– THE MYSTERY OF BEING HUMAN –
I, too, embrace the seriousness, the solemnity and the intuitions of mystery and joy – and the buildings and the art, the music, the poetry, the novels, the drama, the painting, that have been inspired by the idea of God or a God-haunted world – while firmly setting aside much of the rest, most notably the arrogant, divisive, and inflammatory claims to revealed truth.
At any rate, humanism needs to engage more closely with religion than certain scorched earth atheists would wish. This is not a case for flinging oneself at the foot of the Cross, worshipping Allah, putting on a skull cap in the presence of Jehovah, or going even further afield in the shopping mall of theological ideas. In short, for dipping into what Philip Larkin called ‘the myth kitty’. Only for accepting that a humanism that is truly mindful of religion and what it has meant may be less prone to the arrogance and ignorance that leads some thinkers to overlook the unfathomable mysteries in which we are immersed, and as a result to fall under the spell of a disenchanted naturalism that overlooks the transcendence in our shared humanity. The exemplar of certain religious modes of understanding in which meanings converge should inspire us to try harder to become equal in thought to the reality of our condition and of the world in which we live our largely inexplicable lives; to unlock the self-forg’d manacles of habit; to acknowledge the mystery of human life without siding with its tragedy.
Art liberated from servitude to religion, to patrons,