left biblioblography: And Today's Word Is....

Sunday, November 04, 2007

And Today's Word Is....


Cross posted at God Is For Suckers!


This is an item that has been nagging at me lately: do the religious invest in self-loathing?

Let's see what the definition says:

Self-hatred, self-loathing, also sometimes autophobia refers to an extreme dislike of oneself, or being angry at oneself. The term is also used to designate a dislike or hatred of a group to which one belongs. For instance, 'ethnic self-hatred' is the extreme dislike of one's ethnic group. Accusations of self-hatred are often used as an ad hominem attack.

Hmmm...on outwards appearances, it seems not. Specifically, they usually love one another and themselves with an abandon that borders on narcissism.

Let's examine a further snippet, same source:

The term self-hatred can refer to either a strong dislike for oneself, one's actions, or a strong dislike or hatred of one's own race, gender, or sexual orientation. When used in the latter context it is generally defined as hatred of one's identity based on the demographic in question, as well as a desire to distance oneself from this identity.

Now, here's an excerpt from Boiling Point: Dealing With The Anger In Our Lives, by Jane Middleton-Moz:

'All self-hate is based in shame, the belief that "no matter what I do, I will never be good enough."

I think the sharp-eyed reader can guess from context, where I'm going from here.

Let's now examine the definition of original sin:

According to Christian theology, original sin (also called ancestral sin, hereditary sin, birth sin, or person sin) is the fallen state of humanity. In the history of Christianity this condition has been characterized as something as insignificant as a slight deficiency to something as drastic as total depravity. Western Christian tradition regards it as the general condition of sinfulness (lack of holiness) into which human beings are born, distinct from any actual sins that a person may or may not commit later. Eastern Christian Tradition too identifies original sin as physical and spiritual death, the spiritual death being the loss of "the grace of God, which quickened (the soul) with the higher and spiritual life"[1] Others see original sin also as the cause of actual sins: "a bad tree bears bad fruit" (Matthew 7:17, NIV), although, in this view, original and actual sin may be difficult to distinguish.[2]

Of course, the bible goes on at length about this unattainable goal, this bar set far too high for us mortal men:


Matt. 5:48 - "you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect"
I Cor. 13:10 - "when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away"
Phil. 3:12 - "not that I have already become perfect, but I press on..."
Phil. 3:15 - "let us...as many as are perfect, have this attitude..."
Col. 1:28 - "that we may present every man mature in Christ"
Col. 4:12 - "stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God"
 Heb. 5:9 - "having been made perfect, He became source of eternal salvation"
Heb. 7:19 - "the law made nothing perfect"
Heb. 7:28 - "a Son, made perfect forever"
Heb. 12:23 - "the spirits of righteous men made perfect"
I Jn. 4:18 - "perfect love casts out fear..."

There would be those who claim the language is different - I think not. Here's a nice little translation of the word perfect as used in the wholly bibble:

The second of this verse's two problems, and the crux of the matter, is the word perfect. In the Hebrew text, this is tamîm (Strong's #8549), and its basic meaning is "complete" or "entire." It does not mean "perfect" as we think of it today, as "without fault, flaw, or defect." Other English words that translate tamîm better than "perfect" are "whole," "full," "finished," "well-rounded," "balanced," "sound," "healthful," "sincere," "innocent," or "wholehearted." In the main, however, modern translators have rendered it as "blameless" in Genesis 6:9.

Balanced with the English definition, they're hardly that far apart.

So here religious folks have this unreachable goal, taught they're the flawed creation of something essentially 'flawless' (a more mixed signal to the subconscious mind, I can't imagine), and the only way to 'perfection' is accepting the yoke of being sub-standard, always and 'forever' falling short of the mark conjured up by the fevered imaginations of some Iron-age desert nomads long ago.

A mug's game, in short.

There is no 'test', via which we are graded when our time on this earth is done. The only gantlet we run is this one, no other.

We wear this cloak of flesh, in the blink of a metaphorical eye in geological time. We should neither despise it nor wallow in it, but instead to walk in it and wonder at the rainbows of life we live in, and are a part of.

Till the next post, then.

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1 comment:

evolveintobirds said...

to answer the question at the beginning: do the religious invest in self-loathing? when i was religious, i was at all times either disgusted with myself or hated myself. when i converted to Orthodox xtianity, i chose as my patron Ephraim the Syrian. he was (in)famous for writing the most beautifully hateful, self-loathing of hymns. i couldn't spend enough time groveling with my face to the floor. calvinists are the worst with the whole utterly depraved thing. thank dog i lost jesus!