Man's psychotherapist through the ages


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Allgemeine Religionswissenschaft [science of religion] eliade, kitagawa

The religious enigma
What is religion Karl Menninger said religion has been mankind's psychotherapist through the ages
When Bertrand Russell declared that the roots of religion were in fear and fear alone, it struck many people as oh so profound, oh so clever. But on reflection, others were already musing on other sources for religious symbolism, religious emotions, the social and human context of religion. Karl Marx was on to something in his generalization "Religion is the cry of the oppressed creature. The soul of soulless conditions and the heart of a heartless world. Religion is the opiate of the masses." The American Eric Hoffer included even communists when he said: "Faith in a holy cause is to a considerable extent a substitute for the lost faith in ourselves." One thing we know, whether illness or health, whether insanity or perhaps the highest sanity, the prevalence of "religion" -- in one form or another -- is virtually universal. Lewis Hopfe declares: Wherever mankind is found there too religion resides. Occasionally religion is hard to find or pin down, but in the great metropolitan capitals and in the most primitive areas of the world, there are physical and cultural temples, pyramids, megaliths, and monuments that societies have raised at tremendous expense as an expression of their religion. Even when one explores the backwaters of time in prehistoric civilizations one finds altars, cave paintings, and special burials that point toward man's religious nature. Indeed there is no other phenomenon so pervasive, so consistent from society to society, as mankind's search for the gods.

Allgemeine Religionswissenschaft Anthropologists and others scientists studying religion have proposed literally innumerable hypotheses regarding the origins of the religious impulse in the human species. A religious leader in our own time, Rabbi Harold Kushner, remarked that "God is like a mirror. The mirror never changes but everybody who looks at it sees something different." How simple yet how true. Somehow it helps to be able to smile at ourselves. Modern man is no less affected T.S. Eliot says

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there are physical and cultural temples.] Though such evidence is subject to a wide range of interpretations." Philosopher Loyal Rue defines defines religion simply as "an integrated understanding of how things are (cosmology) and what things matter (morality). and derived all its manifestations from an original ancestor worship. Durkheim.Man's psychotherapist through the ages http://robtshepherd. Even when one explores the backwaters of time in prehistoric civilization [I would say 'culture'] one finds altars. but Homo religiosus. he argues. but for another reason than that which made it seem religious to Tennyson's contemporaries. the religious capacity manifests as "a sense of dependence. but in the great metropolitan capitals and in the most primitive areas of the world. with the bulk of its mass below the obligation. the original basis on which all religion has been elaborated." Nicholas Berdyaev explains religion The terror that haunted primitive man. and monuments that societies have raised at tremendous expense as an expression of their religion. religion is that which "gives meaning to the whole. J. among others) have zeroed in on the human subconscious. Occasionally religion is hard to find or pin down. It is not religious because of the quality of its faith. in Tylor's formulation. there too religion resides. as mankind's search for the gods. justly be called a religious poem. Hello Darkness my old friend I've come to talk with you again. There seem to have been rituals whereby values were preserved and the community related to a larger reality. But the reaching out is often almost too deep for words. remorse or repentance. prayer. moreover. Its faith is a poor thing. which. In Memoriam is a poem of despair. Lewis M. There were paintings and statues rich in symbolic significance. is a permanent endowment of a certain proportion of the individuals of any community. or possess answers which they do not have. Creel says that "as far back as we can trace human culture. megaliths. For Huston Smith. whether they wanted to be or not. Tylor believed that dreams and visions furnished the experiences from which man organized the concept of his own soul as separate from his body. especially that connected with totemism. Religion. Humans reach out (or in) to a Something beyond. on the other hand. ariving at animism or the belief in spirits. such as modes of burial and paintings on cave walls. [Creel's commentary is informed by John B. Religion in Prehistoric and Primitive Culture. who held that religion was whatever put one "in accord" with the universe. Scholars with no particular theological ax to grind (for example Freud. pyramids. The first humans. we find evidences of religious beliefs and practices. Indeed. Hauer has derived religion from mystic experience. Consulting anthropologists. Indeed there is no other phenomenon so pervasive. transcendental terror before the fathomless mystery of being and of (2) animal fear that reigns [in Nature. therefore (he says) is ultimately nothing more than society. this concept man then extended to the whole material universe. but because of the quality of its doubt. worship. and of possibility.html In Memoriam can. he saw in group ritual. it does seem to indicate clearly that humans as much as 100. delighted in the mystic metaphors of diverse religious heritages while savaging those who corrupted the metaphor while claiming its material truth. man's hidden realm of dream and myth and fantasy. There was belief in spirit powers and quite likely in survival of the dead.W. was the inescapable minimum and least common denominator of all religions. Erich Fromm defines religion as "any system of thought and action shared by a group which gives to the individual a frame of orientation and an object of devotion. clues abound. a Something which they hope will somehow complete their inadequacy. The evidence. and so many other functions of what we loosely categorize as religious. believed that religion was the outcome of crowd excitement.] 2 of 5 1/14/2009 11:03 PM . Noss. offers possibilities for making peace with the Earth. This belief. in their crudest religious urges. as a starting point to understanding man's impulses along these lines. Over against the unexciting daily routine which he regarded as typically pursued by the individual in solitude or in small groups. is clear with regard to Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal humans. and this need results in a thousand forms and manifestations of faith. of gratitude. I think." Connie Barlow Mircea Eliade says we humans are no Homo sapiens. and literally at the borderlines of what we deem rational or logical. his longing for help and protection is a mixture of (1) the holy. and this experi-ence communicates itself with such overpowering authority that it outranks other experiences and seeks expression through dogma and through rite. so consistent from society to society. found themselves spontaneously religious." Lawrence Kohlberg judged religion to be that which "affirms life and morality as related to a transcendent or infinite ground or sense of the whole. and special burials that point toward man's religious nature. Freud said our mind is an iceberg. Richard Creel writes of the antiquity and prevalence of the religious instinct. Hopfe declares that: Wherever mankind is found." Theologian James Gustafson puts forth a definition of religion that is as accessible to atheists as to theists and that. There seems to have been a mystic sense of kinship with nature and animals. cave paintings. Joseph Campbell.tripod. but its doubt is a very intense experience. Other anthropologists have made efforts: Ruth Benedict The most diverse origins of religion have been proposed: Herbert Spencer regarded the fundamental datum of religion as respect for the elder generations of ones family. his helplessness and desolation.000 years ago were seeking much more than survival and comfort and were sensitive to more than the pragmatic aspects of their experience. what better place to begin our search. In Gustafson's view. but of despair of a religious kind. and is present possibly even earlier. Mankind seems to have an unquenched "relational" capacity.

