Wednesday, December 26, 2007

On Gods and Champions

Lets start with a question. Do Christianity and Judaism worship the same God.

Those of you who are opposed to my radical and blasphemous views on religion should probably just leave now.

From what I've been told the answer is yes. I've been told this mostly at feel good interfaith conferences between people who don't actually have a problem with each other who have these conferences to express the fact that they don't have any problems with each other, give answers that either say nothing or say things that should but don't bring their entire faith into question when you ask them why they don't have any problems with each other, and avoid talking about the people who use the same religious label but in fact, do have problems with the other group and don't go to those conferences. We'll ignore the hipocracy in place for a minute now and roll with the idea that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all worship the same essential God.

If they all worship the same God, why are they different religions? The short version of the real answer is that they have conflicting stories, and they each call dibs on "The Covenant" in what is basically a giant game of capture the flag except that there is no flag, and that various fringe groups have resorted to playing the game as a Full Contact sport, so to speak. None of that figures into my discussion. What I'm discussing are the practical differences between these religions which all center around the same God. The key difference, as I see it, is their Champions.

A Champion, in this discussion, is the human or humanoid figure who is the iconic character of the religion. The religion of Christianity worships ''*, but the champion of Christianity is Jesus. The Champion of Islam is Mohamed, and the Champion of Judaism is a bit complex, but it's basically Moses. The bulk of what a religion actually is consists of holidays and rituals and philosophies, and if you look at those long enough the champion of that religion tends to make itself fairly clear.

I like Champions, I like them a lot, even though I still don't like religions. I also think that religions arise when Champions meet with the inherent difficulty of faith. You don't have to have faith in Jesus. Jesus was a guy, he existed, and to my understanding we have pretty solid evidence of that. Even if he wasn't some miracle worker and he was simply a Rabbi who formed a cult of personality he existed in a clear, definite way. That's not true of God. Even if you believe that God is the creator and has a direct interventionist role in the world you still don't have any proof of him/her/it/them. You have to have faith, you have to accept that your belief is unreasoned, and that's hard, and it's scary, and it's dangerous. It's also something I almost never see in self proclaimed holy men. I've asked several of them why they believe as they do and they've given me their reasoning thinking that I was looking for a reason to believe as they do, and in doing so they've missed the point entirely. If you want reason you should be an atheist, or at least an agnostic, or perhaps even a staunch nebulist.

Staunch Nebulist was defined to me as the proactive belief that nobody has the actual answer. It's what happens when you put active radical belief, and perhaps even faith, into the idea that you have no clue, and neither does anyone else.

The reason I bring up this tangent about the nature and difficulty of faith is because I think it's what's screwing up Champions. People are exploiting their Champions as a means of justifying their religions not only to themselves but to others. Many of them even have books which they use to do things according to their religion, in the name of their Champion, who they automatically associate with their God. It's all very reasonable, all very logical, and hence all wrong. Faith has to be vague. It it has reason then it's proof, not faith.

I think it's quite clear that I've slipped into ranting instead of making an actual point, which is why this is a blog and not a book, so I'll try and get directly to my point. Champions are a good thing. They serve as an ideal to which one can aspire. My Champion, who I'll discuss later in an even more blasphemous post, helps me keep a hold on my values, and I think that having a champion could help everyone. Take some religious, or mythological, or historical figure that has the qualities and values to which you aspire, get a strong but not definite sense of those values, and then use that thing as your Champion, a symbol of your ideals. Symbols are important, they can give people strength, and something to remind them of their higher self, and ultimately, this pursuit of the higher self, is enlightenment.

*Name not written to avoid gratuitous blasphemy


Blogger Kevin said...

I guess that makes me a staunch nebulist

8:46 PM  

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