What We See

Sunday, May 6th, 2007

Joshua at Thoughts from Kansas writes a little about Drew Ryan’s comment on the Mormon religion. (follow links back at the original)

Drew Ryun, Jim Ryun’s baby boy and former Evangelical Outreach director for the RNC, thinks Mormonism is weird. He defends that claim by encouraging people bothered by that statement to read up on Mormon theology. . . .

. . .

It’s my opinion that any religion looks weird to outsiders. I think it’s problematic to suggest that weirdness only belongs to others, or that it is an automatic strike against an idea.

Praying towards Mecca 5 times a day is a little weird, so is washing your hands and feet each time. I don’t know that Joseph Smith’s story about Moroni, the Golden Plates, Urim and Thumim is that much weirder than Mohammed’s revelation from Gabriel, or Moses and the Burning Bush. Buddha’s chance at nirvana is pretty weird, too, as is much of the Mahabharata.

Orthodox Christian theology can seem very strange to an outsider. It argues that sin entered the world because Adam and Eve – two perfect beings created by a perfect, omniscient and omnipotent God – ate a fruit. Orthodox Christianity further holds that that sin passes down to all human beings without exception. Actually, there was one exception, Mary, on whom God sired a child, a child both separate from and part of the father. Orthodox Christianity then goes on to argue that the only way an omniscient and omnipotent deity could purge the sin derived from eating a fruit was by allowing, perhaps even orchestrating and causing, the son to be charged, convicted and killed in an agonizing manner, after which the body was physically transported to heaven, after which a vision of it appears to various people, mostly in rural settings or on grilled foodstuffs.

The narratives that shape a religion are important. They are all odd. I remember the game of saying a word repeatedly until it becomes meaningless, just a series of ambiguous sounds. Tiger, tiger, tiger, tigger et cetera. A man ascends into the heavens on a particular day–but only way back when. The closer the miraculous in time, the events become even stranger because the deep past can indeed mystify. The more distant the story in the past or the future, the more it exists in an envelope of mythology; the nearer, the more it corresponds to the rules of observed law. I like those rules; I like to think about the reality of the number and its mysterious world.

Can religion be religion only as a set of metaphors or interesting mythologies?


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