Humans are neither individually special nor even so collectively supreme as we have lately been purporting to be. This is what Amy Dillard, in 'For the Time Being' and Karen Armstrong, in 'The Case For God', operating on the framework that God is unexplainable, focus on the human aspect of religion (religion in this sense, to give a visual, being somewhat like a short length of rope, one side being commanded by God, and the other by humankind). Using her own anecdotes and observations, peppered here and there by the philosophical extracts of various theorists, Dillard reminds us that our place on earth is not a temporary state of being, not a means to an end (heaven) but an end in and of itself.
Armstrong, using a similar style, though incorporating more history and explaining the definition and usage of colloquial phrases and terms such as God, advances this idea that humans have forgotten their place in the world and emphasizes that humans have become, in a sense, too calculating for the simplicity that is supposed to be being.'
Perhaps what makes Dillard so convincing is that she does not hesitate to tell us precisely what we do not want to hearthe fact that humans are not particularly exceptionaland the relaxed way in which she does so. She conveys this point in a manner in which one would least expect it: the manner of a casual storyteller, a simple observer of the world.
[...] The problem with this contention is that it leads to us to see ourselves not as owners of our lives, but as mere tenants in them. Instead of accepting the reality of the existence of problems, of evil, etc. we tend to question the reason for their existence, exclaim that, whatever that reason may be, God is ultimately to blame, and conclude that we are hopeless, powerless, inept not because we made ourselves that way but because we were made that way. [...]
[...] For in the beginning of her text, Dillard explains our origins. She describes an obstetrical ward as being “surely the widest deep-sea vent on earth” for that is “where people come out.” (Dillard, 36). We come out of the earth. Surely, too, years ago, forests and plains, tents and cottage huts, the backs of wagon- trains, and the bellies of ships—wherever we happened to be—were also part of this intertwining system of deep-sea vents. Dillard tells us another story of when she saw firsthand the birth of people, in the form of the excavation of the Chinese emperor, Emperor Qin's, terracotta statue army. [...]
[...] The other contributing factors were the facts that biblical stories, mass, and the like, were taught as symbolism, and sermons were given in Latin, which added to an overall sense of mysticism (Armstrong, x). God's answers were really answers that we found within ourselves. Now, however, we instead “tend to tame and domesticate God's ‘otherworldliness.' We regularly ask God to bless our nation, save our queen, cure our sickness, or give us a fine day for the picnic. We remind God that he has created the world and that we are miserable sinners, as though this may have slipped his mind.” (Armstrong, viv). [...]
[...] Logos, by leading us to seek to “master reality, explain it, and bring it under the control of reason” (Armstrong, xiv) resulted in scientific progress—industrialization, etc—but it also handicapped us by robbing us of our ability to think in terms of mythos. Mythos was “designed to help people negotiate the obscure regions of the psyche, which are difficult to access but which profoundly influence our thought and behavior. People had to enter the warren of their own minds and fight their person demons.” (Armstrong, xi). [...]
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