One day, I asked some people, who are enthusiastic participants of religious gatherings, about their views on their religions. One answered that the religion kept the order in society (though this person complained of the fact that the religious services had to be offered in two languages these days). According to this person, a religion is a sort of law-enforcement apparatus that is more effective than, say, the government police forces, to control the movements and behaviors of the people. Meanwhile, the answer of another person stressed the unmistakably political function of a religion: a religious organization creates a stronger political body in times of war and social strife. I found it interesting that both of these reasons for supporting religious grouping are motivated by fear, which is the natural state of humans, according to Thomas Hobbes. Presumably we are living in a democratic state whose authority is based on our willing acceptance of the state’s power. I wonder if the emphasis on law-enforcement or political functions of a religious institution suggests the current inefficacy of our political state. I hope we are not going to end up living in what Hobbes called “the state of nature” sort of society in near future.
Our received/conventional ideas often tell us that religion/religious institutions offer us places to explore our spirituality, which, according to Carl Jung, is necessary for humans to sustain psychological equilibrium. But, many so-called religious people rarely talk about spirituality of their religions these days. I wonder if in our contemporary world, where the philosophical materialism is thoroughly embraced as truism, more or less, people ceased to even think about the spirituality or their need for it.
“We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!”