romanian literary monthly

~ Ioan Bozac: „Profane reflections on Christian religion“

I have to specify from the beginning that I don’t know thoroughly the dogmatic texts laying at the basis of Christian teaching. I ventured, however, to write about the subject as a reaction to initiatives and actions which I consider to affect the religion of my forefathers, thus being – ultimately – menaces to our cultural and national identity.

I can’t say I’ve been brought up in a religious spirit, even though elements of Christian teaching and cult were conveyed to me within the family. In school, the so-called education was contrary in essence – like for all the generation that attended public instruction in the communist period. Quite this, maybe, has stimulated inside me the curiosity to know more about the life, deeds and ideas of Jesus and His apostles. I approached them by means of a historical perspective – so with my mind, not with my soul. At the same time, however, as, years passed, I realized that there must be a supreme entity, which should have created the universe and established its laws. From the very beginning seemed frail to me the statement of Engels that matter is infinite in time and space; even science (physics, namely), by recent progresses, contradicts it.

However, all religions (in the first place those widely spread, with which I ought to make connections) have as nodal point the existence of a Creator, care – in general – is also the supreme divinity. Surely that from here to being a Christian it’s a long way, and one knows where you must reach: to be deeply conscious of the miracle of Resurrection – by which Jesus Christ incontestably and for ever demonstrates that He is God Himself and demarcates as a religion the ensemble of the teachings He propagated. Thus, all can be synthesized in the celebrated saying “Do not doubt, but believe”.

I recognize that – given my formation as a man of the 20th century, with the implicit informational assault – it’s hard for me to comply with this medieval principle, which doesn’t happen with my belief in a Creator, as I have clearly shown, hopefully. (This is the difference between being an atheist and being a free-thinker – terms which often are translated as synonyms by people who claim to have horizon.) Nevertheless, even from the perspective of domains belonging to the sphere of material (history, sociology, etc.), to Christianity is due more than consideration, at least because it is the most widespread religion in the world. For 2000 years it has incessantly attracted followers, despite the obstacles of all kind (to which I shall come back), and continues on the same way. Such a phenomenon couldn’t have taken place if it hadn’t benefited of extremely stable and impressive grounds.

Before presenting several perils and blows to our religion from the interior la (which, actually, prompted me to write these lines), I’ll take the liberty to speak about its ascent, along with its relationship to the other two great religions from the Mediterranean basin, as well as to hypotheses deriving from studies of historical analysis. All of these – as one can remark – affect Christianity and its adherents less than some recent manifestations, which I consider aberrant; I’ll try to sustain my point of view taking a survey of them. I must add a specification: I don’t intend to refer to clerics. I could discuss on the collaboration of the high Orthodox priests with the communist regime, but I did it enough in other places. As for the Protestant priests who unite homosexuals in wedding, that doesn’t affect us, Romanians, closely at this time. So, I stop here with this subject, the primordial motive being that the Savior Himself said that every man can make his own church – even out of a stone in the field; the essence of all is that he pray in faith. Besides, I don’t want to go into the error of politico-ideological teaching in the old communist times, which attacked the institution of Church in the sessions of scientific atheism. (I’d put quotation marks hadn’t I been convinced that the term is telling even for those who never were in contact with its content.)

From my information, it is unanimously admitted that the change of a social system with another is made by revolution. In the countries which influenced the course of history is evident the instatement in this way of capitalism and socialism (currently named communism – I point this also, to eliminate any confusion). Even the transition from the primitive culture to the slave system can be attributed to a revolution, but in technology: the improvement of iron tools and weapons. Logically, I reasoned that there must have also been a revolution between the slave system and feudalism, but I found nowhere this point of view explicitly formulated. Reflecting more profoundly, I realized that precisely Christianity played this revolutionary role, undermining the Roman Empire.

I feel myself obliged to motivate my opinion, and first of all I shall underline that no other religion has so much importance in the history of mankind. Of course, in the common conscience a revolutionary transformation implies confrontations with a variable degree of violence in a short interval, but sometimes we ought to look beyond appearances. Everyone realizes that, at the dawn of Christianity and at least 200 years after, there was no way to overthrow the Roman power – implicitly their order – by military force. Conversely, the message of the Savior – with its countless facets, on which I don’t insist, lacking instruction and space – has removed the fright of ordinary people towards the oppressors; hence its colossal spread. The weakening of the empire materialized also in the military sphere – perhaps the most important, as i suggested above. The massive conversions to Christianity, from soldier to general (Saint George), in parallel with the intensification of the attacks from the migratory peoples (due also to these favorable circumstances), lead, in time, to the situation when became necessary the gesture of Constantine the Great to instate the Christian religion as official. On the other hand, I consider consistent the idea that Church was the first organization of a feudal type – idea that I found in a book published during communism, which however approached the problems with considerably more decency than we often encounter today.

