Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Beyond the Magic

I'm in the home stretch of the book, The Evolution of God by Robert Wright. While it's a long volume for a slow reader like me, I've learned a great deal. I haven't quoted from it as much as I thought I would -- many of its key points aren't neatly boiled down into short blurbs -- but several of its themes are bouncing around in my head and may come to light one of these days.

One thing that I contend Wright has done superbly is to look at the Abrahamic religious literature beyond their magical elements. If a person would allow themselves to read the Bible, for one example, without the notions of God and Jesus as supernatural forces, then it's far easier to see the evolution of one brand of human thought. (I realize that reading the Bible as such is tantamount to the suggestion that one watch the Wizard of Oz or Harry Potter and ignore the magical elements therein.)

With God/Jesus removed from the equation, it is far easier to understand why basic terminology and concepts changed from generation to generation by comparing what is being written with the overall geopolitical and historical realities of the various authors. It is far easier to theorize why the inclusion or exclusion of particular stories and allegories occurred when one also considers which sector of society or school of thought benefited the most from the changing narrative and/or interpretation.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, R. T.

    I hope all is well in your world.

    As for this post about the Bible without the "magic," I've come to see the Bible as a collection of writings by people across time and space who were trying to figure out who and what "God" is and how that all related to them.

    If they needed to be protected from their more powerful and violent neighbors, then God became a God of power and vengeance for them. If they were the violent ones themselves, then eventually they found that they needed a God of mercy and forgiveness.

    Jesus was a mystic with a deeply spiritual nature whose followers turned him into a sacrificial deity after his death in order to fit into the Jewish atonement rituals of the day.

    I could go on, but suffice it to say that the Bible has some lovely things in it, and some truly insightful things, but one must keep it in perspective. It is not the "inspired Word of God" I was raised to believe it was.

    What a relief.

    Thanks for letting me weigh in.

    H. K.


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