martes, 9 de junio de 2015

The transcendent aspects of religion have little meaning for most educated Westerners today.

Conciliation with Liberal Modernity is Not Possible

by James Kalb

The transcendent aspects of religion have little meaning for most educated Westerners today. They may consider religion worthy of respect or at least toleration when it relates to practical matters like willingness to help others and accept them as they are. Otherwise, it’s “fundamentalist”—strange, irrational, dangerous, oppressive, and very likely fraudulent. So when the issue comes up, they want doctrine to be subordinated to social and personal concerns or else abandoned, at least as a practical matter.

The reasons they give vary somewhat. Some think of religion as basically a way of talking about this world from a poetic or ideal perspective. Others intend to accept something like traditional doctrine, but interpret it in a way that focuses on human things understood from the simplest this-worldly point of view. Love, for example, becomes identified with accepting and celebrating people just as they are, and supporting them in whatever goals they have that seem to fit into a general system of mutual toleration and support. That is why it seems obvious to many people that if Jesus appeared on TV today he would come out in favor of “gay marriage.”

Very often the two tendencies blend, so that it’s unclear how far someone views his religion as more than a collection of inspirational stories and rituals to which he is attached. If the situation became too clear the stories and rituals might become less inspirational, so people who at bottom are committed to a wholly this-worldly perspective typically leave the question unresolved. They talk about God, but if you ask them what they mean they obfuscate and change the subject. They say that you haven’t made your question clear, that Christianity is more than a list of propositions, that there are many kinds of truth, or whatever.


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