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Building Bridges

I think it’s important to build bridges between people, even when the effort is not always appreciated.

The following quotes are somewhat off-topic for Chivalry-Now. Although they are religious in nature, I actually see them forming a bridge between not only legitimate religions, but agnosticism and atheism as well. In no way should this be viewed as an endorsement of any religious beliefs. We remain completely non-sectarian.

The first two are by a 14th century monk, Meister Eckhart, deemed by many to be a profound Christian mystic:

“God is not found in the soul by adding anything, but by a process of elimination.”

He included eliminating our imperfect concept of God as well. In another quote, he said:

“How then should you love [God]? You should love him as he is, a not-God, not-mind. Not-person, not-image…”

The next were written by Simone Weil, a very original Jewish-Christian thinker who worked in England for the Free French Government during World War II. She died at the tender age of 34 from what amounted to be starvation, in sympathy with her countrymen who were limited to wartime rations.

“…it seemed to me certain, and I still think so today, that one can never wrestle enough with God if one does so out of pure regard for truth. Christ likes us to prefer truth to him because, before being Christ, he is truth. If one turns aside from him to go toward truth, one will not go far before falling into his arms…”

“A case of contradictions, both of them true. There is a God. There is no God. Where is the problem? I am quite sure that there is a God in the sense that I am sure my love is no illusion. I am quite sure that there is no God, in the sense that I am sure there is nothing which resembles what I can conceive when I say that word…”

The great scientist/humanist, Albert Einstein, once stated:

“I believe in Spinoza’s God, who reveals himself in the harmony of all that exists…”

The philosopher Spinoza whom he referenced equated God with Nature.

The Protestant theologian Paul Tillich warned that the religious words that are commonly used, because of their inherent limitations, actually hold people back from seeing beyond them to the truth:

"To criticize such a conditioning of the unconditional, even if it leads to atheistic consequences, is more religious, because it is more aware of the unconditional character of the divine, than a theism that bans God into the supernatural realm."

"The first step to atheism is always a theology which drags God down to the level of doubtful things."

What unites these commentaries, yet remains unsaid, is that they all recognize and honor the existential mystery that we all hold in common—believers and nonbelievers alike. We simply cannot know ultimate truth, call it God, Nature, or the original Big Bang. We merely see it differently. If we accept that as true, as André Compte-Sponville tells us, what divides us is not what we know, but what we don't know.

It is not our belief or disbelief in God that really separates us, but our interpretations—formed by tradition or scripture or scientific theory. (Even then, what really separates us is our tendency to be intolerant, which comes from thinking that we know more than we actually do. We all do it to some extent. The danger comes from not being conscious of it.)

Each interpretation points to a shared mystery that remains unknowable to us all. What they have in common, atheistic humanism included, is an awakening of the moral impulse to apply reason to conscience in everything we do. Even the bible recognizes this inner law among unbelievers. (Romans: 2, 14,15)

The Chivalry-Now challenge is this: serving as a moral nexus where the moral teachings of all good religions and philosophies meet and cooperate, despite differences in detail.

Just think of all the good that could come from that.



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