religion, is opium? The crisis conditions the rise of the faith

Source: The Nation-Society. By Juan G. Bedoya (25/03/2012)

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La religión, ¿opio? La crisis condiciona el auge de la fe

God up in the soup. Listening to the Gop candidates to the presidency of the united States, it would seem that everything is a religion around it. All claim to be the God of every one who would lead his decisions as president. So it was in the recent past, when George W. Bush proclaimed in 2005 that it was God who had asked him to invade Iraq. He said in a press conference: “In some ways, God directs policy decisions in the White House.” When he saw that this war was going from bad to worse, a joke published in The New York Times presented an advisor to the president asking: “Mr. president, when God asked him to invade Iraq, do you gave any idea on how to get out of there?”.

We know almost all about the religion of the republican candidates. One proclaims himself a catholic, apparently of Opus Dei (Rick Santorum); the other belongs to the Church of jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, more commonly known as the mormon Church, of which he was even a bishop (Mitt Romney); and there are five who are declared faithful evangelical christians —in Spain, we call them protestants.

Although the Constitution of the US guarantees that there may not be any official religion —Thomas Jefferson, one of the founders, called it “the wall of separation” between church and State, ” this long pre-campaign indicates the opposite. The religion is everywhere. The pressure is so much that even Barack Obama has been forced to enter the cloth, to prove that he is a christian, not a muslim dangerous. A humorist has ironizado that will end up confessing that at times he was even an altar boy. “It’s the religion, stupid, not the economy!”, I cried a few weeks ago a professor from the University of Notre Dame du Lac (Indiana State), property of the catholic Congregation of the Holy Cross.

It seems that God is now up in the pots, as he wrote Teresa of Ávila, not to say that religions flourish soon in the united States, or in any other part. The theologian Juan Masiá Claver, a jesuit who lives and teaches in Japan, argues that the so-called “return of religion is not a return of religion, but of a certain kind of religion and a certain kind of use of religion by politics”. He adds: “When Obama gives back the topic of contraception for fear of the neocons, or when the bishops andalusian invited to vote in a certain line, or when Zapatero did not dare to challenge the agreements anachronisms of the Concordat, it is repeating the same old history of the use of religion by politics and of the use of politicians by religion. What makes that lack of return is not the religion but the faith that today, as in Jesus ‘ time, is stifled and betrayed by the fanaticism of the religions in cahoots with the power.”

There is a recurring question in recent months: how The economic crisis invites the new poor to turn to the beyond? Karl Marx wrote in 1843: “Die Religion … Sie ist das Opium des Merit” (“religion is the opium of the people” ). It is probably the phrase most manipulated in the history of the appointments. What Marx said in Contribution to the Critique of the Philosophy of Right of Hegel was that “the wretchedness of religion is at once the expression of the misery of real and protest against the misery real”. He added: “religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the sentiment of a heartless world, the spirit of a dead soul. It is the opium of the people. We need the abolition of religion understood as the illusory happiness of the people so that you can give your real happiness”.

Here, Marx. Benedict XVI has proclaimed in Mexico, on the last Saturday, “the death of the marxist doctrine”, but he himself wrote in 1975, when he was a mere theologian named Joseph Ratzinger, who in the history of the development of ideas, the word happiness has been imposed on the word salvation. “The term salvation is referring to the salvation of the world, within which it makes personal salvation. In contrast, the word happiness now reduced the content of salvation to a kind of individual well-being”, he added.

He said this in a lecture at the Theological Faculty of the Triveneto region (Italy), on which the vatican newspaper LOsservatore Romano reported then with the title ‘professor Ratzinger speaks of happiness’. It is now published into a book and it is a text that is being very jaleado.

Happiness. The christians of Rome that draw a world of suffering (a “valley of tears”), to which the man has come to sacrifice with the idea of earning an afterlife paradise. The road is full of thorns. In contrast, with crisis or without it, the man aspires to find the happiness here. This explains the fact that, those who say that become religions, they are thinking above all religions to the letter, that incordien as little as possible, but that will help them to find moments of well-being.

In John D. Caputo calls “the religious market” flourish, new ways of believing (even new beliefs), with symbols and rituals. Movements neoespiritualistas that adapt to new styles of life of the population according to the client’s position. As many times has complained the catholic Church, argues Ratzinger, that his confession is today, “a vineyard ravaged by wild boar”— are these new religions that are eating the land where Rome was hegemonic. Benedict XVI will have had the opportunity to know this phenomenon in Mexico, where they grow more than 7,000 associations of the faithful to all kinds of beliefs, the majority of court charismatic, pentecostal or evangelical.

