Thursday, March 11, 2010

The philosophy of Jesus

I am taking a screenwriting class in which each participant is invited to present one screenplay or idea for a screenplay. I wrote up an idea for an allegory of the Christian faith, and part of that allegory presents a teacher [Poima] discussing what belief in their god [Diacyntanis] means when it comes to making life decisions. It is essentially a representation of what it means to be "wise" in terms of Christianity, which is nothing more or less than answering the question "what does it mean to live by faith." In particular this is not a faith that God exists, but rather a faith that God possesses certain qualities (it is also a statement of faith in Christ's return).

I think that is a major disconnect in Christianity today, the idea that faith impacts our life not merely because we believe God exists, but that our beliefs in God's attributes modify what decisions we make. When Jesus chastises his Jewish brothers in the parable of the clever steward (Luke 16:1-13, and 16:8 in particular), this is what he refers to: those who believe in God were not acting in a way that makes any sense with those beliefs...just as someone who believes in gravity is unlikely to let go of a glass vase in mid-air --- the person's general beliefs about gravity, when applied to the specific situation of the vase, should cause the person to come to a realization that letting go of the vase in mid-air is unwise. In the same way, our beliefs about God's attributes, when applied to individual situations we face, should lead us to find that the wise course of action is different from what those who do not hold those beliefs about God.

I am pasting below what I wrote for that class regarding this screenplay, which puts a finer point on the ideas above:
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This screenplay addresses gross misrepresentations of Jesus’ story, which has all too often been hopelessly pulled from its Jewish context. It also provides an alternative view to the fundamental nature of Christianity.

In addition to this, and interleaved within it, is the philosophy of Christianity, which is seen in Poima’s teachings. Within this philosophy, people are enslaved two things:

1) Intrapersonally, they are enslaved by a futile egoism married to psychological baggage that causes them to treat others (and themselves) in ways they are not proud of. They are not the people they want to be because, for whatever reason, they cannot bring themselves to act in the way they wish they could.

2) Interpersonally, they are hindered by external agents due to those agents’ own intrapersonal enslavement. In any oppressive or unjust scenario, both the victim and the aggressor are dominated. The victim is dominated by the perpetrator, and the perpetrator is dominated by whatever is causing him to partake in his behavior.

The above might look quite reasonable and not particularly exclusive to Christianity until one gets a fully picture of what the actions in category 1 include. Poima teaches that this futility comes primarily by a lack of faith in the goodness and power of Diacentanys, that people act the way they do because they do not truly believe that:

i) Diacentanys desires the good and has the power to effect the good.

ii) Because Diacentanys desires the good (for all people), so should we.

Thus, at its heart, her teaching is against selfishness because selfishness comes from a belief that the only way one can be fulfilled is to put one’s own happiness before that of others. Contrarily, a belief that Diacentanys desires and has the power to effect the good suggests that one is most fulfilled by caring about the happiness of others. Thus, belief that Diacentanys has these qualities (a desire for, and power to effect, the good for all) makes unselfish behavior the natural and wise choice.

For example, Poima teaches that the people should give their excess money to the poor rather than save up for retirement. This is an example of how our desire to dominate our future (and our need for security in case Diacentanys cannot provide or does not want to provide) leads us to abandon others in their need. Poima teaches that people should desire the good of all because, in this, we emulate Diacentanys.

Thus, fundamentally, Poima teaches a type of liberation from slavery-to-self by fully recognizing the desire and power of God to provide. Part of this philosophy is that one can fulfilled and happy within the confines of that desire. This is the liberation from number 1 above.

Regarding liberation from number 2, which can only occur when people live in a society where all have been liberated in the sense of number 1, Poima indicates such a kingdom is coming.
Poima also tells her disciples that through her obedience to Diacentanys’ will, she has earned her prophesied position as Queen over not just the traditional land of the Draed’s, but over all land.
She will be returning to claim this kingdom, not merely to overthrow the Morka. When she returns, all governments will be dissolved, and there will be only one kingdom. That kingdom will operate along the same principles as her teachings [that actions designed to benefit others are wise] and hence only those whose previous behavior suggests they will contribute to this society will be allowed in.

Poima tells her disciples to take her teachings to everyone, both for their liberation in the current time, and so they know of her future coming. Diacentanys resurrected her from death, and the same shall be done to everyone else when Poima returns.

2 comments:

Nimblewill's Grace said...

David, I have come to the conclusion that we become the God we believe exists. In other words, a mean judgmental god produces mean judgmental followers. Belief in a God who loves all unconditionally causes an unconditional love for all people. We love because we are first loved. I'm somewhere on the road between the two. There are still some things about my Father that I don't know.

David Rudel said...

Nimblewill,
Just curious...what does this say about atheists?