Friday, March 07, 2014

It's all about me.

It occurs to me that much of religion is all about me.  No, not me, the Cybernetic Atheist, but the individual 'me' that each of us is primarily concerned with.  

Sure, the Ten Comandments does say to honor your parents, but that's more a control issue than a family thing.  In the Bronze Age Mediterranian, the clan was the important thing.  Not the immediate family, as we know it today.  The clan was headed by a patriarchal figure, always an older male.  Not all of the clan members were necessarily immediate family, many were loosely related, though with some by marriage.

Family was about ownership, not blood.  The male owned his wife and his children, and expected to benefit from the marriages his children produced.

Christianity, like all of the other Mystery religions preceding it, is focused on the fate of the individual, while the Roman and Greek religions were focused on keeping the gods happy and looking anywhere but you and your clan.  There was no code of conduct, the goal was to propitiate the gods.

But Christianity was different.  It focuses on the person, the individual.  The entire purpose of Christ's sacrifice was to take on the sins of each person in the world.  The fate of clans and families wasn't an issue.

It removes our concerns from the national or the community.  It tells us to surrender ourselves and let God take over.  It reassures us that He will provide and protect, and the promise of a return (which, by the way, was supposed to happen during that first generation of Christians, but never did) ensures that one doesn't have to worry about the future.

Thereby removing our concerns from such unimportant issues like pollution, global warming or the alarming rate of animal extinctions.

Somehow, this is supposed to reassure us, as we breathe, eat, and drink polluted air, food, and water chock full of carcinogens and chemicals.

I don't buy it.  Humans evolved to care about the tribe, the community.  We are supposed to gather into family units which work together, live together and provide mutual support, caring and defense.  But our religion teaches us to focus on the next life - for our own selfish benefit.

I know, a lot of Americans cleave to family and clan anyway, as a social culture inherited from the lands our ancestors immigrated from.  But that doesn't stop us from being influenced by that selfishness anyway.

Look at the modern Republican Party.  The newest and loudest ideals it teaches are exactly as selfish as one could wish, teaching that the poor, the downtrodden and the unfortunate are simply parasites to be discarded and scorned.  It takes the selfish themes of religion and magnifies them into a lewd caricature of the actual teachings themselves, twisting and moulding them into something barely recognizable - if not outright contrary to the original.

More proof that evil people will twist anything they can to benefit themselves.  Something religions everywhere are uniquely subject to.

More on that idea later.

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