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  Robertson Davies On Religion

Scholarship Posted by <Mordecai> on Monday May 07, @10:03PM
from the liar-of-Orpheus dept.

In a letter to an old friend, dated November 22, 1986, the late Canadian writer (1913-95) put forward his opinions on belief:

As I grow older the whole notion of belief grows more important to me, and I am grieved to find what awful company it sometimes puts me in. As I explain, when I am asked, I am a religious man, but that does not mean that I am a card-carrying Christian and certainly not the member of any sect or coven of zealots. I think that the Christian business is beginning to ravel out – has indeed been doing so for over a century – having made an astonishing change in a great part of mankind. But an Oriental faith, hitched to a lot of Mediterranean hierarchical and sacerdotal organization, embraced and changed by people of all sorts and degrees of intelligence, and now face to face with the demand of women to be treated as people, cannot survive in its present form. It has shoehorned a little mercy into the savagery of mankind, and somewhat mitigated the ghastly egotism which blasts all civilizations. I have no reason to believe that there was a single hospital in Rome, for instance, when Christ walked the earth, and the lot of the wretched was about as bad as anything can be. Nevertheless, civilizations have existed before Christ – great ones, too – and some very remarkable people lived and said their say without benefit of Christian morality.

For myself the figure of Christ was made hateful to me when I was a child; the simpleton, the patsy, the Bearded Lady, the big-eyed snoop who watched your every move – and nothing that I have learned since has made the image more attractive, for the reports we have of him are full of contradictions. He was, I suppose, a Jewish nationalist agitator and a prophet of great charisma. But the Son of God? He very perceptively said that we may all claim to be that, and failed to add that most of us are disgraces to the family.

No, I suppose I am somebody who cannot live without a belief in a power beyond what man can compass, and that attempts to make God in one's own image are folly, as are notions that God disposes the universe with an eye to one's personal convenience. Philosophy cannot capture God, nor can Science winkle him out of his vastness, and as for humble faith, it is too often the refuge of boobs and a stick with which they beat people who do not agree with them.

I once had a blazing row with the chaplain of Massey College, in which he accused me of being a Gnostic, which he thought was a horrible accusation. But so far as I can discover the Gnostics were people who thought that being intelligent and acting accordingly had something to do with salvation – so of course they were heretics, because the notion that intelligence makes any difference in religion has always been hateful to the Church. The Protestant Reformation, said C.G. Jung, took man's soul out of the care of the Church and gave it into his own keeping – thereby striking the Church a blow from which it has never really recovered.

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The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them.

**Re: Robertson Davies On Religion**
by cri hoor 217 on Wednesday May 09, @03:43PM

…i always turn toward egypt

and if all roads lead to Rome
then take the roads traveled less

or rather take the high road!
or take the low road…as above so below

the bearded lady belongs in the circus…


because if what slouches toward Bethlehem is not some rough beast then it sure is@#^^%$ not some big eyed snoop!

93 always…cri hoor 217

**Re: Robertson Davies On Religion**
by <Gerard> on Sunday May 20, @04:44PM

I would be interested in hearing what people consider the difference between faith and belief is???

The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them.

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