The Sensible Religiosity of the Masses by Bruce Bennett

An article on the eve of Christmas Eve by Tim Montgomerie (“Western Elites Would Do Well to Understand the Masses’ Religiosity,” The Australian, December 23, 2016, p. 8), he points out that one of the mistakes made by Hillary Clinton was to assume that Christians would reject Donald Trump. But Trump promised Christians judges who would oppose abortion rights and uphold religious freedom.

Montgomerie goes on to say that journalists, primarily non-religious, have little knowledge about religion and tend to be dismissive of it. Perhaps they should all read a little booklet by psychologist Ronald Conway, On the Need for Religion in a Secular Society (1989).
Conway argues that religion, especially Christianity, is not about social work and worldly behaviour. Religion is about attitudes towards God and the divine, and how man should live in the light of such questions.

Religion is necessary, even in a secular society because it essentially puts us in the right perspective about our role in the universe:
All religions worthy of the name not only teach a timeless spiritual revelation in Scriptures, in parable and social doctrine, but also seek to enlarge the consciousness of their adherents and by such means lead them toward a higher life. Our epoch has become rotten with intellectual pride and the blind worship of the ego, besides which our petty business knaveries and fleshly lapses are of far less importance.

But this same perishable ego is full of apprehensions about peer-group acceptance and the fear of death and decay. It is full of dread about eventually ceasing to be. An unwitting intensification of this ancient primitive dread came when René Descartes penned his notorious aphorism. “Cogito ergo sum – I think, therefore I am.” The truth is actually the reverse of this. Rather should we say – “I am, therefore I think.” Thus the intellect and its ingenious egoistic preoccupations are put into their proper place and perspective in universal consciousness.

Far from being ultimately driven by guilt as such, we are basically quickened by fears about our own mortality and hence we still seek to deny or forestall death as strenuously as our Victorian forefathers grappled with sex. We build feverishly against the dying of the light. From the time of the medieval cathedrals to the coming of television and the computer, we have turned Western life into such a magnificent and often productive denial of our own mortality that both ordinary contentment and the religious capacity for awe and adoration have all but perished in that endeavour…”

“Of course, even in the world of social works and mundane structures religion is sorely needed. The recurrent sense that we are never the sole authors of our best endeavours helpfully moderates our arrogance and tempers conflict and competitiveness with patience and cooperation. The awareness that we are always in the presence of an eternal Witness provides a wonderful rudder for our daily voyagings. It prompts even magnates and parliaments to recall that egoistic ingenuity alone cannot redeem paradoxes of our limited human nature.

The way of knowledge in particular has always taught that the more deeply the human creature attains to self-knowledge, the closer he or she is to the knowledge of God. It has also taught, as modern physics has discovered, that the solid, substantial world we cling to as the sole reality is only one of many actual or possible higher dimensions.”

The metaphysical humbleness produced by religious faith, is something that the ordinary people understand in their hearts, but it has been lost by the chattering class and intellectuals. But sometimes, as in the 2016 US election, they are taught a lesson in reality 101.



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Wednesday, 24 July 2024

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