The word 'Lord' (or Loaward-ah
, as it's often pronounced in the evangelical vernacular) has always bothered me when it's taken seriously. Landlord. Praise the Lord. Lord of the manor, etc. It's offensive I think, partly because it's willfully elitist and anti-democratic, and partly because it disguises that agenda with false humility. Not that religious humility cannot also be genuine. Seeing oneself in a larger frame of reference is a legitimate form of self-reflection, and often one of the only forms that people are acquainted with.
People who need to be humbled seek to humble others - partly so that they can dominate and control, partly so that they can share the illumination of humility, and partly out of an unconscious compulsion to draw attention to their own need to be more deeply humbled. It's a cycle of violence which is learned through experiencing the abuse of power in the family. Children who grow up being dominated with humiliation will tend to act that drama out as adults, playing the character of both the abuser and the abused, while justifying and hiding the behavior from themselves and others.
In providing a redirection for narcissistic pride to individuals and a release of tensions resulting from social inequalities, worship acts as a continuation of narcissism by other means. It's soothing and reassuring to people to have their pent up jealousy and bitterness against their bosses and teachers, neighbors, clients, family members, etc be framed in such a way as to seem insignificant. An entity which is elevated higher than any mortal, greater, more powerful, all knowing, an absolute authority alters the scale of ordinary social inequality so that it temporarily seems to collapse into egalitarian harmony.
Rich and poor, old and young, smart and stupid - all seem acceptably human by comparison.
Part II: Enthusiasm.
Let's say that string theory was empirically proven to be a unified field solution - a fact. Everything in the Cosmos, including our every thought and feeling, could be explained through a single phenomenon. That could be pretty awe inspiring...but it isn't. You won't ever hear completely serious lyric poetry praising extra-quantum ontology or see stained glass cathedrals un-ironically depicting string theory. Why not? No Enthusiasm:
1. Great excitement for or interest in a subject or cause.
2. A source or cause of great excitement or interest.
1. Ecstasy arising from supposed possession by a god.
2. Religious fanaticism.
[Late Latin enth?siasmus, from Greek enthousiasmos, from enthousiazein, to be inspired by a god, from entheos, possessed : en-, in; see en-2 + theos, god.]
WORD HISTORY "Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm," said the very quotable Ralph Waldo Emerson, who also said, "Everywhere the history of religion betrays a tendency to enthusiasm." These two uses of the word enthusiasm-one positive and one negative-both derive from its source in Greek. Enthusiasm first appeared in English in 1603 with the meaning "possession by a god." The source of the word is the Greek enthousiasmos, which ultimately comes from the adjective entheos, "having the god within," formed from en, "in, within," and theos, "god." Over time the meaning of enthusiasm became extended to "rapturous inspiration like that caused by a god" to "an overly confident or delusory belief that one is inspired by God," to "ill-regulated religious fervor, religious extremism," and eventually to the familiar sense "craze, excitement, strong liking for something." Now one can have an enthusiasm for almost anything, from water skiing to fast food, without religion entering into it at all.
Part III: Love and Adoration
Enthusiasm is very similar if not identical to love. Both are about projecting the fullest potentials of the Self onto some one or some thing which we can relate to personally. In another thread we were talking about morality and the golden rule. Worship relates to this. If part of us wants to be worshiped, it can project it's unfulfilled, imperfect qualities onto an object which completes them and becomes worthy of the self-worship which mortality denies. By 'Praising the Lord' we are begging to be praised ourselves. We are saying 'compared to my personal ideal object of enthusiasm, y'all ain't s**t'.
I don't have to sell my soul
he's already in me
I don't need to sell my soul
he's already in me
I wanna be adored
I wanna be adored
- The Stone Roses
Narcissism has been called malignant self-love. Excessive vanity. Acting like 'you think you're God'. There's an aspect of this Lording that is truly destructive. When it's potential to relieve the tension of social inequality is used by individuals in a dominant social position, the Lord serves as a convenient excuse to treat other people like crap (or doGs, heh). The message of forgiveness is wielded in reverse, and God becomes a pet or puppet who provides automatic absolution for immoral behavior and abuses of power. The lowliness of mere mortals is projected outward in a toxic cloud of judgmental hostility. Intolerance is like the affect of narcissism - it's exterior emotional quality.
How to reject intolerance without being intolerant yourself? Maybe by seeing through narcissism. To understand the dynamics of self actualization and self esteem versus selfishness and vanity. To presume to understand that in itself can give rise to another web of intellectual or spiritual vanity. Delusions of grandeur can come just as easily through Loving the Lord as Mocking the Lord or Mocking the Loving of the Lord. It's not a one way street. The humility of devout physicalism is just as hypocritical and selfish in it's presumption of selflessness as any whoring evangelist. The physicalist says "I have no need for Lords...I have no self-importance. Your "Cosmic Oneness" is no match for my "Universal Zero".
This is what people mean when they claim that atheism is a religion. Not that there is a literal theistic belief in a Non-God or godlessness, but that the judgment against belief in a God can itself become a narcissistic intolerance complex. Everyone has a right to hate others for wrongs real or imagined, but we have a responsibility not to act out of that hate if possible. It's more productive to try to understand the bigger picture - to not take ourselves and our positions too seriously or too lightly.
Celebrity, nobility, heroism, mythology, and theology are iconic amplifications and extractions of the subjective self. Self-on-self feedback. Like a CRT uses electromagnetism and phosphorescence to manipulate visible light, deeply subjective phenomena act as subjective attractors - commanding attention and bending human will. It's a shiny, hypnotic artifact of the psyche which acts as a carrier wave for political agendas as well as it's own memetic agenda. What meme do you praise?