tripod. to the bone altars and funerary rites of Neanderthal man. That prays in his distress. in which the lover feels totally at one with his beloved. as 'the normal prototype of psychoses. the universal nucleus of every known high religion has been the and she soon comes to stand in the very place of God to her child. Freud interprets this as an extreme regression to a very early state. values.Man's psychotherapist through the ages http://robtshepherd. or ecstasy of some acutely sensitive prophet or seer.. Indeed. The high religions call themselves revealed religions and each of them tends to rest its validity. "The Divine Image" Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy 3 of 5 1/14/2009 11:03 PM . pinpointed the true source of religious sentiments in Rolland's description of a sensation of 'eternity. Abraham Maslow says "The very beginning. revelation.." Anthony Storrs writes: Freud compares this feeling with the height of being in love. if you are never solitary. and its right to exist on the codification and the communication of this original mystic experience of revelation from the lonely prophet to the mass of human beings in general. its function. peak-experiences) For mercy has a human heart Pity a human face And Love.' a feeling of something limitless. Freud describes it as: a first attempt at a religious consolation. Mercy.' Freud partially agrees with Rolland when he admits that the oceanic feeling and the sense of being at one with the universe may become connected with religious sentiments at a later stage. at least. personal illumination.. Wilson Religious belief is one of the universals of human behavior. Freud referred to the state of being in love as a kind of madness.. unbounded . Sounds like what Thackeray said "Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children. And Peace.html Edward O. Then every man. of every clime. Pity.. of being one with the external world as a whole. the human dress. (quoted by Matthew Alper) Alfred North Whitehead Religion is what the individual does with his own solitariness. 'oceanic' Freud rephrases the sensation as "a feeling of an indissoluble it were." {Religions. Freud. Prays to the human form divine -Love. Both being in love and the oceanic feeling are therefore illusions. the essence. Its rudiments go back. Granville Stanley Hall writes: The mother's face and voice are the first conscious objects as the infant soul unfolds. lonely. you are never religious. taking recognizable form in every society from hunter gatherer bands to socialist republics. responding to Romain Rolland. William Blake. as though it were another way of disclaiming the danger which the ego recognizes as threatening it from the outside world. that of the infant at the breast before he has learned to distinguish himself from the mother or the external world. the human form divine. the intrinsic core. Peace." [William Makepeace Thackeray] Carl Jung asserts that religious faith is loyalty to one's own personal experience.

