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Did Socrates say "Know Thyself", or was he misunderstood, as all are. Show Thyself is all we can do. The knowing is unknowable.  

I am filled with joy.  It can't be helped.  

Became a Farmer, Builder, Musician, Tank Commander, Librarian, Lawyer and Minister. I have failed at many things. And now retired.  Filled, just filled, with Joy. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Seamless science of religion; the Sin-Grace bridge

The deeper your search for truth, the more seamless it seems. As the light and the heat of the flame composes the fire, the transfixing truth is one thing for all its attributes.
The farther back in time we trace the human awakening, the more our religion and our science appear to be the same fire. Our notion of sin in pre-Galileo vessels was not confined to social condemnation, it was not in a thought-box entered one day out of the week, it was not neutered, or considered impractical for business. Private faith was tied to social duty. It still is.
Of course, there have always been false prophets, hypocritical preachers, and careless scientists. The Cheney of graft and war profiteering is paleolithic. The Bush of hypocrisy and fraud is burned into many of our texts -- it is actually the plot line of most of our stories and warning Gospels. The Rovian pretentions to statistics and authenticity are nothing new. Evil always acts under color of law and authority when possible. And this is where the idea of "sin" operates as the dragon at the margins, policing even a wrathful, wasteful, proud and envious god.
Pope Gregory (the Great) catalogued the Seven Deadly sins, which were put into theoretical and literary paces by Thomas Aquinas and Dante. One draws a bracing excitement from reciting the list: Pride, gluttony, sloth, lust, greed, envy and anger. For 15 centuries the Church decreed these to be sufficient to explain the misfortunes of mankind. For example, violence is derivative of anger, waste from gluttony, theft from greed, and all manner of tragedy from pride. None of these "sins" separate Man from God, as all of them are carefully attributed to the Gods -- in the Bible, the Popovul, the Olympiad, the Book of the Dead, the Book of Mormon. What is useful, of course, is the fact that "sin", unlike folly or crime, contains the spiritual hint of redemption.
Mohandas Gandhi was one of our first leaders to re-visit the list. His version of the seven deadliest sins: "Wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, politics without principle, commerce without morality, worship without sacrifice, selfishness without responsibility."
Ghandi clearly addressed the falling gap between "spiritual" and practical morality, once again placing sin into the scientifically valid tool kit. We have always needed a practical measure not only of acts but of attitudes. The mens rea is not just problemmatic for Believers (after-life gamblers). It is also a concern for specialists in all human realms -- legal, social sciences, corporate enterprises, individual responsibility. The sin which begins in the heart, and the hope of salvation, is universal.
What is keeping us from grace? Clearly stealing, coveting. But also polluting, withholding evidence, and becoming rich at the expense of the gullible. There is authenticity and scientific method behind the usages of Sin. The world can be "saved", in every sense, if we understood that the condemnation is not just "spiritually" appropriate. It is apparent that survival requires us to recognize the acts and attitudes which are separating us from grace.