Little Philosophical Wandering on GREAT Topics of Human Nature

I’ve spent much of the past 15 years studying Christianity. Jesus is just all right with me. Though I was raised American Baptist and spent a few years as a “Born Again,” I don’t have much interest in Christianity per se. I was writing novels about people in the past who cared deeply about their faith. What I learned was that when it comes to God, people just can’t agree. In the very early days of non-Roman Catholic Christianity in the little country of Switzerland (where my ancestors were sorting out the way they wanted to pray) the non-Zwingli Following groups diverged immediately on dozens of points of doctrine.

That never changed. The differences that caused many of the Christian denominations to “schism” are sometimes as minor as whether they sing their hymns acapella or with an instrument. My own little town has, written on the surface, some of that story. The beautiful brick American Baptist Church is shuttered and for sale. The Southern Baptist Church is alive and well.

Considering how often Christian denominations split, the term “organized religion” is kind of an oxymoron.

After 67 years living and working on this planet, I don’t think it’s human nature to get along with others. I think there have always been certain types of people who gather followers — bullies (who inspire with fear), charismatic leaders (who inspire and inflame the imaginations of others), take-charge people who take on a lot of work so others don’t have to, and the stuck-in-the mud conservative who passionately hates change. Put one of each of these into a room to solve a problem, and there’s going to be at least one split. Once the split occurs, there are always forces to fan the fires — gossip is a major force, name-calling, dire predictions, all kinds of stuff we humans have developed to create animosity between people that might have been doing fine with each other.

Sometimes I look at our world and I think that it’s just been one story, us vs. them. The Amish call all non-Amish “English” even when, as in my case, my roots are exactly the same as theirs. When there is no concrete divisions, we make one. It’s easier to live in a world in which the divisions are clear. It is really difficult to regard the myriad diversity of life on Earth without making judgments and separating what we like from what we don’t like (often that’s just what we don’t understand). Then we create some kind of superficially logical reason for not liking or not understanding something because we don’t think “like” is a good enough reason for anything and not understanding implies we’re stupid. We might use our holy book to justify our ignorance and…

off we go…

5 thoughts on “Little Philosophical Wandering on GREAT Topics of Human Nature

  1. This resonates a lot with me, Martha. Although I’m not religious, I’ve studied the Reformation and the splits that produced, together with the intolerance and violence – all fuelled by the good book – beggars belief. I’m doing a Scottish Medieval and Early Modern history module next and boy, they were even worse up there. You’re right, of course, humans deal with differences and lack of understanding by pigeon-holing people. As you say, off we go…

  2. It is a wonder to me that since Australia was federated in 1901, we have not needed a bill to protect religious freedom, and now all of a sudden we apparently need one because the majority of people (including many of religious faith) voted to allow same sex marriage. Those people who think we need the bill are frightening, or stupid (but I soon will not be able to say that because that would vilify them, albeit they can in turn say that people like me will go to hell and mean it). It is inevitable that every one of us will disagree at some point in time with someone else.

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