Theology from the Feeling Brain
Notice especially, that Sin is “Separation from other people.
In our sin we distance ourselves from others. We put ourselves at the center of many relationships, exploiting others for our own advantage. Instead of loving people and using things, we love things and use people.”
Why do we do that? Because we have cultivated the Rational Brain and minimized the Feeling Brain, to the point where we have no sense of community anymore – not only in America, but in all cultures that have become ‘Americanized’. Sociologists have noted this fact, and seen the unfortunate consequences. In today’s culture, it’s every man for himself. In Washington, they are debating right now, whether or not to allocate a few bucks for health care for poor children. Their Rational Brain hates to do anything for the less fortunate.
Suchocki, using the work of theologians and scientists, argues that violence is evolutionarily engrained into humanity, and humanity's violent bent is foundational for sin. We preachers hold on to the Biblical God, at least in part, because we have to. The Biblical God is always assumed to be of this Physical World. I want to get him back into the Spiritual world, where he belongs. I want to abandon the Biblical God and move on to something entirely new.
“Behold, I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19
I know in my soul that Karen Armstrong is on the right track, but she has only pointed the way. She hasn’t marked it out.
A History of God: The 4000-yr Quest of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam by Karen Armstrong – 1993 – Ballantine, NYC
This is a very scholarly book, described as The New York Times Bestseller. I would never in this world have guessed that this book would be a ‘bestseller’.
Karen Armstrong is a remarkable person. The blurbs on the back do not exaggerate.
From P397 – “When religious ideas have lost their validity, they have usually faded away painlessly: if the human idea of God no longer works for us in the empirical age, it will be discarded. Yet in the past, people have always created new symbols to act as a focus for spirituality. Human beings have always created a faith for themselves, to cultivate their sense of the wonder and ineffable significance of life. The aimlessness, alienation, anomie, and violence that characterize so much of modern life seem to indicate that now that they are not deliberately creating a faith in ‘God’ or in anything else, many people are falling into despair.
In the United States, we have seen that 99% of the population claim to believe in God, yet the presence of fundamentalism, apocalypticism, and ‘instant’ charismatic forms of religiosity in America is not reassuring. The escalating crime rate, drug addiction, and the revival of the death penalty are not signs of a spiritually healthy society. In Europe there is a growing blankness where God once existed in the human consciousness.”
[We have descended a little further into the depths since 1993.]
She closes with this thought: “Human beings cannot endure emptiness, and desolation, they will fill the vacuum by creating a new focus of meaning. The idols of fundamentalism are not a good substitute for God; if we are to create a vibrant new faith for the 21st Century, we should perhaps ponder the history of God for some lessons and warnings.”
Amazon – Editorial Reviews – A History of God
From Publishers Weekly
This searching, profound comparative history of the three major monotheistic faiths fearlessly illuminates the sociopolitical ground in which religious ideas take root, blossom and mutate. Armstrong, a British broadcaster, commentator on religious affairs, and former Roman Catholic nun, argues that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam each developed the idea of a personal God, which has helped believers to mature as full human beings. Yet Armstrong also acknowledges that the idea of a personal God can be dangerous, encouraging us to judge, condemn and marginalize others. Recognizing this, each of the three monotheisms, in their different ways, developed a mystical tradition grounded in a realization that our human idea of God is merely a symbol of an ineffable reality. To Armstrong, modern, aggressively righteous fundamentalists of all three faiths represent "a retreat from God." She views as inevitable a move away from the idea of a personal God who behaves like a larger version of ourselves, and welcomes the grouping of believers toward a notion of God that "works for us in the empirical age." 25,000 first printing; BOMC alternate.
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