Monday, July 19, 2010

Concrete Blockhead

I have been somewhat lax in pursuing the central goals of this project. This statement might be counter-intuitive given the extended length of some of my most recent posts. The verbosity I have been indulging lately has been motivated in large part by the punctuated nature of specific current events. One set in particular, the spate of recent deaths, has continued unabated. Yesterday another friend of mine died.

I have been lax in pursuing the central purpose of this blog project because I have been examining the stuff of psychology and other more modern pathways to understanding of the human condition. I trust reasoned approaches to the discomfort and emotional pain associated with the death of someone I care about. I can holistically transition to acceptance without ignoring aspects of my personality because they might displease some imaginary superfriend. I can view the painful feelings I encounter as precious proof of humanity rather than hints that a god wants me to suffer or has ignored my pleas for emotional comfort. By being solidly human I know that there is the potential for (my regular readers can fill in the rest of this sentence without pause) love.

The purpose of this project is to reach back into the mechanisms used in religious context and move what is useful into a non-religious context. In other words I should be spending more time stealing what might work and re-shaping it as new. I need to keep the theological chop-shop open.

The reasons for wanting to take from religious tradition are numerous, but I tend to return to the same anecdotes when describing them. When the current Abrahamic theism was ascendant many aspects of pagan cultures were abandoned. Amongst these was the recipe for concrete.

The many castles and fortresses of post roman Europe exist mostly as ruins. These structures were needed to enforce the Christianity that would become the Christianity we know today. Wherever there was a population that needed to be enlightened a fortress arose.

The post-roman fortresses of Europe were big piles of rock. Some existed in the shadow of great roman structures (like the aqueducts) which would eventually outlast them. Quickly the natural forces that scatter piles of rock reduced the medieval fortresses of Europe into scattered piles of rock.

I know there are gaps in this history through which two could pass abreast. There are the instances where the fortresses were actually attacked and destroyed. There were fires and other catastrophic failures. The list of what one can leave out of a thousand-year-plus history in just a few short paragraphs could fill volumes.

The point is that they concrete could have made a big difference in medieval Europe and the medieval Europeans did not have concrete. The reason they did not have it was that they did not steal it from the Romans when they destroyed that civilization.

We need to make sure we do not make a concrete mistake while creating a future without religion. Avoiding a concrete mistake is one of the primary purposes of this blog.

I want to avoid alluding to the notion that something is worthwhile because it is a religious tradition. There is a tremendous amount of crap in current religious tradition, and most of it should be discarded. It is, in fact, the overload of crap which is a major motivator for the discarding of religion altogether.

Every time someone in a community can stand up and say something like: “My name is AOA. I’m an Atheist, and I did not eat any babies today.” People feel safer about having us as neighbors. There are challenges in simply living as an open Atheist in today’s world. Panning for potential concrete ideas in the sewage of religiosity is too often a disheartening exercise in futility. Luckily not everyone has to do it. As long as a dedicated few –like AOA- are willing to conduct this effort, and report their findings, then we should get all we can use.

I'm AOA and I need to dust off my hip waders.


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