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A pair of faiths
April 4, 2020, 7:40 pm
Filed under: brave new world, chronotopes | Tags: , , ,

The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988) – MUBI

There’s a comfort in faith: that the arc of history bends towards justice, that wrongdoing will be remedied, that we will forever remember the people and places in our lives.

Kundera says these faiths are a deception. What’s left without memory and a belief that things will be made right? Perhaps a cold, calculating, puritan existence. Or more likely it’s a matter of degree: the double headed faith will always be there but if we decrease our reliance on its succour we will be better prepared to deal with the ravages of life.

Yes, suddenly I saw it clearly: most people deceive themselves with a pair of faiths: they believe in eternal memory (of people, things, deeds, nations) and in redressibility (of deeds, mistakes, sins, wrongs). Both are false faiths. In reality the opposite is true: everything will be forgotten and nothing will be redressed. The task of obtaining redress (by vengeance or by forgiveness) will be taken over by forgetting. No one will redress the wrongs that have been done, but all wrongs will be forgotten.

Milan Kundera



madness and glory

A wallflower sits and sweats and watches the dance, all the pretty girls, the well socialized having fun.  There’s a mountain the size of life itself between the chairs ringing the hall and the throbbing boards and hearts in the center.  And any puny will that climbs it and makes it to the happy center is indeed triumphant.

Watching the religiously convicted is similar.  Something huge separates the ordinary person from the convicted.  Of course, the ordinary are convicted too, by rationality and superior processes.  Is it two camps staring with unbelief – and maybe contempt – across an unnavigable void?

Believing is an effort of the imagination; knowing is to directly experience, says Ehrenreich in her book Dancing in the Streets.  The rational believer apprehends the deity backing up and advancing in a flux of faith, doubt and negotiation.  The ritual dancer entwines with the deity in a profound and intimate embrace.

Objectivists, rationalists, inculcators of Calvanistic dread, 20th century ideologues, scientists, free marketeers, fundamentalists, social engineers, are the rational believers.  And the knowing dancers are sufis and dervishes, ritual dancers, Hindu kavadi, ascetics, mortificators of the flesh, peyote takers, speakers of tongues, the voudou possessed and Koolaid drinkers.

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if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you

Author Terry Eagleton takes to task Ditchkins – his name for the two headed beast:  Hitchens and Dawkins, who have been churning out books in support of atheism and reason and challenging the idea of God.  Eagleton illuminates Christian faith from a left perspective which serves to balance out all of the crapola about God that you get over here in this center right nation.  He talks about the blood and radicalism and necessary death of faith, and leaves out the riches and mansions:  Darwin is a child with a silly addicting dream, he says.  Without equivocation he tells us that to love is to live and if you really love, people will want to kill you.  Without equivocation, that this is the central truth.

The whole article is worth reading; here it is.

Here is the excerpt –

Jesus hung out with whores and social outcasts, was remarkably casual about sex, disapproved of the family (the suburban Dawkins is a trifle queasy about this), urged us to be laid-back about property and possessions, warned his followers that they too would die violently, and insisted that the truth kills and divides as well as liberates. He also cursed self-righteous prigs and deeply alarmed the ruling class.

The Christian faith holds that those who are able to look on the crucifixion and live, to accept that the traumatic truth of human history is a tortured body, might just have a chance of new life – but only by virtue of an unimaginable transformation in our currently dire condition. This is known as the resurrection. Those who don’t see this dreadful image of a mutilated innocent as the truth of history are likely to be devotees of that bright-eyed superstition known as infinite human progress, for which Dawkins is a full-blooded apologist. Or they might be well-intentioned reformers or social democrats, which from a Christian standpoint simply isn’t radical enough.

The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you. Here, then, is your pie in the sky and opium of the people. It was, of course, Marx who coined that last phrase; but Marx, who in the same passage describes religion as the ‘heart of a heartless world, the soul of soulless conditions’, was rather more judicious and dialectical in his judgment on it than the lunging, flailing, mispunching Dawkins.

Lunging, Flailing, Mispunching, Terry Eagleton, The London Review of Books

resources:

author:  Terry Eagleton

essay: Lunging, Flailing, Mispunching,

journal: The London Review of Books