I went to church today because my son was in the choir. I haven’t been to church for a long time, and not a Catholic one for even longer.
Having been raised Catholic, the service itself was familiar enough, even after all these years, that I could ignore it. The sermon, on the other hand, I listened to intently. When I used to go to church, even as a kid, I remember always listening to the sermon. I listened and I thought about what the priest had to say. Today was no different.
He talked about desire. There was some very well thought out and interesting points that he made. He explained how desire run amok can lead to greed and he used the international banking crisis as an example. I couldn’t agree more. Here was a perfect example of greed and how it can affect millions. Here was a very humanistic call for equality and a curb on selfishness and the policies that promote it. He contrasted that to a desire to do what is right for everyone.
This would have been a perfect sermon, but then, of course, he pushed that aside and said that the real positive role of desire is to know and see God. Damn!
This is where myself, and humanists like me, see the great difference between our goals of those of religions. We seek to promote the positive aspects of humanity, like channeling our desires to do good for, not just ourselves, but others as well. While most religions do see this as an important task, it is secondary to a desire to please God. As far as I can see, this is just as selfish as the desire for personal gain. It is replacing the desire for money and possessions with the desire to gain wealth in an afterlife that may not exist, and which certainly does no one here on earth any good
Now, if desiring to gain points in a possible afterlife leads you to do good here on earth, great, but there is still a selfishness to this that I thin can, and does, lead easily to arrogance. Many believers use this thought of reward in heaven to make themselves, in their eyes, better than those who either don’t believe as they do or don’t believe at all. This can easily lead to the extreme of believing, and worse, telling those people that they will burn for eternity in hell. This dehumanizes those who disagree and breeds hate.
Most humanists, on the other hand, believe in doing good for others simply because it is the right thing to do. They expect no reward, no glory, just the satisfaction of doing what’s right and helping others. All without judgment, arrogance, or hate.