Wednesday, July 17, 2013

We Don't Need Would-Be-Deep Theologians Telling Us What We Need!

I only use the word "we" in the headline to make fun of all the articles with "we" in the headline which purport to tell entire civilizations how they feel. It may be that there are such essays written these days by people other than clergypeople and theologians, I don't know. I just know that more often than now and then a reverend or priest or rabbi or Professor of Theology, or sometimes more than one of the above united in one person, gets depressed, and projects his mood upon millions. "Why do we feel so empty inside?" one of them may ask. What you mean, "we," Kimosabe? I don't feel empty inside at the moment. I'm not completely unfamiliar with the feeling, but at the moment, I feel alright. "People don't seem to trust religion anymore." Well, good! Sounds like maybe they're recovering from religion, or potentially about to, or never suffered from it to begin with. Religion hasn't been at the cutting edge of human thought for thousands of years. (Yes, I know that in Medieval Christendom, all scientists were Christians, or pretended to be in order to be allowed to be scientists. That was a forced unity of science and religion -- worse, actually: a forced unity of science and one religion -- which is very convenient for the nincompoops today who insist that there is no conflict between science and religion, and was very bad for science at the time.) Perhaps what really feels particularly empty inside at the moment is the house of worship where the depressed clergyperson-author is attempting to make a living. I feel for someone who entered a profession which not long ago seemed like a completely reliable way of making a living, and now, all of a sudden, does not. I feel for the farmers who used to make a reliable living growing tobacco, and now, all of a sudden, cannot. I feel for them, but I still think they should switch to other crops.

In the 19th century in the US, religion -- well, Christianity -- well, evangelical Protestantism -- boomed. Pastors proclaimed that what "we" needed was "old time religion." I'm not sure how accurate at the time the adjective "old" was to describe what they were offering, but old-time religion was what it was called, and it was what the pastors were offering, and it was a booming industry. These days, "old time religion" is offered mostly on the political right wing. In the politically-progressive publications where these depressed men and women of God are going on and on about what "we" need, very little could be less popular than old-time religion. And so these depressed theologians insist that we need "new ways" into the same old religious stuff. (Sometimes by going along with the nuclear option of denying that what they offer is religious at all, but the dreaded SBNR.) These are the clearest-imaginable cases of projection: it is they who need new ways to attract people to their congregations. I'm really not so upset with them. They're trying to save their jobs. Trying to sell their tobacco, as it were. Yeah, well, I quit smoking and I think others should too. The depressed theologians need to adapt and change -- and not by trying to re-invent their millennia-old wheels.

No comments:

Post a Comment