Friday, December 22, 2006

Religions of this Culture

Here is a post that Mark Merrit posted over at Anthropik talking about the religions of this culture. I've read The Story of B a few times and I've never really picked up on this point. I want to post it here so I know that I have it for future reference. And I think he does a good job at explaining what the religions this culture has created are all about.

Here is the post:

On this note, no pun intended, here are the lyrics to a song I wrote that's pretty much in the spirit of this piece.

http://potluck.com/offerings/aftertheholidays.shtml

Worth noting, though, that on some level, we could have the same conversation about many high ideals held by civilized cultures. Daniel Quinn, in The Story of B, says directly that religions are the highest expressions of our culture, and he does so while suggesting that all of the "good things" that religions want us to do are that very highest expression. At first, I was confused by this -- how could the highest expression of our culture be about things that are so hard to do/be in our culture? I later realized, that's exactly the point. Civilization makes it hard to be lots of the good things that are our birthright, that come far more naturally to people in tribal circumstances. Those things then become what we idealize, and religion is the highest expression of those idealizations. Virtues are things to strive for, to struggle for, and if you don't reach them, and especially if you don't try, then you're a failure as a person. It's the old flawed being syndrome.

So, on some level, it seems to me that the point here isn't so much that Christmas is subversive, not any moreso than any of the high ideals of civilized cultures/institutions are subversive. It's really simply that Christmas is one of a gazillion features of our culture that jumble up the ills of civilization with the positive traits that are our birthright as humans, serving the whole mishmosh up to us dressed up in high ideals and a sort of longing about those high ideals never really being achievable yet without knowing why and without bothering to question why or to really make any attempt at all to separate the chaff from the wheat, the baby from the bathwater.

On one hand, this is distressing. The subversion is itself subverted because it's structurally wrapped up with things that counter that subversion, that work against those "uncivilized" qualities, and so there really is no subversion at all -- the jumble is really the status quo everywhere we look and has been all along. On the other hand, by seeing that this is the case everywhere and not just with Christmas, we find little bits and pieces everywhere we look that can be built on to generate change in the direction we'd like -- using appreciative techniques, of course. Appreciative Inquiry to the rescue....

1 comment:

Askinstoo said...
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