Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Salvaging Salvation

My grandfather had the same kind of curiosity that I have. He had a room full of books about philosophy, science, religion, and world cultures. But he died before I was born, so my only connection to him was through those books. Reading them as a young person definitely influenced my life, so you could say that he managed to give me some posthumous guidance, but books don't replace a real relationship. I've wondered what kind of conversations we might have had; whether his advice would have set me on a different course in life or saved me from spending my 20s figuring out life while my peers were busy building careers and starting families.

Seeing firsthand that death doesn't wait for a convenient time, I feel motivated to write my thoughts down now, while I can. Perhaps this blog is a first draft of what I might tell my future kids or grandkids.

One of the big themes in my life has been the reevaluation of religion. As a teenager, I rejected religion because it seemed ridiculous. I have since taken a more careful approach to it, giving fair consideration to it all, even the elements of religion that appeal to sentiment and superstition, only rejecting the ridiculous parts after trying to see them in their best light, and sifting through the rest in order to find little nuggets of wisdom that work in real life.

The world's religions have all picked up wise ideas that stand on their own. The cultures from the east have a lot to offer--Taoism and Buddhism in particular. Judaism, Islam, and Christianity have some valuable elements, too. However, my attitude, even toward Zen Buddhism, is not one of a believer, but one of a scrap man. I'm looking to salvage the good parts from the junk of ancient superstitions. I'm trying to salvage from the world's systems of salvation. Salvation itself, though, is a useless idea. There is nothing to save; we just imagine there is something. However, that doesn't mean that we can't better our lives by learning from the culture of salvation.

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