I had an interesting conversation with a co worker today about religion. She's a very devote Christian. And being so, our conversation eventually meandered its way onto the topic of God and her faith, etc. Although the conversation was not about God or religion to begin with, it steered into that area when she began telling me she was in love with a particular man because he is very Christian, and has a PhD in theology, ad so on. In other words, she was in love with him because he was so smart, and how great of a philosopher and a thinker he is. That her love is based on his "intelligence" is something to keep in mind.
So, since she considered the love of her life to be such a 'great thinker," I asked a simple question ( or at least what I thought was a simple question, anyway):
How do you explain the fact that there are people who are convinced that you're "belief" in Christianity is the strongest proof of all that you are completely insane, because they feel that there isn't a single thing in you "religion" that makes any sense at all, if you just think about it?
Her answer was quite long, mind you, and went on and on about me dealing with the "struggles in my life," and "whatever question your are wrestling with in your life" and much of that sort of thing.
I then tried to explain that the only "question" I was "wrestling with in my life," and indeed perhaps the greatest struggle in my life, is simply the one I just asked you. I'm good with everything else. I mean, stuff is messed up all over, in every way, and maybe only getting worse; but maybe it's not as bad as I think, or maybe it's worse. But either way, there's not much I can do about all that anyway so.... what ev. I'm just trying to get an answer to my question is all - seriously.
Apparently this offended her and the conversation spun out of emotional control; not bad mind you, but more than I was used to.
Calm came back to the room when I realized that she was projecting on to me her own internal struggles. She assumed, in other words, that I must be wrestling with as many demons as she felt that she was. But I wasn't. I was just fascinated by how absolute people can be when they feel their beliefs are being threatened.
I have no doubt that, in the right settings, with the right friends, she has probably had many conversations about her belief in God where she had been willing to at least just once admit that there's times when she struggles with her "faith." But if she perceives that I am challenging her beliefs, she becomes defiant in the face of doubt, insisting that she is strong in her faith in God.
As the psychologist in Terminator 1 said after interviewing Arnold, it's totally brilliant, because its a story that doesn't require a shred of evidence for the person to believe it, so there is never any amount of evidence that can ever disprove it. Hence, the question I asked. But I digress.
She then proceeded to explain that God and religion is not something that could be understood in the mind, it could not be explained, it could only be applied, it can only be experienced. Of course there are contradictions, she said, "of course it doesn't necessarily all make perfect sense. The point is to use from different systems, anything that you need to get through stuff, to help you with whatever you're struggling with. You can't "think" about it and it be of any use, just like thinking about a doctor isn't anything like seeing doctor when you need to."
It was here I began to realize that her advice was a patchwork quilt of how she thought about, and indeed how she practiced, her idea of "religion;" by patching together pieces from everywhere, and creating whatever image in her mind arose. Which isn't really that different from what I do a lot of the time, I just don't call the image that arises in my mind "God." To me, it's just life.
In sum, she loved a guy because he was such a great thinker of religion. But when I asked her about how she could reconcile her own ideas with those who feel her ideas made no sense, she admitted that those ideas do not necessarily make sense. You couldn't "think" about it, in other words, you just had to let go and go with it.
Two weeks earlier, I had been having a conversation with her about people taking responsibility for their actions and mentioned that Herman Goring argued at Nuremberg, that he was not responsible for the genocide in any way. According to him, he didn't know about it at first, and when he did find out about it, it was impossible for him to do anything about it.
I told her I'm sure he was lying but, as a lawyer, does she have any responsibility to have to consider the possibility that he was telling the truth?
She insisted that he knew, and that if he didn't, then when he finally found out about it, he was guilty of not doing something to stop it. And I said, "what if it never occurred to him that he should necessarily have to think about it, explain its obvious contradictions, or even consider whether or not his "beliefs" were true or false, fact or fantasy?"
She replied, "well then he should've thought about it!"
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