Couldn't have said it better myself.
Very interesting textual interview here..
Oh, so many books to read. The fiction list includes the second book of Stieg Larssen's Millennium trilogy; Margaret Atwood's Year Of The Flood; Galore, by Michael Crumney; the aforementioned Under The Dome, and Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel.
Add one more: Karen Armstrong's The Case For God.
Call me a seeker. I believe, actually, that most of us are...it's just that we seek in different ways, and thus find (what appear to be) different things. For many years, I have been uncomfortable with people who claim to have All The Answers, be they fundycostal types or militant atheists of the Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris school.
I'm also uncomfortable with organized religion. Years of reflection have convinced me that the problem with organized religion is that it's organized. I often state that the superiority complexes seemingly inherent in religions the world over are what turn me off, and they do, but superiority complexes are a human failing, just as obvious in political dogma, and are not, strictly speaking, religion's fault. No--for me, what niggles at my brain is this "organized" business.
Religion is, at its heart, a communing with the numinous. All the externals--the rituals, the doctrines, the hierarchies--are incidental almost to the point of irrelevance (and more than occasional irreverence as well). Yet the human inclination to keep things organized, classified, categorized and specified means the externals assume an importance completely out of proportion to their value.
Now don't get me wrong. Ritual can play a part, an important part, in divine communion. But too many get caught up in the rituals as if they ARE divine communion, and refuse to understand their mistake...even going so far as to condemn others for making the same mistake in a different way. In my Christian years, I was often told "Christianity isn't a religion, it's a relationship." At root, all religion is just that.
Karen Armstrong does not seem to be making a case for the existence of God here, but examining the belief in God over the centuries. From what I can tell, it looks very much as if she's arguing that "God" is bigger than what's come to be the standard definition. I've often thought that myself. Why does Christianity insist on restricting God to one gender and one role? In my own writings about God, I often mixmaster up the pronouns, sometimes using He, sometimes She, sometimes It...and occasionally You and I. (cf. Joan Osborne's song "What if God Was One Of Us?", used as the theme to the sadly defunct Joan of Arcadia).
This sort of thing really resonates with me. I like the idea of Reason not in opposition to Religion, but aside from it. I like (and identify) with a God most easily reached through music and art and impossible to encompass with thought alone.
And this makes sense whether you use New Age or Christian terminology. To the New Ager, each of us is comprised of Body, Mind, and Spirit; the Body does not contain the Spirit but rather the other way around (hence auras and such). The Spirit is often thought of as a piece of the Universal Soul; the Mind is simply there for making sense of the Body's impressions. To attempt to 'divine' Spirit through the Mind is to miss the point.
Put in a completely different way, "for in Him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28). My own sense is that most people would read that sentence to mean in His WAYS we live and move and have our being"...and I think this is one case where it might be of benefit to take your Bible literally.
If you think through a quotation like that, you'll be forever missing the forest for the trees, trying to 'spot' God in every little thing and not realizing you're actually drowning in God every minute of every day.
In any event, I look forward to discovering Armstrong's thoughts on the matter. I see my public library, wonder of wonders, actually stocks this title....