Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Everything old is new again

Talked today at the open forum which meets every Sunday afternoon in the high school.  The "lunatic fringe" of the city congregates there, in addition to many sensible people.  The question period in such meetings is unfortunately monopolized to a great extent by the foolish ones, though not always.  Today one gentleman wanted to know when I thought the Lord would come again, while a young fellow spoke volubly on communion and ended by challenging me to admit that all religion is fantasy.  Between these two you have the story of the tragic state of religion in modern life.  One half of the world seems to believe that every poetic symbol with which religion must deal is an exact definition of a concrete or an historical fact; the other half, having learned this is not the case, can come to no other conclusion than that all religion is based upon fantasy.

Fundamentalists have at least one characteristic in common with most scientists.  Neither can understand that poetic and religious imagination has a way of arriving at truth by giving a clue to the total meaning of things without belief in any sense in an analytic description of detailed facts.  The fundamentalists insist that religion is science, and thus they prompt those who know that this is not true to declare that all religious truth is contrary to scientific fact.

How can an age which is so devoid of poetic imagination as ours be truly religious?

Reinhold Niebuhr. "1927." Leaves from the Notebook of a Tamed Cynic.  Louisville, Kentucky.  John Knox/Westminster Press.  p. 114.

The more things change, the more they remain the same.

There is nothing new under the sun.

And other truisms.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, but an atheist told me just yesterday that Christianity stopped in the 1st century. Niebuhr is a delusion.

    He was a fantastically good writer, wasn't he.