Has Anything Really Changed
By: Robert D Brinsmead
How would games and sport function or have appeal to humans unless it created sides or teams to be on. The first thing I remember about beginning at High School is that were divided into Houses with a name (I belonged to the Banks House) so that we could have contests and compete with the other 2 or 3 Houses. You did not choose your House – you were just told what House you would belong to. A bit like religions. People don’t generally choose what religion they belong to. They are born into it, and it is their identity for life. They don’t change religions any more than we at School could change from one House to another. Whether certain nations are Christian or Muslim – or even what sect within the religion – is for most of mankind just an accident of history – in the case of more primitive cultures, what missionaries arrived first, etc.
You could say it’s like talking about some people’s view of God (or their concept of the highest Good) verses other views of God. Of course this is not talking about the God who IS, but about the images (imaginations) of God that this group or that group makes. This process is forbidden in the second Commandment, but we still go on doing it. Using human imagination, we make an image of God, and when we worship that god, we are worshipping the projection of the human self. That is where all those OT stories come from – some of the worst features of humanity are projected on to God. It is not possible that our image or imagination of God is going to rise higher than what humanity has become. So these brutal stories of God’s violence (more than 600 in the OT) don’t tell us anything about God, but they do tell us about those who gave us these stories.
The indigenous people of New Guinea actually believed that they alone were the only truly human tribe on earth. So they ate anyone who did not belong to their tribe. Unless we come to see that all of mankind is really one, we will never come to treat all human beings as brothers. That tribe needed to dehumanize other people before they could eat them. We have to image that people are not one of us before we can despise them.
Before Jesus, the OT enjoined Israel to hate their enemies. How could they go and slaughter them, plunder their property and think that God commanded them to do this without showing any pity, unless they first hated them? You can’t do this sort of stuff to people you love. With Jesus, his teaching to love our enemies meant that we should no longer divide people between insiders and outsiders. So the poem on the genius of love, “Love and I had the wit to win; we drew a circle and took him in.” The function of religion is to draw lines to keep some people out. So Marty: “The committed Christians are not civil and the civil Christians are not committed.”