Saturday, January 16, 2010

Shakespeare and Karl Marx and Paul (Nov 4, 2009)

(posted to Facebook, November 4, 2009)

If you have not read the essay I wrote for my SOC101 class at HACC during the Fall semester of 2008, you need to do that.
It should be posted as a note.

It is titled "Marx Missed Some Things" and it is pretty gold.

Tonight, I referenced a quote that I always misquote. You know, the one about how, when you protest too much, it means it's true. How, if you deny it too strongly, it means you're in denial.

So I googled.

And I found it.

"The lady doth protest too much, methinks."
- Shakespeare's Hamlet

Apparently, everyone who has ever quoted the above line has misinterpreted it. In Shakespeare's time, protest did not mean to object, but rather meant to affirm.

The third hit on my Google search took me to a list of misquotations on Wikiquote (subsidiary of Wikipedia). Browsing through this list, I came upon Marx's infamous quote, "Religion is the opium of the masses."

"Religion is the opiate of the masses." - Karl Marx
* Correct quote, but often misinterpreted: "Religion
is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a
heartless world and the soul of soulless conditions. It
is the opium of the people."

Wow, modern culture. Way to eliminate the study of items within their proper context. Can you imagine if the immediately prior clause had been the one taken out of context?

"Religion is the soul of soulless conditions."

That's just a wee bit different, no?

In my experience, the religion=opium quote is generally interpreted to mean that religion suppresses the critical thinking of a population.

However, within this new context, it seems like religion is more of a comfort. Opium=feelgood? While many will continue to say that Marx is still radically incorrect in regards to theology, that does not nix the value of learning things within the proper (original) context.

Furthermore, I would argue that, largely, religion is not used as anything more than a feelgood.

The paper that I wrote for SOC101 said, yes, that Marx did miss some things (we read the first section of The Communist Manifesto), but I also proposed that Marx was not entirely incorrect.

Even if a person has some perverse ideas, that's not necessarily a good reason to disregard every single thing they say.

Hello, deja vu.

In other news...

My New Testament Professor explained that there is a word Paul uses repeatedly throughout his writings that is the verb form of faith.

However, because English does not have a verb form of the word faith, it gets translated as "to believe."

This has since caused a severe theological misinterpretation within the modern Christian church because "believing" is actually a work. As is confession. It is very likely, then, that modern Christianity gets reduced to nothing more than just another works-based "faith."

(In quotation marks because that is an incorrect usage of the literal word.)

Believing is a work because, if you believe a particular set of beliefs will save you, you would probably be able to get yourself to believe just about anything.

However, as my NT Professor explained, Paul knew that faith had nothing to do with works (belief, confession).

Instead, faith refers to the unmerited love (grace) that God shows us.

Faith secondly refers to the positive human response to that unmerited love (grace).

Consequently, this was Paul's definition of righteousness.

A loving relationship.

Not religion.

Not works.

Not an opiate.

I quite enjoy seemingly misinterpreting people like Marx.

Addendum: This, "Believing is a work because, if you believe a particular set of beliefs will save you, you would probably be able to get yourself to believe just about anything." has a LOT to do with my newest idea... everything's a placebo.
(Jan 16, 2010)

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