Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, June 19, 2008
Throughout human history, the apostles of purity,
those who have claimed to possess a total explanation,
have wrought havoc among mere mixed-up human beings.
- Salman Rushdie, author, born on this day, 1947, in Bombay
Oh yes. And why would Salman not feel this way, after being the victim of Khomeini and his extremist Storm Troopers. I have to say that I have never encountered anything more blasphemous than the idea that a religion could issue a death sentence against someone for speaking their thoughts, for calling their religion to account. It was done to Jesus. To prophets. The Pope issued a fatwa against Queen Elizabeth I. To many religious leaders into the modern age.
Rushdie is right. We human beings are basically seekers. “Mixed up.” We don’t like that feeling, most of us. Thought I think it has always been the grace of Anglicanism, and it is why I am so opposed to making Anglicanism into a religion “of purity” – of black and white, of the imposition of a “total explanation” to which everyone must adhere to be “in”. Bullshit, I say. I’ll become a Christian Buddhist if we get to that.
“Purity” is the refuge of the bitter. Of the angry. Of the oppressed too, I must admit – for Khomeini became what he was because he had been oppressed. But. When he got power, his intrinsic warped mind and spirit isolated him from God. Same with Jim Jones, and the God Hates Fags man. And many others.
It seems to me (and it may be true of other places) that America is particularly prone to this stuff, having its roots in Puritanism (having ignored the Native Peoples). We are in for a bumpy ride.
We have no “total explanations”. That’s why Compassion and not “the Law” guides the Gospel Life.
Eschew “purity”. It leads only to “havoc”.