Tuesday, May 01, 2007

a blanket of grey

In the two-part PBS special on Mormonism that ran last night and tonight, Harold Bloom said something along these lines: All religion depends upon revelation; all revelation is supernatural. If you wish to be a hard rock empiricist, you should not entertain any religious doctrine whatsoever.

This makes sense to me. But as Bloom implies, the matter of religious belief is not quite as simple as many would have you believe. Religion cannot be easily separated from the community in which it finds expression. I watched the special initially with some trepidation, expecting to be aggravated or, at best, simply annoyed. I’ve been told that there’s literally nothing one can say to me about the LDS church that will not cause me to get my panties in a twist. If someone defends the church, I will attack it. If someone attacks the church, I will defend it.

So I wasn’t expecting to be as profoundly moved as I was. Part of it must be the narcissist's gratification of seeing one’s community on display for the world to see and discuss. Look how much controversy and thoughtful discussion this topic induces among even the most learned people! This must be something important; consequently, I must be somehow important.

But the special was utterly fascinating just the same. I have some thoughts swirling about on church-sanctioned violence, blacks and the priesthood, gays in the church, family, and polygamy that I'd like to post here in the next few days. For those who missed the documentary and are interested, it’s available on the PBS website.

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