Sunday, June 05, 2005

"Jesus Had a Really Bad Weekend for your Sins"

I want to recommend the hour of "This American Life" that I just heard. I took the title for this post from it, somewhat out of context and therefore incorrectly. It's from Julia Sweeney's segment of the show. I first heard her do "And God said 'Ha!'" on "This American Life," if I remember correctly, and her segment in the current show is in that vein. She details her own spiritual crisis, one not unfamiliar to anyone in the 20th century who starts asking questions about God and faith and evil, and especially the atonement theory (if I dared, I'd adopt that quote as my personal label for the atonement theory, which is probably why I used it here).

The show is "In Defense of Godlessness." Unfortunately, it won't be available on their website until next week, if you missed it on the radio. It features a truly excellent historical summary of religion in American life. The historian interviewed argues that the "Founding Fathers" had a truly radical idea, one that grew out of the religiously based wars of 16th century Europe and was based on John Locke's argument that the cure for such horrors was a secular-based government. This idea was so radical that the Constitution almost was not approved, because of Article 6 (no religious tests to hold public office), which critics recognized would permit Catholics, Jews, "Mohammedans," and even infidels, to hold public office. In the 19th century Protestant clergy decided the Civil War was God's punishment for not mentioning God as the source of our law in the Constitution, and they wanted the Preamble amended to reflect the 'right' language.

And you thought Pat Robertson and James Dobson were recent phenomena.

When it comes up on the website next week, listen to it. It's worth it. Even Julia Sweeney's religious crisis, painful as it is, is worth it. She considers her attitude faithlessness, finally; the conviction that God is not there, that no one is overseeing our lives here, that death is merely the end of the brain and other bodily organs. I see it as the beginning of faith, as the extreme end Kierkegaard proposed we might need to come to, in order to come to belief. The "dark interval," as Crossan calls it, that we need in order to learn to rely on God, not ourselves. The mystics and monks call it part of the package, in one form or another. But we can talk about that later. It's still another subject.

No comments:

Post a Comment