someone laughs as crazy

But most are still sleeping, with smile on their faces
And who wakes up, denies awakening
Scream in silenced rooms knows no echoes
On grills of beds terror keeps the silence

Those, bounded by smoke from materaces
Prophete words of their life meaning
Below our foots floors are glowing of heat
Rain of red sparkles falls on our heads

Smoke gets more dense, some stranger jumps in
And we shivering on most far corner
This way! - he shouts - Damned you, idiots!
But we don't want to escape from here

But we don't want to escape for here
We scream in madness of anger and servility
Our big house is whole on fire
House for treatment of mental and psychic disorder

original text by J. Kaczmarski, sang by P. Gintrowski