Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Two questions regarding religion (and another)

1. Why do so many otherwise rational people, generally people who reject "traditional" religion because they just cannot bring themselves to believe such ridiculous claims or because they think it's all a control mechanism or they reject authoritarian structures, quickly buy into mass-marketed, slick re-presentations of Eastern thought, divorced of course from the ethical and historical content of that thought? Why is there a market—and, have no doubt, it's about the market—for The Secret and A New Earth, the first a repackaging of New Thought and the second an evisceration of Buddhism and Hinduism (and all their associated texts)? Why does anyone trust a German with a bad beardzlike Eckhart Tolle who changed his name to that of a late-medieval Christian mystic (Meister Eckhart) to bring them enlightenment? Is it because of his slick marketing, or his endorsement by Oprah? She's a not a good guide of literature; why would she be a good guide to things metaphysical?
If you want to read a lot of Eastern texts, I think you should. But you should read the real things and realize that people who have thought about spiritual matters for millennia—and weren't just in it for the money—whether Eastern or Western, didn't think it turned out that you necessarily end up wealthy and healthy and happy, even if you saw the truth or were a very good person. Remember, the Buddha's "reward" was to cease existing. And he achieved that by ceasing to care about anything in the world that he said was made up wholly of suffering. Religion and spirituality were not about making ourselves masters of the universe; that's called magic.
2. Why do so many contemporary evangelical Christians in their megachurches think that Jesus promised them wealth and happiness? Did they miss where he told them they would suffer for him and that their reward was only in heaven? Why do they, too, believe that if they only speak a "word of power" God will be required to make them happy? That, too is magic. Why do they apparently think that the Bible is really an endorsement of capitalism and consumption?
3. And why do these two phenomena come together in society as this time?
Rant mode:off


Tyler Hower said...

KT may have committed the best typo in a long time. I need to use "assending" in conversation more often.

Anonymous said...

I'm always good for typos.

Tyler Hower said...

I am, too! This is just a particularly good one, because of its coining of a delightful term.