Inquisitive part 10: Anything Powerful is Also Dangerous
Submitted by admin on Fri, 01/30/2015 – 07:13
Inquisitive Part 10– Anything Powerful is Also Dangerous
Fire. Love. Money. Sunshine. Ambition. Medicine. Sex. Religion. “Anything powerful is also dangerous.” This idea came from a collection of NPR “This I believe” essays and I’ve tucked this truth away as a caveat that everything has a flip side. Here’s my take on it.
Spirituality has the power to inspire, compel us toward our potential and elevate our thoughts. Religion can collectively move us, remind us what matters, and yes, you’d better believe that anything with enough power to save your very soul—or that says it can—is also dangerous. Some checks and balances are in order. We’ll get to that soon enough, but for now let’s mull over this idea of powerful/dangerous.
The power to create is divine at its very essence. This is the Genesis story, the Bible’s headliner, and it shows the creative process at work in God’s hands. This story culminates with life itself. We humans yearn to create too and feel most alive when synching with these rhythms, building and expressing ourselves. Creation in all of its forms is divine, and destruction is the opposite. I’m not sure what spending hours on YouTube is. Anyway…
The power to create life is the godliest gift humans will experience in mortality. When I held my newborn, deep mystery and awe defied words and stirred the deepest part of me. This is the purest type of love.
Anything with that kind of power is also dangerous. Sex may be the most compelling biological and psychological drive we have. The desire to create life and transcend mortality even for the briefest of moment is an undulating need that courses through our bodies and overwhelms us with emotion. We can use this power to bond with our lovers and create families. All of this is sacred. We might take this power lightly, but abusing it comes with great consequence.
The religious experience also brings us into divine presence, even if in fleeting glimpses. The hope of feeling this again is why we keep our butts seated during the boring parts. This is why we come back week after week when Sunday relaxation beckons us elsewhere. At least, that’s why I hope we go and not out of routine obligation or worse, fear.
Spirituality inspires artists to depict this marvelous experience using every brush, chisel, musical note or piece of colored glass they can set their hands to work upon. Whenever I consume art like this with my hungry senses, I taste a bit of what the artist felt.
Church is a place where lost sheep and prodigal children may recover from life’s brutalities. Grace is another indescribable moment in which we feel the touch of God in the most personal way.
The collective nature of a congregation also lends itself to the magic that happens when the spirit moves a group. This shared experience can create a powerful bond and a strong memory.
These elements are, of course, what also make religion scary. The very fact that spirituality motivates people into action can be twisted into a driving force for war. Fear of salvation can manipulate humans into submission. Our desire to be fed by the word can give shysters a platform. Faith healing is a great prop for trickery. Humility is one among the great human virtues, but can leave the vulnerable prey to power mongers. Guilt and shame compel people toe the line. People’s very desire to be good can be channeled into funding evil.
Every human vice including greed, power, and even sex can be exploited in such an environment if checks are not in place. Hence, my next subject is a check-and-balance system.
Remember. Anything powerful is also dangerous.