Saturday, March 13, 2010

Musings: A New Start

2010 - Musings are starting over in a whole new place... and are part of my creative thought process. A diary of ideas and thoughts that will help me to further explore my current projects. I have been going through years of writings, old poetry, short stories, papers from college... While returning to Graves' "The White Goddess", I love the following quote, have used it often - even on the pages of the InfraWarrior CD. It just gets all the more timely:

"We are now at the stage where the common people of Christendom, spurred on by their demagogues, have grown so proud that they are no longer content to be the hands and feet and trunk of the body politic, but demand to be the intellect as well - or, as much intellect as is needed to satisfy their simple appetites. As a result, all but a very few have discarded their religious idealism... and come to the private conclusion that money, though the root of all evil, is the sole practical means of expressing value or of determining social precedence; a morality of common honesty is not relevant either to love, war, business, or politics. Yet they feel guilty about their backsliding, send their children to Sunday school, maintain the churches and look with alarm to the east, where a younger and more fanatical faith threatens.

What ails Christianity today is that it is not a religion squarely based on a single myth; it is a complex of juridical decisions made under political pressure in an ancient lawsuit about religious rights between the adherent Mother-goddess who was once supreme in the West, and those of the usurping Father-god.

The propaganda services of the West perpetually announce that the only way out of our present troubles is a return to religion, but assume that religion ought not to be defined in any precise sense: that no good can come from publicizing either the contradictions between the main revealed religions and their mutually hostile sects, or the factual misstatements contained in their doctrines, or the shameful actions which they have all at one time or another, been used to cloak. What is really being urged is an improvement in national and international ethics, not everyone's sudden return to the beliefs of his childhood - which, if undertaken with true religious enthusiasm, would obviously lead to a renewal of religious wars.

Since all contemporary religions contradict one another, however politely, in their articles of faith, can any definition of the word religion be made that is practically relevant to the solution of the present political problems?

Cicero connected relegere, 'to read dully' - hence 'to pore upon, or study' divine lore. Some four and a half centuries later, Saint Augustine derived it from religare, 'to bind back' and supposed that it implied a pious obligation to obey divine law; and this is the sense in which religion has been understood ever since. Neither took into account the length of the first syllable of religio, or the alternative spelling relligio. Relligio can be formed only from the phrase rem legere, 'to choose or pick the right thing', and religion to the Greeks and Romans was not obedience to laws but a means of protecting the tribe against evil by active counter-measures of good. It was in the hands of magically-minded priesthood, whose duty was to suggest what action would please the gods on peculiarly auspicious or inauspicious occasions...

It must be explained that the word lex, 'law', began with a sense of a 'chosen word', or magical pronouncement, and that it was later given a false derivation from ligare. Law in Rome grew out of religion: occasional pronouncements developed proverbial force and became legal principles. But as soon as religion in its primitive sense is interpreted as social obligation and defined by tabulated laws, inspired magic goes, and what remains is theology, ecclesiastical ritual, and negatively ethical behavior. If, therefore, it is wished to avoid disharmony, dullness, and oppression in all social contexts, each problem must be regarded as unique, to be settled by right choice based on instinctive good principle, not be reference to a code or summary of precedents.

There seems to be no escape from our difficulties until the industrial system breaks down for some reason or another, and Nature reasserts herself with grass and trees among the ruins. But the longer her hour is postponed, and therefore the more exhausted by man's irreligious improvidence the natural resources of the soil and sea become, the less merciful will she be."- Robert Graves, 1948

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