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Sunday, July 2, 2017

Homo Religiosus Revisited

As your substitute pastor, I know this congregation did not expect to see me here again this Sunday --neither did I-- but your regular pastor has not yet returned. I will give further details at the close of my sermon, a sermon I had to come up with on short notice --reworked from 8 years ago.
                                            [Doodle added 1/2 hour ago] 

Homoreligiosus = Mankind the religious[from 50 year-old lecture notes]

The tendency to be religious is fundamentally panpsychic, a personification of the universe. I can't dismiss the idea that the universe itself is intelligent. It exists in time between parenthetical boundaries of being and nothingness, concept-totality and concept-zero, which also frame the human mind.

We receive the emergent reward, Life, but find it unsafe and we'd very much like to speak to someone about it. Between the maths of all and nothing we are left two conclusions, both unsatisfactory: life, as a product, is defective and, because it malfunctions at some very crucial moments, gives us the jumps.

Church offers, among other psychological and social comforts --such as venue for a generation of women who liked to sing in crazy vibrato voices-- a complaints window. One takes questions there. The window is round and located on the bottom.

If we turn a church over, answers float up to the glass --"yes", "no",  "ask again later"-- seemingly at random. This suggests the sphere of living worship and the ink-filled 8-Ball are novelties of similar construction. We are left to search beyond. When the starting point of one's search includes the whole universe, beyond is a tough proposition.  A study of languages  is helpful.

Beyond, unlike universal personification, is a concept imagined outside parenthesis. Parenthesis a word given by Greeks to the Romans, who in turn bequeathed it to us along with two related expressions: homosapiens* and ora pro nobis**. This keeps my theory of human religion in a flexible state. As today it is bendier than yesterday so shall it be more bendy tomorrow --and, if not intellectually safe, at least no less safe. In fact, you are welcome to try this at home with your complimentary 8-balls (which you will receive upon signature of the document at the exit).

Your regular pastor, Reverend Blackstool, will return as soon as you all sign a promissory  agreement to stop teasing him about his name. Go in peace.

*man the wise
**pray for us

24 comments:

  1. Somewhere betwen 'being' and 'nothingness' is an uncomfortable location to find oneself in. No wonder we are testy at times. Believing in something (religion, the universe, an all knowing all seeing God) gives us something to cling to while we very conveniently overlook the fact that these things are also nothingness (actually less than nothingness). I still think the entire universe is enclosed in a glass dome on some mad scientists fire place mantel and one day he is going to get tired of us and flush us all down his celestial toilet.

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    1. I like that theory, Delores! Who knows how many domed universes the mad scientist has flushed ahead of this one? I just hope all that glass has plugged his plumbing for a good long while.

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  2. An intriguing post, forsooth!

    "We receive the emergent reward, Life, but find it unsafe and we'd very much like to speak to someone about it." Perhaps to that which lives its life through us?

    I would suggest that we cannot avoid personalising the universe, particularly as our sense of the universe is an interpretation formed by our own minds. The limits of the universe are, therefore, the limits of our own minds.

    There is much that one might say about this post, but we are approaching a big house move, and time is short. However, I do have to say how much I loved your experiential comment about "a generation [there was only one?] of women who liked to sing in crazy vibrato voices." Ah, that takes me back many a year.

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    1. Thanks, Tom. I still like how Mevlana Rumi considered the universe his "beloved companion". It seems a pleasant way to personalize it all. Hope your house move goes smoothly.

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  3. For myself, for the past 45 years I've considered myself in the phylum Homo Ludens. It's worked for me, kept me sane in some insane situations.

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    1. Certainly Play is essential to developing stability and consciousness, Mike (unless H. Ludens means Man-the-coughdrop). Writing goofy essays helps me through, so I must be one too.

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    2. Hah! Hadn't thought of or seen Ludens cough drops in years. Still around? Licorice flavor, something like that?

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    3. Mike, just had to look it up: "Luden's is a brand of throat lozenge, currently manufactured and sold in the USA by Prestige Brands. Their headquarters are in Tarrytown, NY." I remember licorice but now they've got wild honey and a few other flavors.

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  4. With man being a pack animal it is natural for people to gravitate toward a communal place like a church for instance. Perhaps that is why they are willing to put up with the vibrato voices and restrictive clothing once a week.

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    1. Agreed, Emma. Although not a church-going man myself, I do remember the sense of unity I found there as a child, and as a teenager. One sometimes gets yanked out of that schedule and set to other tasks, but I've never ruled out a return.

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  5. Church can also offer a hiding place-behind hymnals. That is an apt place for my never in tune voice and the brain that never learned to read music. The ears work fine however and appreciate when it is done well. And indeed, pray for us-all of us!

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    1. Tom, I suffer the same affliction of atonality. If we ever sang "Rock of Ages" together we'd doubtless get a few rocks thrown our way.

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  6. How I enjoy your musings, Geo.

    And I have to admit that I snickered at the Reverend's name :) If church had been this entertaining I might have kept attending.

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    1. O_Jenny, from following your adventures I've concluded your understanding of diverse cultures and calm inquiry into existence couldn't be measurably improved by church. Now don't tell Rev. Blackstool I said that.

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  7. You have a fascinating mind, Geo:)
    I really enjoyed this post.

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  9. Hi Geo. I appreciate your magic 8-ball offer although I have one at home handed down through the generations and I take it everywhere. Questions often are raised for which experience and intuition require a third opinion and I find it comforting to have such a resource at hand.

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    1. You know, Chicken, I don't think magic 8-balls ever wear out. That in itself is an enigma. Great to hear from you!

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  10. So, is religion the mystery or is it the answer to the mystery? I enjoy the former. When people start creeping towards the latter, I get nervous.

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    1. Its either the mystery wrapped up in the enigma or the other way around, Squid. Far as I can tell, we aint seen the whole elephant yet.

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  11. What a thought-provoking post, dude. Unfortunately, if there were a cosmic complaint window, I'm afraid all we'd find there is a mirror.

    Sorry. I would find it very difficult to keep a straight face if someone introduced himself as Reverend Blackstool. Reminds me a little of a Vietnamese fella I met at a VFW meeting. He has lived here for many years, and is Americanized through and through. So much so, he seemed to take great delight in grinning at me and saying, "Hi! I'm Hung." (That's what it sounded like, anyway, and he darned well KNEW it!)

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    1. Indeed, Susan, church is also a vehicle of reflection. Love your anecdote. One of my sons is raising a family and both grampas have their backs --and have been friends for 13 years. His name is Hung also. Our grandboys call him ông nội (own gwy) and me, grampa. Even though my daughter-in-law insisted they meant the same thing, Hung told me, "It means Old Man". I think they're both right.

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