across the distance. can be compared to magic fetters that draw tighter and tighter the more one struggles. a scientist who has not lost his awe of [what should it be called . To know that what is the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive form -. time and again. Catherine of Sienna desrcibed this state of grace as "pazzo d'amore" and "ebro d'amore" -.this knowledge." An irony observed by Tolstoy: The Christian churches are arrogance. is as good as dead. has given rise to religion. coupled though it be with fear. assurance. submissiveness. The secular Bible: why non-believers must take religion seriously. the great if. When asked which person left the most permanent impression on history. strips them off readily enough.html The greatest bequest anyone could leave her children would be the bequest of faith. on the other hand.from mothers most of all. The true Christianity of Jesus is humility. But when it asserts itself in dark ages man's clouded mind at once reaches out for the impossible. progress. Both sense the strangest connections between real. He to whom this emotion is a stranger. The true Christianity is the very opposite of the churches. tangible elements an interplay of sympathies and antipathies. Wells replied that (judging a person’s greatness by historical standards): By this test. The title catches my eye. a connection with a Person. even for the non-institutional seekers.Man's psychotherapist through the ages http://robtshepherd.G. (Man. or "God"?]. the tides and gravity. God and Magic) Herbert Benson There is not a civilization known to us that did not have faith in God or Gods. Superstition does no harm to the poet. drunk with love.the beyond. It is the source of all true art and science. What science can teach us: Some day. his mind and his eyes are closed. Even the most enlightened epoch is not proof against superstition. Wilson The predisposition to religious belief is the most complex and powerful force in the human mind and in all probability an ineradicable part of human nature. Thus a wonderfully rich world takes shape. H. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.] To think about: the Mystic Heart of Religion Europe's mystics and saints believed that true spirituality is relational. who carry the key of our souls in their bosoms. Albert Einstein The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. Perhaps of interest in this vein are the writings of Gerald Schroeder. In the same vein Barbara Ehrenreich (noted atheist) writes: 4 of 5 1/14/2009 11:03 PM . rigidity. and ultimately -. who can no longer pause to wonder and stand. rapt in awe. I see a book by an author named Jacques Berlingblau. and upon the course of future events. I am not a believer. penitence. death. . The insight into the mystery of life. because he can turn his half-delusions to advantage in a variety of ways. and then. "Science is not only compatible with spirituality. man will have discovered fire.crazed with . Jesus stands first. Goethe wrote Superstition is the poetry of life. [Pierre Teilhard de Chardin] As Carl Sagan said. I am a historian. but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. having put on these shackles of its free accord. and it imparts to the seeker fulfillment. Both invent imaginary beings.tripod. surrounded by an aura of fog. .joy. for a second time in the history of the world. No man can write a history of the human race without giving first and foremost place to the penniless teacher of Nazareth. (On human nature) Ivar Lissner All the civilizations of mankind that have existed have been rooted in religion and a quest for God. this feeling. it tries to exert power on the realm of spirits. is at the center of true religiousness. violence. Poetry. (quoted by Matthew Alper) Which may be part of the message of those who validate the religious impulse. after mastering the winds. Edward O. life. usurpation. we shall harness for God the energies of love. Christ is the most unique person of history. it is a profound source of spirituality. (paraphrase) Oliver Wendell Holmes The real religion of the world comes from women much more than from men . Superstition. the waves. [DerAberglaube ist die Poesie des Lebens.

Faith and Doubt are actually compatible with each other Paul Tillich Faith and doubt do not essentially contradict each other. Originally. one will not go far before falling into his arms. abortionists. l'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux. latently. In fact. Christ likes us to prefer truth to him because.tripod. it was not a program for persecuting gays. Or. sometimes I think it would be great if the United States were a "Christian nation. poor people. it is always present. before being Christ. is completely nontheistic. he is truth. I like the fierce old prophets of the Old Testament. of course." Woody Guthrie. which. Jesus Christ was no apologist for conservatism.html As a social activist I have come to know and respect many religious traditions and many religious people. Christians should not fear atheism Simone Weil [on why it is ok to turn aside from Christ in this instance]: One can never wrestle enough with God if one does so out of pure regard for the truth. If one turns aside from Christ to go toward the truth." assuming anyone could remember what Christianity originally meant. permanent and teachers of evolution. ~ Antoine de Saint Exupéry ~ site maintained by Bob Shepherd 5 of 5 1/14/2009 11:03 PM .Man's psychotherapist through the ages http://robtshepherd. and socialist revolutionary. as Hugh Blumenfeld's folk song goes. It was a program for the abolition of militarism and for the radical redistribution of wealth. On ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur. And I'm a great fan of that inveterate troublemaker. I sould point out. but. railing against the rich and the mighty. said some very similar things in his own music -repeatedly. This tension does not always reach the strength of a struggle. I admire the transcendent philosophy of Buddhism. Jesus Christ. but was in fact "a long-haired radical socialist Jew. Faith is the continuous tension between itself and the doubt within itself.