News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: What Would a Post-Hegemony Religious Experience Look Like

Friday, October 06, 2006

What Would a Post-Hegemony Religious Experience Look Like

In an excellent essay on Christian writers and other religions (h/t Eteraz), G. Willow Wilson nips the issue in the bud. How should people of different faiths relate to each other? ...

In an essay critical of authors like Tolkien and Waugh,Wilson writes the following about CS Lewis:

Lewis makes this same link—that people of deep, non-propagandist faith have more in common with each other than they do with secularized or patriotically indoctrinated members of their own religions—in a letter he wrote in 1952 to an American friend who had just converted from Anglicanism (Lewis’s creed) to Catholicism. He congratulates her “though you have taken a way which is not for me…because your faith and joy are so obviously increased.”[viii] He goes on to make a rather astonishing statement: “I believe that, in the present divided state of Christendom, those who are at the heart of each division are all closer to one another than to those who are at the fringes. I would even carry this beyond the borders of Christianity: how much more one has in common with a real Jew or Muslim than a wretched, occidentalised [member] of the same categories.”[ix] Here, Lewis is conscious that the Raj has dealt a serious blow to the dignity of its colonized subjects by trivializing their faiths, and imparting in their place an ‘occidentalism’ that makes the colonized ‘wretched’. He does not raise Muslims or Jews to the venerate status of Christians—he is still, at the end of the day, an early-twentieth-century Englishman—but he takes the first and most vital step. What truly connects two individuals is not origin or creed, but the honest desire for truth.

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