There are opinions that the religion in question is one for slaves (though from the beginning it gained adherents among the members of the upper class, and it’s not me who should highlight Empress Helena – mother of Constantine) or that there couldn’t be any prestige for a faith whose founder suffered the most degrading death on those times. The facts demonstrated, however, that the strength of Christianity resides quite in its apparent weakness, which makes me dare affirm that it follows The One who founded it – and who chose to end thus His earthly existence; let’s not forget that. This essential feature allowed Christianity also to resist subsequently to aggressions of all kind, keeping its fiber unaltered.

I try to review some of the aggressions at the level of ideas, remarked during the years. I don’t approach the relationship between Judaism and Christianity, as I consider it more than well known; at the same time, this is a subject too vast and with too many painful aspects to be comprised here. I only want to point an opinion of mine – about which I don’t know whether it’s original. I think that a series of difficulties in this relationship come from the fact that the adherents of Jesus were considered a sect detached form the Judaic religion. This is a simple hypothesis; that’s why I don’t hazard to affirm that from this kind of conception derive opinions affecting the Christian dogma and claiming a rational-scientific basis. I’ll enumerate – with no comments – the most striking (for me, at least): Jesus may have not even exist as a historic personage (and – connected to this – the entire Christian doctrine may have been created by Apostle Paul) or – if He existed – He may have been born past a rape of a Roman legionnaire, and His end may not have come through crucifixion; instead, He may have been taken down from the cross alive and subsequently to the South of present France together with Mary Magdalene (already His wife) and their daughter.

Although it’s a serious deviation from the dogma, I personally don’t see anything bad in the idea that Jesus could have been married. It’s shocking, however being more than blasphemy), another illustration of His relation to Mary of Magdala – and by this I reach the blows from interior (theoretically, at least) on the religion grounded here, on the Romanian territory, by one of the very first disciples of Jesus: The Holy Apostle Andrew. Again comments won’t be necessary after I’ll show that I think of a play by Alina Mungiu-Pippidi (mainly a political analyst in Romania) comprising suggestions for all kinds of sexual acts. It triggered – naturally – many and vivid reactions. I skip those justified and of the majority (among which was mine and of the whole family, wishing to mention only those which left in me impression similar to that theater work. I’ll deal with them in the ascending order of the displeasure they provoked: some made fun of the playwright about certain frustrations of hers, while others reproached to the actors who refused to play in such filth (let me call it by name) that they are not sufficiently open-minded. That moment I thought what would have happened if something analogous had appeared in a Muslim country. Many people rose up against them when they reacted violently regarding funny drawings about Mohammad, but such an attitude is – I reckon – better than acceptance towards the impieties like the one thrown into the world by Alina Mungiu-Pipppidi.

One could argue that Christian religion is – by its essence – one of tolerance. Islamism is too, however. O course one has at hand the contra example of the terrorist acts in present, but I think it’s wise that we have a global view. We, Romanians, know very well that the Turks allowed on our lands the continuity of the ancestral religion, which fits in a general tendency of their faith. Just from a Muslim I learned that, according to them, the Christians can reach the third sky of Mohamed, of the nine. Also, they recognize 5 great prophets – whom I’ll enumerate in a chronological order: Moses, Zarathustra, Buddha, Jesus and Mohammad. Needless to say that such conceptions don’t enjoy mutuality from Christians – and also needless is to detail.

Remaining at the relation with Islamism it’s clear that our religion wouldn’t be so exposed if it grounded on a formula like “Allah is God, and Mohammad – his prophet”. (As a matter of fact, there’s no way to doubt on the existence of this historical personage.) As seemingly the denial of Christ wouldn’t be sufficient, recently we attend discussions – also inside Christianity – even upon the nature of the Creator. I heard before of sects that spoke about de God-The Mother, but they were minor, so I paid corresponding attention to them. Now, however, I learned that a translation of the Bible has the tendency to adapt to the modern atmosphere of emancipation (wrongly understood – may my remark be permitted) of the woman. It’s possible that this nuance of the version was imprinted by the female coordinator, but it’s more important to me that it lack influence – especially because it has no basis, at least from my point of view. I don’t have the authority to bring detailed theological arguments, but for me is enough that Jesus speaks only about The Father – hence our fundamental prayer, given by Him to the mankind, also.

I don’t possess – naturally – the capability to know what will be next. However, I have the firm belief that the religion initiated by Christ will go on with its existence without big disturbances. It’s clear that the structure of some impedes them to accept with no reticence what is comprised in the New Testament – the Resurrection, first and foremost. Nevertheless, there also are rational bases for the statement that Christian religion cannot be seriously undermined anymore, may it be even for the reason that it has imposed itself and continues to – for almost 2000 years. The more so is required an attitude at least decent – if not filled with piety – towards this absolutely remarkable component of humanity’s existence.


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