Thursday, November 13, 2008

So Much for Hope and Faith!

I’ve been puzzling through this “hope” business ever since the election, since “Hope and Change” were Obama’s main campaign themes. I figured L’il Peanut (explained at the end of my Dechaosification post) would sort it out eventually – L’il Peanut may be slow, but it’s pretty smart in its own way.

Well, the answer came to me quicker than expected. It’s not exactly what I had been anticipating, but it makes sense:

The goal of the individual, as outlined in my “Spirituality” post earlier this week, is to be consciously present at all times, to be grounded in the present moment. Such an individual will ultimately become led by Spirit, and the pre-existing way of living (worry, constant scheming, etc.) will fall away. As Scripture says, “Take no thought for the morrow.”(Matt. 6:34) For such an individual (which we all have the potential of becoming), “hope” is a superfluous concept.

“Hope” is mentalizing and emotionalizing about the future; in other words, “hope” is mental and emotional noise. There’s no need for it. Reality is always right now, not in some imagined “future.”

“Abandon all hope,” Laura’s teacher used to say.

Now it’s time to turn to “faith.”

I’ve been meaning to write a post about the pernicious aspects of “faith” for some time now. Faith is one of the cornerstones of Christian dogma, as stated in Hebrews 11:1 –
“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

“Not seen” really means “not experienced.” So “faith,” as the Bible defines it, means that you can believe in something without having any experiential basis for that belief. In practical terms, “faith” means that people will blindly accept whatever their authority figures tell them. “Faith” means there’s no possibility of critical thinking, which is a fancy way of saying, “figuring stuff out for yourself.” “Faith” means that people don’t express their true potential. “Faith” reduces people to blind stupidity.

America is divided into two camps: The reality-based community (“Global warming is a serious problem!”), and the faith-based community (“Jesus is coming soon!”). As events spiral out of control, it’s obvious that faith hasn’t served very well, unless annihilation is our goal.

It’s also obvious that the Enlightenment never took hold as deeply as once supposed. A large number (probably the majority) of Americans live lives of superstition, ignorance, and fear... and call this Faith.

So the obvious conclusion to be drawn from all this is: for the individual led by Spirit, “faith” is also a superfluous concept.

This brings us to the 13th Chapter of 1 Corinthians, one of the most powerful passages in the entire Bible. I remember reading this with tears pouring down my cheeks, I was so moved. (But not recently.) The chapter concludes with verse 13: “There are three things that remain – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love.”

It’s amazing -- but not surprising -- how that verse had stood unchallenged all these years. Love, how could anybody have any problem with love? But faith and hope? Both are unnecessary. And in the case of faith, downright destructive – not only to the planet, but to the possibility of living an authentic life.


This article keeps right on going, but once again the new day beckons. Before I leave, I just wanted to mention that living in the moment doesn’t mean not taking care of the future. We have the capability to project our imaginations into the future – it’s a critically important survival characteristic. In fact, America’s “la-la land” attitude towards the future will turn out to be a tragic failing of what passes for civilization in this country.

From the individual’s point of view, being grounded in the present moment means that thoughts – good thoughts, not just the trivial random noise -- will inevitably come. Act on them (“Grow food.” “Buy a bicycle.” “Build a solar collector.” On and on ad infinitum) and the future will take care of itself. The point is, there’s no need for hope or faith in this process.


Anonymous Jacques Conejo said...

Wow Gordon......... great stuff... If only "we the masses" had always been encouraged, nay required to evaluate such concepts - it'd be a different world. Yah?

You seem to walk a path unique. Thanks again for sharing your observations...

8:34 AM  
Anonymous Jacques Conejo said...

Also, today is a great day to be grateful. Specifically grateful, that the "faith-based" community don't seem to be regular readers of your blog. Think of all the vitriol you won't be subjected to.

So must not the wisdom of staying centered in "what is" include being centered in "what isn't"? Is there any way for a comprehensive observer like yourself to separate them?

8:49 AM  
Blogger Gordon Solberg said...

I'll get back to you on this one after I become enlightened -- at the rate I'm going, this will probably be fairly early next lifetime.

3:48 PM  

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