Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Not My Words Wednesday

An excerpt from A Distant View of Everything by Alexander McCall Smith. This book is the latest in the Isabel Dalhousie series. More back story/explication I will spare you, other than to say:

This I believe...

“ Jamie was interested. And where does religion come into it? Are Protestant countries inherently less corrupt?

No, she said. I don’t think it is that simple. The issue, I suppose, is whether a culture stresses telling the truth. That’s the real point. It’s not religion. She paused, thinking through the implication of what she was saying almost as she said it. She was not unsympathetic to religious belief - we needed the spiritual, she felt - but a tradition of obfuscation and dependence on ritual did not encourage individual soul-searching. Christianity had unfortunately taken wrong turnings, she felt, at various points in its history. For a time, at least, a lovely message of love and redemption had become one of threats, fear and institutional self-preservation - almost to the extent of being swallowed up by all of these.

It’s perfectly possible to accept the tenets of a religion and still be honest, she continued. It depends on whether the religion is compatible with honesty. Some aren’t.

Why?

Because they ask you to believe in things that are patently impossible. And that’s the same as asking people to believe in lies, to say that lies don’t matter.

Jamie wondered whether all religions might not have a lie at their very heart - some article of faith that simply beggared belief.

Isabel hesitated. Was a belief in God that central, impossible kernel? She did not want to say yes, because that left so little. And she felt that there was something there - some force, some principle, that lay beyond our understanding but that we sensed and that, crucially, we needed. The identity one gave to that did not matter too much, although the clutter was downright poisonous, insisting that there was only one way of recognizing the divine, that all other views of it were simply wrong."