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Talking About Religion

Religion should only be discussed when it is productive to do so. Some tips when speaking about religion with other people:

Don’t bring out your deepest ideas to casual believers (those who can’t articulate their beliefs in a satisfying manner), casual dismissers (who view all of metaphysics as a distraction from the reality of science and analytic philosophy) or excessive proselytizers (who speak far too confidently of their own enlightenment). Religion and mysticism are fields filled with squirrely thoughts and squirming serpents. Because they offer alternative ways of knowledge that circumvent the laws of mechanical and material reality, they tend to attract wishful thinking and a mode of thought that my friend Jackson Blau has succinctly summed up as ‘all is all’.

The necessity of both good and evil in the world does not absolve the duty of the good to fight against the evil. The existence of God in no way absolves individuals of their burdens, choices and willpower. The world, or the Christian fallen world, is not a wonderland once you embrace Jesus. Becoming human is to become a walking wound, in so many ways. I consider Christianity to be the phenomenological study of wounds. The symbols of Christianity, and the ethos of the Gospels, compose a philosophy of suffering. Accordingly, Christianity, as a philosophy that seeks to defeat death, based on the crucifixion of God in His own creation, is an impossibly complex paradox.

The study of paradox risks generating inert people who do not practice their own will, or who accept paradox as a bedrock of static comfort. Instead, paradoxes are simply walls, and every wall must be surpassed in the spirit of the good, the true and the beautiful. I firmly believe that science, art and theology are branches of the same tree, but that theology is far more aligned to art, and mimics science only in its systemic structure. A science of the spirit does not exist, and hence modern man finds it all too easy to dismiss spirit entirely.

What, then, of our Christian nation? It is Christian only in the sense of a uniting cultural meme. But in no way does America or any nation approach even the foot of the throne of cosmic and psychedelic horrors that are the seraphim, the nature of mechanical or ‘serpentine’ knowledge, the complete reversal of hierarchy (the last shall be first) or the belief in an eschaton. America, and the West in general, is defined by its denial of time, its denial of finitude, a fantasy that the growth of today is permanent and we will be the best and strongest forever.