2009-04-24

What it really means to be human . . . the challenge before us all

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by Neil Godfrey

Having quoted a passage I could relate strongly to from René Salm’s (The Myth of Nazareth) introduction, I have to follow up with his even better concluding paragraph:

When someone removes the idols from the temple, deep-seated resentment is likely to ensue. After all, mythology serves a purpose, and the Christian myth fabricated in late antiquity answers to basic human needs: the need to be watched over, protected, saved, loved — even the need to be immortal. The Christian faith, in its Pauline guise, has grown because ordinary people have sensed a profound affinity for its myths and have toiled untiringly, though misguidedly, on their behalf. It is to be hoped, however, that the human species is capable of taking thought, of looking squarely at the way things are, of removing myths and delusion, and of using the powers of reason that separate humanity from bestiality. In short, it is to be hoped that we are capable of living in a world which is not make-believe. That is what it really means to be human, and that is the challenge before us all. (p.308)

This reminds me of a lunch-time discussion with a work colleague. She told me her faith, and I reciprocated that I had no “faith” in that sense, but had come to prefer honesty to happiness, and that if being happy meant believing in a delusion then I would rather be honest. I prefer the pain of the honesty of facing things as they are, with all their unpredictability and unfairness, than the comfort of a make-believe.

She replied: That takes a very strong person.

I wish I had replied: No, it is in one’s genes. It is simply having the courage to accept one’s humanity. To be honest is all it takes.

But she was a work colleague and friend and all I felt I should say was something like: We are all where we are at, and that’s that. (Dr Seuss?)

Well, I actually said a bit of both.

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Neil Godfrey

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