Thursday, April 13, 2017

A quick thought

I am marking final exams (well, actually those of you reading this post will note that I am procrastinating). Something a student said in the course of answering a particular question struck me as profound. That is, the student noted that religion prior to modernity was experiential and today is literal. That is, prior to the 'privileging' of doubt, religion was an experience, or rather an intrinsic part of the holistic experience of life. With the growth of literacy as part and parcel of modernity, religion became something one thought about and wrote about and talked about. The student said 'literal' however, not 'literate'. I don't know if this was a considered and deliberate word choice. But 'literal' is a more profound comment than that indicated by 'literate'.  We, today, do live in a literal world. This era is the age of seeing only the material. Where some Protestant Christians read the Bible 'literally', the semi-atheist majority here in the West read life literally. Life is about physicality: comfort, pleasure, happiness, indeed a world where pleasure and happiness are equivalent, and a horror of pain in any degree. This explains perhaps why 'assisted dying' is the new next best thing. The old Christian, Jewish and Muslim ideal of the sanctity of suffering is now seen as a form of madness, inexplicable to the literal mind. Externalized belief served to tear faith from its internal moorings and set it adrift to float with other aspects of thought such as science or pleasure or psychological state... all the components of the organic machines formerly called humans.

Well, back to marking.


Maybe I will take my dog for a walk.

Then do some more marking.

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