Sunday, March 6, 2011

GOOD HEAVENS!

It is always entertaining to watch Evangelical Christians get their Jesus jones on.

This weekend, the NYC reports on a pastor, Rob Bell, who incurred wrath among a subset of said Evangelicals by putting forward the proposition -- I paraphrase -- that G*d in His bestowing of the final judgment cares more about what you did with your life than about what religion you nominally belonged to. Hence, chances are, Bell muses, that Gandhi might be in Heaven right now, rather than in the hell certain protestant theologians would relegate him to, because he, sorry, simply isn't a Christian, and hence Heaven is unattainable.

Those of us who are not evangelical Christians can giggle or guffaw. But it is an interesting problem, and arguably one of the hardest for revealed religions to crack: Why did the Singularly Omnipotent chose to reveal Himself to this particular stone-age (or Dark Age) tribe, and not to some other? Why is our G*d the One, and yours a mere counterfeit, although Yours too scream quite loudly (yet inaudibly) that They, accidentally and now that you mention it, are True, and all others False? How, in other words, to subject our diverse g*ds to a veracity test, using reason alone, I may add, rather than, say, military might?

The problem, of course, isn't so much theological as it is pragmatic -- it's a problem of control.

If one, indeed, in the day and age of extensive cross-cultural contact merely begins to contemplate such matters, and one does so honestly, it is easy to see that maybe there isn't a monopoly at all, and that all religions must to some extent be true. This is where Bell is at. It's an admirable feeling: Anything that can bring the fractions of humanity closer together rather than raging at each others' throats, or even just shouting into each others' ears, is a good thing, IMHO.

Bell's colleagues -- no dummies, I suppose, and with a keen eye on their wallets -- already see the next step looming. One tiny thinking step beyond that happy coexistence mode lands us squarely into a quagmire of relativism: If all g*ds are true, might one then not also contemplate the notion that therefore none are true, and hence entertain the distinct possibility that all g*ds are simply zombies, once human, now dead and roaming the earth preying for human flesh and souls -- plus also completely imaginary?

My favorite joke is this one: "My brain is my favorite organ, but look who's telling me that." All I'm sayin' is: Consider the source.

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