The Schizophrenia of Christianity At


The Schizophrenia of Christianity

At some point in the recent past T.S. O'Rama posted a link to an article about the writer/philosopher Sayyid Qtab--said to be the inspiration for the present gaggle of terrorists. On the plane home I read that article and it seemed to me that Qtab had at least one very good point--one that I have often wondered about and pondered without any real success at unraveling the conundrum. Its seems that Christianity is very conflicted about what interaction one should have with the world. "Be in the world, not of it."

To give you an example of what I mean--I'm always surprised when I think about those most devout of Jews, the Chassidim, and the fact that a great many of them have no problem with working in the diamond industry and making scads of money. I'm sure that there are some very good Christians who also have no problem with it, but often the making of money seems to run counter to the spirit of Christianity. It is often difficult to think of someone who is wealthy and saintly, without having donated their way into poverty and then living among the poor and needy.

Particularly relevant to this discussion is the peculiar, painful, sometimes abstrusely argued and tortured teachings on sexuality. I will not argue their correctness, as a matter of obedience I accept them. But I wonder, the God who revealed his covenant to the Jews is the same God who gave us Jesus. Why is it that among the Orthodox Jews we do not hear of such complicated, involved, and complex doctrines. In the third major religion concubinage and multiple marriages were perfectly acceptable up until the middle of the twentieth century or so, and yet many of these men were practicing their faith (one assumes) devoutly. Solomon had some huge number of wives, and we hear not one whisper of disapproval of this blatant sexual expression.

So, why is Christianity so conflicted about it. Yes, we claim to teach that the gift of sexuality is good, and yet. . . do not the Orthodox Jews do likewise without all of the additional ornaments, rules and measures. It seems that while we dumped the vast majority of the law, we took upon ourselves some huge new measure of it.

Just a problem, a thought, a comparison. I do find that there is much about Christianity that is at least paradoxical, and sometime downright problematic. And I do not exclude the teachers of my own order who constantly dwell upon the goodness of created things and then tell you to have little or nothing to do with them.

Is Qtab right? Is Christianity schizophrenic? If so, how do we bring the mind, spirit, and body back into one beautiful confluence? If not, how do we ease over these bumps in the road and how can we make our own system of living more coherent, more clearly integrated, more fundamental to the paths we tread. If we wish to battle the radical factions of Islam, as the reporter rightly noted, it will have to be on the battlefield of ideas first. If Qtab launched the first salvo, how do we respond to it? What are the apologetics for the apparent rift we place between mind and body. Even if none exists, too many live as though faith can be carefully stored away and not lived. Obviously not the way things should be.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on March 30, 2003 4:13 PM.

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