It was said from the last century would be religious or would not be. The phrase is attributed to the writer André Malraux, who was minister of Culture in the France of general Charles de Gaulle (between 1958 and 1969). Also uttered by the theologian Karl Rahner, one of the great experts of the second Vatican Council. Re-heard the same thing about this TWENTY-first century: who will be mystical, or it will not be.

Not modernity seems to pay that kind of definitions. What is meant today by religion? The man looking for promises of immortality, but it does so by thousands of paths. There are western religions and eastern religions, ancient or modern; monotheistic, polytheistic, and even slightly atheistic. “Too many religions to count, too many to master them and in too many languages to learn,” warns Caputo.

Today, religions are not invented, are re-enacted. Sometimes, they are more a literary genre than a metaphysical debate. Through culture the man stops to commune with mill wheels. Requires explanation, a reason. Esperanza Guisán, professor of Ethics at the University of Santiago de Compostela, holds that religions, especially the revealed, “they saw the man as an eternal teenager at the hands of the Father”. So paternal, supposedly for the good of humanity, forbid things that their faithful do not understand, except by the faith of the charcoal-burner: does not the love of the sex, not eating meat on certain Fridays… Require, in addition, believing things hard to believe: in the infallibility of the Pope, in which Jesus walked on the water, or in the resurrection of Lazarus (where Lazarus is, if he rose).

There is also what Karen Armstrong calls a “return of religion”, but translated often in manifestations of irrational and intolerant: dogmatism and fundamentalism; fundamentalism and fanaticism, moral rigorism, and discipline; discrimination of gender; cleanings ethnic-religious practice of terrorism in the name of God; processes inquisitorial against the believers heterodox; rejection of the interpretation in the reading of the sacred texts, etc

What explains Armstrong in a book titled In defense of God, where you draw the boom of spirituality as a refuge from the world, away from the old mission to transform it. The sigh of the creature oppressed, of which Marx spoke, unlike his scream of anger, “is thus a mere pathological symptom of what is wrong in us. Expresses a frustrated desire. It is a reaction against a heartless world, where the religion is shown as a symptom of discontent”.

The theologian José María Castillo, a doctor honoris causa by the University of Granada, not strange to say that the collapse of the economy will save the religion. “You can influence, because it is still true that In the trenches there are no atheists’.

“To be threatened, people have a spontaneous tendency to go to something superior, the blessed Virgin or the saints. In addition, the austerity imposed by the crisis forces them to lead a life less conditioned by the consumption, focused on most important values,” he adds.

Classical religions (especially roman christianity) grow in Asia and Africa. In the US, the number of mosques increased by 74% in the last five years. Europe, in contrast, is the unique geographical and cultural area (perhaps Canada) where the advance of secularization implies a demystification of religion. The result is an unstoppable de-europeanization of christianity in spite of the centrality of rome.

What secularizes itself Europe of the hand of the economic and cultural development, and South America to become religious is dragged down by poverty or social inequality? You do not have so clear the theologian Juan José Tamayo, director of the Professorship of Science of Religion at the University Carlos III of Madrid. He says: “The functionality of religion in Latin America in relation to poverty is ambivalent. Depends on the trends. For the liberation theology of poverty is not something natural, willed by God, but an evil to fight through a distribution more fair and equitable than the goods. Well, religion is a force for liberation of the impoverished and oppressed. Religion, is opium? Yes, but of the bourgeoisie, not the people. The prosperity theology, developed mainly in the movements pentecostal, responsible for the poor out of their situation, he preaches the gospel of the market and considers richness a blessing from God and the main indicator of the faith”.

Living among the population, the rejection of religion with an increase of interest in religion. Grows non-belief, but it also grows the credulity, argues the philosopher Hellene Viciously. Underscores how the decline of religions has coincided the past century with the flourish of great religious thinkers. And remember two ideas. One is the warning of Teilhard de Chardin, in 1933: “We have ceased to be contagious” (referring to roman catholicism). The other, 30 years later, is a phrase from Emmanuel Mounier: “In the vast spaces of the modern West the christian vision of the world has ceased even to be fought against. It is accepted as the religion of a bygone era that will have to be tolerated during a certain time”.

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